There's been a lot of action around Chagossian return in Parliament recently, with Henry Smith MP raising the matter with the Prime Minister in PMQs. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Chagos Islands has also been privileged to get a new member, Roger Godsiff, Labour MP for Birmingham Hall Green, who has been very busy pressing the Government to commit to finally delivering Chagossian return without further delay.
Foreign Office Ministers were first asked by Mr Godsiff asked why they had refused to meet with Chagos Refugee Group Leader Oliver Bancoult during his recent visit to the UK, in spite of requests. The Minister’s reply, that there were concerns around the “appropriateness and propriety” of meeting whilst the Supreme Court has yet to deliver a verdict, seems vague and, according to legal consul we’ve sought, holds little legal basis.
Just this week Mr Godsiff in fact asked another Parliamentary question which asked directly "when the Government will announce the decision on the resettlement of the Chagos Islanders." In response the Minister confirmed "No date has yet been set for a decision" and that the Government was "still considering its policy" and would announce a decision "in due course."
Another Parliamentary Question by Roger Godsiff addressed the contentious issue of compensation. Government claims Chagossians have received “full and final” compensation have been highly disputed. Chagossians did not receive promised compensation for years, meaning many fell into severe debt and poverty. In the interim, high levels of inflation inflation in Mauritius also reduced the compensation’s real value.
And importantly Chagossians exiled to the Seychelles never have received a penny of compensation to this day. Asked directly about this point, the Minister refused to answer citing ongoing legal action, but pledging to write to Mr Godsiff with the details at a later date.
Many thanks to Roger Godsiff who has really taken up the Chagossian cause strongly, even writing to the Prime Minister. We happen to know Mr Godsiff first became involved on the request of one of our supporters who was his constituent, showing the value of getting your MP to back this historic cause.