I recently travelled to BIOT to gain a first-hand understanding of the realities of the Territory: it is a genuinely unique environment, with breathtaking natural beauty. And it was useful to meet the British and American teams on Diego Garcia, a facility which provides significant strategic value to the UK and our allies.
But it was also very poignant to travel to the outer atoll of Peros Banhos and the islands of Ille Boddam and Vache Marine. These tiny and low-lying islands are both pristine and isolated.
Though the challenges of resettlement are obvious to anyone who visits BIOT, the Government remains firmly committed to looking transparently and with an open mind at this question. The independent study, announced by the Foreign Secretary in December 2012, is now well underway. I welcome the work already done with representatives of Chagossian communities and other parties to agree the resettlement options that our independent consultants KPMG are now going to examine. These are captured in this Inception Report.
There is a lot of work to do, and we have a challenging timetable ahead. I am confident, however, that we should be able to complete this study and take decisions on the future of the Territory before the General Election next year.