Leader of the House William Hague has said he “cannot guarantee” a Government decision on Chagossian return to their homeland before Parliament concludes at the end of this month. This is despite promises from Ministers that the issue would be resolved before the election.
Speaking in Parliament, he was responding to a question from Chagos Islands All Party Parliamentary Group Chairperson Jeremy Corbyn MP (full text of their exchange is below).
Following the submission of the final version of a feasibility study commissioned by the Government, which indicated successful Chagossian return was entirely possible, the Government launched a “policy review.”
Minister had though pledged that a decision would be reached and a definitive statement made prior to the election. If a statement is not made prior to the dissolution of Parliament on 30th March, it is extremely unlikely one would be made before the election.
Failure to reach a decision would be yet another shameful broken promise to the Chagossian people.This administration has a unique opportunity to deliver justice for the Chagossian people and leave a positive legacy. We urge Ministers to make this a priority and make the only just, fair and reasonable decision to support Chagossians’ right to return home.
Jeremy Corbyn and William Hague’s Exchange in full
Jeremy Corbyn (Chairperson of All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Chagos Islands)
Last week, I raised with the Leader of the House the question of a statement by the Government on the future of the Chagos islands in respect of the feasibility of return report that has been done. The right hon. Gentleman will be pleased to know that tomorrow I am attending a meeting at the Foreign Office with Mr Olivier Bancoult, the leader of the Chagos Refugee Group. Will he please ensure that between now and Dissolution, the Government make a statement on their policy on the right of return in order to allow the historical wrong of the expulsion of the islanders from those islands finally to be put right, as promised by his Government at the start of this Parliament. We were promised that a decision would be made in this Parliament. There is a week to go.
William Hague (Leader of the House and Former Foreign Secretary)
The hon. Gentleman is a long-standing champion of this cause and is very assiduous in pursuing it. As he knows and as we have discussed before, there has been an extensive and major report—one I initiated when I was Foreign Secretary—on the feasibility or otherwise of habitation of the Chagos islands or parts of them. That is being considered very seriously by the Government. I cannot guarantee to the hon. Gentleman a statement about it before Dissolution, given that we have nearly arrived there. I can tell him that the Government are giving detailed consideration at the highest level to the report, but I do not know when a decision will be made.