A delegation from the House of Assembly visited the United Kingdom Parliament last week to document policies and procedures that they might apply to their own work in the territory, according to Government Information Services.
The March 21-24 visit, which came following an invitation from Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle, was headed by HOA Speaker Julian Willock and included Junior Minister for Tourism Sharie de Castro, Deputy Speaker Neville Smith (R-at large), Opposition Leader Marlon Penn (R-D8), opposition member Julian Fraser (R-D3), opposition member Mitch Turnbull (R-D2), and HOA Clerk Phyllis Evans.
“The delegation was moved by a strong desire and interest to find ways to strengthen the HOA by reviewing the House of Commons operations, its laws and statutes, the roles of the speaker and clerk, and the security of members,” a GIS press release stated. “The delegation also had the opportunity to gain insights into the roles and functions of backbenchers, leader of the opposition, and junior ministers.”
The delegates’ trip also included a review of the UK Parliament library operations, its Hansard reports, and members’ privileges and immunities, according to GIS.
Besides Sir Lindsay, they met with five current members of Parliament from the two major political parties, as well as clerks and senior public officers work- ing for the House of Commons.
Additionally, the delegation held a meeting with the UK Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, which was hosted by Lord George Foulkes of Cumnock, a current member of the House of Lords.
“We were able to secure support to re-establish our local House of Assembly library, and we are now working out the details for someone to visit and conduct an immediate assessment in that area, as we regard the library and having timely Hansard reports important to facilitate adequate research prior to members’ participation in debates,” Mr. Willock said.
On March 23, the UK speaker also invited the delegates to sit in the Chambers Gallery to witness the prime minister’s questions.
On the final day of the visit, the delegation hosted a “meet and greet” with VI students and residents living in the UK, along with staff members of the BVI Tourist Board and the BVI London House.
The HOA delegation was supported by Tracy Bradshaw, the territory’s representative in London and the European Union, who sat in on all the meetings and facilitated courtesy calls with UK parliamentarians Andrew Rosindell and James Sunderland.
Both parliamentarians expressed an interest in the relationship between the UK and the VI, according to GIS.