Last Friday, I was visited by a delegation of MPs from all over the Commonwealth during an event hosted by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA).
The annual Westminster Seminar is CPA UK’s keynote capacity-building programme for first-time parliamentarians and newly appointed procedural/committee Clerks from across the Commonwealth. Each year the five-day programme provides a unique platform for its participants to meet their counterparts and explore parliamentary democracy, practice and procedure within a Westminster framework, and share experiences and challenges faced in their parliamentary work.
From Monday 30 November – Friday 4 December, CPA UK welcomed over 70 parliamentarians and clerks to the 64th Westminster Seminar on Parliamentary Practice and Procedure at the Houses of Parliament, London. One of the seminar’s key objectives was to explore representation and the role and responsibilities of the MP in the constituency.
I was delighted to host Umar Hussein MP (Maldives), Antione Borg MP (Malta), Gregory F. WIllock MP (Montserrat), Meka Whaitiri MP (New Zealand), Syed Ghazi Gulab Jamal MNA (Pakistan) and Buddhika Pathirana MP (Sri Lanka) in Sutton, Cheam and Worcester Park.
The day began with us all meeting at my offices in Sutton to discuss the role of a Member of Parliament, how I run my office and some background to Sutton, Cheam and Worcester Park. The particular issues we discussed were the schools place crisis, healthcare provision in Sutton and the local economy.
We then went to visit Ross Feeney, the Chief Executive of Successful Sutton, to discuss how a business improvement district (BID) operates, his plans for Sutton and how we can help to deliver these. Ross delivered a brilliant presentation, and the Commonwealth MPs were incredibly impressed with his enthusiasm and his ideas. The day ended with a discussion from local Conservative councillors about their role, their relationship with Paul and how the Council is supposed to deliver local services. This gave an opportunity for us all to discuss how local government operates differently around the world.
I thoroughly enjoyed the day and I think visits like these only strengthen the relationship that Britain has with it’s Commonwealth partners. I hope to be able to stay in touch with the MPs that I met on the day. I learned a lot from them about how their system’s operate, and I hope I managed to return the favour. Closer ties with the Commonwealth are, in my opinion, essential for the future of the UK, and I look forward to meeting more MPs from the Commonwealth during my time as an MP.
Photos courtesy of Naomi Gabrielle Photography.