HL Deb 03 March 1931 vol 80 cc216-32

LORD STRICKLAND rose to call attention to and ask for information in reference to relations between His Majesty's Foreign Office and the Foreign Office of the Sovereign State of the Vatican City, and this particularly in reference to Malta, and to seek information in reference to the political affairs of Malta; and to move for Papers.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, it may appear remarkable to your Lordships that, while reports of a Royal Commission and a Round-Table Conference for India are under consideration, and a popular leader in India is conferred with in prison and received at the Viceregal residence, a deputation of loyal and pro-British Parliamentarians from Malta has had to have recourse to a Committee of the House of Commons to obtain a hearing in the capital of the Empire. This raises a question of Privilege which concerns every member of this House. Every member of this House may be affected by my claim that the holding of a political appointment overseas does not prevent a member of either House of the Imperial Parliament from enjoying the right and the privilege to communicate directly with any Secretary of State on public affairs, either verbally or in writing, although the Secretary of State may not be bound to give an immediate reply.

I trust your Lordships will consider it unsuitable to urge against me or against any Executive Councillor in Malta the custom which restrains members of this House who happen to be civil servants from debating in your Lordships' House matters that are of departmental concern. In 1888 paid members of the Executive Council of Malta submitted to the then Secretary of State that their hopes of re-election might be destroyed if they were not allowed to dissociate themselves by publicity from decisions when the Governor acted against the overwhelming voice of public opinion or against the advice of Executive Councillors. Notwithstanding that ruling in 1888 in favour of the contention of the Executive Councillors, Maltese Ministers to-day have been accused as if it were an official crime to have published a certain official document. But it was quite proper to publish that Ministerial protest under this ruling when the document published was merely a report against mismanagement of traffic questions—a document emanating from Ministers themselves, and not a document marked "confidential." It did not contain anything secret, and the publication was in the public interest.

It is hoped that an apology will be forthcoming for the undeserved accusation that Ministers betrayed a trust, in view of that ruling and of the precedents in the history of this House. In the reign of Charles I there is a record which I beg leave to read from Anson's "Law and Custom of the Constitution": — Freedom of speech in the House of Lords has not come into question as often or as definitely as the like privilege in the Commons, but the attempts of Charles I to prevent the attendance of Peers whom he considered to be hostile to himself, and the dismissal from non-political offices during the eighteenth century of Peers who acted in opposition to the King's Ministers show that freedom of speech in the Lords has not been wholly unquestioned.

And from Gardiner's "History," page 91:— At this juncture a fresh champion raised his voice on behalf of the privileges of Parliament, a champion whose co-operation was all the more valuable to the leaders of the Lower House because he could speak with official knowledge of the actions which he denounced, and was not, as they had been, compelled to extract the truth from the mouths of unwilling witnesses. When Charles I ascended the Throne, he had missed the opportunity of putting an end gracefully to his long altercation with Bristol. He assured his father's late Ambassador that, though He was quite aware that he had not offended in any matter of honesty, he could not acquit him of trusting too implicitly to the Spanish Ministers. Bristol must therefore acknowledge his error if he wished to be received into favour, though the slightest acknowledgement would be sufficient.

And from Hallam's "Constitutional History of England ":— Princes were to have their prerogative, but yet to be confined within reasonable limits. The Queen could not of herself make laws, neither could she break them.

And may I ask my noble friend Lord Passfield not to assume more authority than Queen Elizabeth? This was the true view of English liberty, not so new to men's ears as Hume has imagined, though many there were who would not forfeit the court's favour by uttering it. Such speeches as the historian has quoted of Sir Humphrey Gilbert, and many such may be found in the proceedings of this reign, were rather directed to intimidate the House by exaggerating their inability to contend with the Crown, than to prove the law of the land to be against them. In the present affair of Strickland, it became so evident that the Commons would at least address the Queen to restore him, that she adopted the course her usual prudence indicated, and permitted his return to his house. The other Strickland referred to in the quotation represented Westmorland in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. He had to leave the House of Commons for religious reasons.

