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Ascension Islands: Politics and Government

Volume 463: debated on Tuesday 17 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps have been taken to promote democracy since the Ascension Island council elections in May 2007. (149907)

The election planned for May was not held, as two people only put themselves forward for election to the seven-member council, and that would have resulted in a non-quorate Island Council. During the temporary period of suspension of the Island Council (Ascension) Ordinance 2002, a number of areas of work are being developed to ensure the best prospect of continuation of the democratic process. This includes a programme of information and education on the benefits of a democratic structure of government for Ascension Island to help underline the importance for those working and living there of participating in the decision-making process. Public meetings to discuss issues of importance to the island are being offered and the first of these was hosted on Ascension Island on 28 May by the governor.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the terms of reference are of the Ascension Island advisory council; and if he will make a statement. (149908)

The purpose of the advisory group is to advise the governor on policies and proposed legislation which impact on the lives of those working and living on Ascension Island. It has no formal executive or legislative power. The formation of the group is an interim measure designed to help ensure continuing good governance of Ascension during the temporary suspension of the Island Council (Ascension) Ordinance 2002.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with Ascension Island users on the future of the island; and if he will make a statement. (149910)

Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials in London last met with the employing organisations as a group on 15 January to discuss operational issues relating to Ascension Island. The governor, the administrator and London-based officials have frequent contact with employing organisations and other groups and individuals with an interest in Ascension Island. These meetings cover a broad range of subjects, including operational and other issues of importance to those working and living on Ascension Island.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans are being drawn up to hold elections to the island council on Ascension Island in 2008. (150298)

The governor and his advisers are using the period of the suspension of the Island Council (Ascension) Ordinance 2002 to inform and advise those eligible to vote on Ascension Island of the importance of re-establishing a fully democratic system at the earliest opportunity. The temporary suspension is expected to last for a period of up to 12 months following which the governor intends to be able to call an election. The Government’s policy remains to work with the Ascension Island Government towards improving the working and living environment for those on Ascension Island within the current policy framework.