CPA UK July Newsletter

Dear Members and Colleagues,

The summer recess is nearly upon us, and the new Parliament has already seen a great deal of international outreach activity here in Westminster and abroad.

A highlight of recent months has without doubt been the 5th Westminster Workshop on Public Accounts Committees which was, for the first time, held at the Maltese Parliament. The event was a great success and the Parliament of Malta an invaluable partner. The workshop also saw the adoption of the constitution of the Commonwealth Association of Public Accounts Committees (CAPAC), and the election of its Executive Committee, chaired by Hon. Tonio Fenech MP, Malta’s PAC Chair. CAPAC is designed to support the work of Commonwealth Public Accounts Committees in promoting good governance, and we look forward to seeing its progress.

CPA UK was also delighted to partner for the first time with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD) on a Workshop on Tax Transparency, Avoidance and Evasion for African parliamentarians. It is hoped that this extremely productive programme will lead to further collaborations with the OECD.

Our bilateral international outreach activities have also recommenced after the election, and we have welcomed two Prime Ministers – from Bangladesh and Tuvalu – and the Speaker of Mauritius in the past month. We have also sent delegations to Kenya and Ghana, and held events at Westminster exploring capital punishment and violence against women and girls.

Details of all these and more are below.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Tuggey
Chief Executive & Secretary, CPA UK


CPA UK Notices

CPA UK Annual General Meeting
CPA UK held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Tuesday 14 July 2015, chaired by the Speaker of the House of Commons. The meeting was well-attended and saw the election of a new Executive Committee: Chair Ian Liddell-Grainger MP; Bob Blackman MP; Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods MP; Rt Hon. Baroness Corston; Rt Hon. Lord Dholakia OBE DL; Nigel Evans MP; Rt Hon. Lord Foulkes of Cumnock; Patrick Grady MP; Rt Hon. David Hanson MP; Rt Hon. Sir Alan Haselhurst MP; Rt Hon. Baroness Hayman GBE; Baroness Hooper CMG; Professor Lord McColl of Dulwich CBE; Madeleine Moon MP; Andrew Percy MP; Laurence Robertson MP; Andrew Rosindell MP; Rt Hon. John Spellar MP; Valerie Vaz MP; and Dame Angela Watkinson MP.

The meeting also saw the approval of CPA UK’s accounts and annual review for FY 2014/15. Copies of these can be obtained from our website.

Networking reception for Members

On 15 September, to mark this year’s International Day of Democracy, CPA UK and the British Group of the IPU will co-host a reception for their members. The event will provide an overview of the inter-parliamentary relations work undertaken by both organisations and enable MPs and Peers to discuss specific interests and activities with colleagues and staff.

The reception will take place 1800-1930 in the CPA and IPU Rooms. To confirm your attendance, please contact us.

CPA UK Activities

5th Westminster Workshop: Effective, Independent and Transparent Public Accounts Committees for Robust Public Financial Oversight

This year CPA UK, in partnership with CPA Malta, held the 5th Westminster Workshop: Effective, Independent and Transparent Public Accounts Committees for Robust Public Financial Oversight, 1-4 June 2015, which took place in Malta.

Building on previous workshops, the 5th Westminster Workshop continued to provide a forum for exploring the key current challenges faced by PACs across the Commonwealth, enabling the exchange of ideas and expertise on how PACs can increase their efficiency and effectiveness in scrutinising public expenditure; from budgeting and planning to tracking performance.

The Workshop was attended by 68 delegates from 22 countries including parliamentarians and clerks.  The UK PAC was represented by Nick Smith MP and its Clerk Sarah Petit

CPA UK would like to extend its thanks to Hon. Tonio Fenech MP, Chair of Malta’s PAC, and the Parliament of Malta, for their unstinting cooperation in hosting and delivering the Workshop.

For further information about the workshop programme and outcomes, please visit our website.

Workshop on Tax Transparency, Avoidance and Evasion for African parliamentarians
On 8 and 9 June, legislators from across Africa attended a conference at Westminster exploring how parliamentarians can work to ensure tax transparency and greater international tax cooperation so as to put an end to tax avoidance and evasion. The event, hosted in collaboration with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, was held to explore the vital role parliamentarians play in ensuring that their countries’ taxation policies benefit citizens.