As to the relations with the Pontifical Secretary of State at the Vatican City, members of this House as taxpayers in England may expect that His Majesty's Government will assist them through the Chargé d'Affaires accredited to the Vatican to ascertain whether there is support from the Vatican for recent action by the ecclesiastical authorities in Malta which is prejudicial to the Imperial connection, and goes beyond the ambit of Maltese politics. Lady Strickland has founded in Malta a Catholic college which the Archbishop has refused to bless, and also a Ladies Imperial Club fundamentally non-political and open to ladies connected with the Imperial Services. I feel sure that your Lordships' House will be amazed to hear that the sacraments of the Church have been refused to ladies who belong to the Ladies Imperial Club in Malta. This followed upon an announcement in the Churches on February 15 to the effect that the sacraments would be refused to those who continued to belong, or to subscribe, to clubs of the Constitutional Party or the Labour Party in Malta. May I remind your Lordships that in Malta ladies have no votes, and, therefore, this aggression against the Ladies Imperial Club has the aspect of aggression against the Imperial sentiments of those who uphold British supremacy and culture in that very important British place of arms? At the same time, Italian money is being spent to obtain possession of premises adjacent to the Ladies Imperial Club in Malta and to organise in such premises a centre of pro-Italian propaganda.

In response to an invitation made to me in your Lordships' House by the noble Viscount, Lord FitzAlan, speaking as a leading Catholic Peer on the Maltese question last year, the greatest restraint has been exercised by the leaders and members of the Constitutional Party and the Labour Party in Malta so as to avoid anything that might rightly give offence to the Vatican authorities. In addition to that restraint, on the part of speakers of the Labour Party, and of the Constitutional Party and the Press of the two Parties, I have personally assured my noble friend who holds the Seals of the Colonial Department, that I am prepared to record further in writing expressions of regret in addition to what I have printed in the Malta Government Gazette in regard to anything that I have said improperly in the heat of debate in the Parliament of Malta if I may have caused offence to the ecclesiastical authorities either in Malta or in Rome, provided that my noble friend may be good enough to indicate what he will consider suitable for me to say in the interests of His Majesty's service and that the acceptance thereof shall be similarly recorded.

Since that apology, which was tendered in this House and in the Malta Government Gazette, was published, there has been an evident desire and indication on the part of the Vatican authorities that all those working with them should work for peace. In accordance with this known desire, the annual Lenten Pastoral of the Archbishop of Malta was couched in terms, as it were, of an olive branch carried by a dove. But when instructions were given for its publication there was a secret meeting of parish priests held by the Archbishop in the church of St. John, and thereat the Archbishop directed that the Pastoral should be followed by a verbal addition. That postscript was acquiesced in to please an ultra-clerical section, and it embodies a new declaration of war, which has been delivered on grounds unconnected with questions of faith and morals. Some of my newspapers in favour of British culture, and some of those of the Labour Party have again been banned by ecclesiastics in Malta, and the time has come to ask for the support of your Lordships when I ask His Majesty's Government here—as paying taxes in England that support the Diplomatic Mission to the Vatican—to obtain official information in Rome as to whether the action of ecclesiastics in Malta—namely, the refusal of the Sacraments to those who frequent certain political and pro-British Clubs—has been ordered from Rome. I also hope that His Majesty's Government, in view of the fact that the interests of British subjects not domiciled in Malta are involved, will consider the possibility of issuing an Ordinance which will protect newspaper property and English employees in Malta from commercial disaster when there is not sufficient reason for action against them on religious grounds. That which is commercially ruinous should not be allowed to occur in view of the constitutional safeguards as to religious toleration.

Maltese who, like myself, have been engaged from youth upwards in the service of the Empire at, the risk of our resources and even of our lives, are entitled to know how far His Majesty's Government in this country is prepared to listen to constitutional appeals that we may make in both Houses of the Imperial Parliament and in the offices in Downing Street. Mr. Secretary Henderson last year made a straightforward declaration published in a Bluebook that His Majesty's Government could not allow in any way an outside authority to dictate either in Malta or elsewhere the dismissal and punishment of British Executive Councillors appointed in the overseas Empire in the name of His Majesty the King of England as Ministers. Declarations in accordance with the diplomatic Note of Mr. Secretary Henderson were repeated in both Houses of this Imperial Parliament and welcomed with acclamation by the representatives of all Parties. But by action in Malta and in London the declaration of Mr. Secretary Henderson in support of Maltese Ministers and their constitutional rights has been watered down in practice almost to disappearing point, and the pledges given in your Lordships' House that Maltese Ministers would be retained in a consultative capacity, have been interpreted against them in a manner that would surprise your Lordships' House and astonish any lawyer who reads the Maltese. Constitution, if the illegal interpretation could be challenged in open Court.

