Although numbers allowed to attend were restricted and it was a stiflingly hot night, some 35 Britain-Tanzania members and a group of Members of Parliament participated in a joint event on July 18 at the House of Commons in London to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Britain-Tanzania Society and the establishment of an All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tanzania. Speeches were made by Roger Carter and Izabella Koziell from the Society and the Tanzanian High Commissioner in London Mr Ali Mchumo representing Tanzania. Lord Redesdale, the Liberal Democrat spokesman on overseas aid in the House of Lords, who was also representing Mr David Steel MP, was in the Chair.
Among the MP’s present were Mr Richard Page who is the Conservative member for S W Hertfordshire; he told TA that he had pointed out when he was in Tanzania with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Group last year, the importance of free and fair access to the media for all parties in multi-party elections; he added that, since he had now become Minister for Small Business in the Department of Trade and Industry he was no longer in a position to intervene in external matters like this, for fear of impinging on the prerogatives of the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary; Mr Win Griffiths, Labour MP for Bridgend who (with the Chairman of the Group, Sir John Stanley MP for Tonbridge and MaIling), has taken a leading role in setting up the parliamentary group; the well-known Eurosceptic Conservative MP for Stafford, Mr Bill Cash whose wife was born in Mwanza; Dr. Jeremy Bray, Labour MP for Motherwell South , who had also been on the visit to Tanzania last year and who told TA that he had been impressed by the responsible way in which Tanzania’s move towards multipartyism had been handled; and, Ms Hilary Armstrong, Labour MP for Durham North west.
Mr Andrew Faulds, Labour MP for Warley East (Smethwick), who was born in Isoko, Rungwe District, who also spoke, told TA that his father had been a Church of Scotland missionary at Isoko for four years from 1921 and had married there. The parents had spent most of their lives in Malawi however and had asked that, after their deaths, their ashes should be buried in Malawi. Mr Faulds spoke movingly about the long journey he took through Tanzania in 1990 to take his mother’s ashes to Malawi and how he had been able to see again the hills approaching Isoko after an absence of 70 years.