HC Deb 21 May 1928 vol 217 cc1524-6W

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will consider the desirability of instructing a warship to call at Tristan da Cunha at least once every year; and whether, seeing that it was the custom up to the time of the South African War to make such an annual call and in view of the increase in the population and the occasional failure of the crops, he will take into consideration that the need for an annual visit is greater now than it used to be?


I have been asked to reply to this question. As regards the first part, I would invite my hon. and gallant Friend's attention to the answer given to a similar question on 23rd March, 1925, in which it was stated that the question of the possibility of providing more regular and frequent communication with Tristan da Cunha had been under careful consideration, but that, having regard to the considerable expense and other difficulties involved, His Majesty's Government could not undertake to arrange for a yearly visit of a warship to the island. I fear that the same difficulties would still operate to render an annual visit by a warship impracticable. In reply to the second part of the question, I am aware that an annual call at the Island is no less desirable at the present time than in former years. Arrangements were accordingly made for a steamship belonging to Messrs. T. and J. Harrison to call there with mails and stores early this year, and a similar call by one of the vessels of Messrs. Andrew Weir and Company was carried out in the early months of 1927. In February, 1926, it was arranged that the H.R.S. "Discovery" should call at the Island en route for the whaling grounds of South Georgia. The visits carried out in 1927 and 1928 entailed the payment to the shipping companies concerned of a subsidy for each call and a charge for the carriage of stores, but such expense is very much less than the cost of a visit by a warship. Moreover, a steamship intended for the carriage of pasengers and cargo is obviously more suitable in many respects than a warship for the purpose. It is intended to arrange for similar annual calls by subsidised steamers in future years for so long as the circumstances of the Island render them necessary.