Thank you, Mr Rosindell. This is clearly a complicated and important debate for the many people who are in the room today. I absolutely agree with Kate Hoey: this is not and should not be a debate about money. There are moral imperatives attached to the resettlement of the Chagos islanders.
As the UK-US agreement on the use of Diego Garcia approaches expiration on
Will the Minister confirm that Mark Simmonds’s statement on
Beyond all that, however, there is a human, moral imperative to resettlement. I have already noted that there are Chagossians here today. Some of them want to return to their homeland to live out their lives. Some younger Chagossians want to live and work in the land of their parents and grandparents. All of them want to see their homeland grow and prosper again. All of them want their right of abode reinstated, and, in respect of their right of abode, the decision of the Supreme Court is awaited. Regardless of the Supreme Court’s ruling in respect of the 2008 majority Lords verdict, all right-minded people must continue to argue for the most fundamental and basic human rights to be restored to the Chagossian people.
I urge the Minister not to rise at the end of this debate to recount yet another pitiable series of excuses as to why the UK Government should not, cannot or will not act to resettle the Chagos islands. Excuses, and we must be very clear on this point, are not acceptable. The UK Government’s continuing human rights abuses perpetrated upon the Chagos islanders are simply unacceptable. All of us in this room today know the truth about Chagos. We know what the islands are used for. We know who uses the islands. We know the ecology of the islands and the ecology of the ocean surrounding the islands. We know the rainfall pattern of the islands and that the islands are not dangerous, uninhabitable or sinking. We know the social history of the islands. We also know the true scale of the wrongs that have been perpetrated and the true cost of resettlement.
Rise today, Minister, and tell us—all of us here and those watching at home—what you are going to do now to right the wrongs inflicted upon this people. Rise today, Minister, to apologise to the Chagos islanders and to explain to all of us what you and your Government intend to do now to compensate Chagossians, particularly those in Seychelles. Explain how you will work to support the resettlement of all Chagossians, and how you will reinstate the vibrant society that they once maintained and which the UK Government so casually destroyed, and continue to deliberately and wilfully subvert today.
Minister, return to the Chagossians their human rights, as codified in the universal declaration of human rights, including their right of abode. Provide clarity on their citizenship status and their right to develop economic activity. Chagossians offer no threat to the operational activities of Diego Garcia, and I urge you to use the period in which the terms of the UK-US agreement on the use of Diego Garcia are being renewed to agree that both Governments will support the Chagossian people.