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Deportation/exile of the Chagos Islanders.

U.K. Parliament (debates and statements): Chagos Archipelago and Diego Garcia

by Charles Judson Harwood Jr.


U.K. Parliament, House of Commons logo (green portcullis)

House of Commons (U.K. Parliament)
Debates and written answers
Chagos Archipelago and Diego Garcia

The U.K. Government announced to the public (Nov. 3) that it would not appeal the Court’s order: The Queen (ex parte Bancoult) v. Foreign And Commonwealth Office (HCEW QBD, November 3 2000).

Subsequently, the Government informed Parliament that it did not appeal the order, which had meanwhile become final, after 7 days (November 10 2000):


Written answer: Nov 13 2000

Mr. Battle: We have decided to accept the ruling of the Court. The Ilois are now able to return to the outer islands of the British Indian Ocean Territory.

Our first priority is to press ahead with the technical work we have in hand to assess the feasibility of settlement on those islands. In the meantime we will be open to discussion with the Ilois community about the practicalities of any return. We will also be consulting the Governments of the United States and Mauritius about the implications of the judgment.”

Mr. Battle: The Ilois are now free to return to the outer islands of the British Indian Ocean Territory but access to Diego Garcia will continue to be controlled strictly and will be by permit only.

We will be discussing the security implications of the court case on the US Naval Support Facility on Diego Garcia with the US authorities.”

Mr. Battle: Our first priority is to continue the work we have begun to assess the physical, financial, social, environmental and economic feasibility of settlement on the outer islands of the territory. Once we have the results of this feasibility study, we will be in a position to consider what further assistance might be appropriate.”

John Battle (Member of Parliament and Minister of State, Foreign Office), written answers for Nov. 13 2000 (Chagos Islands and Diego Garcia), questions omitted (Hansard, House of Commons, 6th Series, Volume 356, Mon. 6 Nov. 2000 – Fri. 17 Nov. 2000, columns 510W-511W).


Debate, 11.30 am: January 9 2001

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): ... I should like to go over a letter, of which the Foreign Office has a copy. It is dated 13 November 1970, from the Pacific and Indian Ocean Department to Sir Bruce Greatbatch, Government House, Port Victoria, Seychelles, and is signed by Eleanor Emery {then head of that Foreign Office Department}.

I hasten to add that I am not in any way persecuting those who became distinguished civil servants. Eleanor Emery became an ambassador in southern Africa. I rang Eleanor Emery in Cambridge after the article by Matthew Parris appeared in The Times to say that I was raising the matter. I also asked the Foreign Office to contact her, which it has done.

She said in her letter {November 13 1970}:

“As you will have gathered from Washington Tel. No. {Telegram Number} 3229 to the F.C.O., from the ‘Times Diary’ of 9 November, and from the two P.Q.s {Parliamentary Questions} in our telegram B.I.O.T. 22 of 10 November, there has recently been a revival of public interest in the British Indian Ocean territory.

The two questions in our telegram received written answers as follows– ...

Mr Dalyell is not, however, giving up. He has tabled a further series of questions for the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State. ...

We shall continue to try to say as little as possible (particularly until the Congressional hearings are concluded, probably around mid-December at the latest) to avoid embarrassing the United States administration.

Apart from our overall strategic and defence interests we are also concerned at present not to have to elaborate on the administrative implications for the present population on Diego Garcia of establishment of any base there.

{CJHjr: And what of the implications for the population themselves?}

We would not wish it to become general knowledge that some of the inhabitants have lived on Diego Garcia for at least two generations and could, therefore, be regarded as “belongers”.

We shall therefore advise Ministers in handling supplementary questions about whether Diego Garcia is inhabited to say that there is only a small number of contract labourers from the Seychelles and Mauritius engaged to work on the copra plantations on the Island.

Should a Member ask about what would happen to these contract labourers in the event of a base being set up on the Island, we hope that, for the present, this can be brushed aside as a hypothetical question at least until any decision to go ahead with the Diego Garcia facility becomes public.” ...

