2015: Minutes


Minutes of the meeting of the Annual General Meeting of the

FALKLAND ISLANDS ASSOCIATION

held on Saturday, 05 December 2015 at 12:00 am

at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), 61 Whitehall, London

1. Welcome by the Chairman

The chairman, Mr. Alan Huckle, welcomed members to the AGM and the preceding Battle Day ceremony at the Cenotaph, and thanked Air Commodore Russell La Forte CBE for leading the parade. He also welcomed the attendance and participation of the Hon. Mr. Roger Edwards of the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly, Mr. Andrew Rosindell MP of the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Falkland Islands, and former governors Mr. David Tatham CMG and Mr. Donald Lamont.

2. Apologies for absence

Apologies had been received from members of the Executive Committee, who could not attend, and from Vice-Presidents Sir Peter de la Billiere, the Hon. Cindy Buxton and Mrs. Merle Christie. Apologies had also been received from various other members of the Association.

3. Chairman's annual report

The Chairman presented his report for the previous year (Appendix A attached), noting in particular the sad demise on 30 September of the Association's long-serving Hon. Secretary, Colin Wright, and the kind agreement of Air Chief Marshall, Sir Peter Squire, to be one of the Association's Vice-Presidents. He welcomed the election of Mauricio Macri as President of Argentina, ending 12 years of Kirchnerism: Macri would bring a less confrontational approach to matters relating to the Falkland Islands but would continue to uphold Argentina's sovereignty claim.

Mr. Donald Lamont proposed that the report be accepted by the meeting. Ms. Tasmin Cunningham seconded and the report was approved.

4. Hon. Treasurer Financial Report

The Hon Treasurer, Mr. James Wallace, presented the financial accounts for the year ended 31 March 2015 (Appendix B attached).

 

He noted that the main income earner, Ordinary Subscriptions, remained at a similar level to the previous period, at around £8000. Income from ticket sales to the AGM luncheon had fluctuated due to the 2014 AGM being held as a stand-alone event separate from the special Battle Day centenary ceremony. £4000 had been generated by that Battle Day event, representing 50% of the total cost, with the proceeds being donated to charity. Any costs relating to the Lincoln's Inn Reception were reimbursed by FIG. Revenue booked under Adverts included some payments relating to older newsletters.

 

In summary, total revenue in FY 2014 was close to £50,000 with Events and Advertising making significant contributions. The large difference in Expenses between FYs 2013 and 2014 was mostly due to Lincoln's Inn costs which were recoverable. Website and Donation costs were the main expense items this year.

 

For the next financial year, the Hon. Treasurer expected income to be similar to the previous year and expenses to be considerably lower, given that no special events would be held during the year and that website costs were back to just maintenance and support. The Association would start 2016 with a bank balance of about £30,000, which was a firm footing for the Association's work.

 

Mr. David Tatham proposed that the financial report be accepted by the meeting. Ms. Tasmin Cunningham seconded and the report was approved.

 

5. Election of Officers

 

The following officers had indicated their willingness to stand for re-election:

 

Chairman: Mr. Alan Huckle

Vice-Chairman: Mr. Saul Pitaluga

Hon Treasurer: Mr. James Wallace

Hon Newsletter Editor: Ms. Sharon Jaffray

 

Mr. Donald Lamont proposed that they be re-elected for a further year; Ms. Tasmin Cunningham seconded and they were duly elected.

6. Election of the Executive Committee

 

The following members of the Executive Committee had indicated that they were willing to be re-elected:

 

Mr. David Ainslie

Ms. Nina Ashton

Col. Mike Bowles (ret'd)

Air Commodore Peter Johnson (ret'd)

Mr. Maurice Jones

Ms. Beverley McLeod

Hon. Alexandra Shackleton

Mr. Steve Wiggins

 

Mr. Trevor Johnson proposed that they be re-elected; Ms. Anne Townsend seconded and they were duly elected.