In the Maltese Constitution, as indeed theoretically in every other, it is contemplated that; between a. Dissolution and the meeting of a new Parliament, the King, or the King's representative, as the case may be, is not in theory under a constitutional obligation to listen to the advice of Ministers. But nowhere in modern times under the English flag has the Head of the State or even of a Crown Colony considered himself entitled to interpret this power so as to ignore Executive Councillors in a manner calculated to compel them to resign where no important question of public interest has required arbitrary action and where there has been no risk to the safety of a fortress or where Imperial interests are in no way concerned.

Before the Maltese Elections were suspended, I was elected unopposed as a member of the new Parliament. My constitutional position, therefore, is unassailable until an Election is completed and until in a new Parliament a Vote of Censure might be carried. I had advised the dissolution of the previous Parliament after having enjoyed therein to the end the uninterrupted support of a majority, and the pro-British Party I have the honour to lead in Malta had been returned at the General Election with a larger number of votes than any other Party in the House which makes and unmakes Ministries. Because until the Elections are completed there is no Parliamentary majority by which the Maltese Ministry can be censured, our tenure of office is at least as constitutional as that of any Ministers relying in this country on a minority of the electors.

So certain of defeat is the anti-Maltese Party, fighting for pro-Italian culture, and against Maltese nationality and language, that its leaders do not want a free Election. The pro-Italian "Nationalists "act as if they preferred the destruction of democratic constitutional government. The only hope of such "Nationalists "—in the Italian sense—has been in the pastoral of the 1st May making it a mortal sin to vote for the Constitutional Party or the Labour Party. It would never have been welcomed were it not known and admitted that the Compact Party was certain of victory. That pastoral indirectly compelled the election by religious sanctions of those who are called "Nationalists "in an anti-Maltese and anti-English spirit, and who are led jointly by the Dr. Mizzi who was condemned in war time for disloyal activities, and the Sir Ugo Mifsud who boasted in the Assembly that he would "win the Elections by fair means or foul."

The clauses in the Constitution of Malta that can only be repealed by an Act of the Imperial Parliament require the Governor of Malta to deal with his Ministers as nearly as possible according to the practice followed in England, and to take advice in Executive Council as to appointments and dismissals from office. Against that legal position, it has been contended by Law Officers—apparently those of Malta—that under the present provisional Government, there is "no such thing as a Governor-in-Council." But the Governor-in-Council is established irrevocably by Letters Patent, and the sections thereof that create the Governor-in-Council cannot be altered except, by an Act of the Imperial Parliament. This is a matter of fact: a law and a fact that cannot be altered or eliminated by argument. We have moreover the acknowledgment of that fact as is evidenced by no fewer than ten Government Notices in the Malta Government Gazette signed by officers now responsible for administration in the name of the Governor. This evidence has been tendered since the provisional Government was established, and it is indeed amazing that thereafter any Law Officer would make declarations against the fact of such a character in order to support an erroneous and unjust line of action.

It is hoped that your Lordships' House will support a request that, pending alterations in the Constitution—alteration as promised in this House by His Majesty's Government, so as to make a free Election possible—the Governor of Malta may be instructed as a duty to the Crown to be on good terms with Ministers in office, whatever may be the opinions entertained by others as to anomalies of the political situation. An exaggerated desire to appear to be exuberantly fair all round inevitably handicaps heavily those who have rights in possession and in whose favour therefore nine points of the law should be reckoned. I beg to move the printing of the correspondence that has reference to the questions now submitted to your Lordships' House.


My Lords, I hope the noble Lord who has just spoken will not think me wanting in courtesy if my reply is considerably briefer than his speech. It will be within your Lordships' knowledge that the situation in Malta for the past nine months has been one of considerable tension, and it is extremely desirable not to do anything, or to say anything, which might increase the friction which has existed. Your Lordships know that the Constitution has been suspended temporarily, and we are advised that the contention of the noble Lord, Lord Strickland, with regard to the position of Ministers and of the Executive Council is not correct. The Order in Council of 1930 makes it quite clear that, there is no Governor in Council in existence, and that the Governor is charged with complete authority. He may consult Ministers or he may not. He may consult anybody else if he chooses, and whoever he consults he may disregard their advice if he chooses. But in the impossibility of holding an Election, and, therefore, of obtaining the Parliamentary Assembly which could support Ministers, the Government was obliged to take that step, and to suspend the Constitution, and, temporarily, to place Malta in the position of a Crown Colony of the extremest type in which the whole authority is in the Governor.

