Malta

Oral Answers to Questions — Overseas Development – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19th March 1970.

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Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice 12:00 am, 19th March 1970

asked the Minister of Overseas Development if she will make a further statement on the suspension of aid to Malta.

Photo of Mr Nigel Fisher Mr Nigel Fisher , Surbiton

asked the Minister of Overseas Development whether she has concluded her negotiations on aid with the Government of Malta.

Photo of Mrs Judith Hart Mrs Judith Hart , Lanark

Negotiations are not yet concluded. I cannot therefore yet make a statement, but I shall do so as soon as possible.

Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice

Is the right hon. Lady aware that this means that aid has now been suspended to Malta for more than a year? Is this not unparalleled action to take against a friendly Commonwealth country? Is it not beginning to lead to interference in the internal affairs of Malta?

Photo of Mrs Judith Hart Mrs Judith Hart , Lanark

I hardly think so. In fact, the development of Malta has not been held up, because it has been financed by short-term borrowing. We hope that we can reach agreement with the Malta Government. We believe that we have made every reasonable endeavour to do so, and I shall make a statement as soon as I can.

Photo of Mr Nigel Fisher Mr Nigel Fisher , Surbiton

Is this not a great reflection on the competence of Her Majesty's Government? I have been engaged in such negotiations and they have never taken a year to complete on a matter of relatively minor financial importance to the United Kingdom. If the right hon. Lady cannot give the whole of what Malta wants, would she direct her mind to a compromise solution to complete this matter quickly?

Photo of Mrs Judith Hart Mrs Judith Hart , Lanark

Any fair-minded person would be bound to recognise that we have made the maximum effort over a period to reach agreement with Malta. We have not yet succeeded in doing so. We shall go on trying. Until we do, it is best that I do not go into great detail about the whole matter.

Photo of Mr Nigel Fisher Mr Nigel Fisher , Surbiton

In view of the very unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I wish to give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment.