HL Deb 25 March 1958 vol 208 cc415-6

I. Constitutional

A new Constitution for Malta broadly on, the lines of the proposed integration arrangements, save the comprising of Malta in the United Kingdom and representation at Westminster.

II. Financial

The same arrangements as under the integration plan.

III. General

The same commitments as under the integration plan.

IV. Final arrangements

The working of the arrangements in I-III above would be subject to review by both Governments—at the end of the five years in order to see whether agreement could be reached to proceed with more permanent arrangements for the achievement of full integration or for some other agreed constitutional and economic basis for Malta's future.

4.6 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure that the whole House will be grateful to the noble Earl for the long and careful statement he has made about the position of Malta. The course of negotiations has been long and troublous, and I think it is time that the House, and the country as a whole, had some clear conception as to what steps have been taken. All that we have known up to now is that Mr. Mintoff has arrived and Mr. Mintoff has left.

I should like to ask Her Majesty's Government one or two questions, recognising that these negotiations have involved a considerable amount of patience and restraint. First, are Her Majesty's Government still committed to the principle of integration? Secondly, why has it taken two years since the Round Table Conference and the decision on integration to negotiate the position? Could it not have been done more quickly, and would it not have been easier, if the tempo had been rather quicker than it has been so far? Lastly, I take it from what the noble Earl, Lord Perth, has said in his statement that the door is not closed and that negotiations will be resumed. Apart from what he has said in the statement, could he tell us whether the Maltese Government have been informed that the door is open and how the position has been finally left? Is it for this country or for the Maltese Government to make an approach?


My Lords, I am glad to hear that the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, also feels that it is time for the story of the Malta negotiations to be made known to everybody. I wish that we could have completed everything very much more quickly. That it was not so was certainly not for want of trying, but whenever it was thought that one thing had been settled another difficulty seemed to crop up. When the noble Lord reads the statement that I hay e made—I know that it is very long—I believe he will see that I dealt very carefully with the point he raised about integration. On his question as to where we stand now. I would say that we are always ready to go on talking, and it is very much our hope that when the Maltese Prime Minister and his Cabinet, and the people of Malta, have been able to think over what we have now made public there will be a change of heart and mind which will enable us immediately to resume discussions.