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Uganda (British Assets)

Volume 888: debated on Wednesday 12 March 1975

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9.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he has taken to get transferred to the United Kingdom the assets in Uganda of the United Kingdom passport holders expelled in 1972.

24.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the latest position regarding the provision of compensation for British properties expropriated in Uganda.

We have continued to press the Ugandan Government for compensation for British-owned assets which have been expropriated. President Amin has very recently said that Uganda is now prepared to discuss with us compensation for British Asians. We welcome this statement and have offered to send a delegation to Kampala for the purpose.

That is encouraging, but is it not outrageous that two and a half years after their expulsion thousands of these refugees are still struggling to make a new life in this country without the help of a penny of their assets in Uganda? Will the Government intensify their efforts and put every possible pressure on the Ugandan Government in these talks until a satisfactory solution is reached?

I accept the hon. Gentleman's judgment about the nature of the Ugandan Government's decision. I promise him that we shall continue to do all that we can to bring this matter to a speedy and happy solution, particularly on behalf of those people who came to Britain in virtual destitution, some of whom I am privileged to represent in my constituency.

Does my right hon. Friend have any plans to invite General Amin over here to discuss these matters with him and to confirm any new decorations which the General has conferred upon himself?

The Government have no plans to invite General Amin, nor, as I understand it, has General Amin any plans to invite himself.

Will the Minister make it perfectly clear that in terms of compensation the Government will tolerate no discrimination between Asians and whites expelled from Uganda? Is it likely that the Ugandan Government will be in a position to pay the considerable sums of compensation which are now being talked about?

On the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question, the answer is a clear and obvious "Yes ". On the second part, President Amin has said on many occasions that his Government can pay the compensation when adequate terms are arrived at. I hope that his judgment on the economic viability of his nation is right. We shall continue to negotiate on the basis that they are able to pay when they are wining to do so.