HC Deb 07 February 1961 vol 634 cc190-1
6. Mr. Awbery

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps have been taken in Malta to provide employment for men who will become redundant; and what plans for new industries are in hand.

Mr. Iain Macleod

A number of firms will be opening factories in Malta during the next few months and are being supplied with lists of men becoming redundant. This measure, combined with the continuing high level of employment in the building trade and the present increased rate of emigration, should help to alleviate what is mainly transitional unemployment.

In answer to the second part of the Question, I refer the hon. Member to the Answer given to the hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes) on 31st January.

Mr. Awbery

Is the Minister aware that the men employed by the Government in Malta and by Messrs. Baileys dry dock were told in December that a number of them would become redundant? Can he tell us what is to become of those men?

Mr. Macleod

In the last few days I have had discussions both with representatives of the G.W.U. and the Confederation of Malta Trades Unions, and they have put some very helpful suggestions to me. If the hon. Member will study the detailed Answer given to his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes), he will see that a great deal is going on in Malta. I am encouraged by the employment prospects there. I agree that there may be a short-term difficulty, but I think that the longer-term outlook is good.

Mr. Callaghan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we have been dissatisfied with the answers he has given over a number of months on this question? Can he tell us what the figures are? Is unemployment increasing at present? If so, what short-term measures do the Government propose to take in order to alleviate the situation?

Mr. Macleod

Unemployment has certainly been increasing. As I have said, I think that this will be a shortlived phase. I am thinking not of years but of a comparatively short time in 1961. As for the measures to be taken, that question was gone into in great detail partly in answer to this Question and particularly in answer to the other Question to which I referred the House.

Mr. Callaghan

But is there not something the Government could do in ship-repairing almost immediately? Would not that alleviate the short-term difficulty that the Minister foresees?

Mr. Macleod

The hon. Member is probably thinking of the dockyard conversion. Above everything else, it is true that this is the most important step that could be taken, and discussions on that matter are at an advanced stage.

Mr. Hector Hughes

On a point of order. Did the Minister say that he was answering Question No. 19 with this Question?

Mr. Speaker


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