HC Deb 30 November 1972 vol 847 cc222-4W
Mr. Dykes

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if, following his announcement on 31st August that action had been suspended on the proposal for a £10 million loan to Uganda, he is now in a position to make a statement.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I announced on 31st August that action had been suspended on the proposal for a £10 million loan agreement which was about to be signed in August. We had hoped that if circumstances changed for the better it would have been possible to reactivate it. They have not done so and it has been cancelled.

The other major part of our aid programme was in the form of technical assistance. We have at present over 800 officers working on technical assistance projects in Uganda. Almost all of them are on contract to the Ugandan Government or Makerere University in Kampala. We make a substantial contribution to their salaries.

President Amin has already said more than once that Uganda does not need technical assistance from us, and that so far as he is concerned our staff can leave whenever they want. He apparently hopes to replace them from other countries, or by Ugandans. Our people are highly qualified and I pay tribute to their work. But it makes no sense to go on paying to make them available to a country that does not want them.

We have therefore decided that we shall stop supplementing the salaries of our technical assistance staff, once their current contracts have expired. They will virtually all expire within the next two years. It is possible that some staff have decided that for one reason or another they cannot do their jobs effectively in present conditions and will want to terminate their contracts before they run out by giving notice. We shall not encourage them to do this but if they do, we shall do our best to help over financial difficulties arising as a result.

We have also reviewed our relations generally with Uganda and in particular the level of our diplomatic representation. I have decided that our High Commissioner, who left Kampala on 16th October, should not be replaced for the time being.

The position is therefore that for the time being no further aid money will be spent in Uganda, either capital loans or technical assistance, once existing commitments have been fulfilled or wound up: and our representation will remain at acting high commissioner level. We regret that these decisions should have been forced on us and that our relations with Uganda should have come to this pass. The present state of affairs does not serve the interests of either of us.

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