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Our Governance

Good governance lies at the heart of the CPA’s Mission and we are therefore committed to the responsible and effective administration of our organisation, with a keen focus on transparency, accountability, financial oversight and thorough auditing processes.

The CPA has always been an organisation overseen by Members of Parliament expressly for Members of Parliament since it was established in 1911. That premise remains the same over 110 years later. Commonwealth Parliamentarians play an active role in governing, scrutinising, advising and supporting the Association, and doing so to the highest of standards. 

The CPA was registered as a charity on 22 October 1971 (registration number 263147) under the laws of the United Kingdom. As such, the Executive Committee of the Association has a dual role as Trustees. 

CPA Strategic Plan 2022-2025

CPA Strategic Plan 2022-2025

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Strategic Plan for 2022-2025 sets out its support for our membership of 180 Commonwealth Parliaments as well as how the organisation will advance and develop support to CPA Members through focusing on six core objectives and cross cutting themes that will be mainstreamed across CPA operations and workstreams.

CPA Constitution
Commonwealth Parliamentarians who, irrespective of gender, race, religion or culture, being united by community of interest, respect for the rule of law and individual rights and freedoms, and by pursuit of the positive ideals of parliamentary democracy, have established the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

(Preamble to the CPA Constitution)

 

The CPA Constitution provides the authority on the aims of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, an outline of the respective governance structures and a number of rules and procedures for the functioning of the Association. 

Drafted by Mr John Sweetman, former Clerk of Committees in the UK House of Commons, the current Constitution of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association was first approved and adopted by the General Assembly on 6 September 1993, at the 39th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Limassol, Cyprus.

The Constitution has since seen a number of amendments following its adoption, the most recent of which was at the 62nd Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in London, United Kingdom.

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association has, however, had a number of previous constitutions across its history, the first of which was approved and adopted on 18 July 1911, thereby founding the then Empire Parliamentary Association.

Please find a pdf copy of the CPA Constitution here.

General Assembly

The General Assembly, the Association’s supreme authority, is constituted by delegates to the Annual Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference.

The General Assembly has the ultimate authority to determine the policy and management of the Association including the annual membership fee and other financial obligations of the Members of the Association; the Regions of the Association and the allocation of each Branch to a Region; the number of Regional Representatives; the venue within the Commonwealth of each plenary conference, and the number of delegates and officials which each Branch shall be entitled to send to a plenary conference.

Attendees at the General Assembly usually include the Officers of the Association; Regional Representatives and Branch delegates to the plenary conference at which the meeting of the General Assembly is held. Other persons may be invited by the Association to attend the General Assembly as observers.

CPA Executive Committee

The Constitution of the CPA vests in an Executive Committee the control and management of the activities and business of the Association. The CPA Executive Committee meets just prior to and just after the General Assembly, to which it reports, and the CPA Executive Committee holds a second meeting in another Commonwealth country midway between General Assemblies.

The CPA Executive Committee consists of approximately 36 Members led by the Chairperson of the CPA and comprising the Officers of the Association (who include the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) and the CPA Small Branches Chairperson) and three Regional Representatives from each Region, except Africa which, as a large Region, has six Regional Representatives.

As the CPA is a UK Registered charity, the CPA Executive Committee act as the charity's legal trustees.  

The CPA Executive Committee is supported by four subcommittees: CPA Coordinating Committee, CPA Audit Committee, Planning & Review Subcommittee and the Finance Subcommittee.

CPA Coordinating Committee

The CPA Coordinating Committee is a Subcommittee of the CPA Executive Committee comprising five of the Officers of the Association (who are the CPA Chairperson, CPA Vice-Chairperson, CPA Treasurer, the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) and the CPA Small Branches Chairperson). 

The CPA Coordinating Committee is tasked with supporting the CPA Headquarters Secretariat and the CPA Executive Committee on a range of matters. 

Working Groups

The CPA Executive Committee has the power to create adhoc working groups with a remit to focus on specific issues of the Association. These can range from topics on the status of the Association, premises of the CPA Headquarters Secretariat or specialist thematic topics like Human Rights, etc. The working groups have a limited life-span and they will report their findings to the CPA Executive Committee to take forward. 

CPA Branches and Regions

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is composed of over 180 Branches formed in Parliament and Legislatures in Commonwealth countries and territories which subscribe to parliamentary democracy. The Members of the Legislature in which a Branch is formed are entitled to become Members of that Branch. For a Branch to qualify it must be a legislative body, thus both national and state or provincial Parliaments as well as the Legislatures of dependent territories may form Branches of the CPA.
 
