HC Deb 08 May 1962 vol 659 cc197-8
14. Mr. Awbery

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that there are now 6,500 unemployed on the island of Malta, and that this number is increasing weekly; and what further steps are being taken to provide new industries on the island.

Mr. Maudling

I understand that the last official return of registered unemployed in December last gave a figure of 4,367. Primary responsibility for the provision of employment rests with the Malta Government, but Her Majesty's Government are providing substantial sums to assist industrial development.

Mr. Awbery

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a large number of men do not sign at all because they cannot get employment? Is he aware that a few days ago it was reported in Malta, when I was there, that 6,500 men are unemployed? Is he also aware that at Messrs. Bailey a number of people have recently been dismissed, and that, as I understand, the firm intends dismissing another 1,000 in the course of the next month or so? Will he look at the question, because unemployment is becoming very acute there?

Mr. Maudling

Yes, Sir; I am concerned about the unemployment situation in Malta and am trying to find any method I can of improving it.

Mr. E. L. Mallalieu

Would the right hon. Gentleman suggest to the Government of Malta that they might offer their territory as a base for the world force under the security authority which Her Majesty's Government hope to set up?

Mr. Maudling

I feel that that is a somewhat wider question.

Mr. Dudley Williams

Does not my right hon. Friend think that the right way to deal with the surplus labour in Malta is to encourage emigration, and what steps is he taking in that direction?

Mr. Maudling

Traditionally, there is a good deal of emigration from Malta, but I think that on the whole the Maltese prefer to obtain work in their own country if they can.

Mr. Lee

In view of what has been said by hon. Members behind him, would the right hon. Gentleman care to have a look at the Commonwealth Immigrants Act now?

Mr. Maudling

What has been said affects not the Act but its operation.

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