I do not want to say anything about what has happened. I must not be taken to agree to any of the details which the noble Lord has set forth. I can only say that with regard to the action of the Maltese Ministry, and of the heads thereof, I do not think that their action has been such as to make the Governor's task easier under the difficult circumstances in which he is acting. I say no more than that by way of judgment. But, equally, I must say that His Majesty's Government have not received any assistance from the Vatican in endeavouring to bring about the resumption of a normal state of things. In those circumstances we have continued our approval of the action of Sir John Du Cane, the Governor, who has maintained the Government very successfully, as I venture to think, and with great discretion, under very difficult circumstances. Now the time has come, as your Lordships know, when the Government have decided to ask His Majesty to appoint a Royal Commission to proceed to Malta, and endeavour to redraft a Constitution in such a way as to permit, if possible, the resumption of constitutional Government.

I am not able, unfortunately, to state the personnel of that Royal Commission at this moment. Your Lordships will be aware that it takes a little time to approach the members of a Commission, and get their consent to serve, and I am not in a position at the present moment to give the membership of the Commission. But no time will be lost. The terms of reference to the Royal Commission, of which His Majesty has approved the appointment, are:— To visit Malta and consider the existing political situation in the Island; and to make such recommendations as may seem to them desirable as to the steps which should be taken to deal with it, with special reference to the possibility of re-establishing constitutional government. I have very little more that I can say in the circumstances. I would like to refer to the complaint of the noble Lord that the deputation from Malta has not been received by His Majesty's Government, by the Secretary of State, or by any other Minister. Your Lordships will realise that, as laid down by Mr. Snowden in another place on February 26, the Government have taken the view that all sections of Maltese political opinion would doubtless have opportunities of laying their views before the Royal Com- mission, and that, in order to avoid embarrassment to the Commission, it is considered desirable that, in the meantime members of His Majesty's Government should refrain from receiving deputations on Maltese political matters. Therefore, I would assure the noble Lord that it was not from any discourtesy that I was unable to give him an interview. Our correspondence, I nope, has been conducted in terms of perfect courtesy, but I was not able to give the noble Lord or the other members of the deputation an interview, because the Government have taken the view that it would hamper the Royal Commission if some persons were received and others were not received. We must, as a matter of fact therefore, remain exactly, as it were, neutral.

There is one other thing I wish to say, and that is that I gladly note the statement of the noble Lord that he will be prepared to make an apology more full than the apology which he has already made with regard to any actions which need apology in relation to His Holiness the Pope or to the Roman Catholic Church. I hope that if that is the disposition of both sides the Royal Commission may be able to conduct its deliberations with, at any rate, no interruption from either side in the controversy; with the support, in fact, of those who are anxious for the restoration of peace and good feeling. I hope, if that spirit prevails, that the Royal Commission will be able to find a solution which will permit the re-establishment of the constitutional government in Malta, which of course everybody desires.

I think in the circumstances I ought not to add any more. I can only assure the noble Lord that I should have been delighted to have had conversations with him but for the reasons I have given. It seems better that we should hold our hand and leave it to the Royal Commission. I ought to say in reference to the noble Lord's Motion for Papers that there are no Papers which I can produce. The situation stands where it did when the last White Paper was issued and in the very delicate circumstances it would be quite unwise to put into print anything that has passed orally between the parties to the controversy.


Does the noble Lord press his Motion for Papers?


My Lords, it is my duty to observe that the noble Lord, the Secretary of State, who has just sat down, in his reference to the Order in Council of June 29 last year only quoted one portion thereof. He has not quoted the portion of the Order in Council which establishes that the Executive Council of Malta—that is to say, the Ministry—as established at the date of the Order in Council (that is, as required by the Letters Patent then in force) is to continue as heretofore notwithstanding that Order in Council of June 29. Perhaps the Colonial Department deserves congratulation for the manner in which oracular Despatches and oracular Orders in Council are sometimes drafted to be interpreted both ways; but this particular Order in Council is in that direction the most artistic that I have come across during my four governorships and forty years of public service.

