The 2018 Parliamentary and Assembly Officers’ conference has signalled a call for closer interparliamentary dialogue and consideration of post-Brexit legislative change.
Organised by the Clerk of Tynwald’s Office the three-day conference brought Tynwald officers together with delegates from the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the Greater London Assembly, the Houses of the Oireachtas, the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and the States of Guernsey and Jersey.
A recurring theme was a call for centralised coordination and how best to deliver the structure and resources needed to strengthen interparliamentary relations.
Among the delegates was Paul Evans, Clerk of Committees to the House of Commons. Mr Evans, who has nearly 40 years’ clerking experience, said: ‘This event provided a valuable opportunity not only to share experience and knowledge but also to look at developing new mechanisms for future conferences. In essence we’re all doing the same job hence there was an impetus to move towards formalising a more joined-up approach and establishing a more consolidated body.’
Mr Evans went on to say that the conference had come at a time when there was ‘a shift in public engagement’. Against a background of heightened legislative scrutiny, notably in relation to committee work, he said: ‘Joint working is crucial; it’s vital that we share best practice and have access to robust professional training, especially in light of the potential impact of complex post-Brexit legislative reform.
‘Today Members expect more support, particularly in areas such as evidence collecting and research, for example. It’s also it’s important that a conference such as this serve as a forum to discuss how we can assist Members across the jurisdictions to engage with one another. If we, as clerks and assembly officers, can work better together, then so will Members be better equipped to serve their electorate.’
The Clerk of Tynwald Roger Phillips said: ‘Tynwald is always happy to host visits from Members and officers of other parliaments and it was a particular pleasure for me and my staff to welcome our colleagues from UK and Ireland parliaments and assemblies to this inaugural Conference of Parliamentary and Assembly Officers. My wife and I were very pleased to welcome all those attending to our house for dinner. The conference will replace two previously separate annual meetings of officers, which had been run on a less formal basis, and so its establishment will reduce the amount of separate meetings by one and also improve the communication between officers who are working in different areas. Tynwald will play a leading role in developing this new conference and I would like to praise the effective and energetic contribution my staff made to planning and operating this event.’
Clerk of Tynwald Roger Phillips, seated centre, with Parliamentary and Assembly Officers Conference delegates. Photo Paul Dougherty, Tynwald Seneschal