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Her Majesty's Government have no responsibility for the internal management of the yard. As my right hon. Friend said on 23rd April, the total number employed in the yard is about 5,000, but the distribution of labour and allocation of cost are matters of internal administration for the Council, which is an independent statutory body set up under a Malta Act.
Bearing in mind that, when Bailey (Malta) Ltd. had commercial ships in the yard, there were about 1,500 men working on them, will not my hon. Friend agree that it appears that there are about 1,500 men there surplus to requirements, involving some £750,000 sterling a year? Can he say whether this is borne by the Admiralty, the Colonial Office or the shareholders of Bailey (Malta) Ltd.
The cost of the labour force is a company responsibility and always has been. The company was, in fact, bearing the cost of the labour force before the Council took over. In the absence—I have to say this again—of most of the company's books and records, which have not yet been handed over to the Council, it has not been possible to work out the financial position. So I cannot answer the implied question as to whether or not the Council will receive a subsidy out of public funds.
To be perfectly honest, I think that it almost certainly is. But with the appointment of the new managing agents, the efforts of the Council to obtain commercial orders will undoubtedly be intensified, and a proper assessment will be made of the maximum economic labour force which the yard can carry. It will then be possible to work out the extent of the redundancy problem, which will have to be dealt with, I imagine, at Government level.