HC Deb 13 March 1958 vol 584 cc604-6
41 and 43. Mr. Awbery

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) if he is aware that the restrictive financial policy of the Government in reducing the assistance to Malta this year by £1,000,000 is depriving the island of resources to provide employment for the dockyard men who are becoming redundant; and. in order to prevent Malta from becoming a distressed area and a potential danger spot, if he will take steps to have this policy reversed;

(2) if he is aware that in 1955 the integration of Malta with Great Britain was almost an accomplished fact, and that the deteriorating position has been brought about by the refusal of the Government to allow the island to carry into its new financial year the balance of £500,000 which it was unable to spend during the period for which it was allocated: if he will take steps to have this financial position reviewed; and how far his recent talk with the Prime Minister of Malta has restored the former friendly relationship.

The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd)

I am unable to accept the premises in the hon. Member's Questions. I do not, however, consider it appropriate to deal with the hon. Member's detailed inquiries while I am having talks with the Prime Minister of Malta who is now in London.

Mr. Awbery

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that we have a moral obligation to the people of Malta and that we cannot walk out of it without creating in that island a distressed area? The policy that we are trying to adopt seems to lead us to something worse. Can he give an undertaking that he will report on his interview with Mr. Mintoff as soon as possible?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Of course, I will do that. I am aware that we have obligations to Malta and that Malta has obligations to us.

Mr. Creech Jones

Because of public perplexity about statements appearing in the newspapers, would the right hon. Gentleman give us some idea of the real obstacles that prevent a satisfactory conclusion of these negotiations?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I am certain that there would be no satisfactory solution by Question and Answer in the House at this time if I turned private into public talks.

Mr. Awbery

Is not it a fact that procrastination has been the cause of the trouble? Will the right hon. Gentleman hurry up with a decision on this problem?

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