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Volume 718: debated on Tuesday 9 March 2010


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in view of the decision of the Government of Mauritius not to participate in the public consultation on the marine protected area, consideration is being given to an overall settlement of the issues concerning the future of the Chagossian people and the Chagos islands with the Government of Mauritius and the Chagossian people. [HL2164]

Following the Law Lords' judgment in R (Bancoult) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs [2008] UKHL 61 that the British Indian Ocean Territory (Constitution) Order 2004 and the British Indian Ocean Territory (Immigration) Order 2004 are lawful, government policy remains that there is no right of abode in the territory and anyone wishing to visit requires a permit. The Government do not intend to resettle the Chagossians in the territory.

The UK has no doubt about its sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory, which was ceded to Britain in 1814 and has been a British dependency ever since. As we have reiterated on many occasions, we have undertaken to cede the territory to Mauritius when it is no longer required for defence purposes.

Meetings between UK and Mauritian officials on the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) were held in January and July 2009. Delegations discussed the latest legal and policy developments relating to BIOT. Both delegations set out their respective positions on sovereignty and the UK also set out how the UK needed to bear in mind its treaty obligations with the US and our ongoing need of the BIOT for defence purposes. There was mutual discussion of fishing rights, the environment, continental shelf and future visits to the territory by Chagossians.

My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has also discussed the proposed marine protected area with the Mauritian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister in November 2009.