HC Deb 24 February 1954 vol 524 cc388-9
44. Mr. Wyatt

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a further statement on the proposal that there should be a change in the constitutional relationship between the United Kingdom and Malta.

58. Mr. J. Johnson

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can now make a further statement regarding the future constitutional status of Malta.

Mr. Lyttelton

I have nothing to add to the answer which I gave on 17th Ferbruary to my hon. Friend the Member for Billericay (Mr. Braine) and the hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes).

Mr. Wyatt

Would the right hon. Gentleman pay some urgent attention to this problem, because there is a feeling growing up in Malta that they are not being very fairly dealt with, and that it is insufficient to have their affairs simply transferred from one department of the Colonial Office to another in the Home Office? Is it not a fact that what they would like is some practical association with this country?

Mr. Lyttelton

I am well aware of that, but the hon. Gentleman is not correct in saying that any anxiety is due to Her Majesty's Government. We made a proposition in general terms to the Maltese Government at the time, since when a general election has taken place, and, incidentally, the same Prime Minister is now in situ, and I have not yet received any official reply from him. I must ask the hon. Gentleman to wait until we get some reply or representations from the Maltese Government.

Mr. J. Griffiths

May I now repeat the question which I asked the right hon. Gentleman? Will he consider making a fuller statement on the full implications of this suggested transfer to the Home Office, and particularly on the point raised by my hon. Friend? Will he say whether the proposal envisages absorption at some stage, because this is not only a matter to be considered by the Maltese Government, but is also one for the consideration of this House, and, at the moment, we are in a difficulty as to what is the actual proposal which the Secretary of State has made.

Mr. Lyttelton

I do not want to give too specific an answer to the right hon. Gentleman until I get a reply from the Maltese Government. For those reasons which I think he will appreciate, I do not want to take up a final position in this matter. We have made a proposition in general terms and we would like to know the reaction. It may be that the proposal will be modified, but I think that he would agree that it would be impolitic to present a scheme in detail until we have had the opportunity of hearing views upon it.

Mr. J. Johnson

While appreciating what the right hon. Gentleman has said, may I ask whether he would consider setting up a Commission to consider the future status not only of Malta but of all dependent Territories like Gambia, Aden and other grant-aided Territories, which can never be independent of the United Kingdom?

Mr. Lyttelton

That hardly arises from the Question on the Paper, but I am becoming rather allergic to the number of inquiries and commissions which the hon. Gentleman is continually pressing me to set up.

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