Chagos Islands

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:17 pm on 28th October 2015.

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Photo of Kate Hoey Kate Hoey Labour, Vauxhall 5:17 pm, 28th October 2015

It is delightful to have you chairing this particular debate, Mr Rosindell, as I know you have been involved with this issue in the past.

I pay tribute to all the members of the all-party group, who, over a period of time, have really tried to keep this issue in the spotlight. In particular, I pay tribute to the new leader of my party, my hon. Friend Jeremy Corbyn, who chaired the all-party group for many years through thick and thin. He has done a huge amount, and I know that he would like to have been here today, but I do not think he can be.

To me, it is unbelievable to think that what we did to those people 50 years ago could happen today. We would not have let it happen, and the fact that it did and that they are still waiting for their human rights to be restored so many years later is shameful for all of us. Now is the perfect time to get this return-fare package,

50 years on, particularly with the negotiations with the United States coming up next year. We just have to be absolutely firm: this will not be renegotiated unless we have a fair return for all the islanders.

I have already spoken about the cost, and I congratulate Dr Monaghan on securing the debate and on outlining the history of the situation so clearly. Anyone who reads the history cannot be anything other than moved by the injustice of what happened to those people. We now have an opportunity, 50 years on, to really make their return happen. Money should not be the issue. It is there, and if the Government were to work with the people themselves on how they want this to happen, once we have made the decision that it is going to happen—I hope that has now been accepted, with the report from the independent study stating that there is no reason whatever why they could not go back—we have to make it happen as quickly as possible.

However, we have to work with the Chagossian people to make sure that when they go back, they do so under terms that they are happy with, and that they will not be misled again or sign up to all sorts of agreements that afterwards cannot be carried out. I am very supportive today of that return happening, and I again pay tribute to all the Chagossian people, who have shown such dignity over many years about this dreadful thing that happened to them 50 years ago.