The Speaker of the Parliament, Hon. McKeeva Bush and the Deputy Speaker Hon. Katherine Ebanks-Wilks attended a virtual meeting recently where they interacted with Speakers of other UK Overseas Territories (OTs).
Called and chaired by the UK House of Commons Speaker, Sir Lindsay H. Hoyle, the first-ever “meet and greet” event was also the venue to discuss the first OTs Speakers’ Conference planned by the UK Speaker for 2022, as well as other future collaborative endeavours.
According to the UK office, the conference aims to:
• Foster contacts, coordination, and the exchange of experience among Speakers of the UK House of Commons and Overseas Territories;
• Consider questions of interest and express non-party-political views on such issues.
• Promotion of knowledge and understanding of parliamentary democracy in its various forms and the development of parliamentary institutions.
OTs participants attending the virtual meet were from Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, St Helena, Tristan da Cunha and Turks and Caicos Islands.
At the meeting, Hon. Bush and Hon. Ebanks-Wilks highlighted the CI Parliament’s brief history and working, as well as challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. “The meeting also served as an opportunity for the UK Speaker to underscore his aim to foster and develop relationships with the UKOTs and their people’s representatives,” Speaker Bush noted.
In a release after the event, the UK Speaker said “For too long I have felt the British Overseas Territories have been overlooked, yet so many of the decisions we make here in the UK have a huge impact on their futures.
"This is why it is so important to me that during my term as Speaker, we engage with and learn from all of the British Overseas Territories, so I am really pleased we have been able to make history and connect…"
Sir Lindsay hopes the new forum, entitled Speakers of the House of Commons and Overseas Territories Conference, will help its membership foster contacts, share information and experiences, the release states. It is also aimed at the Speaker “fostering productive and collaborative relations with all the OTs Speakers and moving forward to building lasting bonds between the UK Parliament and all OTs”.
Welcoming the establishment of the conference, Speaker Bush said: “I wholeheartedly endorse the initiative of the Speaker of UK’s House of Commons, in which he is developing an outreach which sits well with my intentions that I envision for our first-class Parliament.
“This engenders convening Lecture Series including international and local presenters of topical or current issues, among other things. All with the purpose of raising the status and image of our autonomous Parliament and serving a multiplicity of useful functions and role in our society on a whole.”
The Speaker added, “Noteworthy and importantly for continuity of service, I took the liberty and opportunity to invite the Deputy Speaker to sit in this inaugural meeting to have her present and involved in the process as we work and serve as a team.”
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