HC Deb 05 March 1968 vol 760 cc220-1
26 and 27. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs (1) what progress has been made in his negotiations with Baileys (Malta) Limited which have been going on for three years;

(2) what assurances he has given to the Malta Government about the future of the dockyard.

Mr. George Thomson

I am at the moment engaged in discussing this problem with the Malta Prime Minister. It would not be helpful for me to make any statement while these discussions are in progress.

Regarding the litigation with Bailey (Malta) Limited, I have nothing new to report.

Mr. Digby

While I recognise the right hon. Gentleman's difficulties, may I ask h an to realise how important it is to determine the ownership of the dockyard and also the ownership of these appalling losses there which are necessarily resulting on the closure of the Suez Canal?

Mr. Thomson

Yes, Sir. I am conscious the importance of the dockyard to the economy of Malta as the biggest single employer, and I am earnestly seeking with the Prime Minister of Malta to come to a satisfactory solution of these problems.

Sir W. Teeling

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that he will not try to force the Prime Minister of Malta to nationalise the docks, which he does not want to do?

Mr. Thomson

I am not sure that I have the same repugnance for nationalisation as the hon. Gentleman has. But I do not wish to go into details about our discussions at this stage.