It is quite obvious that the law officers of the Colonial Office were not prepared to draft Orders in Council against the position of Ministers that were dead against the Letters Patent. It must have been quite obvious to them that the Letters Patent contained sections that cannot be altered by Order in Council, sections in favour of Ministers that could only be set aside by an Imperial Act, and that Ministers had according to law to continue in office between a Dissolution and the summoning of a new Parliament on the completion of the Election. I am not venturing—although I am a member of the English Bar who has spent a long life in contact with constitutional questions—to give what may appear to be merely my opinion upon this point. A learned representative of the University of Leipsig, who has spent months in Malta, and has been received at the Colonial Office to discuss the Constitution of Malta and its scientific bearing upon constitutions elsewhere, has assured me there is absolutely no difference between my view of the Maltese Constitution and the view thereof of any lawyer he has come across in the Colonial Office in England. That being the case, I say with added confidence that the interpretation which the noble Lord, the Secretary of State, is asking this House of Lords to-day to countenance is one which is wrong and is based on what is oracular and can be interpreted both ways. It is wrong in law, and is unjust and unfair to Maltese Ministers, of whom some have spent a life in the service of the Empire. That wrong view is not assisted by any public requirement, and it is advanced by the Colonial Office to get out of difficulties rightly or otherwise.

As to the alleged reason for not shaking hands with the deputation, may I remind this House that two Maltese ex-Ministers of the Opposition in Malta, came to England last summer and had interviews with members of the Colonial Department, who did not refuse to confer with them notwithstanding that a Royal Commission had been asked for by Ministers now in office as soon as the Election was suspended. Moreover, may I remind the noble Lord, whose Department no doubt keeps him informed as to what appears in the Maltese newspapers, that one of the two leaders of the Opposition has claimed at a meeting in Malta that he had persuaded the noble Lord that the "Nationalists" represented the majority of the country, and of the votes that had been cast at the proceeding General Election?

It will amuse your Lordships to hear of the intellectual gymnastics by which these representations could possibly be put before the Colonial Department with an elastic conscience and listened to patiently. The votes cast for members of the "Nationalist" Party in reference to the Assembly—the Lower House that makes and unmakes Ministries—were by the "Nationalist" spokesman added to the votes cast for that Party in the Senate, another House that has nothing to do constitutionally with the making and unmaking of Ministries, and the votes of an independent member were also ingeniously but not veraciously added to salve the consciences of those who thus constructed a misleading grand total, in order to say they had "a majority of the Maltese people "behind them! The facts are that during the whole period of the life of the last Legislature, of which I advised the Dissolution, I enjoyed the uninterrupted support of my own Party as well as of the Labour Party. This was the majority that could make and unmake Ministries. Moreover, the votes cast for the Constitutional Party reckoned separately as regards the Lower House, were more numerous than the votes cast for the so-called "Nationalist" Party, which is nationalist not in the Maltese sense, but in the Italian sense—nationalist from the point of view of those who want to deny all that history makes irrefutable—namely, that Malta is a Colony of the Phoenicians. It is absurd to think—as the pro-Italians preach—that Latins ever came to colonise the Maltese rocks in the Mediterranean in ancient times when the Latins had fertile land nearer home. I beg your Lordships to allow me to emphasise the fact that if the desired amendments of the Constitution and of the law to ensure free Elections are being studied and drafted and arranged on the advice of legal advisers in Malta, it appears that there is little hope that they would emerge in a manner which supports the free Election desired by this House.

As to Malta being a Crown Colony of a severe type, I ask my noble friend what is the authority he has for saying that or for "making it so." He has not issued Letters Patent purporting to say that. He has not passed an Act of Parliament that would be effective. He has simply argued that the Order in Council may by inference have changed the whole spirit and effect of the Letters Patent, even in sections that cannot be altered by Order in Council. That, I hope, is not an attitude which your Lordships' House is likely to countenance when face to face with those who are devoted in Malta to the English connection and culture and who have been working to uphold progress and justice according to British ideals.

If I heard the noble Lord aright, he suggested that the Governor had not of late been receiving assistance from Maltese Ministers as required by this situation. I fail to realise that the imputation is just or supported by evidence. If the giving of loyal and intelligent advice by persons who know the local circumstances, and who know the true position of affairs in Malta is unacceptable, because that advice is not pleasant or because it calls for the correction of mistakes and injustice, then I am not able to concur that his line of argument is in the interests of the public service. Executive Councillors are sworn to give honest opinion and should not be deterred from speaking the truth and adhering thereto.

