HC Deb 09 March 1961 vol 636 cc666-8
28. Mr. Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will now state the decisions reached on the recommendations of the Blood Commission on the constitutional future of Malta.

29. Mr. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will now make a statement on the political and economic situation in Malta, and the proposals he has for enabling the Maltese people to exercise their right of self-determination.

30. Mr. Teeling

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will now make a statement on the new constitution for Malta.

Mr. Iain Macleod

I would refer the hon. Members to the statement I made yesterday.

Mr. Brockway

While I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman for missing his statement yesterday after all the Questions I have put on this matter, may I ask him whether in view of that statement, which I have read in HANSARD, he will seek to facilitate meetings between the Governor of Malta and representatives of the political parties and whether he will reconsider two points? The first is that control of the police in Malta should be put in the hands of the Government there. Secondly, will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear that Malta will be able to proceed towards self-determination?

Mr. Macleod

I answered two of those three points yesterday. I made it clear that, although I was not anxious to proceed by way of conference, I should be glad to consider representations made to me by any of the political parties on my statement yesterday. Concerning the police, the recommendation is that for a time it should be in the last resort under the Governor. Anybody who has had time to read the Report of the Blood Commission will, I think, find the arguments for that course entirely convincing. As for the future, I made it plain that I was dealing with the next stage in Malta's development and was not ruling out further steps.

Mr. Driberg

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what first reactions he has had so far from Malta to his statement, as, according to Press reports, they do not seem to have entirely approved of what he said? Whatever the chairman of the Commission may or may not have said, can the right hon. Gentleman explain the rather important discrepancy between his own original statement of the terms of reference, with its many qualifications, and the much wider interpretation given by the Under-Secretary in a Written Answer on 31st January, when he said that the Commission was free …to hear and report any evidence which might have a bearing on Malta's future?—"[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st January, 1961; Vol. 509, c. 98.] That is quite different.

Mr. Macleod

I do not think there is any discrepancy on that last point, as I tried to make clear in answer to an earlier supplementary question. It is very much the same kind of answer as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister gave in relation to the Monckton Commission when he was questioned in this House and said that it was free to give answers on that particular point.

Mr. Teeling

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the full statement, which we received in the House yesterday although we expected it to come after Questions today, has been equally fully published in Malta? Reports from Malta seem to imply that my right hon. Friend's statement has not been circulated in full.

Mr. Macleod

My statement has, of course, been given wide publicity in Malta. It is true that the recommendations of the Blood Commission, so far as concerns the constitutional aspects which have been accepted in their entirety by Her Majesty's Government, do not meet the full position of the political parties in Malta. I believe it fair to say, however, that when the Maltese study the recommendations, they will find the Report to be an acceptable basis for restoring self-government in Malta at an early date.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

Can the Secretary of State assure the House that he will resist the temptation to appoint as the first constitutional head of state in Malta the Marquess of Salisbury?

Mr. Nabarro

Very poor indeed.