Chairperson and Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) speak to Members of Parliament and young people in Scotland about importance of the Commonwealth ‘post-Brexit’ during visit to CPA Scotland Branch in Commonwealth week 

The Chairperson of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Hon. Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, MP, Speaker of the Parliament of Bangladesh and the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), Mr Akbar Khan have visited the Scotland Branch of the CPA at the Scottish Parliament during a week-long celebration of the importance of the Commonwealth, following Commonwealth Day 2017 which took place on Monday 13 March.

The visit of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association delegation to Scotland highlighted a number of key issues including the important role that devolved and sub-national legislatures play in the CPA; the importance of the Commonwealth in a post-Brexit era; and the crucial role that parliament should play in public engagement in the political process, especially engaging young people who constitute 60% of the 2.4 billion population of the Commonwealth.

During the visit to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, accompanied by the CPA Secretary-General and Hon. Imran Ahmad MP, Member of Parliament from Bangladesh and a member of the CPA Executive Committee, met with Rt Hon. Ken Macintosh MSP, Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, who is also the President of the CPA Scotland Branch. The CPA Chairperson and the CPA Secretary-General outlined the range of parliamentary strengthening programmes offered by the CPA to all its member parliaments including the Scottish Parliament, such as the recently launched CPA Parliamentary Fundamentals Programme, which offers a tailored and accredited course designed specifically to meet the developmental needs of Parliamentarians across Commonwealth jurisdictions and being delivered in partnership with two Commonwealth universities.

The CPA is the only Commonwealth body that works to strengthen sub-national and devolved parliaments such as the Scottish Parliament. The relationship between the Scottish Parliament and the CPA is therefore key in providing a platform to develop good parliamentary practice within the Scottish Parliament, and also to share good practice with other similar legislatures across the Commonwealth, from provincial legislatures in Canada, to sub-national legislatures in India. The CPA is keen to work with the Scottish Parliament to share its innovative practices, such as the ‘Women in Leadership’ Programme, with all legislatures of the CPA across the Commonwealth.

The CPA Secretary-General also discussed the work of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) which works to augment the number of women in parliament, and which the Scottish Parliament has been a strong supporter.

The CPA Chairperson and Secretary-General congratulated the CPA Scotland Branch for its innovative work reaching out to other parliaments through its International Relations Office. The bilateral relations developed by the CPA Scotland Branch with other Commonwealth jurisdictions such as the CPA Malawi Branch and the CPA Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Legislature in Pakistan demonstrate the importance of networks such as the CPA in providing a platform to share good practice in strengthening parliaments.

The CPA Chairperson addressed Members of the CPA Scotland Executive Committee and other Members of the Scottish Parliament in a live broadcast via the Scottish Parliament’s Facebook page. To view the CPA Chairperson’s address to Members of the Scottish Parliament then please click here.

The Chairperson of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, together with the CPA Secretary-General held meetings with Rt Hon. Nicola Sturgeon, MSP, First Minister of Scotland and Vice-President of the CPA Scotland Branch and also with Ruth Davidson MSP, Leader of the Scottish Conservatives, also a Vice-President of the CPA Scotland Branch.

The Scottish Parliament also held a final item of business during the CPA delegation visit with a Members’ Business Debate in the chamber on motion S5M-04048, in the name of Stuart McMillan MSP, on Commonwealth Day 2017. The motion also heard from a wide range of Members of the Scottish Parliament: Margaret Mitchell MSP (who has worked with the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians); Kenneth Gibson MSP; Johann Lamont MSP; Alexander Stewart MSP; Maurice Corry MSP; Dr Alasdair Allan MSP, Minister for International Development and Europe. Members of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association visiting delegation were also in the chamber to hear the debate. To read the Official Report (Hansard) of the Parliamentary Debate in The Scottish Parliament on Commonwealth Day 2017 please click here.

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association delegation visit also enabled the CPA visitors to conduct a series of CPA Roadshows at two local schools in Edinburgh, Stockbridge Primary School and Holy Rood High School, accompanied by Linda Fabiani MSP, Deputy Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, as well as conducting a roundtable discussion with university students from across Scotland on the importance of the Commonwealth and of parliamentary democracy chaired by Johann Lamont MSP.

The CPA Roadshows provide an opportunity for young people to learn about the political values of the Commonwealth such as diversity, development and parliamentary democracy; to discuss issues of concern about the society in which they live; and to meet local Members of Parliament and Parliamentary staff and to find out about the work of the CPA.

The Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament and the President of the CPA Scotland Branch, Rt Hon. Ken Macintosh, MSP said: “It’s an honour to welcome the CPA Chairperson and Secretary-General to Scotland in Commonwealth Week. The CPA provides Members both here in the Scottish Parliament and across the 52 countries of the Commonwealth with a valuable opportunity to learn from one another and to improve ways of working. Today we have discussed highly topical issues, like engaging more with young people and strengthening the role of devolved legislatures in the CPA. However, we have also reinforced our shared values of peace, democracy and equality.”

The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Mr Akbar Khan said: “I am delighted to visit the Scotland Branch of the CPA with the CPA Chairperson, Hon. Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, MP and to talk about the important and innovative work they are undertaking to enhance the functioning of the Scottish Parliament and to empower Members to be more effective in their work. We are very excited about bringing the CPA Roadshow to Scotland for the first time and engaging with local students on the values that unite the Commonwealth. The CPA’s public engagement work across the Commonwealth and engaging young people in the democratic process by discussing the importance of the Commonwealth post-Brexit are key objectives of the CPA and the CPA’s visit to Scotland has emphasised this.”

With the Commonwealth’s 52 member countries having a combined population of more than 2.4 billion, of which more than 60% are under 30 years of age, the CPA Roadshows aim to engage with young people and education establishments to promote parliamentary democracy and participation in political life.

To view images of the visit to CPA Scotland please click here.

-Ends-

Published Thursday 16 March 2017.

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association connects, develops, promotes and supports Parliamentarians and their staff to identify benchmarks of good governance and the implementation of the enduring values of the Commonwealth. 
 
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