Campaign for better shipping links

Tristan highlighted in Commons debate

Report and photos from Tristan Government UK Representative Chris Carnegy

Tristan da Cunha's campaign for better shipping links reached the floor of the House of Commons on 11th May 2023.

Alicia Kearns MP, for Rutland and Melton who chairs the Commons' Foreign Affairs Committee

A special debate on The Future of the UK Overseas Territories was arranged by Alicia Kearns MP, who chairs the Commons' Foreign Affairs Committee. She said:

"I recently met the Chief Islander of Tristan da Cunha and understand that the Foreign Office is undertaking a review of the possibility of subsidising a boat for the Tristan Government. […] It would not be an expensive measure and would massively help islanders, particularly during health emergencies. My heart goes out to the individual who recently lost their life after a stroke, and who was unable to be removed from the island in time to receive the healthcare that would have saved their life. That is unacceptable, as too are the quotas for how many residents from each OT can receive NHS treatment. A Tristan-owned vessel would also allow eco-tourism to continue and develop more tourism revenue over time to pay for its upkeep."

James Sunderland MP for Bracknell.

Other MPs specifically mentioned Tristan. Conservative James Sunderland, who began his speech by saying 'our Overseas Territories need more love', added "Tristan da Cunha needs a boat, as we have heard, for obvious strategical and medical reasons". The opposition's shadow OTs minister Stephen Doughty committed a future Labour government to better recognition of the uniqueness of each OT, and a UK relationship based on listening and respect. He also noted that Tristanians cannot yet open accounts with UK retail banks.

Stephen Doughty MP for Cardiff South and Penarth who is the Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister

Many MPs spoke powerfully about the need for the UK to provide more support to OTs and in particular to recognize that they are all different.

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development minister David Rutley responded for the UK government, promising that there would soon be ministers in more UK departments taking a specific interest in OTs, and heralding the start of work on a new UK government strategy for the OTs, developed in partnership with the Territories themselves.

It was gratifying to see how our lobbying efforts had resulted in such prominence for a key Tristan issue.