HC Deb 30 April 1963 vol 676 cc889-90
18. Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many men are now employed on commercial work in Malta Dockyard; and how many were so employed six months ago before the Council of Administration took over control from the directors of Bailey (Malta) Ltd.

22 and 23. Mr. Woodnutt

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) if he will state the average number of men employed per week on commercial ships in the dockyard of Bailey (Malta), Ltd., during the period since the Council of Administration took over the dockyard to date;

(2) if he will state the average weekly cost of surplus labour employed in the Bailey (Malta) Dockyard; and by whom it is borne.

Mr. Fisher

Her Majesty's Government have no responsibility for the internal management of the yard. As my right hon. Friend said on 23rd April, the total number employed in the yard is about 5,000, but the distribution of labour and allocation of cost are matters of internal administration for the Council, which is an independent statutory body set up under a Malta Act.

Mr. Woodnutt

Bearing in mind that, when Bailey (Malta) Ltd. had commercial ships in the yard, there were about 1,500 men working on them, will not my hon. Friend agree that it appears that there are about 1,500 men there surplus to requirements, involving some £750,000 sterling a year? Can he say whether this is borne by the Admiralty, the Colonial Office or the shareholders of Bailey (Malta) Ltd.

Mr. Fisher

The cost of the labour force is a company responsibility and always has been. The company was, in fact, bearing the cost of the labour force before the Council took over. In the absence—I have to say this again—of most of the company's books and records, which have not yet been handed over to the Council, it has not been possible to work out the financial position. So I cannot answer the implied question as to whether or not the Council will receive a subsidy out of public funds.

Sir R. Robinson

Can my hon. Friend say whether the dockyard is overstaffed?

Mr. Fisher

To be perfectly honest, I think that it almost certainly is. But with the appointment of the new managing agents, the efforts of the Council to obtain commercial orders will undoubtedly be intensified, and a proper assessment will be made of the maximum economic labour force which the yard can carry. It will then be possible to work out the extent of the redundancy problem, which will have to be dealt with, I imagine, at Government level.