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Diego Garcia

Volume 582: debated on Tuesday 17 June 2014

10. What discussions his office has had with the US Government on renewal of the lease of the air base on Diego Garcia in British Indian Ocean Territory. (904252)

The current agreement with the US runs until December 2016. I expect my officials to begin substantive discussions with US colleagues about post-2016 arrangements later this year. The independent feasibility study on resettlement should be complete by early 2015.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that answer. May I seek assurances that when the lease on Diego Garcia is negotiated with the United States, that will not prejudice a possible future return of Chagos islanders to that archipelago?

My hon. Friend is assiduous in his commitment to the Chagossians in his constituency, but we need to be careful that we do not prejudice the outcome of the independent study, which has the full involvement of the Chagossians. I can assure my hon. Friend that the US is being kept informed, but the challenges to resettling these low-lying islands, which lack basic facilities and infrastructure, are very clear, as I saw myself in March. We will look at the report, however, and we will consider the range of factors—value for the UK taxpayer, long-term contingent liabilities and the defence requirements of DG to the UK and our allies.