The point of this debate is to establish that there is a moral obligation. In a letter from Sheridans, the solicitors in the court case, Richard Gifford states:

Matthew Parris (‘You are never too old to face your lies’) rightly highlights the boldness with which Parliament and the United Nations were lied to, before removal of the entire population of islanders. He is astonished that the official was so relaxed about telling her colleagues in the civil service that there was no permanent population. The reason is simple. She was in fact acting under orders originating at the very highest level.”

I am afraid that that is the nub of the problem. ...

Tam Dalyell (Member of Parliament), debate (British Indian Ocean Territory), Jan. 9 2001 (Hansard, House of Commons, 6th Series, Volume 360, Mon. 18 Dec. 2000 – Fri. 11 Jan. 2001, columns 181-184).

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You are never too old to face your lies by Matthew Parris

Cool facts can bear more eloquent witness than yards of overheated commentary.

So let me quote from a letter from a Foreign Office official to the then Governor of the Seychelles, Sir Bruce Greatbatch, CMG, CVO, MBE, written on November 13, 1970.

The author is a certain E.J. Emery, at the time the head of the Pacific & Indian Ocean Department of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Her Who's Who entry suggests she went on to a distinguished FCO career. Miss Emery was born in 1918.

You need a little background to understand the advice she was giving Sir Bruce. Britain owned (still does) an archipelago in the Indian Ocean called Diego Garcia where the United States wished to (later did) establish a military base. It was decided that all the 2,000 inhabitants of the 65 islands, a people known as the Ilois, would have to be removed. They were to be (later were) sent for resettlement in Mauritius, a thousand miles away, and offered little help.

Tam Dalyell was (still is) a Labour MP concerned about their plight. He had begun agitating.

“As you will have gathered,” writes Emery to the Governor, “there has recently been a revival of public interest in the British Indian Ocean Territory ...”

“We shall continue to try to say as little as possible,” she advised, “to avoid embarrassing the United States Administration.” And “we are also concerned at present not to have to elaborate on the administrative implications for the present population on Diego Garcia of establishment of any base there.”

“Administrative implications” What a splendid Sir Humphrey phrase {Sir Humphrey Appleby, Cabinet Secretary, in the BBC TV series Yes Minister (1980-1982, 23 episodes; 1986-1988, 16 episodes)}. But it was what came next that had my eyeballs starting from my sockets ...

“We would not wish it to become general knowledge that some of the inhabitants have lived on Diego Garcia for at least two generations and could, therefore, be regarded as ‘belongers’. We shall therefore advise ministers in handling supplementary questions ... to say that there is only a small number of contract labourers from the Seychelles and Mauritius engaged to work on the copra plantations on the island.

“Should a Member ask about what would happen to these contract labourers in the event of a base being set up on the island, we hope that, for the present, this can be brushed aside as a hypothetical question at least until any decision to go ahead with the Diego Garcia facility becomes public.”

Though her letter was confidential, the author seems to have been relaxed about the nature of the advice. She copied it widely. R.M. Tesh CMG, the head of the FCO’s Defence Department, saw it, as did a Mr Papadopoulos in the United Nations Department. It was also copied to the political staff at our embassy in Washington, to a British official, John Shaw, in New York, and to a Mr Peter Carter in Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius.

To six named British civil servants, then, we can add British diplomats in Washington and a fair few back in King Charles Street at Whitehall, too {headquarters of the U.K. Foreign & Commonwealth Office}. A score at least of people in Whitehall will have been familiar with the line the FCO was advising ministers to take.

Let us not mince words about that line. Ministers were being asked to lie: to lie to the Commons. The inhabitants of a British territory must be removed from their native islands with the minimum public fuss.