The Presiding Officers of Legislative Chambers are normally the CPA Branch Presidents, while the Leaders of the parliamentary parties are Branch Vice-Presidents. The Clerk or Secretary-General of the Legislature usually acts as the Secretary of the Branch.
 
Every CPA Branch is autonomous and the affairs of most CPA Branches are managed by a Branch Executive Committee, elected annually by Members and usually representative of all main parties or groups. Many CPA Branches require their Members to pay an annual subscription and many permit Members to apply for associate status on ceasing to belong to the Legislature.
 
CPA Branches are currently grouped geographically into nine Commonwealth Regions for representation on the CPA Executive Committee and for the organisation of regional conferences and seminars on parliamentary practice and procedure

The nine Regions of the CPA are: Africa; Asia; Australia; British Islands and Mediterranean (BIM); Canada; Caribbean, Americas and the Atlantic (CAA); India; Pacific; and South-East Asia. 

To access the websites for the Regions of the CPA please click on the following links:

Patron of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association

Honorary Head of the Association
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Patron of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and Head of the Commonwealth

Patron and Vice-Patron of the Association

In 1989, the CPA created the constitutional posts of Patron and Vice-Patron of the Association.

According to the Constitution of the CPA, the Patron of the Association shall be a person of the highest eminence dedicated to the ideals represented by the Commonwealth, and the honorary titular head of the Association who may be expected, whenever possible, to attend formal gatherings of the Association.

The Vice-Patron shall be the Head of State or of the Government of the country in which the next plenary conference is to be held and to hold office from the time of appointment until the conclusion of the next plenary conference. The Vice-Patron will assist the Patron in the performance of his or her functions and, in the absence of the Patron or where there is a vacancy in that office, shall carry out the functions of
the Patron.

President of the Association

2019-present
Rt Hon. Anthony Rota MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, Canada
CPA President
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association hq.sec@cpahq.org
Role of the President

The CPA President, Hon. Anthony Rota, MP was appointed on behalf of the CPA Canada Region ahead of the 65th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, due to be held in 2022 in Halifax, Canada.

Hon. Anthony Rota was elected as the 37th Speaker of the House of Commons for the 43rd Parliament of Canada on 5 December 2019.  

The President of the Association, is typically the Presiding Officer of the next CPC host branch. They act as the honorary head of the Association and their duties are to preside over the General Assembly and to Chair the Elections Committee.

Current CPA President's Biography

Hon. Anthony Rota was first elected to Parliament as the Member for the electoral district of Nipissing-Timiskaming in 2004 and served in the 38th Parliament of Canada as the Chair of the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs of the Standing Committee on National Defence. Re-elected in 2006, he was the Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs and from 2007 to 2011, he served as the Liberal Party caucus chair. During that time, Hon Anthony Rota also served as critic for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario. In the 40th Parliament of Canada, he was the Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.

In 2011, Mr Rota joined Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario, where he served as Director of Government Relations. He ran for re-election in 2015 and won his seat for the 42nd Parliament of Canada. On 9 December 2015, he was appointed Assistant Deputy Speaker and Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole. On 20 April 2020, he was also appointed Chair of the Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic (COVI). The Special Committee was established to examine the government response to the pandemic and includes all Members of the House of Commons.

Prior to his election to the Canadian House of Commons in 2004, Mr Rota worked for the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program as Regional Manager for Ontario and in the field of international technology transfer. He also worked as an entrepreneur in the financial and real estate sector, during which time he served as President of the North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce. He was subsequently elected to the city council for the City of North Bay, where he served as Chair for Planning and Economic Development.

Mr Rota holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Master of Business Administration. He is fluent in English, French, Italian and Spanish.

Vice-President of the Association

2021-present
Rt Hon. Alban Bagbin, MP, Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana
CPA Vice-President
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association hq.sec@cpahq.org
Role of the Vice-President

The CPA Vice-President, was appointed on behalf of the CPA Ghana Branch.

The Vice-President is typically the presiding officer of the host branch of the next but one Commonwealth Parliament Conference. As Ghana is due to host the 66th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in 2023, the role falls to the Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana.

