Report from the the Department of Emigration, Labour and Social Welfare for 1957
Part IV - Emigration
56. The decline in the migratory movement from these Islands which was evident in 1956 was accentuated further during the year under review. In fact, the net migration gain for 1957 was the lowest for many years.
57. Since 1954 which was the peak year of the post war period the net migration gain figures were as follows:
Net Migration Gain
58. Total migration to all countries in 1956; 9.007 in 1955 and 11,447 in 1954.
59. A rather disquieting feature was the abnormal number of migrants who returned to Malta during the year, particularly from Australia. The total number ofreturnees was 1,671 of which 1,097 came from Australia. This represents 51% of the migrants leaving Malta during the same year, the percentage of returnees from Australia being 33% of that total. It was indeed an unwelcome record for many years. Considered solely in terms of the money spent by the Government on passage and other assistance, amounting to thousands of pounds, this was a very disturbing fact. From all aspects this large influx of returned migrants was most undesirable, and for one thing the administration found itself faced with the problem of having to find employment for the returnees when the future of the Dockyard was hanging in the balance.
60. For a really true picture of migration trends during the year, however, the limited movement of migration from other European countries where the
- Includes persons who applied in the previous year
- Includes persons accepted as disabled in the previous year
migratory urge had shown almost everywhere an evident decline following the economic rehabilitation of those countries.
61. With regard to Malta the change in the situatidered to be essential, at least until such time as the various planned development schemes were well under way, an indiscriminate emigration movement was quite rightly not considered to be in the best interests of the country's economy.
62. Indeed although Malta may be said to be still in the initial stages ofal and electrical trades the shortage of technicians was truly acute.
63. In forming its migration policy on this basis, the Government had, therefore, set a conservative target of 5,000 persons as the optimum of migrants that could safely leave these Islands each year without jeopardising the success of the plan for economic development.
64. The following table shows how population was affected by migration during the last ten years:
Net natural increase
Net migration decrease
Net increase or decrease
65. As usual migration during the year was chiefly directed to Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America. Australia being as in the past years the main receiving country for our migrants. The movement was as follows:
Country of destination
Number of migrants
Percentage of total
Other more detailed information may be seen in Tables 15 to 17 of Appendix II.
66. Migrants comprised the occupational groups listed hereunder. It should, however, be noted that it was not possible in all cases to make a full assessment of the migrant"s skill and trade experience at time of registration. An analysis of migrants' occupations may be seen in more detail at Table 19 of Appendix II.
Higher Administrative, Professional and Managerial Occupations
Intermediate Administrative, Professional and Managerial Occupations
Shopkeepers, shop assistants, clerical workers
Personal services occupations
Foremen, overseers, supervisors
Semi skilled workers
Farmers, agricultural workers
Children (under 14 years)
67. Emigration Assistance to emigrants and their families during the year amounted to Stg 155,171. 10. 7d. whereof a total of Stg 12,732. 10. 0d. was paid by the Australian Government under the Migration Agreement between the Government of the Commonwealth and the Maltese Government.
68. Migration to Australia during the year1,286 proceeded to that country as compared with 2,724 in 1956, 6442 in 1955 and 8,470 in 1954. But the position in regard to Australia would look much less gratifying when account is taken of the abnormal number of migrants who returned to Malta during the same period, no less than 1,097 persons, an all time record. It will thus be seen that the net gain in migration to Australia during the year was only 189.
69. That the migration flow to Australia, as indeed the migration movement in general, would have been on a lesser scale than in previous years was to be expected in view of the improvements in social welfare and the Government's policy of full employment. But the final result at the end of the year was disappointing beyond all expectations. It has to be kept in mind, however, that many of the returnees find their way back to the country of their adoption. As assistance is only given once many of them make their own travelling arrangaments and the Department is not brought into the picture at all. The number of former residents who return to Australia cannot be ascertained, but there are reasons to believe that it is appreciable.
70. In view of this unsatisfactory state of affairs the Minister felt it incumbent on him to make a public statement which was broadcast locally on three different occasions in May. Following is a pertinent extract from the Minister's statement-
"Notwithstanding the fact that during the year 1956 Government found additional employment for 1,300 persons, the number of unemployed males rose from 1,000 in September to 2,000 up to April of the current year. This was due to the fact that a number of young men had left school du to the number of emigrants which had returned back to Malta before ascertaining themselves of the local situation. Having regard to the dockyard discharges which have been forecast by Mr Sandys, the British Minister for Defence, unemployment is likely to increase. While every possible measure will be taken by the administration to alleviate hardship, particularly by those persons awaiting discharg therefore, a certain amount of hardship in the country cannot be avoided. Emigration during the first four months of the year consisted only of 880 persons. During the same period 660 emigrants returned to Malta, of which 520 from Australia alone. If this state of affairs does not improve, the net migration gain at the end of the year is not likely to be more than 1,000 persons. In these circumstances unemployment is let alone if these discharges occur. This abnormal number of returnees makes it evident that these people are being misled about the local situation.. I wish, therefore, to appeal to all those who have relatives or friends in Australia, in England and in Canada not to encourage them to come back to Malta by painting a too rosy picture of conditions over here."
