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Ascension Island

Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 15th March 2006.

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Photo of Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government's position is on (a) granting residents of Ascension Island permanent right of abode, (b) granting residents property rights with full legal title, (c) granting licences for commercial ventures on the Island, with particular reference to commercial air charters, (d) licensing commercial flights between St. Helena and Ascension if the former builds an airport and (e) the future of the Island Assembly's taxation and administrative powers; and if he will take steps to codify those powers in an agreement between the Assembly and British Government.

Photo of Douglas Alexander Douglas Alexander Minister of State (Europe)

I refer the hon. Member to the answers given by my noble Friend, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, on 6 March 2006, Hansard, columns 527–29 in response to parts (a) , (b) and (d) of his question.

Regarding the remaining questions, a small number of commercial ventures exist on Ascension Island in addition to the user organisations. There is, at present, no Ascension Island legislation for the licensing of these commercial ventures. The Attorney General of St. Helena and dependencies, in his capacity as Attorney General of Ascension Island, has confirmed that in the event of a commercial dispute, the English Law of Contract would apply. Nor is there local legislation relating specifically to commercial air charters. In the absence of such local legislation, Air Safety Support International would regulate this activity.

The Ascension Island Council does not have taxation and administrative powers—it is an advisory body with executive authority vested in the Governor of St. Helena and dependencies. The Government does not believe there is a need to further codify these powers in an agreement between the Council and the Government.

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