 

The election of Karen Clapp to the Executive Committee as Membership Secretary was proposed and accepted nem. con.

 

Two members of the Executive Committee had decided to step down. The Chairman thanked Mr. Robin Wager and Mr. Paul Martinez warmly for their hard work on behalf of the Association.

 

7. Appointment of Accountants

 

The Hon. Treasurer proposed that the Association continue to use the services of accountants BDO in preparing the financial statements. The proposal was accepted nem con.

 

8. Invited Statements

 

The Chairman invited the following to address the meeting:

 

MLA Roger Edwards commented that, whilst the election of Mauricio Macri as President of Argentina might mark an end to the confrontational policies that the Falkland Islands had had to endure over the last 12 years, the situation would remain essentially unchanged as long as the Argentine sovereignty claim remained in Argentina's constitution. It was unlikely that Macri would be able to undo any of the anti-Falklands legislation that the Kirchners had put through Congress but there was at least a hope that his approach would be a friendlier one.

 

As for the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Party leader, it was clear from contacts made at the Labour Party conference this year that, despite their new leader's stance, the vast majority of Labour MPs fully supported the Islands; many had apologized for Corbyn's political views. Mr. Edwards was confident that cross-party support for the Falkland Islands at Westminster would remain strong.

 

Turning to the Falkland Islands' economy, Mr. Edwards said that the continued decline in the price of oil might delay the exploitation of the Sea Lion discovery but it might also benefit Premier Oil which could take advantage of lower procurement costs in sourcing necessary production equipment a part of their front end engineering design (FEED) requirements.

 

Cruise ship tourism was buoyant with 60,000 passengers booked aboard ships stopping in the Islands in 2016. Land-based tourism, however, was static with about 1-1,200 visitors a year. Operators were nevertheless upgrading lodges and other facilities to attract more arrivals. Mr. Edwards also reported on the safe recovery and transfer of 347 passengers and crew following a fire aboard the French cruise ship L'Boreal off the Falklands. He praised the co-operation

between the military and civilian emergency services as well as oil industry assets in the rescue. Passengers spent three days in Stanley living in people's homes before being repatriated by air.

 

The Islands had enjoyed two superb years of fishing with record catches of Illex squid being taken, in excess of 350,000 MT but Illex catches were extremely volatile - in some years being counted in kilos rather than tonnes - which had consequences for budgetary planning. Around 110-120 licences were sold each year with the same number expected in 2016. A court case involving alleged misreporting of catches was ongoing.

 

The agricultural sector was in a strong position. Exports of lamb, mutton and beef were helping to offset declining wool prices, which were falling following a five-year peak. The future looked bright as a younger generation of farmers were taking the opportunity to create a livelihood on both wool and meat production.

 

The Government was half way through its second term; the next elections would be in November 2017. Public diplomacy and attendance at the UN De-Colonization Committee and UK party conferences were a vital opportunity for the Islanders to show gratitude to their supporters. There was much to do to maintain awareness of the Falkland Islands, especially in the UK, amongst young people, and in wider Europe.

 

One outcome of the Joint Ministerial Council, held in London on 26-27 November, was that most Overseas Territories felt that a British exit from the EU would have a detrimental impact on their economies. There was concern that the UK Government was not taking this into account in their policy deliberations.

 

Finally, Mr. Edwards emphasized the importance that FIG attached to the FIA and thanked members for their active support

 

Andrew Rosindell MP said that the Falkland Islands All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), of which he had been Secretary for 15 years, continued to be very active in Parliament. The group was currently chaired by Derek Twig, a Labour Member of Parliament and former Minister. Mr. Rosindell also chairs the British Overseas Territories APPG and is a member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee (FAC). He was therefore well placed to protect the Falklands' interests in Westminster (though he believed that OTs should more appropriately have direct representation in Parliament).

 

The FAC tended to focus on the critical international issues of the day; it was often difficult to get OTs onto its agenda and, even on contentious issues like Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands, there was a tendency on the part of the Committee not to rock the boat for fear of affecting bilateral relations with Spain and S. America â€" an attitude that he constantly had to fight.

