HC Deb 11 December 1972 vol 848 cc10-1
8. Mr. Cronin

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a further statement on steps he is taking to protect the property and ensure the safety and freedom from harassment of British subjects resident in Uganda.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

The safety and well-being of the British community is very much in my mind at the present time and we keep in close touch with them through the High Commission. The Uganda authorities have been reminded of their responsibility for the protection of the United Kingdom community on a number of occasions. The last was on 20th November when the Minister for Foreign Affairs confirmed that his Government accepted full responsibility for the protection of the lives and property of British nationals.

Mr. Cronin

Can the right hon. Gentleman reassure the House, in so far as it is possible to assess General Amin's intentions, that there is no likelihood of any immediate deterioration in the situation in the near future? Can he also indicate what is likely to be the situation of British firms in Uganda in the future?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

One can only hope that at the meeting which General Amin has with the British community on 18th December common sense and moderation will prevail. We have no information that the Ugandans intend to buy out British firms at present but, as the hon. Gentleman suggests, it is very difficult to predict what General Amin will do next.

Sir E. Bullus

How many British residents are there in Uganda?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

There are now fewer than 3,000.

Mr. David Steel

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Ugandan Asians who are resident in my constituency tell me that some of their baggage and goods have not arrived from Uganda? Is he further aware that there have been Press reports of looting of crates, on which transit has been paid, at Entebbe airport? Is it possible for us to give any assistance to make sure that property lying at the airport is moved to this country?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

The property, so far as we could achieve it, was listed by the High Commission—

Mr. Steel

Movable property.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Yes, movable property. If the hon. Gentleman will give me any information about particular cases that he may have in mind, I will certainly have them looked into.

Mr. George Cunningham

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what contingency plans the Government have for dealing with the situation if General Amin turns his attention to all United Kingdom citizens and not just Asians in Uganda?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

All I can say to the hon. Gentleman is that we have this possibility very much in mind. I do not think that any contingency plans ought to be revealed.