HL Deb 15 July 1968 vol 295 cc8-10

2.51 p.m.


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:

  1. 1. Whether they have consulted with the Maltese Government as to the possibility of supplying Maltese labour to Gibraltar should the Spanish problems increase; and
  2. 2. Whether, in view of the shortage of housing accommodation in Gibraltar, it would be possible to make use of one or two obsolescent liners for the time being.]


My Lords, at the Gibraltar Government's request we asked the Maltese authorities about the possibilities of attracting Maltese labour to Gibraltar. We were advised that the prospects of success of such a project were small. I understand that nevertheless the Gibraltar Government has a limited scheme of this nature under urgent consideration. In answer to the second part of the noble Lady's question, I can assure her that the practicability of stationing a liner at Gibraltar to serve as a hostel for workers has already been closely examined. Expert opinion was that the cost of it would be disproportionately large. Furthermore, the shortage of housing accommodation in Gibraltar is not as acute now as it was. Under their development plan the Gibraltar Government are providing housing not only for Gibraltarians but also for immigrant labour which they wish to attract to Gibraltar for permanent settlement.


My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for the full answer he has given. Is he aware that I was in Malta last week and I was left with the impression that this matter had not recently been discussed? I stand corrected if the Minister says it has been. Would the Minister agree that if we could get the Gibraltese and the Maltese to work together to solve their mutual problems is would he of very great help to both sides?


My Lords, I agree that it would be a great help. We are now considering this whole problem with the Government of Gibraltar—especially the problem of attracting labour from Malta to Gibraltar—a.nd if there appears to be any prospect of success when those consultations are complete we will, of course, approach the Government of Malta again.


My Lords, as Her Majesty's Government have decided, and quite rightly so, to send a manpower mission to Gibraltar—and I would congratulate them on their choice of members of this mission—I presume they will be looking at this question in view of the terms of reference of this manpower mission. May I ask the noble Lord whether their findings and recommendations will be made available to Parliament? With regard to the terms of reference, could the noble Lord say what is specifically meant by "future developments" in this context?


I am grateful for what the noble Lord has said about this mission and its composition. As the House will know, Lord Beeching has agreed to head the mission and my noble friend Lord Delacourt-Smith has agreed to be the other member. The terms of reference, as announced last Thursday, are to review Gibraltar's manpower requirements, taking into account future developments. I cannot go into any more detail about those terms of reference, nor can I give at the moment an undertaking about how the report will be dealt with when it is received, but perhaps if the noble Lord will revert to the question a little later we may be able to give him an answer.


My Lords, could the Minister say anything more about housing in Gibraltar? When I was there about ten days ago I asked what the situation was regarding housing and I was given the answer that it was extremely difficult for Gibraltarians to obtain property in which to live. In answer to my noble friend the noble Lord, he has said that the Gibraltar Government were attempting to redress the balance in that respect.


I cannot give any great details about this. There is a housing development scheme under way in Gibraltar. I understand it has gore some way to relieving the severe housing shortage to such an extent that the Gibraltar Government are now setting aside fifty flats a year—it does not sound much—for the housing of immigrant workers alone under their immigration policy. So I think it is true to say the situation is better than it was.


My Lords, would the noble Lord say whether there is any redundancy among dockyard workers in Malta? That is the type of work that would be required in Gibraltar in certain circumstances.


My Lords, that is another question. The redundancy of Maltese labour is outside the framework of the original Question, but perhaps, if my noble Leader would allow me, I could say that the situation in Malta is much better than it was in respect to unemployment and redundancy. It is for that reason that there is some difficulty in getting people to go to Gibraltar.

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