“Lie” is a strong word, so I explain where in Emery’s letter I am directing it. I am not taking sides in the dispute about whether it was justifiable to remove the inhabitants of Diego Garcia. In this battle Mr Dalyell can look after himself. As Robin Cook pointed out to MPs on Tuesday, there is at least one sentence in Emery’s letter we can all accept: “Mr Dalyell is not, however, giving up.”

No, one could argue that the removal of the Ilois was justifiable for defence reasons. And sometimes MPs or journalists do have to be brushed aside with a “can’t comment”. But one sentence in that letter simply sizzles with impropriety.

“We shall therefore advise ministers ... to say that there is only a small number of contract labourers from the Seychelles and Mauritius ... on the island.”

That wasn’t true. It is phrased as a denial that there were ‘belongers’. There were belongers. Ministers were being advised actively to mislead.

A word now in Emery’s defence. We cannot assume she was the author of this advice, or even agreed with it. She may have been reporting the conclusions of superiors. She may have tried to resist them.

She was, however, more than privy to the policy of others: her letter was helping to execute it: making sure that from Mauritius to Washington, British officials sang from the same song-sheet. She seemed sufficiently confident that ministers would do as they were to be told, to publish the advice before it had been shown to them.

She will be an old lady now.

But if we are to have a 30-year rule then, by the time documents are released, those concerned will almost always be old, or dead. The then Sir Alec Douglas-Home, who was Foreign Secretary, is dead. Lord Carrington, who was Defence Secretary, is in the Lords. Lord Greenhill of Harrow, then Sir Denis Greenhill, Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office, and Sir James Dunnett, Permanent Secretary at Defence, are both dead. Some or all of these people may have known much, a little, or nothing about this deception.

Many of those Ilois are dead, too. But about a thousand survive in apparently pathetic conditions on Mauritius, where they never really integrated. It is arguable that if their claim had been properly understood by Parliament they might have been treated more generously and given the start they were denied.

It is arguable that the advice urged in Emery’s letter was instrumental in denying Parliament that understanding. It is arguable that the Ilois’s plight is the fault of those who framed such advice.

But I limit myself to a more modest proposal. That those elderly men and women who may appear, on the face of it, to have been involved owe us an explanation at least. We should be better governed if our governors had always in the back of their minds the thought that they might one day be asked to account for their conduct.

We’re bad at this in Britain. It’s not that we lack a capacity for indignation, but that we direct it so haphazardly. We seem inclined as a nation to become violently concerned about things in a random way, dropping scandals with the whimsicality with which we pick them up.

We went wild about the Iraqi supergun affair, although the shades of grey there were more nuanced than some scandals which fail to arouse us. We went wild about the handling of BSE — then lost interest. We never quite seemed able to interest ourselves in our own administration’s share of the blame for Galtieri’s invasion of the Falklands, though many British and Argentinian young men died there.

I’m not quite, I think, proposing that aged public servants be dragged from their nursing homes in Hampshire or manhandled out of the Lords Dining Room and carted through the streets to be pelted with eggs.

But all over the country live, in quiet retirement or continuing wealth and influence, people who in the not so very distant past gave thoroughly rotten advice — and others who knew about it and should have blown the whistle but did not. Most were lucky enough to stay in the shadows until the media circus moved on. There seems to be an unspoken rule that deems their conduct ‘time expired’.

Who gave planning permission for the Marsham Street Towers which disfigure Pimlico, and who advised them? Who authorised the manufacture of the new railway sleeping-cars from the regions to the Continent, now rusting in the sidings? Meanwhile we rush around like a rabid dog-pack demanding apologies for the Dome {Millennium Dome, at Greenwich}.

The flip side of this furious caprice seems to be an unhealthy willingness to let things drop — as suddenly as we took them up. Couldn’t we instead moderate our instant indignation and spread it in a more measured way over whole careers?

Those who hold the fate of the weak in their hands should be caused to believe that a professional misjudgment may be for life, not just for Christmas.”

