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Delegates hail 'inspirational' CPA BIMR Conference

CPA BIMR Conference Delegates 2022
Delegates attending the 51st Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) British Islands and Mediterranean Region (BIMR) Conference have hailed the event as inspirational. Hosted by the Isle of Man and organised by the Clerk of Tynwald’s Office, the two-day conference was held on 24th and 25th March, attracting some 50 parliamentarians and officers from across the region to examine the theme: ‘impactful scrutiny’.

On the eve of the conference Hon Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP, acting chair of the International CPA Executive Committee, said that it had been ‘a privilege’ to be in the Isle of Man among so many CPA ‘kindred spirits’.
He continued: ‘These conferences, where delegates are all friends together, provide valuable opportunities to network and learn from each other. At 111 years old the CPA is one of the oldest established organisations in the Commonwealth and, in a difficult world of conflict and climate change, that strong sense of “family” for which the Commonwealth is well known has never been more important. And, as with all families, CPA members talk openly about the challenges they face.’

Mr Liddell-Grainger went on to praise the ‘know-how’ of Members and officers of Tynwald which contributed to CPA capacity-building programmes aimed at benchmarking best practice and strengthening parliamentary democracy across more than 180 legislatures. ‘In this, the clerks are the lifeblood,’ he said, adding: ‘The CPA is keen not only to develop how it interfaces with parliamentarians and officers but also to welcome new family members.’

Looking to the conclusion of the conference he said: ‘There’s an incredible energy in the CPA. The electorate have come to expect more of their politicians, so I would hope that we will come away from this conference reflecting on what we’ve learned from one another, what we can do better and, crucially, what we can do next in response to these difficult times.’

CPA BIMR regional secretary Jon Davies said: ‘The CPA has never been more relevant in strengthening parliamentary democracy through learning from one another. The CPA is doing a great job in keeping the Commonwealth “family” together and ensuring there’s no loss of momentum to that “energy” Ian referred to.’

For the closing session delegates were invited to share their reflections on the conference, focusing on lessons learned and ambitions for the future.

We had some nascent ideas about how to improve our scrutiny process which the conference has brought into focus. In particular we will now be considering using experts to support the scrutiny process.’ Mr Ian Carter - Alderney

This was a fantastic and inspirational conference. I found the scrutiny sessions very helpful and they served to highlight our weaknesses.  Despite their size, the Falkland Islands share the same issues as other regions and I found the climate change emergency session extremely stimulating. The many opportunities we had to share information were very useful, as were discussions about engagement and outreach and, in this, I will be taking away how we can improve our processes.’ Hon Leona Roberts MLA - Falkland Islands

The scrutiny sessions highlighted the incredible diversity of how regions were approaching the process and helped us all to see how we can improve. As for the climate change emergency workshop the message was clear: the planet cannot wait and we cannot wait. I also found it interesting to hear how different legislatures had managed the impact of Covid. I thoroughly enjoyed the conference. We all got to learn, share and network - and to make new friends for life’. Hon Steven Linares MP - Gibraltar

This was my first conference and I was approaching it with some trepidation but I felt instantly able to engage with attendees who began as delegates, became colleagues and by the end, were friends; that illustrates the true spirit of the conference. I learned that no matter the size of the legislature, the challenges are the same. I found the scrutiny sessions very useful and learned how scrutiny starts from within. It was interesting to see how different legislatures embraced technology in different ways to manage the impact of Covid and one particular finding I will take away is how we need to enable inclusion in all areas, be that gender or marginalised or vulnerable communities.’ Deputy Adrian Gabriel - Guernsey

There was a good mix of delegates, including newer Members of Tynwald. The conference offered superb opportunities to network, hear other concepts and approaches and learn more about other parliaments. Not only were we able to share our differences and challenges but also our successes.’ Mrs Ann Corlett MHK – Isle of Man

