HC Deb 02 May 1967 vol 746 cc299-300
32. Mr. Ronald Bell

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Uganda concerning the recent treatment of British subjects in that country.

Mr. George Thomas

I would refer the hon. and learned Member to the reply given to a Question on the same subject by the hon. Member for Dorset, South (Mr. Evelyn King) on 21st March, 1967. No incidents have been reported to me since that date.—[Vol. 743, c. 216.]

Mr. Bell

Is it correct, as recently reported, that a British couple were dragged from their car and made to dance in the roadway for an hour at bayonet point? Is it right that the British High Commissioner in Uganda warned British subjects of the danger of using certain roads, and has Her Majesty's Government recalled him at the request of the Uganda Government on that account?

Mr. Thomas

There are three questions there. I will answer the last one first, if I may. We have not recalled Mr. Hunt at the request of the Uganda Government. He is still there. His tour of duty ends shortly, and he is returning to take up a new appointment. With regard to the other supplementary ques- tions, it is past history. There have been no incidents since the end of March, and I know that the Uganda Government deplored them as much as we did.

Sir J. Eden

Will the hon. Gentleman just make clear to what extent he protests about incidents such as these? Is he not aware that so far his answers to these questions have given the impression that the Government really do not care about what happens to British subjects?

Mr. Thomas

Well, the hon. Gentleman has a wrong impression, because we have made very strong representations, through our High Commissioner, when incidents have occurred, and I myself raised this matter with the President of Uganda when I was in that country.

Mr. Paget

Does it not begin to look more and more as though membership of the British Commonwealth was coming to be regarded as a licence to behave far worse to British people than to foreigners?

Mr. Thomas

I think my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) has lost his sense of proportion. [Interruption.] There are 7,000 British nationals in Uganda; there have been 24 incidents in the past year—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I only wish that those with black skins in Rhodesia carrying British passports were as safe as those with white skins carrying British passports in Uganda.

Mr. Wall

But will the hon. Gentleman make it clear that when British High Commissioners stick up for the rights of the British citizens they will have the full support of the British Government?

Mr. Thomas

When the High Commissioners defend the rights of British citizens they are doing so at the request and on the instructions of Her Majesty's Government.

Mr. Bell

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I will seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment.