Henry Smith MP has spoken in Parliament (on Tuesday, 22nd March) to hail the victory he secured for the Chagossian people, following the Government tabling its own amendment to the Nationality & Borders Bill, encapsulating the provisions originally put forward by the Crawley MP.
The House of Commons gave its support to the amendment on British citizenship for Chagossians, which the Crawley MP has campaigned on for many years, in the debate considering House of Lords Amendments to this legislation.
The Crawley MP has continued to stand up for the Chagossian community, following their forced removal from their home in the British Indian Ocean Territory under Harold Wilson’s late 1960s premiership. Crawley is now the location of one of the largest Chagossian communities in the world.
Commenting after speaking in the House of Commons and formally securing this victory, Henry said;
“On this historic day I’m grateful to the Government for listening and acting upon the concerns put forward by myself and many others, and I’m in awe of the continued campaigning and spirit of Crawley’s Chagossian community.
“Through our work we’ve secured a change which will enable those descended from individuals born in the British Indian Ocean Territory to be allowed to register as British citizens, through simplifying nationality law so that anyone who can prove that they’re of Chagossian descent will become eligible to register as a British overseas territories citizen.
“In Parliament it’s my honour and privilege to represent Crawley’s Chagossians and to serve as a Vice Chair of the Chagos All-Party Parliamentary Group. While we can’t change the past we can work to right its wrongs. In this spirit I’ll continue to call on the Government to allow this community the right of return to their homeland.”
Speaking in the House of Commons; on welcoming the action of the Government, Henry said;
“I rise to thank the Government sincerely for amendment 1, the Chagos nationality amendment. I particularly thank the Minister, the hon. Member for Corby (the Minister for Justice & Tackling Illegal Migration, Tom Pursglove MP) for his comments earlier and his colleague, my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay (the Minister for Safe & Legal Migration, Kevin Foster MP), who is not currently in his place, for meeting me and engaging on the issue of Chagos nationality justice and finally, after many years of campaigning, seeing the matter resolved by this Government. I am truly appreciative.”
On the resolve of the Chagos community, Henry said;
“I also do not forget the many members of the Chagos islands community: those visiting Parliament today, those across this country and those in other parts of the world. They have suffered an injustice of approximately half a century and the Government today have gone a significant way towards ensuring that those people who are descendants of British subjects rightly have the ability to apply for British overseas territories citizenship, and therefore ultimately British citizenship if they so wish.”
Please click here for the full text and video of Henry’s speech.