HL Deb 29 July 1960 vol 225 cc981-3

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans are in being for the economic development of Malta and what progress is being made with these plans.]


My Lords, the programme which is being carried out for Malta's economic development is set out in the published Development Plan for Maltese Islands, 1959–64, a copy of which has been placed in your Lordships' Library. Estimated expenditure on development in the first year of the programme was about £5 million, of which £l million was spent on the £2½, million scheme for the modernisation of the civil harbour at Valletta. This total also includes grant assistance to seven of the nine industrial projects which have been approved and to three projects relating to hotel construction or extension. These projects involve a capital investment of £1.9 million, and it is hoped that they may eventually provide employment for up to 2,000 people.


My Lords, while thanking the noble Earl for that detailed Answer, may I ask him whether he can give us any information about the development of the Dockyard in Malta; and, secondly, what are the prospects for the tourist trade?


My Lords, as regards the Dockyard, as noble Lords know, that is to be converted into a commercial dockyard by Messrs. Bailey, who now have the responsibility for the running of the Dockyard in general. The scheme of the Dockyard for this conversion was originally one for an amount of £6 million. Then Messrs. Bailey considered the plan again and put forward a new suggestion for somewhat different and enlarged dock facilities. This scheme would involve considerable additional expenditure and needs very careful study. Her Majesty's Government are not at the moment certain that the additional expenditure is justified in relation to employment, but the matter is being looked at most urgently with the idea of getting on to the work as quickly as possible.

On the tourist trade I think it is perhaps sufficient to point out, as I said in my reply, that work is being done and that three hotel projects have already been sanctioned.


My Lords, could the noble Earl say where these new hotels are to be located? Are they on the seashore? That is important, because existing hotels are in the middle of the city.


My Lords, one of them that I have seen is on Comino Island, so that is definitely a seashore project. Another is at a place with the nice name of Paradise Bay, and the third is in the city of Valletta.


My Lords, the noble Earl mentioned Messrs. Bailey, and of course all noble Lords are aware that Messrs. Bailey are now conducting the commercial dockyard enterprise. But Her Majesty's Government cannot avoid the responsibility for the economic welfare of the people of Malta, and what I think the noble Lord. Lord Ogmore, wanted to find out was how the commercial Dockyard developments are affecting the employment situation. Can the noble Earl say what the employment situation in the Dockyard is compared to what it was when it was a Naval Dockyard?


My Lords, there is no question of Her Majesty's Government not recognising their responsibilities. We have said many times that we are trying to ensure that the changeover from an Admiralty Dockyard to a commercial one, and all the other consequences, should go forward. In that connection, of course, there is the economic development plan of some £25 million—or it may be even £30 million—to that end. As regards the question of employment, I am afraid that I have not the exact figures, but my impression is that there have been, to date, no direct dismissals as a result of the changeover in the Dockyard. There has been a rundown to some degree in strength, but that has arisen over natural wastage.