Current Vice-President's Biography

Rt Hon. Alban Bagbin is the Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana (Speaker of 8th Parliament of the Fourth Republic), and has held the role since 7 January 2021. He was previously the Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament (2017-2021). He was elected as the Member of Parliament for Nadowli North Constituency (1993-2005) and subsequently for Nadowli West Constituency (2005-2021). He also held the position of Minister for Health (2012-2013) and Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing (2010-2012). Prior to his election, he worked as a lawyer and was the acting Secretary to the Statistical Service Board at the Bureau of Statistics and Statistical Service. He also taught English in Libya.

Education: Bachelor of Arts degree in Law and English at the University of Ghana; Executive Masters in Governance and Leadership from the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA).

Acting Chairperson of the CPA Executive Committee

2021-present
Hon. Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP, Member of the UK Parliament
Acting Chairperson of the CPA Executive Committee
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association hq.sec@cpahq.org
Role and Powers of the Chairperson

The role and authority of the Chairperson of the CPA Executive Committee emanates from the Constitution of the CPA. As a document it serves to identify the aims, responsibilities and divisions of power between the various bodies of the Association. Although not the most supreme body of the Association, the CPA Executive Committee is empowered to lead and manage the Association’s affairs and is accountable to the General Assembly of the Association.

The role of the Chairperson is to be a spokesperson for the Association at relevant forums; provide leadership and direction to the CPA Executive Committee; and provide ongoing support and guidance to the CPA Secretary-General.

Former CPA Chairpersons

1967-70

 Hon. Peter Howson, MP         

 Australia

1970

 Hon. Gerard Montano, MP

 (incomplete term)

 Trinidad and Tobago

*1970-71

 Hon. Tun Tan Siew Sin, SSM, JP, MP

 Malaysia

1971-73

 Sir Frederick Bennett, MP                 

 United Kingdom

1973-76

 Hon. G. A. Regan, QC, MLA                           

 Nova Scotia

1976-79

 Hon. Datuk Musa Hitman, SPMJ, MP            

 Malaysia

1980   

 Hon. Ripton Macpherson, MP

 (incomplete term)

 Jamaica

 

*1981

 Hon. Clement Maynard, Vice-President and Acting  Chairman

 The Bahamas

 

1981-84

 Hon. G. R. Ottenheimer, MHA           

 Newfoundland

1984-87

 Dr the Hon. Bal Ram Jakhar, MP       

 India

1987-90

 Hon. Lavu Mulimba, MCC, MP

 Zambia

1990-93

 Hon. Clive Griffiths, MLC                               

 Western Australia

1993-96

 Sir Colin Shepherd, MP          

 United Kingdom

1996-99

 Hon. Billie Miller, MP

 Barbados

1999- 2002

 Hon. Pius Msekwa, MP                                  

 Tanzania

 2002-2004

 Hon. Bob Speller, MP
 (incomplete term)

 Canada

*2004-2005

 Hon. Constance Simelane, MP (Acting Chairperson)

 Swaziland

2005-2008

 Hon. Hashim Abdul Halim, MLA                    

 West Bengal, India

2008-2011

 Hon. Mohd Shafie Apdal, MP

 Malaysia

2011-2014

 Rt Hon. Sir Alan Haselhurst, MP

 United Kingdom

2014-2017
 

 Hon. Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, MP

 Bangladesh 

2017-2021

 Hon. Emilia Monjowa Lifaka, MP 

 Cameroon

 

* Members elected to complete the terms of Chairpersons who ceased to be Parliamentarians during their terms of office and so relinquished their CPA positions as required by the Constitution.

 

Current Acting Chairperson's Biography

Ian Liddell-Grainger MP was elected as the Acting CPA Vice-Chairperson on 26 March 2021, following the resignation of his predecessor, Hon. John Ajaka, MLC, President of the Legislative Council of New South Wales. Following the passing of the Chairperson, Hon. Emilia Monjowa Lifaka MP on 20 April 2021, Ian Liddell-Grainger MP became the Acting CPA Chairperson.  

Hon. Ian Liddell-Grainger MP was elected to the UK Parliament at the 2001 General Election for the seat of Bridgwater in Somerset (boundary changes created the new seat of Bridgwater and West Somerset in 2010).

He has been a Member of the International Development Committee since March 2020. He has also served on a number of Parliamentary Committees including Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art; Environmental Audit Committee; Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee; Scottish Affairs Committee; and Public Administration Committee. He chairs a number of All-Party Parliamentary Groups in the UK Parliament on Energy Studies, Nuclear Energy, Pharmaceuticals, Dyslexia and Tax.

