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Home | Categories | Gen - Government Please tell us what you think of this article. Tell a friend Print Friendly

St Helena : Commonwealth Parliamentary Association News
Submitted by Saint Helena Herald (Juanita Brock) 18.07.2003 (Article Archived on 01.08.2003)

These next three stories deal with the CPA and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's relationship with St. Helena.

Workshops at the CPA



The Honourable Speaker John Newman OBE, and the Honourable Member for Sandy Bay Eric George MBE, recently returned from attending the Commonwealth Parliamentary Associations (CPA) 34th British Islands and Mediterranean Regional Conference held in the UK earlier this month.


At the conference, Councillor Eric George was the speaker at a workshop titled Media Influences. The workshop was opened by the Chairman George Waft from the Isle of Mann who commented on how the presence and influence of the media on people’s daily lives had changed since the invention of the printing press.


Councillor George also spoke on the topic media influences, and commented in particular on the importance of balanced reporting and how essential it was to have information that was easy to understand. He also spoke about the overall importance of providing the public with information.


Following this, the Honourable Speaker John Newman and other members commented on the topic with some speaking about how the media worked in their country.


In addition to the workshop on media influences, the team attended a workshop titled: Engaging the community in the political process. At this workshop, Councillor George spoke about the problem on St Helena with poor attendances at public meetings and the Speaker made mention of the possibility of having a ministerial system of Government.


A total of 13 countries took part in the conference. These included Alderney, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Malta, St Helena, the Falkland Islands, Jersey, Guernsey, the United Kingdom, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and the Isle of Mann.


Public Relations/Information Office
Office of the Chief Secretary
16 July 2003



Statement made at the CPA



The Commonwealth Parliamentary Associations (CPA) 34th British Islands and Mediterranean Regional Conference held in the UK earlier this month provided St Helena with the opportunity to issue a statement. St Helena’s was presented by the Honourable Eric George MBE and read as follows: “The CPA British Islands and Mediterranean Region urges HM Government to implement its policy on partnership with small Overseas Territories, in particular the guiding principles underpinning partnership as stated in the White Paper “Partnership for Progress and Prosperity” of March 1999, in which a commitment was made to support economic development, especially in St Helena and Montserrat in view of their special circumstances.” This statement was sent to the RT Hon Jack Straw MP, Secretary of State by Tom Cox MP Chairman of the CPA UK Branch Executive Committee.


What was Jack Straws Response?
On 14 July, Governor Hollamby received a copy of a letter sent by Jack Straw to Tom Cox, it read as follows:
“Dear Tom,
Thank you for your letter of 27 June enclosing a statement issued at the CPA regional conference of the British Islands and Mediterranean Region.
I welcome the interest of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in the Government’s relationship with the UK Overseas Territories and am grateful for this opportunity to reaffirm the Government’s commitment to the principles of partnership expressed in the 1999 White Paper “Partnership for Progress and Prosperity”. The visit to Montserrat in June this year and the planned visit to St Helena in October are important opportunities for the CPA to see directly the work being undertaken to enhance the partnership values with the territories. The Government sees constitutional reform as much as economic development (through inward investment and local initiatives) as key elements to help build successful futures for these small islands.
The constitutional review process taking place in the Overseas Territories is a recognition that constitutions need to be kept up to date and where necessary modernised to reflect the evolving partnership with the Untied Kingdom. Each Overseas Territory is unique and needs a constitutional framework to suit its own circumstances. Constitutional reviews in St Helena and Montserrat are both well advanced. We have informed the Territories that we will consider carefully all proposals for constitutional reform, while making it clear that we cannot guarantee in advance that all those proposals would necessarily be accepted. Overseas Territories already have considerable autonomy but the British Government, through the office of the Governor in each territory, has to retain sufficient powers to protect its overall responsibility for good governance and to ensure the Territories’ compliance with our international obligations where applicable.
As part of its commitment, the British Government is also maintaining its practical support for the economic development of those Overseas Territories which still require some form of economic assistance. These include both St Helena and Montserrat, which together are expected to receive over £75 million in DFID development and budgetary support over the three UK financial years 2003/04 – 2005/06. In addition, DFID has offered to contribute more than £26 million towards the cost of developing air access for St Helena if satisfactory proposals can be agreed.


The FCO has also established an Economic Diversification Programme Budget (EDPB) to assist the Overseas Territories to diversify and enhance their economic bases and thereby lessen their dependence on one or two sectors. It provides a source of funding to support small enterprises and entrepreneurial talent to launch new business activities in the OT’s particularly, but not exclusively, in non-traditional areas. Finance from the EDPB has been used to set up a small business expansion scheme in St Helena worth £150,000 per annum for three years. Two bids have been received from Montserrat for agricultural-based projects. My officials are currently considering these bids.
I hope that, in view of the above, you will be able to reassure the next CPA Regional meeting in Dhaka in October of the Government’s continued commitment to our Overseas Territories.”


Public Relations/Information Office
Office of the Chief Secretary
16 July 2003



St Helena Features in FCO Report



The St Helena Government has received the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Departmental Report for 2003 and St Helena and Ascension Island feature quite prominently under the chapter on the Overseas Territories.


According to the report, the FCO’s Public Service Agreement target was “A new partnership between the UK and the Overseas Territories embracing constitutional arrangements and citizenship, which yields improved standards of governance, human rights, the environment, sustainable development and the security of the territories.”


The report states that constitutional review is well advanced in St Helena, and mention is also made of the restoration of British Citizenship, which took place in 2002. The report described this as “A key success”.


There is a section on St Helena’s 500th anniversary, and this reports that at the time the then FCO Minister, Valerie Amos, hosted a reception at the FCO’s Durbar Court at which HRH The Duke of York was a guest of honour. “Saint Helenians were delighted that the restoration of their rights to British citizenship coincided with celebration of St Helena Day on 21 May” said the report. Details were also given of the visit of HRH Princess Anne. The report states: “The visit concentrated on the young and the elderly. HRH unveiled a foundation stone at a new community care centre, named after the Princes Royal, and toured new sheltered accommodation facilities.” The report goes on to say that Princess Anne met with members of the Student Council “who discussed their hopes for a “New Horizons” youth project,” and that she saw a concert given by the students at Prince Andrew School.


Under the section on Human Rights the report states “The FCO and DFID are jointly funding a project to raise awareness in the Overseas Territories of human rights and to encourage wider discussion of, and public involvement in, the realisation of human rights.” A number of the Overseas Territories are involved in this project including St Helena, and the report states that the FCO and DFID will encourage and support the Territories in their efforts to address human rights issues.


Mention is also made of the money St Helena received from the economic diversification fund to be used for loans for business development. This is currently being operated by the St Helena Development Agency.


Ascension features quite prominently, mainly because of the first election of an Island Council, and the FCO funded project that is aimed at restoring the seabird colony on the Island. The possible opening of the US military operated airfield to non-scheduled charter flights is also mentioned. “This should improve access to Ascension Island, and could be a key access point for any future airport on St Helena” said the report.


Included in the publication is a photograph of HRH The Princess Royal during her visit to the Island, and one with Baroness Amos, Councillor Cyril Gunnell and Chief Ministers at the Overseas Territories Consultative Council held in September 2002.


Reference: Foreign & Commonwealth Office Departmental Report 2003.


Public Relations/Information Office
Office of the Chief Secretary
16 July 2003

 

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