The Island Council (Ascension) Ordinance lays down the procedure for holding elections. Six out of a total of seven councillors have recently resigned just a little under half-way through a three year tenure. The acting governor of St. Helena and its Dependencies, as acting governor of Ascension, in consultation with the substantive governor and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, is currently considering urgently whether in these circumstances a by-election should be held or the council should be dissolved so that a general election should take place.
My hon. Friend the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Bill Rammell) transited Ascension Island on 26 November 2003 en route to the Falkland Islands. During his visit, he had the opportunity to meet the Ascension Island councillors. My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, was prevented from visiting Ascension Island on 15 December 2006 by bad weather. He had scheduled meetings with the Ascension Island councillors.
After having weighed carefully the aspirations of those working and living on Ascension Island against the risk that a settled community might not be economically viable, the Government concluded that the UK would face unacceptable risks if the right of abode were granted and further development of property rights permitted. This decision was conveyed to the Ascension Island Council in my noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman of Tottenham’s letter of 19 January 2006.