HC Deb 31 January 1947 vol 432 cc1274-5

11.6 a.m.

The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Creech Jones)

I beg to move, in page 2, line 4, at the beginning, to insert: The grant in aid amounting to ten million pounds, made in the year nineteen hundred and forty-three for the restoration of war damage and other post-war expenditure in Malta, may, notwithstanding any instrument relating to that grant, be applied for the same purposes and in the same manner as the said sum of twenty million pounds; and. The purpose of this Amendment is merely to bring the objects of the expenditure of £10 million, a free gift which has already been made, into line with the £20 million which sum is already covered in the terms of the Bill before Parliament. Some doubt has been expressed in regard to the minute which the Secretary of State in 1942 wrote when trustees were appointed for the administration of the £10 million, and the object of the Amendment is to make the intention a little clearer, because the minute cannot otherwise be amended except by this proposal now before the Committee.

In carrying out the provisions of the Bill, some doubt has been felt as to whether the minute as drafted enables the Malta Government to expend any part of the £10 million grant for the purpose mentioned in Clause 1 (d), namely, in carrying out works, in connection with general reconstruction and planning. It is for the purpose of harmonising this expenditure that the Amendment is moved.

Mr. Oliver Stanley (Bristol, West)

Even after the right hon. Gentleman's explanation, for which I am grateful, I am not quite clear as to the effect of this Amendment. I do not carry in my mind the terms of the minute to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred, but my recollection is that when the £10 million was voted it was the intention of Parliament that that sum should be used exclusively for the reconstruction necessitated by war damage. At that time there was no intention that it should be extended to this other extremely valuable, but quite different, purpose of enabling the new Malta Government to undertake new schemes of social or economic progress. If the matter stood alone on those grounds, I could see no reason for this Amendment and I should feel that the intention of Parliament at that time ought not to be altered. But I imagine there is really another reason for this Amendment, and that is a purely technical reason of convenience of financial administration; that now some part, at any rate, of the whole sum of £30 million can be spent on two different purposes, it would probably be inconvenient if one part-and that is the part that had already been paid and was at the moment a credit of the Malta Government—could only be used for one purpose. Therefore, although a large amount of the £10 million remained undrawn, it would be necessary for the Treasury to make further advances in order to meet payments under Clause 1 (d.) If the right hon. Gentleman would assure me that that really is the purpose of this Amendment, and that it does not in any way affect the ultimate destination of the grants which Parliament make, I, for one, should be prepared to accept it.

Mr. Creech Jones

I think I can give the right hon. Gentleman that assurance.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendmenss made:

In page 2, line 4, after. "the," insert "said."

Leave out from "grant," to "and, in line 7.—[Mr. Creech Jones.]

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.