© Copyright Times Newspapers Limited

Matthew Parris, “You are never too old to face your lies” (The Times, London, December 16 2000, page 24) (archive), bold and italics added, elipsis (...) in original. Formerly, Matthew Parris was himself a Member of Parliament for the Conservative Party (1979–1986). Copied here as “fair use” in the report of a legislative proceeding.  CJHjr

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Note: This lie (“only ... contract labourers from the Seychelles and Mauritius”) was blatant (willful assertion of untrue facts), but the usual lie told to Parliament by U.K. government ministers is the inferential lie, an erroneous inference willfully induced into the mind of the listener (usually by willful omission of relevant facts), explained and illustrated here.

Yes, they were “contract laborers,” many of them.

So what.

Facts, willfully omitted, for a dishonest purpose, to induce an erroneous inference, these omitted facts are material, not merely because they cast doubt on the assertion, but also because they certainly establish the exact opposite proposition:

(1) The contract employees were also “belongers” to the Chagos, Chagos citizens, not belongers to the Seychelles and Mauritius, no different from American workers and U.K. workers, they too are contract employees (if they have a job), but they don’t give up their citizenship, and become aliens, just because they have a job. That’s what they want to do still, to go back home, and work for the Americans, on the military base (Diego Garcia), replace the contract employees the American imported from the Philippines, in violation of their written agreement with the U.K., which U.K. officials, in this continuous violent international criminal enterprise, wouldn’t dream to enforce against their partners in crime, U.S. officials.

(2) Not all Chagos citizens were contract employees (in the copra plantations), women, children, elderly, for example.

Another overt act, in the criminal conspiracy, among U.S./U.K. government officials, besides lies, another act of aiding and abetting, was this: U.K. officials secretly granted Mauritius citizenship, to the Chagos citizens, to bolster the lie, that they were “from” Mauritius. This, before the U.K. surrendered control of its colony, Mauritius.



Debate, 3.53 pm: November 22 2001

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North): ... The situation of the Chagos islanders is very serious. In the mid-1960s, the British Government indulged themselves in a deal with the United States in which the people of the Chagos Islands — the Ilois people — were to be removed. ... Many lived and still live in great poverty in Mauritius and in other places, and they feel dispossessed.

The Chagos islanders have pursued their eternal quest for a right of return with enormous diligence, brilliantly led by Olivier Bancoult and others from the elected committee. They pursued their case with the help of an excellent English solicitor, Richard Gifford of Sheridans, and last year took the case to the High Court, where they won an historic right of return — a declaration of their right of return to the islands. That right of return was made without qualification, and ultimately was not appealed by the British Government, even though they initially responded that they would appeal against the judgment.

There are clearly problems over the right of return to the largest island, Diego Garcia, because the British Government have signed a lease agreement with the United States, which has another 13 years to run. There are serious questions about the legality of that lease arrangement, which may well be challenged in the American courts in the near future.

... The British Indian Ocean Territory’s high commissioner announced that there would be a feasibility study of the right of return and an environmental impact assessment.

That concern for the environment is touching, given that the presence of a small number of people — a few thousand — re-inhabiting the islands of the archipelago is unlikely to have an enormous environmental impact. After all, they managed to live there for several hundred years in an entirely sustainable way by fishing, picking coconuts and small-scale farming.

The idea that a small number of people returning to the islands is about to destroy that pristine environment is laughable. Far greater damage has been done to the archipelago around Diego Garcia by the presence of the American base, including the removal of some coral reefs to allow large American military ships to get to the base. If the experience of the United States leaving other bases around the world is anything to go by, the condition in which they leave Diego Garcia will be pretty appalling, if and when they finally leave, as we hope they will, in 13 years’ time. ...

The lease expires in 13 years. Several thousand nationals of other countries currently work for the American base on the island. Some people, however, are specifically barred from civilian employment there: Ilois, or Chagos islanders. The Americans do not trust them, I assume, or the British do not trust them; I am not sure.

