HC Deb 05 May 1960 vol 622 cc1243-4
21. Mr. Cronin

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on the circumstances of the recent strike of doctors in the Malta Government service.

Mr. Iain Macleod

The strike arose over the appointment of a new deputy senior medical officer, and the administrative channels for dealing with the affairs of the Medical Department within the Government Secretariat. The Medical Officers' Union advised the Government on 30th April of its intention to strike as from midnight the following day, without previously giving any notice of the existence of a dispute.

An emergency medical service is operating.

Mr. Cronin

Was not this strike precipitated by the circumstance that the Government appointed a deputy senior medical officer contrary to the recommendations of the Joint Advisory Board? Was not this an act which showed a considerable lack of administrative tact, having regard to the general political situation and to the discontent which has been present in the medical profession there for many years?

Mr. Macleod

With respect, I think that is only half the story, because the Government were also advised by the Public Service Commission to appoint the man whom they did appoint, and, in spite of the advice of the medical board to which the hon. Gentleman referred, that the post should be advertised, the Government felt that was not a proper thing to do for an administrative post, and that ordinary promotion should carry on. That is what the Government did.

Mr. Wall

Is not it a fact that there has been considerable anxiety and unrest among doctors in Malta for three or four years? In considering this matter, will my right hon. Friend look at the whole problem over the last four or five years?

Mr. Macleod

That is perfectly true, and it gives me a great deal of concern. I should like to look into it.