HC Deb 06 July 1965 vol 715 cc1330-1
14. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations how many British-owned farms in the Arusha area of Tanzania have had their leases terminated; whether compensation has now been agreed; and when it will be paid.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

According to my information, the leases of four farms owned by three British citizens have been terminated. As I informed the House on 4th May, the Tanzanian Government have stated their intention of paying compensation for unexhausted improvements. I understand that the valuations have already been completed and that a decision on the amount of compensation is likely to be taken shortly.

Mr. Wall

I welcome the steps taken by the Tanzanian Government since the cancellation of these leases, but would the Minister of State bear in mind that it is now nearly nine months since these leases were revoked? Many of the owners are in difficult circumstances in this country? Will he press the Tanzanian Government to come to a final decision over compensation as rapidly as possible?

Mr. Hughes

I realise that there has been a delay, but the hon. Gentleman will realise also that these land questions in Tanzania and elsewhere in East Africa are complicated. We are continuing to press the Tanzanian Government to give us an early decision, because we are aware of the difficulties created for these people.

Sir J. Fletcher-Cooke

First, is it a fact that some of the leases which were originally revoked have been restored to their owners? Secondly, do the Minister and his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State think that there is a long-term future for European farmers in this area? If not, would they consider, in consultation with the Government of Tanzania, introducing some scheme similar to that which has been adopted in Kenya for the orderly buying out, with their concurrence, of these farmers?

Mr. Hughes

Some of the leases in question have been restored, although obviously the hon. Gentleman would not wish me to give the details here. If he will write to me, I will let him have the details.

On the second question, the Tanzanian Government have publicly stated that farmers, irrespective of nationality, who develop their land and comply with the normal regulations are welcome to stay in Tanzania. As a result of our representations, which were made at the highest level, the position now is that land utilisation committees are being set up by the Tanzanian Government in the various regions of the country to advise the Government on land usage matters. These Committees will be composed of appropriate Government officers and representatives of local farmers. One such committee was established in Arusha in May. This action by the Tanzanian Government will give a good deal more confidence to the farmers who are there. This is what we were anxious to achieve.