{U.S./U.K. officials don’t want to bolster the Ilois’ status as ‘belongers’? (by allowing them to resume residency). The British lost this argument in their own Court and that means it’s now probably res judicata in the U.S. Court as well, in the pending case against the United States, the U.K.’s partner and accomplice.  CJHjr.}

I hope the Minister will tell us why the only people in the world who are not allowed to work on Diego Garcia are those who were expelled from it in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The arrangement is surely very unfair. Obviously, the island could be at least a temporary source of employment. The expulsion was one of the great injustices of the 1960s and 1970s, and the last Foreign Secretary made considerable efforts in that connection when Labour were in opposition. ...

In the 1960s and 1970s, this country did a terrible wrong to those people by forcibly removing them. Earlier this year, in Paris, I spoke to a Chagossian family about the removal; the woman described what it was like to be dragged from her home as a child and shipped off to Mauritius, a huge distance away. She told me she felt a burning sense of anger and injustice at her removal and at the fact that she has not been able to return.

I think that we should applaud the Chagos islanders for the very peaceful and responsible way in which they have pursued their case. They have won their High Court case, and surely it is now time to settle the score.”

Jeremy Corbyn (Member of Parliament for Islington, North), debate (British Overseas Territories Bill), Nov. 22 2001 (Hansard, House of Commons, 6th Series, Volume 375, Mon. 19th Nov. — Fri. 30th Nov. 2001, columns 514-519).


Debate, 4.31 pm: November 22 2001

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): ... Does the Minister accept that article 73 of the United Nations charter, which requires an administering power to promote, as a “sacred trust”, the social, political and economic advancement of the population of a non-self-governing territory, is as binding on Her Majesty’s Government today as it was when the population of the Chagos were unlawfully removed between 1965 and 1973? What steps do Her Majesty’s Government propose to take in furtherance of that sacred trust? ...

Does the Minister accept that the so-called feasibility study, which calls into question the return of the population to the Chagos Islands, is a totally inadequate response to the finding of illegality by the High Court, and a breach of the sacred trust? In particular, why do the Government refuse to enable the Chagos islanders to conduct a reconstruction and rehabilitation study in accordance with the request made to the Secretary of State on 5 October in their solicitor’s letter. I associate myself entirely with what my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Jeremy Corbyn) said — those people have their own ideas. They are able people, and they should be brought into the process. ...

Does the Minister realise that the failure to make any substantial progress in relation to the Chagos islanders’ schedule of requested steps, dated 7 December 2000, for nearly a year was unlikely to persuade that community that it should trust the British Government to act promptly in accordance with English and international law? Does the Minister agree that the Chagos islanders are a community who have been driven to the edge of despair by the immoral and illegal actions of the British Government, carried out on a rather grand scale for 30 years?

A letter, dated 12 October, from the British Indian Ocean Territory states that a visit to the islands was, in effect, refused. Those involved particularly wanted to go on 3 November this year — the date when Chagossians mourn their dead. That had been agreed in principle a year before in the wake of the court judgment. Her Majesty’s Government have, however, done nothing to facilitate that visit, and, of course, the events of 11 September were used as a final reason to refuse it. I ask, as does my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North, whether that is a reason or an excuse. It does not seem immediately self-evident that, although a huge base operates there, those people should be refused something that was agreed in principle. ...

Tam Dalyell (Member of Parliament), debate (British Overseas Territories Bill), Nov. 22 2001 (Hansard, House of Commons, 6th Series, Volume 375, Mon. 19th Nov. — Fri. 30th Nov. 2001, columns 524-526).


Debate, 7.38 pm: February 13 2002

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North): ... I welcome the amendments that the Minister moved in Committee — I subsequently withdrew mine — concerning the British Indian Ocean Territories, the Ilois people and their right of access to citizenship.

As my hon. Friend well understands, there is a good deal of resentment among the Ilois people about the way in which they were removed from the islands by secret interstate negotiations in the 1960s and 1970s, and deposited on Mauritius or, in the case of some, on the Seychelles, given minimum compensation and forgotten about.