Before entering Parliament, he ran a 250-acre farm in the Scottish Borders before becoming the Managing Director of his family’s property management and development company. He was commissioned in the Territorial Army where he was promoted to Major, serving with 6th Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. He was also elected as a District Councillor on Tynedale District Council in Northumberland.

He is also Chair of the Executive Committee of the CPA UK Branch. 

Acting CPA Chairperson's Articles

Recent Articles:

Acting Vice-Chairperson of the CPA Executive Committee

2021 - present
Hon. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, MP, Majority Leader and Member of the Parliament of Ghana
Acting Vice-Chairperson of the CPA Executive Committee
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association hq.sec@cpahq.org
Role of the Vice-Chairperson

The position of CPA Vice-Chairperson is for a term of one year and the holder is also a Member of the CPA Coordinating Committee. The CPA Vice-Chairperson is chosen from within the CPA Executive Committee and the Member remains as a Regional Representative for their CPA Region.

CPA Treasurer

2019-2022
Hon. Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin MP, Member of Parliament of Malaysia
CPA Treasurer
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association hq.sec@cpahq.org
Role of the CPA Treasurer

During the 64th CPA General Assembly which took place at the 64th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Uganda, Members of the CPA endorsed the appointment of Hon. Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin, MP (Malaysia) as the new CPA Treasurer (2019-2022). 

The CPA Treasurer, who is a Member of the Association nominated by the CPA Executive Committee, is appointed for three years by the General Assembly and works with the CPA Secretary-General and the CPA Headquarters Secretariat to monitor the finances of the Association. The CPA Treasurer also joins the Trustees board of the Association and oversees the Working Capital Fund and Conference Assistance Fund.

CPA Treasurer's Biography

Hon. Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin, MP has been a Member of Parliament for Hang Tuah Jaya constituency in Malaysia since 2013. He was the Information Chief for the government party, People’s Justice Party (KEADILAN). Between 2018-2020, he was the Federal Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Primary Industries with responsibility for the industrialisation and plantation of various commodities such as palm oil, sago, kenaf, peppercorn, timber and cocoa.  

He actively participates in international organisations and is currently the Chairperson of the CPA Malaysia Branch and a board member of the Parliamentary Network on The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). The Parliamentary Network is a platform for Parliamentarians around the globe to advocate for increased accountability and transparency in international financial institutions and multilateral development financing. Before he joined politics, he was an Advocate and Solicitor in the High Court of Malaya.

Chairperson of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP)

2019-2022
Hon. Shandana Gulzar Khan, MNA, Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan
Chairperson of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP)
Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) hq.sec@cpahq.org
Role of the CWP Chairperson

The Chairperson of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) is Hon. Shandana Gulzar Khan, MNA of the National Assembly of Pakistan.

The Chairperson of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians was elected for a three-year term at the CWP Business Meeting at the sixth triennial conference of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) that took place in Kampala, Uganda as part of the wider 64th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in 2019. 

More information on the CWP and its governance structure can be found here.  

Current CWP Chairperson's Biography

The CWP Chairperson, Hon. Shandana Gulzar Khan, MNA pledged to renew the effort to increase women’s representation and political participation in Parliaments across the Commonwealth. Hon. Shandana Gulzar Khan, MNA is a Member of National Assembly of Pakistan.

A qualified legal professional with extensive knowledge and experience in international trade and economic law advocacy and an articulate communicator, fluent in three languages, she was elected to the National Assembly in August 2018.

As an activist, she has worked on economic rehabilitation of abandoned post-incarceration females and providing opportunities for their families; developing training and legislation for female lawyers; as well as advising NGOs to better understand societal problems. She has authored various articles on a number of issues, including the creation of Pakistan’s first IP strategic framework, the industrial policy vacuum and has conducted many training seminars on various aspects of international trade policy and development.

Acting CPA Small Branches Chairperson

2021-2022
Joy Burch, MLA, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of the Australian Capital Territory
Acting CPA Small Branches Chairperson
CPA Small Branches hq.sec@cpahq.org
Role of the CPA Small Branches Chairperson

Joy Burch assumed the role of Acting CPA Small Branches Chairperson in February 2021 upon the resignation of the previous CPA Small Branches Chairperson, Hon. Niki Rattle (Cook Islands). Joy Burch was at the time the Vice-Chairperson of the CPA Small Branches Steering Committee and so assumed the role of Acting CPA Small Branches Chairperson until the next CPA Small Branches Conference.

