Friday, February 09, 2007

This week

Almost a record! Apart from one short interjection in a question on Colombia, I said nothing on the floor of the House this week. My 3 years on the EU Select Committee has come to an end, with the conclusion of our report on SIS II, so I had no Wednesday morning duty either.

I had a meeting with Olivier Bancoult, Leader of the CChagos Islanders, who were kicked out of their homeland in the sixties when the US constructed the Diego Garcia base. The islanders won the court case against the Government and it now loks as though they will win against the Government again in the Court of Appeal. Meanwhile, the Chagossian exiles here have many problems of citizenship, social security, employment and education. (for a summary of the court case see

Second, I attended a meeting with Eric John - Deputy Assistant Secretary for Asian Affairs at the US State Department, to discuss tactics following the attempted Security Council Resolution on Burma. It was surprising that the South Africans had boted against the resolution, not so much on the merits of the case as on grounds of solidarity with the Non-Aligned Movement - although the Indonesians had abstained. Some states considered that the matters raised should be dealt with in the Human Rights Council, though in up to now it hasn't passed any critical country-specific resolutions. There seems to be more scope for action at the ILO, though we didn't get into that subject because the meeting was cut short when our tenure of the room expired.

Third, I attended a meeting chaired by Alun Nichael MP to discuss the current position on Somaliland. David Triesman the FCO Minister who deals with Africa was supposed to be speaking but had been detained in the House. He sent a message promising to write to Alun, who said he would circulate the letter. The meeting agreed that it would be useful if we could get the Government to twaek the forthcoming Security Council Resolution on Somalia to include a reference to Somaliland, though at this stage recognition isn't a practical option.

This morning I saw the haematologist at King's, who said my blood chemistry was normal, but he wanted a CT scan to make sure that there was nothing sinister at the site of last April's operation. So in the last couple of weeks I've had good value from the health service, having also seen the orthopaedic consultant for my left foot (MRI scan ordered), the prostate consultant (who threatens that I may need an operation but not yet), and the gastroenterologist, who changed the medication andwarned me that Barrett's Syndrome - a condition where the lower oesophagus metamorphose into stomach lining to cope with acid reflux - leads to cancer of the oesophagus in 5% of the cases. He would carry out an endoscopy in two years' time to check the condition of the lower oesophagus.

Anyway, for the time being, the verdict is that I'm in more or less working order.

PS This afternoon, attended as trustee Friends of the Alola Foundation, started by the wife of President Xanana Gusmao of East Timor to work for the humanitarian needs of the people of East Timor. So far it has raised a mere £7k, a pitifully small amount compared with the task in a country devastated by two decades of Indonesian occupation and deliberate sabotage of the capital when they finally left.

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