Overseas Territories — Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:39 pm on 31st October 2013.

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Photo of Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville Conservative 6:39 pm, 31st October 2013

My Lords, with the leave of the House—I have also spoken to the spokesman for the Opposition—I have a very brief and indeed personal point to make in the gap, which relates to a single territory.

The island of St Helena is now awaiting the arrival of its airport and is hoping for tourists. Tourists like to see sights. St Helena has Georgian architecture; not always in the best of shape, but Georgian. Conservation is therefore important. For personal reasons I am interested in making a charitable financial contribution.

My personal reasons are that one of my forebears was governor, and a good one, between 1787 and 1801. Perhaps nepotistically, he brought out his nephew to be his secretary. The latter remained on the island in this capacity until 1834, publishing a book on the island’s history in 1808. A second edition was published in 1822, which added two chapters—we Brookes are of few words—to cover the residence of Napoleon Bonaparte.

The years 1787 to 1834 spanned many Georgian years. Every time I have an opportunity, like a regular meeting of the St Helena All-Party Group, or an ad hoc one, when someone germane is either going to St Helena or returning, I ask for details of the way to help the conservation programme. Every time I am promised the details, but answer comes there none. The CPA even put me on a CPA visit to St Helena one summer which was then cancelled, but with a written promise to send me on a substitute visit in the new year. The new year came, the visit went, with no word to me, and a substitute sent in my place, but not from my party.

I intend it as a compliment to my noble friend who will shortly be at the Dispatch Box to ask him to absorb what seems a reasonably simple request and get someone to send me in writing the details I seek, preferably with a letterhead or e-mail address to which I can respond if necessary. If there are other territories beside St Helena which have the same needs, I shall be happy to support them too, perhaps with others following suit.