Chagos Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group Meeting: Coordinator's Summary
On 14 October the Chagos Islands All-Party Parliamentarty Group held their latest meeting. It was a landmark occasion as long-time Chairperson Jeremy Corbyn stood down as Chair, becoming Honorary President. Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell took up leadership of the APPG, replacing Jeremy as Chair. We recorded our thanks to both Jeremy and Andrew earlier this week.
Thanks as ever are due to APPG Coordinator David Snoxell for providing the below summary.
Coordinator's Meeting Summary
The Chagos Islands (BIOT) All-Party Parliamentary Group held its 51st meeting on 14 October. Andrew Rosindell MP was elected to succeed Jeremy Corbyn MP as Chairman. Mr Rosindell paid tribute to the tireless and determined work of Mr Corbyn for the Chagossian cause over the last 7 years since the Group was established. As a mark of its appreciation the Group invited him to become its Honorary President which Mr Corbyn was pleased to accept. Baroness Whitaker was elected a vice-chairman. The Group currently consists of 35 members representing six political parties, plus Cross Bench peers. It was decided that members of the other four parties in Parliament should be invited to join. The Group discussed the FCO’s consultation with the Chagossians and interested parties on the policy review of resettlement launched by the Government on 4 August. The deadline for replies is 27 October. The Group was concerned that despite their suggestions over the years for international funding from the EU, US, international organisations and the private sector no work appeared to have been done on identifying sources and seeking funding commitments. Members did not accept that the UK was the only source of funding, as implied by the consultation document. They were also worried that the high costs proposed in the document were over estimated and did not take account of the development of commercial activity. They decided to invite Grant Shapps, the Minister of State at the FCO, now responsible for resettlement, to a meeting to discuss these issues. At the chairman’s suggestion members decided to ask for an adjournment debate in the House of Commons in order to engage with the Government on how they intend to proceed with resettlement and on the sources of international funding available. One member had already applied for a Westminster Hall debate.The Group also decided to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the creation of the British Indian Ocean Territory on 8 November 1965 with a letter to the press and a topical question in the House of Lords. An Early Day Motion will also be circulated. Members agreed that the forthcoming Supreme Court decision would feed into debates and the way forward on resettlement. The Group took note of the statement to the UN General Assembly on 2 October by the Prime Minister of Mauritius, Sir Anerood Jugnauth.The Group noted the commitment that once Mauritius was able to exercise sovereignty the Chagossians would be able to resettle in their islands. The next meeting of the Group will be on 9 December