Once again, we should reiterate our thanks to Olivier Bancoult and all who have campaigned so successfully and so well for so long, culminating finally in a successful High Court action which allowed the Ilois the right of return to the Chagos islands. That is an important step forward and has been warmly welcomed.

However, I ask the Minister to bear in mind that the right of return has been authorised by the High Court in this country. There is the possibility of a class action being taken in the United States on behalf of those who were moved from Diego Garcia, which is currently a US base, and that to date no Chagosians have been allowed to return to the islands. I understand that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is sponsoring an environmental impact study and a study of the economic viability of a return to the islands. We look forward to the results of those studies.

Just before Christmas, I took part in a lengthy and useful meeting with Baroness Amos in the Foreign Office with Olivier Bancoult, Richard Gifford, his solicitor, and a small delegation. We discussed all these issues. It is strange that the Chagos islanders — the Ilois people — are not allowed to return to the islands, yet I understand that the British Indian Ocean Territories police do nothing about passing millionaire yachtsmen drawing up their yachts alongside the outer islands of the archipelago and staying there for a considerable time without being told to move on.

Any Chagos islander trying to go back gets stopped by fishery protection vessels on their way to the islands. There seems to be something wrong there. [Interruption] As my hon. Friend the Member for Elmet (Colin Burgon) says, there could be a bit of class politics going on. Although such notions are not supposed to be popular among those on the Government Benches, some of us still understand them — [Interruption] — and even practise them.

I do not ask the Minister to respond immediately, but I hope that he will look into the matter. Will he also assure me that when the assessments are complete and we have a meeting with Baroness Amos in April, when Olivier Bancoult is returning to the UK, we will be able to discuss the practicalities of returning to the archipelago as a whole, the support that will be given to the community to do that, the employment practices of the United States on the base, and importantly, the opportunity for the islanders to visit the islands, to visit their burial sites and their ancestral homes, and to see the place from which their parents and grandparents were so brutally plucked away in the 1970s?

I hope that my hon. Friend can ensure that the British Indian Ocean Territories authority will arrange for that return to take place, initially as a visit, and that when we finally have our meeting in April with Baroness Amos, which I hope to attend, we can explore the practicalities of return.

My final point relates to the islanders themselves. Had they remained on the Chagos islands, had Diego Garcia never become a base, and had the cold war never happened, the islanders would have had an elected authority of some sort. They would now be residents of those islands and they would be receiving passports, just like the people of St. Helena and all the other places. The Chagos islanders were plucked away, so the Bill had to be specially amended in Committee, and I am grateful to the Minister for that enormous step forward.

Had the Ilois people remained on the Chagos islands, their elected authority would have been supported by public funds, as is the case in all the other territories. Apart from the minimal compensation given to the Ilois on settlement in Mauritius, they have received no support whatever. We should be grateful to the Mauritius Government for the support that they have given, but the Ilois have lived in poverty. For Olivier to come to this country, they must arrange a collection among the community to buy him an air ticket so that he can negotiate with the British Government on behalf of his people. I hope that when we meet in April, there will be some recognition of the need for practical support for the community, and in addition, for pensions for the older members of the community, and access to further and higher education — primary education is provided by the Government of Mauritius.

I welcome what has been achieved so far. It has been a great step forward, but we are not quite there yet. A ghastly injustice happened. It has not yet been put right. The Americans are not allowing Chagos islanders to work on the base. The British Indian Ocean Territories police are not allowing them to return to the islands, and the impact assessment seems to be taking rather a long time.

I assure my hon. Friend the Minister that my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow and I are well seized of the matter and have no plans to let it go. We will keep on raising it in the House. We recognise the importance of what has happened, but there is a way to go. Justice will finally happen when the Chagos islanders can make a genuine choice to continue living in Mauritius or the Seychelles or to return to their ancestral homes, with the right to see the graves of their ancestors and the place from which they were so brutally taken away. A horrible injustice happened; let us put it right.”

