Today's Tristan wisdom from London
- House of Commons
British Overseas Territories
21 Nov 2013
Andrew Rosindell (Romford, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps she is taking to address the
lack of educational facilities in British Overseas Territories.
Alan Duncan (Minister of State, International Development; Rutland and Melton, Conservative)
Each of the inhabited Overseas Territories (OTs) has its own educational system and facilities. DFID
is responsible for the reasonable assistance needs only of those OTs that are eligible for Official
Development Assistance. This includes Montserrat, Pitcairn, and St Helena (of which Tristan da Cunha
is legally a constituent part). In each of these four territories, almost all the children between
five and 16 years of age are enrolled in school. DFID is meeting more than half of the recurrent
costs involved and supporting the Governments to improve the quality of education provided.
..... ends .....
As we know, Tristan and Ascension used to be "dependencies" of St. Helena. Although
this has changed, it has never been explained what it was changed to. Some official
papers refer to them as three separate Overseas Territories. Others, like Minister
Duncan, above, see the former dependencies as "constituent parts" of St. Helena.
And this is why there is disagreement on whether the UK has 14 or 16 OTs.
All three share the same governor. His salary and expenses are included in the St.
Helena (island) budget. Does that mean the Saints are paying for Ascension and
Tristan's part time governor? Since the Tristan annual budget is a State Secret, I
St. Helena is on grant-in-aid. Ascension and Tristan are not.
Ministers don't normally spend their time writing answers to Parliamentary Questions.
The above answer would normally have been written by a staff member in DFID's Overseas
Territories Department. The answer is incorrect -- DFID contributes nothing to the
education or recurrent budgets of Tristan. But in their rush to stop referring to the
people of the Dependencies as dependent, they have succeeded in confusing even the
foreign aid people who are giving out (or not giving out) the aid money.
In a Persian proverb it is written that when the king says it's midnight at noontime,
the wise underling murmurs, "Behold the stars."
And the official website reports on the last day of the RMS visit:
Programme Curtailed as RMS loads passengers early
A strengthening wind meant that RMS passengers were loaded early from 09.30 on Thursday 21st
November. Therefore the Thursday programme, including a Craft Day in Prince Philip Hall, a football
match between Tristan Tigers and a team from the RMS, and a visit to the CTBTO (Comprehensive
Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty Organisation) Station had to be cancelled. Only a tour of the Fishing
factory went ahead, brought forward to start at 08.00.
Administrator Alex Mitham adds a final note to a memorable RMS St Helena visit:
It was wonderful that the Governor was able to visit the island on such a special occasion and I was
very glad we have such perfect weather for the visit. The Governor must be a good luck talisman!
On Thursday 21st the Governor, my wife and I went onboard the RMS St Helena to meet the Captain at
10.30. While onboard, the Captain very kindly invited us to lunch at the Captain's Table. It was a
glorious day and the passengers had a lovely view of the island and were able to view the Peak.
Unfortunately owing to the increasing swell the Islanders who had done so much work on organising
the visit were unable to also attend the lunch.
The Island really did pull out all the stops to make this 50th Anniversary an incredible occasion,
and the RMS passengers bore witness to the hard work and dedication of all the islanders. It was
also lovely to see the celebrations on Bornholm island in Denmark - While we may be the remotest
inhabited isle - we have friends across the globe!
The RMS is a beautiful ship and I cannot thank the Captain and the crew enough for their kind
generosity. I hope there may be further opportunities for the RMS to visit again during my tenure.
My wife and I returned to the island at 1.30 as the RMS set sail for the onward voyage to St.
Helena, via Nightingale and Inaccessible Islands.
Sponsored Swim and other fund raising events
RMS passengers took part in Tristan fund raising for the Philippines Typhoon Appeal and while the
ship departed the sponsored swim organised by St Mary's School was taking place. See:
Robert S. Conrich, ACIArb
British West Indies Tel: 1 264 497 2505