HC Deb 16 January 1964 vol 687 cc397-8
29. Mr. Bottomley

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relationswhat representations he received from the Government of Uganda about a party held at Tank Hill, Kampala; what action he took in this regard; and if he will make a statement.

The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and for the Colonies (Mr. Duncan Sandys)

The story of this unfortunate episode is too involved to explain in an oral Answer. I will therefore, with permission, circulate a statement in the Official Report.

Mr. Bottomley

Does the Commonwealth Secretary see any useful purpose being served by asking the Uganda Government to agree to a joint inquiry into the whole affair?

Mr. Sandys

I do not think so. The sooner this is forgotten the better.

Dr. King

Is the Minister aware that one of the deportees, who is a constituent of mine, has assured me that the party was a joke; that what was being mocked at and joked at at the party was not African nationalism but old-fashioned British imperialism; that what is regarded as a false picture has been given to the Uganda Parliament and that the perpetrators of the party have offered their apologies to the Government? Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the punishment is out of proportion to any unintentional offence which the party may have given?

Mr. Sandys

I think that I have covered those points in the statement which I am circulating in the Official Report.

The statement is as follows:

On 11th December, the eve of Kenya's independence, certain British residents in Kampala organised a "bottle colonial sundown" party. The wording of theinvitations, some of the fancy dresses worn and, it seems, the conduct of some of the participants gave the impression that it was the intention to ridicule the African. While we here do not get unduly upset if people from other countries make fun of us,and usually accept without protest the rough things which are often said about us by African newspapers and politicians, we have to recognise that people in other countries are often more sensitive about anything derogatory which is said about them. The party in Kampala undoubtedly caused deep offence and gave rise to inflammatory statements in Parliament and the Press, This in turn roused strong anti-European sentiments and threats of violence against the British community.

Although this private party undoubtedly exhibited deporable taste, it seems that greatly exaggerated importance has been attached to it However, in view of the high state of feeling, the British High Commissioner was authorised to express to the Prime Minister of Uganda our regret at thedamage caused by this thoughtless episode to the happy relations between the British community and the people of Uganda. At the same time he reminded the Uganda Government of their responsibilities for the protection of British lives and property, and they readily provided police protection for those concerned. The High Commissioner also emphasised that in our opinion, this deportation of 15 persons with families was, in the circumstances, an unduly severe step.

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