HC Deb 11 December 1972 vol 848 cc29-30
35. Mr. Goodhart

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the French Government about the co-ordination of aid programmes to African countries, including Uganda.

Mr. Wood

We have frequent contacts with the French Government on matters of aid policy, including aid to African countries.

Mr. Goodhart

Has my right hon. Friend seen reports that France is prepared substantially to increase aid to Uganda to curry favour with General Amin? Will he tell the French Government that that sort of behaviour would be bitterly resented in this country?

Mr. Wood

I have seen the reports and was as disquieted as my hon. Friend. However, I have made inquiries and I find that reports were grossly exaggerated. All that was being discussed was a small programme of technical assistance and there is no question of the French Government being willing, as I think the article said, to fill in the gaps left by the British.

Mrs. Hart

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that even a minor loan by France to Uganda, at this precise moment when, for very good reasons we have discontinued aid to Uganda, indicates the need to establish a rather better method of co-ordination and communication if we are to co-operate, as the right hon. Gentleman no doubt hopes we shall, as members of the EEC on matters relating to developing countries? Does not the present situation leave something to be desired?

Mr. Wood

No, I think that cooperation has been quite close, and we have been told exactly what the French have in mind. This technical assistance, small as it is, is a matter for the French, not for the British Government.