§ 44. Captain ORMSBY-GORE
asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can make a statement as to the political situation in Malta, and whether any change in the Maltese Constitution is contemplated?
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Lieut.-Colonel Amery)
His Majesty's Government have decided that the time has come to entrust the people of Malta with full responsible control of their purely local affairs, the control of the naval 910 and military Services, and of such other services and functions of government as are connected with the position of Malta as an Imperial fortress and harbour remaining vested in the Imperial authorities.
Some time will necessarily be involved in working out the details of the proposed Constitution and in clearing up some of the more urgent financial and administrative problems created by the War, and I shall, at a later date, have to come to the House for a measure of assistance to the finances of the island, which have been seriously embarrassed by circumstances arising out of the War and the subsequent reduction of the garrison and of the dockyard staff. I hope, however, that it may be possible to dispose of all these matters in the course of the next year, and to enable the new system of local self-government to come into force at the beginning of 1921.
§ Captain ORMSBY-GORE
Is the decision of the Government in accordance with the recommendations made by the Governor, Lord Plumer; and does the second part of the hon. Gentleman's answer mean that he is to ask the House to give a Grant from the Imperial Treasury to put the finances of the island on a sound footing?
§ Lieut.-Colonel AMERY
It is upon the advice of Field-Marshal Lord Plumer, and with his complete concurrence, that His Majesty' Government are taking this step, and undoubtedly their confidence in his judgment both of the military and political aspects of the question has played a considerable part in influencing their decision. As to the latter part of the question, it will be necessary at a subsequent stage to ask for such a measure of assistance from the Imperial Treasury to Malta as will enable the new system of government to start with a fair and reasonable chance of success.