In this and the previous Parliament, I've been proud to serve as the Vice Chair of the Chagos All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), with Jeremy Corbyn as my excellent Chair, campaigning for the right of resettlement.
The Chagos islanders, British citizens, were exiled from their homeland in 1968 by Orders in Council under Harold Wilson as then Prime Minister. The decision did not come through Parliament. A great injustice was done at that time, and while we cannot turn the clock back, we can start to right those wrongs.
The Coalition Government initiated a feasibility study into the resettlement of the British Indian Ocean Territory and I continue to call on the Government to implement this report.
Earlier this month, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office announced a public consultation on the right of return. This will be open until 27th October 2015 – to put forward your views on this matter, please email: BIOT.FeasibilityStudy@fco.gov.uk
If you do not have access to email, the FCO have provided me with an address to send comments to, please write to: BIOT Policy Review Team, BIOT Section, Overseas Territories Directorate, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, London, SW1A 2AH.
I’m proud that Crawley has the largest Chagos island community in the world. While we continue to campaign for the right of return, I’m pleased that the British Indian Ocean Territory has now funded an office in our town to support the community.
This is open near Crawley Station at The Pinnacle, Central Court (RH10 1JH) between 9am and 3pm, Monday to Saturday.
The office will be jointly run by the leaders of two Chagossian groups based in Crawley; Sabrina Jean of the Chagos Refugee Group, and Allen Vincatassin of the Diego Garcia Island Council.
Another Group I am delighted to work on is the APPG for Animal Welfare – I was honoured to recently be elected as its Co-Chairman.
The Group has a range of members, from the RSPCA to Cats Protection, from the International Fund for Animal Welfare to Conservatives Against Fox Hunting.
One of the campaigns the Group will be taking on is ensuring the fair treatment of animals in slaughterhouses. I was shocked to see an Animal Aid investigation which showed some horrific treatment of animals in slaughterhouses, and I subsequently raised this issue in the House of Commons by leading a debate on the importance of having CCTV in such facilities.
Following my appointment as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government after the General Election, I no longer serve as the Chair of the County APPG – which seeks to ensure greater devolution for such local authorities.
However I'm pleased that I can play my part in making the greater decentralisation of power happen. In this role, I liaise with members of the Ministerial team, as well as with fellow Members of Parliament.
Of course, if I am able to assist, please do not hesitate to write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, call my office on 01293 934554, or email me directly at: email@example.com
For the latest on my work as Member of Parliament for Crawley, please visit: www.henrysmith.info/news