Jamaica: Newly elected parliamentarians welcomed to Westminster
Published 25 July 2022
In February 2022, CPA UK was delighted to open the doors of Westminster Hall to welcome nine parliamentarians from the Parliament of Jamaica for a 4-day programme. The parliaments of the UK and Jamaica engaged virtually through the pandemic, and we were grateful to now be able to host this visiting cross-party delegation in person.
The visit was an opportunity for Jamaican parliamentarians, elected in 2020, to visit Westminster. Over the four days, the visiting delegation interacted with their counterparts from the House of Commons and House of Lords on a wide range of parliamentary and topical issues.
Discussions focused on how cross-party cooperation can be effective in parliament, especially in the work of committees. Recommendations with cross-party support have a higher level of influence on the government. Scrutiny can be seen not simply as criticism but as a beneficial audit of government activity, finding areas for improvement. There were interesting discussions on how parliamentarians can choose to work across party lines to pursue national rather than partisan interests.
Various aspects of diversity and inclusion were also addressed. Members discussed the progress made to increase the representation of women in recent decades and the under-representation that still needs addressing. In the current UK Parliament, of the 650 seats in the House of Commons, 225 are held by women (35%). Of the 63 seats in the House of Representatives in Jamaica, 18 are women (29%). Women’s caucuses can be a vehicle for driving change, either within a party or across party lines.
UK parliamentarians highlighted how the election of a more diverse parliament has in turn diversified the issues debated within the UK Parliament. There were discussions on the reasons for health inequalities and on educational efforts to increase understanding of the issue of reparations, after learning about the work of the UK All-Party Parliamentary Groups on Black Maternal Health and Afrikan Reparations.
Jamaica and UK relations were discussed, including the importance of developing trade opportunities between the UK and the Caribbean post-Brexit. Jamaican delegates shared the challenge of losing professionals when nurses and teachers leave Jamaica after completing their training to work in the UK. Diaspora remittances do have a significant impact on the Jamaican economy. There were calls for changes to UK immigration rules that would increase the options for those in the creative industries to travel between Jamaica and the UK.
The delegation visited only a few months after public health restrictions had increased for the Omicron variant of COVID-19. UK and Jamaican parliamentarians shared the impact of the pandemic on their constituencies. In Jamaica, during the pandemic there was an assistance programme, yet delegates shared how citizens are still recovering.
The Jamaican delegation appreciated visiting the UK Parliament’s on-site Education Centre, built specifically to receive school children from across the UK and introduce them to Parliament. Jamaican colleagues found this very timely as their parliament is being re-built, and outreach to schools is an activity the Parliament is restarting after a pause during the pandemic.
It was an honour to welcome colleagues from Jamaica once again to the UK Parliament. CPA UK’s engagement with the Parliament of Jamaica will continue. In March 2022, we were delighted to welcome delegates from Jamaica to the Westminster Seminar. The Caribbean Clerks programme and other activities will continue to facilitate engagement between the parliaments of Jamaica and the UK.
Watch delegates from the Parliament of Jamaica reflect on CPA UK programme in Westminster: