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Published 3rd December 2015, 12:44pm

   

Minister of Finance and Economic Development Hon. Marco Archer is participating in discussions at the 64th Westminster Seminar on Parliamentary Practice and Procedure that range from parliamentary ethics and standards to the conflicting priorities of constituency, party and parliamentary work.

   

The Seminar opened in London on Monday, 30 November at Westminster and explores parliamentary democracy, practice and procedure within a Westminster framework.

   

It is Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK's flagship capacity-building programme and is a highly anticipated annual seminar that highlights current best practice and how Parliaments adapt to changing domestic and global political environments. It is designed to enhance the capacity of the parliamentarians in attendance to create legislation, hold their governments to account and represent their constituents’ interests.

   

Sessions so far have included an overview of the development of the modern Westminster System and an outline of the specific practical upgrades to its infrastructure that Parliament urgently needs as well as an urging from Charlotte Leslie, MP, Parliamentary Secretary at the Department for International Development and the FCO, for Commonwealth colleagues to not become overly concerned with administration and power structures when there are global issues of huge and wide-reaching significance that parliamentarians must face, not least in the ways in which their countries should respond to pressing threats to national and global security.

   

Just as the Cayman Islands is modernizing its Legislative Assembly by putting its authority over the Speaker of the House and the Clerk, so too has Britain. Minister Archer and others heard that recent changes to Parliament’s governance included the creation of the post of Director General to sit beneath and work alongside the Clerk of the House. As in Cayman, the move is a new and developing structure and changes in the way the two work together will inevitably develop.

   

Another session considered the legislative process, specifically amending legislation while another’s topic was select committees and the influence they have on the behavior of ministries that will take account of the likely reaction of a select committee when formulating policy. MP Iain Wright concluded that session with the perspective of an opposition select committee chair reflecting the theme of the day, which was that truly effective accountability should not involve opposition for its own sake; select committees should assess and advise rather than simply criticizing.

   

On Wednesday morning MP Andrew Stephenson opened a discussion on the ways that MPs can raise issues on behalf of their constituents and causes they support.

   

The afternoon began with an exploration of parliamentary ethics and standards. MP Rt Hon. Sir Kevin Barron MP, the Chair of the Standards and Privileges Committees, set the scene by exploring some of the reputational issues the UK Parliament has suffered in recent years and how this led to reform. In his view, the reform had not been as positive as it might have been, but the benefits of an independent authority were clear.

   

The seminar continues Thursday and concludes on Friday, 4 December.