As Acting CPA Small Branches Chairperson, Joy Burch also becomes a member of the CPA Executive Committee and the CPA Coordinating Committee. 

Under CPA election rules only delegates from CPA Small Branches to the next Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference will take part in the vote to elect a new CPA Small Branches Chairperson. The election of the new Chairperson of Small Branches will therefore take place at the 38th CPA Small Branches Conference due to be held as part of the 65th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference

Of the over 180 Branches of the CPA, forty-three Branches are classified as ‘Small Branches’ which are defined as jurisdictions having a population below 500,000 people. The CPA Headquarters Secretariat works closely with Small Branches in all Regions of the CPA to identify their unique needs and requirements in parliamentary strengthening, development and cooperation

More information on the CPA Small Branches network and its governance structure can be found here.  

Current CPA Small Branches Chairperson's Biography

Hon. Joy Burch was first elected in 2008 and has served on a number of Committees including Administration and Procedure; Health, Ageing, Community and Social Services; and Justice and Community; and has held several Ministerial positions. She served as Deputy Speaker becoming Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of the Australian Capital Territory in October 2016.

CPA Small Branches Chairperson's Articles

CPA Secretary-General

2020-present
Stephen Twigg
CPA Secretary-General
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association hq.sec@cpahq.org
Role of the CPA Secretary-General

The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is the Chief Executive Officer of the Association and, in that capacity, administers its affairs and manages the staff of its CPA Headquarters Secretariat.

They are primarily responsible for representing the Association and promoting its aims and objectives; maintaining close links with the CPA Branches and CPA Regions, and providing advice and guidance on their activities and management; acting as Secretary to meetings of the CPA Executive Committee, the General Assembly and the Plenary Conference, and undertaking such other duties as are assigned by the General Assembly, the CPA Executive Committee or its Chairperson.

Current CPA Secretary-General's Biography

Stephen Twigg began his term as the 8th Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) from 1 August 2020.

The CPA Secretary-General, Stephen Twigg is a former UK Parliamentarian, who was previously elected to the Parliament of the United Kingdom as a Member of Parliament from 1997 to 2005 (Enfield Southgate) and from 2010 to 2019 (Liverpool West Derby). During his parliamentary career, he held several senior positions including Chairperson of the International Development Select Committee, Minister for Schools and a range of Shadow Front Bench roles.

Prior to his parliamentary career, Stephen Twigg studied at Balliol College, Oxford University, where he studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics. He became the youngest President of the National Union of Students in 1990-92 and was then elected as a Local Councillor in the London Borough of Islington.

Following the 2019 General Election, Stephen Twigg was instrumental in setting up the International Parliamentary Network for Education and was actively involved in parliamentary strengthening with both Global Partners Governance and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD).

Former Secretaries-General

Mr Jarvis Matiya, Acting Secretary-General of the CPA, September 2019 to July 2020

Mr Akbar Khan, 7th Secretary-General of the CPA, barrister and former legal adviser, 2016 - 2019

Mr Joe Omorodion, Acting Secretary-General of the CPA, 2014 – 2015

Dr William F. Shija, 6th Secretary-General of the CPA, former Minister and Member of the Tanzania Parliament, 2007 – 2014

Mr Denis Marshall, 5th Secretary-General of the CPA, former Minister and Member of the New Zealand Parliament, 2002 – 2006

Mr Arthur Donahoe, 4th Secretary-General of the CPA, former Speaker of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly, 1993 – 2001

Dr David Tonkin, 3rd Secretary-General of the CPA, former Premier South Australia, 1986 – 1992

Sir Robin Vandervelt, 2nd Secretary-General of the CPA, 1961 – 1985

Sir Howard D’Egville, 1st Secretary-General of the CPA, 1949 - 1960

The CPA International Executive Committee

A full list of Members of the CPA International Executive Committee, including CPA Officers and Regional Representatives
Meet the Executive Committee

CPA Annual Reports

Download our Annual Reports and Performance Reviews

Our latest Annual Report

CPA Annual Report 2020

Find out what the CPA achieved in 2020, including information on programmes, partnerships and finances.

Annual Reports Archive

Previous CPA Annual Reports are available to download using the links below:

Alternatively, you can read our Annual Reports and a range of other CPA documents on ISSUU, our digital e-reading platform.

Key Governance Documents

The CPA Constitution

Read the Constitution of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association

CPA Executive Committee Biographies Booklet

Find out about the Members of the CPA's Executive Committee in our latest booklet, updated April 2021.

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