HC Deb 21 July 1959 vol 609 cc106-7W
Mr. Awbery

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what progress is being made in improving the economy and increasing the standard of living in Malta since the Malta Constitution Order was introduced; what plans have been drawn up for its future developments; and if he will enumerate the salient items of improvement which are contemplated.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The immediate problem facing the new Government, set up under the Malta Constitution Order-in-Council on 15th April, is to keep up the high level of employment attained largely as the result of the activities of the Services in Malta. Special attention is therefore being given to plans for strengthening the economy so that living standards may be maintained and, if possible, improved.

The new Government's Development Programme will be ready for publication shortly. The largest item on it is the £6 million to be spent on the conversion of the naval Dockyard into a commercial ship-repairing yard, on the progress of which I informed the House in my reply to the hon. Member for Haltem-price (Mr. Wall) on 7th July. In addition, nearly £2½ million is being provided for the development of the port of Valetta which, by reducing the heavy costs and delays at present involved in handling cargo there, will, it is hoped, both encourage industrial development and help to "restore Malta's entrepottrade. The contract for this scheme was awarded in October, 1958. Work started in November and it is hoped to complete it by the end of 1960.

The Programme also provides for financial assistance towards the development of industry, including the hotel industry, which is expected to make an important contribution to Malta's future economy. For the rest, the Programme covers a wide range of economic and social services, including basic services such as education and housing and water and road development.

I will arrange for a copy of the Development Programme to be placed in the Library when it is published.