Let me add that the deputation that has come to England has brought and presented to the Colonial Department carefully-prepared drafts of legal enactments which would meet effectively the present situation and enable a free Election to be held forthwith, and which represent the experience and considered work of responsible experts. If that production of careful drafts is not to be reckoned as assistance, I want to know what is. But if the legal advisers that are now around the Governor are of "Nationalist" mentality, they are not likely to approve drafts that are framed to introduce the English Common Law, or that are likely to be advised by Maltese Ministers of the Compact Party—namely, the Party in a majority in the last Parliament that represents the Labour Party and the Constitutional Party, working together for the development of Malta on modern lines and on the Maltese and British principles of culture. The solution of the Maltese Constitutional difficulty is to be found in adding safeguards to the clauses in the Letters Patent that guarantee "religious toleration." It is enacted so far that nobody shall be disqualified from holding office for religious reasons. That is the Common Law in England and thereunder, if undue religious interference is proved in an Election, the seat can be claimed by the candidate that has been prejudiced. That is not so in Malta. In Malta the sanction is either fine or imprisonment, and either is certainly not likely to be inflicted severely on any Nationalist candidate in the present political atmosphere.

I feel it my duty to the Empire, which I have served in four Governorships, and to which I am still devoting all my resources and what remains of my life, ready to risk it for the benefit of Malta—I feel it my duty to advise my noble friend (and we sat together on office stools in the Colonial Office some forty years ago) to receive the Maltese deputation. Courtesy will do no harm to the Empire or to the Royal Commission, nor would it harm my noble friend to have the benefit of their views on matters outside the ambit of the Royal Commission. The Commission will have to get information from every source, as soon as' it can and its members will get it from persons who are under no restraint and from all sources everywhere. Our opponents have been received by the Department under the noble Lord, Lord Passfield, and they say that they have persuaded him that they are "the majority." I have proved that this is false constitutionally against present Ministers entitled to act in the King's name in Malta.

I hope also that the noble Lord will realise that, as a Peer in this House, it is my duty to continue to protest if there is any attempt to question or diminish my rights to address any Minister of the Crown in England verbally or in writing on public affairs. I hope I have been wrong in forming the opinion that the Secretary of State for the Colonies wishes to assail the privilege of Parliament or to support an inhibition against the rights of any member of either House of the Imperial Parliament. No harm can be done by consultation with persons who are loyal and pro-British and who have had many, in my case forty, years' experience of Colonial administration. As to matters that will be outside the business of the Royal Commission—we may note for instance, the sort of apology that I may be ordered on the responsibility of the Secretary of Stat" to add to what has already been tendered to the Vatican. Questions in which consultation would be most suitable are many. If consultation is barred, one is tempted to remember the proverbial ostrich that thought it was doing its duty by putting its head in the sand. Perhaps the explanation is that my right hon. friend knows too well that things of an illegal and improper character have been done; it is very unpleasant perhaps to hear the truth. I hope, therefore, that this policy will be altered in accordance with the respect due to the law and to the privileges of this House.


I take it the noble Lord does not press his Motion for Papers?


I may submit to the House, before withdrawing the Motion, that it is my duty to point out that my noble friend is not quite correct in saying that there is no correspondence that could be usefully published. He has already promised this House, on a former occasion, to produce further correspondence giving the reply to misleading or unproved accusations made against me in a Vatican White Paper. There are other papers of which the publication would interest this House, and of which full knowledge in the light of day would be conducive to the better administration of His Majesty's Dominions and Colonies and which I hope may be published sooner or later. I may mention amongst others the Papers relating to the continuation in office of the present Agent-General for Malta in London and the dismissal of j his secretary: to notes and observations; on a hotel scheme at Malta; to interference with Ministers addressing communications to the Secretary of State for the I Colonies; to the constitutional position of Ministers in Malta; and to the publication by Ministers of certain Papers not of a confidential nature. These are questions of great public interest, not only to the Maltese people but to members of this House who take an interest in public affairs and study the result of precedents on other communities. If I ought to withdraw the Motion by leave of the House in deference to what I conceive to be the wish of your Lordships' House, I do so as a matter of courtesy to my noble friend and not because I admit that the interests of the Empire will not call for their publication at a later date. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

House adjourned at twenty-five minutes past six o'clock.