The programme succeeded in making seemingly complicated technical information accessible to parliamentarians, equipping them to provide essential parliamentary oversight of international tax arrangements.

Programme highlights included an address by Rt Hon. Margaret Hodge MBE MP and agreement of an authoritative communiqué which validated the usefulness of the knowledge exchange. The workshop report will be available on our website soon.

Election Observer Mission to the Virgin Islands (UK) General Election

In its capacity as the Secretariat for the CPA British Islands and Mediterranean Region, CPA UK organised an Election Observer Mission (EOM) to the Virgin Islands (UK) for its general election which took place on 8 June 2015.

The six-member Mission was led by Hon. Stephen Rodan SHK, Speaker of the House of Keys, Isle of Man and included parliamentarians from Jamaica, Hon. Dr. Winston Green MP and from the Turks and Caicos, Hon. Ruth Blackman MP.

Visit of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh
CPA UK welcomed the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Rt Hon. Sheikh Hasina MP, to Parliament on Monday 15 June. She spoke to a group of MPs about Bangladesh’s aspirational goals for poverty reduction. The visit was her first since her niece, Tulip Siddiq MP, was elected to the UK Parliament at the May 2015 General Election; the Prime Minister also observed Ms Siddiq’s Maiden Speech in Parliament on the following day.

Parliamentary Summit on Ending Violence Against Women & Girls
On Wednesday 24 June, CPA UK and the British Group of the IPU joined ActionAid UK in co-hosting a Parliamentary Summit on Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG). The events marked the launch of ActionAid UK’s ‘Fearless’ campaign calling for an ambitious target to tackle VAWG as part of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and for the UK Government to take a lead.

Taking place in Parliament, the Summit involved a half-day programme of meetings and discussion events exploring practical ways parliamentarians can contribute to ending violence against women and girls.

International Development All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) host Bill Gates

The APPGs on International Development, of which CPA UK is a member, hosted Bill Gates at Speaker’s House in their first event of the new Parliament on Wednesday 24 June.

Mr Gates discussed the progress towards eliminating poverty that we are likely to see in coming years, in particular exploring the likely impact of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda and advances in medicine, vaccination and healthcare infrastructure.

Roundtable in Kenya on gender quotas

CPA UK and VSO partnered to facilitate an in-country roundtable for Members of the Kenya Women’s Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA), Tanzanian colleagues and UK parliamentarians Rt Hon. Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top, Rt Hon. Lord Steel, Pauline Latham OBE MP and Gavin Shuker MP.

The 2010 Kenyan constitution contains a provision for no more than two-thirds one gender in Parliament, and the Supreme Court has set a 27 August deadline for Parliament to legislate for a framework to achieve this. The Workshop explored mechanisms for improving women’s participation in politics and securing workable quotas for representation. A full report will be published on the CPA UK website soon. Find out more about the delegates’ impressions in this article on Politics Home.

CPA UK discussion: Capital Punishment in the Caribbean

On 1 July 2015, CPA UK held the first in its programme of lunchtime panel discussions for the new Parliament on the state of capital punishment in the Caribbean.

Panellist Sir Keir Starmer QC MP, barrister and MP for Holborn & St Pancras, explored the origins of Caribbean criminal justice systems and the barriers to reform. Parvais Jabbar MBE of the Death Penalty Project then explored the ways in which lawyers and campaigners can challenge its use, and progress made in recent years. Baroness Stern, who participated in CPA UK’s delegation to Trinidad & Tobago earlier in the year, chaired the discussion.

Visit of the Prime Minister of Tuvalu

Rt Hon. Enele Sopoaga MP, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, visited the UK and spent the afternoon of 8 July in Parliament, hosted by CPA UK, CAFOD, the Climate Coalition and the APPGs on International Development.

He addressed UK parliamentarians on the devastating effects of climate change on Tuvalu. Minister of State for the Commonwealth Rt Hon. Hugo Swire MP, responded, whilst Stephen Twigg MP, Chair of the International Development Committee, chaired the meeting.

High level OvaHerero and Nama delegations from Namibia visit UK Parliament

On 9 July, CPA UK, the Africa APPG and Doughty Street Chambers hosted a high level delegation of OvaHerero and Nama from Namibia for a ceremonial reading of a British report published in 1918 on a genocide committed by Imperial Germany against both populations during the years of 1904-08 in what was then the colonial protectorate of German South-West Africa. They were also joined by Rt Hon. Lord Steel of Aikwood and Lord Jones of Cheltenham for a roundtable.

