HC Deb 25 January 1978 vol 942 cc1372-3
13. Miss Joan Lestor

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further consideration he has given to stopping flights between the United Kingdom and Uganda from Stansted airport.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Edward Rowlands)

The question of the Stansted flights is under active consideration. The Government will soon be in a position to announce their decision.

Miss Lestor

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Is he aware that there is a degree of urgency about our receiving an answer on this? At the time of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' conference, when Uganda was occupying more attention than at present, certain promises or hints of promises were given that this Stansted run, which is totally unnecessary, would be stopped. We look forward to urgent action.

Mr. Rowlands

I appreciate my hon. Friend's points, but a number of very complex issues related to our international obligations and our domestic law are involved here. The Government are seeking advice on them and we hope to make an announcement soon.

Mr. McCrindle

Is it not true that every time we drink Nescafé or Maxwell House coffee we are helping to underpin the régime in Uganda, the coffee sales of which are being remarkably successful? In these circumstances, is there not an argument for the Government to turn their attention possibly to some sort of economic sanctions if we are ever to undermine Amin's régime?

Mr. Rowlands

I think that it would be a very serious course to embark upon full-scale trade sanctions which would conflict with our own domestic interests—Rhodesia is a very special case—but, also, it would conflict with our commitment to Lomé in EEC terms.

Mr. Luce

It is quite clear that these regular airways flights from Stansted to Uganda are helping to sustain the tyrannical Ugandan régime by the provision of luxury goods rather than helping the people of Uganda. Is it not time that the Government stopped prevaricating? Will the Minister explain what the obstacles are?

Mr. Rowlands

The obstacles are fundamental legal ones about international obligations—things like the Chicago Convention and many other provisions internationally—which make it difficult for us to terminate these flights. However, we have been investigating the possibilities and we hope to make an announcement soon. We appreciate and share the strength of feeling in the House.

Back to