HL Deb 14 January 1988 vol 491 cc1346-7

3.22 p.m.

Viscount Buckmaster

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their attitude towards the present Government in Uganda, and whether they consider that the situation there has improved since Viscount Buckmaster's Unstarred Question was debated on 4th December 1985.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Glenarthur)

My Lords, we support the efforts of the Ugandan Government to restore peace and stability to Uganda and welcome their courageous economic decisions and the President's own public commitment to the maintenance of human rights. The majority of people in Uganda now live in an atmosphere of greater stability and security than they have known for some years, and we hope that this improvement will continue.

Viscount Buckmaster

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. Does he not agree that, whereas in the central, western and southern parts of the country there seems to he a general stability and the government are in effective control, nevertheless in the northern and eastern parts instability continues and is accompanied by killings, some of which are attributed to the government and some to the opposition? Is the Minister satisfied that the staff of Her Majesty's High Commission in Kampala have access to all parts of the country?

Lord Glenarthur

My Lords, it is certainly true that rebel forces are still fighting against the government in some areas of the north and east. They are mostly soldiers from previous administrations. However, we welcome the Ugandan Government's efforts to bring about reconciliation of the various conflicting interests in Uganda. As regards the last part of the noble Viscount's supplementary question, so far as I am aware the staff of the High Commission have access to all parts of the country, but if I am wrong in that I shall let him know.

The Earl of Selkirk

My Lords, can the noble Lord tell the House whether the penetration of the Sudanese into the north of Uganda has been stopped and particularly their poaching of game of one kind or another?

Lord Glenarthur

My Lords, so far as I am aware there is no particular problem about poaching game or entry by the Sudanese into the northern area; but should there be any further information on that matter, I shall let my noble friend know.

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos

My Lords, in a debate that took place two years ago this House agreed that the essential step was the revitalisation of the Ugandan economy. Can the Minister go a little further and say whether he believes that the economy has been revitalised and if so to what extent the aid programme from this country has assisted that process? Can the Minister also tell the House what is the latest report from Amnesty International on the question of the abuse of human rights?

Lord Glenarthur

My Lords, President Museveni's government in May 1987 embarked upon an economic recovery programme with the support of the IMF, which in itself is an encouraging sign. It is a bold initiative which is required and it will require courageous decisions on the part of the government. Her Majesty's Government have provided substantial aid in a number of different support programmes. In June last year we pledged £25 million worth of balance of payments support for Uganda to be spent over two years. Then there are £5 million worth representing a bilateral programme to finance vital imports for the agricultural, transport and industrial sectors and £10 million worth of co-financing with the World Bank of special facilities for Africa. The remaining £10 million is subject to Uganda maintaining the economic recovery programme to which I referred. There are other matters as well. I am afraid that I do not have details of the Amnesty International report but I shall try to obtain them for the noble Lord.