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Ascension Island

Volume 454: debated on Tuesday 5 December 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps she is taking to promote good relations between her Department's representatives on Ascension Island and the island council. (106816)

Good relations are promoted between the Administrator on Ascension Island and the Island Council through regular formal and informal meetings.

This relationship is further enhanced by meetings with officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and councillors when they visit the UK, and by visits by FCO officials to Ascension Island.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what involvement Ascension Island will have in the 25th anniversary of the Falklands conflict. (106817)

Planning is under way to hold commemorative events for the 25th anniversary of the Falklands conflict on Ascension Island. A final programme has yet to be agreed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether she plans to reinstate Ascension Island’s official representation to the UK. (106818)

There has never been an official representation for Ascension Island in the UK and we are unaware of any plans to establish one.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps are being taken to encourage participation in democracy on Ascension Island. (106819)

Ascension Island council elections are held every three years and everyone over the age of 18 has the right, and is encouraged, to vote. The elected councillors participate in formal and informal Island council meetings and council committees to advise the governor on policy and legislation. Councillors are encouraged to make presentations to the public on key political issues and are in touch with their constituents. Island council meetings are publicised in advance and the public are welcome to attend. An official record of Island council proceedings is published in the Island newspaper.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what facilities are provided for school-leavers aged 16 to 18 years old who are unable for insurance reasons to undertake apprenticeships with the companies on Ascension Island. (106820)

The Ascension Island Government created a Further Education Scheme in 2003. This enables academically qualified students between the ages of 16 and 18 to study A-levels or vocational courses at Chichester college in the UK.

There are also opportunities, subject to funding, to enrol in the Young People in Training Scheme. Places are currently only available within government, but the Ascension Island Government are considering how this scheme might be expanded.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what consideration has been given to (a) leasing and (b) licensing property as a method of home ownership on Ascension Island. (106821)

The Ascension Island council and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) are working together on a draft housing policy. The basis on which property is occupied, and by whom, is being considered and will be discussed during the visit by FCO officials to Ascension Island in January.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contingent liabilities affect rights of abode status on Ascension Island; and if she will make a statement. (106822)

The Government concluded earlier this year that granting right of abode would bring an unacceptable level of financial risk to the UK.

The decision was taken on the basis of an assessment of the services that would be required for a settled population; services that are not currently supplied by the Ascension Island Government and could not be afforded by a small, narrowly based economy dependent on a small number of employers.

Some of the services and additional infrastructure that could be necessary are: power station replacement, electricity and water distribution, social services, pensions, employment, social security and the maintenance of access, most likely by air.