71. In spite of this timely warning the influx continued and at the end of the year, as already stated, the number of returned emigrants totalled no less than 1,671.
72. During the year 74 tradesmen proceeded to Australia under the Commonwealth Migration Scheme. Dependents who accompanied or followed these workers totalled another 191. The important advantage in the case of the Commonwealth nominees is that accommodation and employment are provided for them directly by the Australian Government.
73. Four child migrants, two boys and two girls , emigrated under the Child Migration Scheme.
74. A new Passage Assistance Agreement between the Australian Govern-ment and the Maltese Government was signed in Canberra on the 13th August,1957, the effective date being the 1st July, 1954. The agreement was to be operative for a period of two years.
75. The general terms of the new Agreement were practically the same as those of the original Agreement entered into between the two Governments in 1948.
76. A total of 23,096 assisted migrants proceeded to Australia under the Australia-Malta Passage Assistance Agreement since 1948 as shown in the follow-ing table:-
Amount expended by both Governments
77. There was a marked improvement in migration to Canada during the year, the number of migrants proceeding to that country being 739 as compared with 383 in 1956 and 425
78. This was possible because the Department had succeeded, early in the year, in securing the approval of the Canadian Government for the admission into Canada of 300 "open placement" immigrants and their families.
79. Accordingly, arrangements were made for a Canadian Selection Team to visit Malta. Selection of registered migrants, was carried out in April, a total of 195 applicants being approved. The migrants proceeded to Canada in three different groups between April and June
80. Late in the year, further negotiations with the Canadian Government were initiated by the Department with a view to promoting another group movement to the Dominion in the following year. In this way it was hoped that an expansion of migration to Canada would be achieved, as formerly the movement to Canada had been restricted to close relatives sponsored by persons already settled in that country.
81. Migration to the United Kingdom has been fairly constant in recent years with an average of 1,000 migrants proceeding to the Mother Country each year.
82. During the year under review 960 persons emigrated to the United Kingdom, consisting mainly of young persons of both sexes to whom the nearness of the country is always a great incentive to emigrate.
83. With practically full employment the United Kingdom is considered to be an ideal place for the young worker and particularly for the semi-skilled.
84. The situation in regard to the U,S.A, did not improve during the year. The provisions of the United States Immigration and Nationality law (the McCarran-Walter Act) restricted the immigration of Maltese nationals into the States to a quota of 100 persons a year.
85. On the 11th September, 1957, Act No. 85-316, amending certain provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 came into force in the United States. However, what at first was hoped to be an important amendment providing substantial relief from the unsatisfactory situation obtaining, was found to contain only a number of emergency short-term provisions from which only a very limited number of prospective emigrants could benefit, that is, not more than about 130 persons. The amendments did not affect the non-quota migrants and gave a ‘once only' concession to persons whose applications for admission to the United States was approved on 1st July, 1957, and who fell within the first three cateta. As a whole the concession was considered to be of very little value to Malta.
86. The total number who emigrated to the U.S.A. in the year was 292, including non-quota immigrants.
87. Apart from the passage assistance contributions payable by the Australian Government and by the Malta Government under the Australia-Malta Passage Assistance Agreement, other forms of assistance continued to be granted to bona fide eligible migrants under the provisions of the Emigration Assistance Scheme.
88. Such assistance consists of an allowance varying from Stg 20 to Stg 30 to the dependents of migrants proceeding to Australia, Canada or New Zealand who are married or are the sole breadwinners in the family.
89. It may also consist of a special grant of Stg 20 to a migrant leaving for Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the United Kingdom who:
- has been in the service of Government uninterruptedly for at least six months ending n is leaving employment for the purpose of emigrating; or
- has been registered as unemployed for an unbroken period of three months prior to departure; or
- is a member of a household which has been receiving social assistance for a period of six weeks prior to departure; or
- is a man or woman (aged 19 years or over) who has been for a period of six months prior to departure earning sub-standard wages.
90. In addition to the assistance given from the Government funds, the Department administers grants to emigrants from the Pappaffy Emigration Fund. Such assistance covers passage cost or the balance thereof normally borne by the migrant and a bounty of Stg.20. During the year under review 5 emigrants benefited from this assistance which totalled Stg 151. 17s. Two of the migrants proceeded to Australia, two to U.K. and one to Canada.