[John Bercow in the Chair] — Overseas Territories

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 23rd April 2009.

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Photo of Mike Gapes Mike Gapes Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee 2:30 pm, 23rd April 2009

I hope that the moral argument will be considered. I am not sure whether the legal process can be taken much further following the House of Lords' decision, sadly, but I am not a lawyer. Perhaps other people will consider other options.

Diego Garcia is the largest island in the British Indian Ocean Territory, and has been leased to the United States to become a major military base. Our Committee has been expressing concern for years about extraordinary renditions. We concluded that

"it is deplorable that previous US assurances about rendition flights have turned out to be false. The failure of the United States Administration to tell the truth resulted in the UK Government inadvertently misleading our Select Committee and the House of Commons."

That was the result of information that came to light early last year, and led to the Foreign Secretary making a statement to the House at that time. We also said in our report that we intend to examine further

"the extent of UK supervision of US activities on the base, including all flights and ships serviced from Diego Garcia."

Following the conclusion of the inquiry, the Committee decided to look at that issue as part of our ongoing human rights work. We will be taking evidence from the Foreign Secretary in June regarding the Department's human rights annual report, when we will doubtless have the opportunity to raise that and other matters.