Jeremy Corbyn (Member of Parliament for Islington, North), debate (British Overseas Territories Bill), Feb. 13 2002 (Hansard, House of Commons, 6th Series, Volume 380, Monday 11th February 2002 – Friday 1st March 2002, columns 275-277).


Debate, 8.50 pm: February 13 2002

Mr. Bradshaw: ... I should like to associate myself with the comments of the hon. Member for West Suffolk and other hon. Members on the Ilois. That brings me to the role played by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North throughout the passage of the Bill; he has made an outstanding contribution. He is right to say that a terrible wrong was meted out to the Ilois people, and, step by step, we are putting that right. Certainly, as long as I am in this job, I shall continue to listen very sympathetically to any representations that he makes that are similar to those he made this evening. I hope that he will take up the issues directly in a meeting that he is having with my noble Friend who leads on the matter of the overseas territories in the other place, Baroness Amos.

My hon. Friend’s question about the yacht intrigued me, so I asked my officials for advice. Apparently, there is nothing to stop anyone from returning to the outer islands. It is just that, at the moment, the Ilois want us to do it for them; they want us to organise a resettlement package. So, in theory, in the unlikely event of an Ilois having the money, they could hop on to one of these yachts and go back. There is no law against people arriving on the outer islands.”

Benjamin Bradshaw (Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office), debate (British Overseas Territories Bill), Feb. 13 2002 (Hansard, House of Commons, 6th Series, Volume 380, Monday 11th February 2002 – Friday 1st March 2002, columns 281-282).


Written answer: May 13 2002

Mr. Bradshaw: The United States pays no rent or makes any similar payment in respect of its right to use the British Indian Ocean Territory, including Diego Garcia, for defence purposes. However, in 1965, when it became clear that the costs of setting up the territory as a separate dependency would exceed original estimates, the US Government agreed to contribute £5 million towards these costs.

No part of the British Indian Ocean Territory, including Diego Garcia, has been leased to the United States. Under the 1966 Agreement between the UK and USA Governments, the islands will remain available to meet the defence needs of both Governments until 2016, and then for a further period of 20 years, unless either side has previously given notice of termination.”

Benjamin Bradshaw (Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office), written answers for May 13 2002 (British Indian Ocean Territory), questions omitted (Hansard, House of Commons, 6th Series, Volume 385, Tuesday 7th May 2002 – Thursday 16th May 2002, column 455W).


Written answer: June 26 2002

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Government of the British Indian Ocean Territory is organising and paying for the charter of a ship to take about 100 Chagossians to the outer islands of the Chagos Archipelago to visit ancestral graves. Subject to agreement with the representatives of those concerned, the Chagos map ship — the M/S Mauritius Trochetia — will depart from Port Louis on 5 October and will visit the islands of Peros Banhos and Salomon. It is expected to return on 17 October. The British high commissions in Mauritius and Seychelles are in contact with the leaders of the various Chagossian groups and are inviting them to draw up a jointly agreed list of passengers.”

Michael O'Brien (Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office), written answers for June 26 2002 (Chagos Archipelago), question omitted (Hansard, House of Commons, 6th Series, Volume 387, Monday 17th June 2002 – Thursday 27th June 2002, column 933W).


Written answer: July 10 2002

Mr. Mike O'Brien: We have now received Phase 2B of the consultants report on whether it would be feasible for the Chagossians to return and live on the outer islands of the British Indian Ocean Territory (the Chagos archipelago). Copies of the report will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. We are also sending copies to the Government of Mauritius and the Chagossians’ lawyers in the United Kingdom.

While the report concludes that short term habitation for limited numbers on a subsistence basis is possible, it also emphasises that any long-term resettlement would be precarious and costly.”

Michael O'Brien (Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office), written answers for July 10 2002 (Chagos Archipelago), question omitted (Hansard, House of Commons, 6th Series, Volume 388, column: 1022W, daily edition Part 175).



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Posted Sept. 1 2002. Updated May 19 2008.


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