 

Mr. Rosindell agreed strongly that, if ever there were to be talks with Argentina, the Falkland Islands Government had to be fully involved. The elected

representatives of the Falkland Islanders had to be included and no decision should ever be made without their full consent.

 

Mr. Rosindell took note of the argument that the UK Government should take OT views into account when considering EU policy, particularly as regards a possible British exit (BREXIT). There was a worrying illustration of this not being done in the Australian Government's treatment of Norfolk Island. The Australian Government had abolished the Island's Legislative Assembly, ignoring the wishes of the Islanders. This gave Argentina an unhappy example of the principle of self-determination being ignored.

 

Mr. Rosindell stressed that there continued to be strong cross-party consensus right across the political spectrum for self-determination regardless of what Jeremy Corbyn might say. The Falkland Islanders enjoyed the support of the vast majority of parliamentarians of all political affiliations in both Houses of Parliament - and the work of the Falkland Islands Association was held in great respect.

 

One area that needed attention, Mr. Rosindell suggested, was education at school level - teaching children about the British Family and how the Falklands fit into that family so that future generations could grow up understanding why far away islands remained an important part of British history and modern-day life.

 

Mr. Peter Pepper gave an update on the political situation in Argentina.

 

The Argentine Presidential election had been a close-run race with only a few percentage points between the two candidates. Macri would face a hostile Senate and a Chamber of Deputies in which Cristina Kirchner's ‘Front for Victory' party remained the largest bloc. Scioli might well have won if he had been able to distance himself from Cristina de Kirchner. She had not accepted defeat with good grace and had appointed various supporters to positions of influence in her last few days. Peronism would still be a thorn in Macri's side.

 

The Falkland Islands did not feature in the Argentine elections: the focus was almost wholly on the socio-economic problems facing Argentina. Whilst Macri's pro-business agenda and centre-right politics would direct his approach, the mindset of Peronism that the Kirchners represented remained strongly entrenched, with the potential for her party to continue to cause problems for the Falklands. The Governor of the province of Tierra del Fuego, for example, was a Kirchnerite.

 

A more pressing problem perhaps was the Argentine lobby in the UK. The South Atlantic Council, for years discouraged by the untenable Argentine-UK relationship created by the Kirchners, would now see an opportunity to advance their search for a ‘solution' with the new, more moderate president. They would almost certainly seek to reinstitute their previous programme of conferences to address the question of sovereignty and normalisation of links between the Islands and Argentina. But even under Macri, Argentina's primary objective would be an eventual transfer of sovereignty.

 

9. Any Other Business

 

Mr. Donald Lamont announced that a special service commemorating the centenary of Sir Ernest Shackleton's expedition to the Antarctic would be held in Westminster Abbey on 20 May 2016. Tickets would be available about eight weeks before the event from the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust in Cambridge.

 

Mr. Lamont also drew attention to the DVD entitled "Falklands 1914: The Hunt for Germany's Lost Battleships” presented by Mensun Bound on the recent (but so far unsuccessful) attempt to find the German battleships sunk off the Falkland Islands by the Royal Navy in 1914. Copies were available to members of FIMA Friends or obtainable at a charge from the Falkland Islands Museum in Stanley.

 

Mr. Harold Briley agreed with Mr. Rosindell that more should be done to educate young people in the UK about the Falklands. He noted that the new Malvinas Museum in Buenos Aires funded by the Kirchner government attracted substantial numbers of students every day, almost as an instrument of indoctrination, whereas the museum on the military junta's repressive regime attracted very few visitors. He applauded the BBC for its ‘Island Parish' series for showing the reality of modern life in the Falklands. The Chairman noted that the star of the series, Rev'd Richard Hines, was present and had led the service at the Cenotaph.

 

 

10. Close

 

There being no other business, the Chairman drew the meeting to a close at 1.15pm so that members could proceed to lunch.