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Malta

Volume 655: debated on Tuesday 13 March 1962

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Constitution

12.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what constitutional proposals he has received from the new Government of Malta.

22.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when he received a request from the new Prime Minister of Malta for independence for the island; and what was his reply.

I have received no constitutional proposals from the new Government as yet, but before taking office Dr. Borg Olivier made it clear that he will wish to raise certain questions with me.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that there is a large body of people in the island holding the opinion that they would not want to enjoy a lesser status in the Commonwealth than that accorded to Cyprus, and will he agree that once the problems of viability and defence have been solved there is no reason why Malta should not be an independent State within the Commonwealth?

I am looking forward to an early meeting with the new Prime Minister of Malta. I do not think that I should comment on any particular issue before then.

Is the Colonial Secretary aware that the Prime Minister declared some time ago that the present constitution is unworkable, that he represents 50 per cent. of the electorate and that the Labour Party represents 30 per cent., all that 80 per cent. being in favour of independence and freedom? Will he now say that he is prepared to give these people freedom at a specific date and not make a general and vague statement?

No, Sir; I do not think that I can make a statement to that effect today.

Elections

21.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what complaints he has received concerning irregularities during the recent general election in Malta; what inquiries are being made; and if he will make a statement.

Two days before the elections the Governor received certain written representations from the Malta Labour Party, which he discussed with a delegation from the Party on the same day. The delegation was unable to produce direct evidence in support of their allegations. No further complaints have been received.

Is the Minister aware that the whole of the Maltese Press and the foreign Press of the world was full of the irregularities taking place during this election, and, in view of the statement made to him in a memorandum from the Labour Party of Malta and amplified to the Governor, will he now hold an inquiry into the whole position? The right hon. Gentleman was asked to send someone down there during the period of the election and he refused to do it. Will he now hold an inquiry into the allegations that have been made?

No. I do not think there is any substance in that. The Governor has discussed the representations received from the Malta Labour Party, and my own impression is that the authorities in Malta did a very good job in conducting the election.