HC Deb 28 February 1973 vol 851 cc1478-80
10. Mr. Sydney Chapman

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is his estimate, derived from information received by officials of his Department, of the value of assets in Uganda of those Ugandan Asians at present in the United Kingdom.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

We are continuing to record information as it is received from United Kingdom nationals, but the returned forms are not yet a sufficient proportion of those issued to allow a useful estimate to be made of the value of assets left in Uganda.

Mr. Chapman

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the British Government hold General Amin and his racialist régime personally responsible for the value of those assets, whatever it is? Will my right hon. Friend go a little further and say that he will refuse to treat with, or attend the same conference attended by, the Ugandan Government, unless it is on this specific matter, and then only after a change in the obscene policies of that Government?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

We hold the Ugandan Government responsible for paying the compensation. My hon. Friend might like to know that so far more than 8,000 sets of forms have been issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Uganda Resettlement Board, and that so far there have been about 2,200 replies. At the moment, we are pursuing with the Ugandan Government the question of compensation. I must reserve what action we take, should that approach fail, for decision later on.

Mr. Richard

The right hon. Gentleman knows that many British subjects, of Asian or United Kingdom origin, are in considerable difficulties as a result of their expulsion from Uganda. Is he able to say more about the way in which the compensation negotiations are going? Is he able to give some measure of hope to these people who have been expelled, through no fault of their own, and are in great financial straits, again through no fault of their own, that the Government will at least look sympathetically upon their difficulties?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Yes, we shall do that. We are trying our best to help them. It is essential that the Ugandan Government should be held responsible for compensation and, what is more, responsible in currency which is transferable. The last meeting that was held with our representatives in Kampala was on 22nd February.

Mr. George Cunningham

Is the right hon. Gentleman seriously saying that he is negotiating with the Ugandan Government to try to get compensation before he decides what retribution he will apply if they do not pay it? Is not that a form of diplomacy which is bound to lead to failure?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

There is a high chance that it will lead to failure, but we are bound to try. We must try to get compensation. The Government of Uganda have admitted the right to compensation, and we must try to get the actual compensation for the sake of these individuals. Other actions which may follow later may be satisfactory to some people but will not help the individual.

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