I was impressed by some of the novel ideas surrounding scrutiny processes and I found the outreach sessions very interesting. We have to accept that social media is here to stay so we’ll need training to manage it. I listened with interest about climate change actions and ambitions and found the initial impact of climate change being felt in the Falkland Islands, as outlined by Leona, very worrying. It was lovely to come back to the Isle of Man and thanks are due to our hosts for such a well-organised conference.’  Mr Jim Wells MLA – Northern Ireland

At the start of the conference, I had a blank sheet of paper. Now it’s full of notes.  Witnessing the scrutiny committee in action was extremely interesting and the way it teased out information was incredible; for me that was the highlight of the conference. St Helena is such a small place so it was great to be part of ‘the “real world” for a few days.’ Hon Andrew Turner - St Helena

I loved being in the Isle of Man. This conference was an opportunity to stand back and reflect on the immense diversity within the CPA. I found the women’s parliamentarians steering committee session very enjoyable, while the scrutiny sessions made me think about the importance of “doing your homework”. I also thoroughly enjoyed the climate change workshop which articulated delegates’ ambitions, challenges and solutions. Outcomes from that session will strengthen our climate change sub-committee. The conference also highlighted differences between urban, rural and island legislatures and I found the community engagement sessions very useful. The overriding message I will be taking away is that we need to be communicating better with the electorate. It was a privilege to have attended the conference.  Ms Sarah Boyack MSP - Scotland

For me what emerged from the conference was how it’s not the size of the legislature that matters, it’s the quality.  All member nations speak the same language, are working to the same goals and are faced with the same, often fluid, problems and challenges in a world that’s a dangerous place right now. I found the sessions eye-opening, especially the different ways in which the impact of Covid was being managed. I’ll be taking away how it’s vitally important that we keep talking and communicating within the Commonwealth family.’ Hon David Morris MP - United Kingdom

This was a brilliant conference where friendships were made and which stripped back the CPA to its very foundations of why we’re parliamentarians. What I’ll be taking away is that there’s no perfect way of “doing scrutiny” and that we can always improve’.  Mr Rhun ap Iorwerth MS - Wales

The President of Tynwald, the Hon Laurence Skelly MLC, said he found it interesting to hear the conference described as ‘inspirational’ and that the CPA was an organisation exceptionally well resourced to benchmark best practice. He continued: ‘Observing the conference proceedings was a real eye-opener. The CPA is now 111 years old and over these past days I have witnessed how the CPA has the power to add very real value to strengthening parliamentary democracy. I also noted the many references to “family” in the context of talking openly and honestly to one another and I would echo the delegates’ observations that we are all facing the same challenges and grappling with so many competing priorities.’ 

Turning to the theme of the conference he said: ‘Impactful scrutiny is not only central to good governance but also to earning and retaining the respect of the electorate.’ 

He went on to pay tribute to the many clerks and support teams who served the region’s legislatures, describing them as ‘the hidden asset’.

In closing Mr President said that at the opening of the conference he had referred to delegates as ‘Honourable Members’ but by the close of proceedings as ‘Honourable Friends’. 

The Speaker of the House of Keys, the Hon Juan Watterson SHK, said the Isle of Man had been pleased to host the conference. ‘The CPA is all about learning, sharing best practice and understanding each other. With such a turnover of MHKs and MLCs, it has been a great opportunity to expose Manx politicians to other regional colleagues, and allow them to build friendships. It’s important to know people who face the same challenges and know you can call them and exchange notes. You can’t replicate that on Zoom.’ In closing Mr Speaker expressed his thanks to ‘Team Tynwald for going above and beyond in organising the conference so well’.’

Notes for editors:
The branches making up the CPA BIMR are: Alderney, Cyprus, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Malta, Northern Ireland, St Helena, Scotland, UK and Wales.
Conference delegates funded their own travel to and from the Island. Accommodation and other costs were met by the Office of the Clerk of Tynwald and the CPA Headquarters Secretariat in London. 

For further information contact: 
Joann Corkish
Deputy Clerk of Tynwald
Legislative Buildings
Tel: 01624 686303
Published - 31/03/2022