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Chagos Islands

Volume 608: debated on Tuesday 12 April 2016

7. What progress his Department has made on allowing Chagossian people to return to the Chagos Islands. (904407)

This is much more familiar territory for me.

Officials met over 500 Chagossians in their communities in the UK, Mauritius and the Seychelles. The public consultation we published in January received over 800 responses. I recognise that Chagossians have urged us to announce a decision soon, and we very much hope to do so.

Does the Minister agree that the £60 million estimate for the resettlement of the Chagos islanders, at 0.002% of the international development budget, is a price that the Government must pay this year so that the Chagos islanders can return home? Every day they are not allowed to do so is a day of shame for this country.

Perhaps I might outline for the House some of the costs. We estimate that the initial costs would range from £55 million for a 50-person pilot on Diego Garcia to £256 million for a 1,500-person resettlement on Diego Garcia and the outer islands. In addition, operating costs would range from £5 million to £18.5 million a year on a potentially open-ended and escalating basis.

Will the Foreign and Commonwealth Office commit that financial resource, which is desperately needed, to recognise the human rights of this group of people who have suffered for so long under many different Governments?

Following the detailed KPMG report and subsequent consultation, Her Majesty’s Government are looking closely at the matter. The hon. Lady will forgive me if I do not come to a conclusion at the Dispatch Box, but go through due process, and I will try to do so as quickly as possible.