HC Deb 03 November 2003 vol 412 cc404-5W
Peter Bottomley

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the nationality and residential status are of the Chagos islanders; who is responsible for their well-being on arrival in the UK; and if he will nominate a Minister to meet hon. Members and concerned county councils to discuss provision of services and their costs for the islanders. [131664]

Mr. Rammell

By virtue of the British Overseas Territories Act 2002, most Chagossians, together with most of the inhabitants of the other Overseas Territories, became British citizens (as well as Overseas Territories citizens) on the commencement of the Act on 21 May 2002. They thereby acquired the right to enter and take up residence in the UK. As regards their entitlement to state services the Chagossians who have come to the UK have the same rights, and are treated in the same way, as other British citizens coming here from overseas.

The Chagossians, were advised that, on arrival in the UK, they would not automatically be eligible for the whole range of state benefits and that they should therefore have sufficient funds at their disposal to support themselves until they had fulfilled the required habitual residence test.

Ministers would be pleased to meet hon. Members and concerned county councils, at the appropriate time, to discuss these matters.

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