Other Programmes for visiting Commonwealth Parliamentarians

On 15-16 July Hon. Santi Bai Hanoomanjee MP, Speaker of the National Assembly of Mauritius, and Mrs Saseeta Rakha, Acting Parliamentary ICT Manager visited Westminster for a two-day programme organised by the Overseas Office and CPA UK.

Also in July, Hon. Kim Wells MLA, of the Victoria State Parliament, Australia, visited Westminster for a one-day programme on ways in which the UK tackles domestic violence.

Visit of future political leaders from India

From 20-24 July, CPA UK is hosting a programme for a group of future political leaders from India to introduce them to the political system in Westminster and discuss a range of thematic issues of mutual interest. To find out more about the programme, please visit our website.

Defence scrutiny programme in the Parliament of Ghana

This week, 20-23 July, CPA UK is partnering with Transparency International UK’s Defence and Security Programme (TI-UK DSP) and the Parliament of Ghana on a programme addressing the issues faced by parliamentary committees (specifically the Committee on Defence and the Interior and the Public Accounts Committee) in scrutinising the Government’s defence and policy spending.

Future CPA UK activities

40th Regional Conference of the CPA Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic Region

The 40th Regional Conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Caribbean, the Americas and the Atlantic Region, will be held in Tortola, Virgin Islands (UK), 25 July-1 August, 2015. The theme for this year’s Conference is “Promoting Democracy and Good Governance: A Unified Approach”, which will be attended by a member of CPA UK in an Observer capacity.

Post-Election Seminar with the House of Assembly of Anguilla

Following the Election Observer Mission to Anguilla in April 2015, , in its capacity as the Secretariat for CPA BIMR, CPA UK will organise a Post Election Seminar in the House of Assembly of Anguilla for its newly elected Members 10-12 August. CPA UK will source session facilitators to support the Seminar from the UK, the British Islands & Mediterranean Region and the Caribbean.

Visit of the Malaysian Women’s Parliamentary Caucus
CPA UK will host a delegation of Members of the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus from the Malaysian Parliament 14-18 September. In their first programme in Westminster the delegation will explore the UK parliamentary system and issues of mutual interest with colleagues in the UK Parliament.

Visit by the Speaker and Clerk from the Montserrat Legislative Assembly
Hon. Shirley Osborne, Speaker of the Montserrat Legislative Assembly, and Ms Judith Baker, Clerk, will visit Westminster for a three day programme 14-18 September 2015.

61st Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference

CPA Pakistan and the CPA Headquarters Secretariat will host the 61st Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Islamabad, Pakistan, 30 September-8 October 2015.

CPA UK will send a delegation of 10 members to represent the UK Parliament at the Conference, which will explore the theme 'Renewing the commitment to pluralism and inclusive democracy in the Commonwealth.' The programme will also explore more specific linked issues such as parliamentarian action on terrorism, religious freedom, the economic impact of gender-based violence and a debate on the role of the media in political and public life.

The Conference includes the General Assembly of the CPA.

Visit of Members of the Commonwealth Parliament of Australia
In the first inward delegation since 2012 from the Federal Parliament of Australia CPA UK will host a cross-party delegation of MPs and Senators from 26-30 October. The programme will focus of areas of specified common interest.

More information will be available in due course on our website.

7th Commonwealth Youth Parliament
The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Secretariat and the Northern Territory Legislature will jointly host the seventh Commonwealth Youth Parliament from 1-5 November 2015 in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia. CPA UK will nominate one young person (18-29 years of age) to attend.

CPA UK will also sponsor one Member of Parliament, who is under 35 years of age, to attend the event to act as a mentor to the young participants. If you would be interested in participating please contact us.

CHOGM Fringe Event: Workshop on Women’s Political Leadership
CPA UK will work with CPA Headquarters Secretariat, the Commonwealth Local Government Forum and the Gender Section of the Commonwealth Secretariat to run a half-day workshop at the inaugural CHOGM Women’s Forum

Taking place on 24 November, the workshop will explore women’s political leadership, resulting in recommendations for Commonwealth action on improving women’s political participation.