The UK Overseas Clerk Leadership Group Workshop took place jointly in Westminster and Tynwald from 16 to 20 October 2023.
CPA UK hosted clerks from across the Overseas Territories for a workshop held in Westminster (16 to 18 October) and Tynwald (19 to 20 October).
Clerks from Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falklands Islands, Montserrat, St Helena, and Turks and Caicos participated in the week-long Workshop.
The Workshop provided an opportunity for clerks to learn and share their experiences around several important legislative themes, including parliamentary processes, Standing Orders, and Hansard.
With supervisory responsibility for watching over the proceedings of their legislatures, clerks provide advice on procedural matters to Speakers and legislators. In addition to maintaining authentic records of the proceedings and endorsing all orders and official communication of legislatures, Clerks also play a significant role in long-term strategic planning.
In a parliamentary system, Standing Orders ensure consistency of processes within a structured framework. The Standing Orders also regulate the behaviours of legislators and parliamentary officials, controlling what behaviours are permitted during parliamentary business proceedings.
It was agreed that there is scope for the legislatures of the Overseas Territories to amend their Standing Orders for reasons including political partisanship, a specific weakness or ambiguity identified by a member of the legislature, or any issue within the remit of a committee. In parliaments Clerks are responsible for the application of the Standing Orders and may assist their Speakers in interpreting the Standing Orders when such a need arises.
The importance of Hansard and conducting effective research were two other key take-aways from the Workshop that the clerks have committed to focus upon.
The visiting clerks appreciated the parliamentary research processes and procedures in the Isle of Man that they discussed during their visit to Tynwald. It was agreed that quality, accuracy, impartiality, timeliness, and accessibility are the key elements to maintaining parliamentary research in small jurisdictions.
The delegates also found discussions of Hansard in Westminster and Tynwald highly inspiring, particularly the use of software and digital equipment to convert recorded parliamentary proceedings to text with careful editing to ensure the accuracy of the data – a crucial process in the production of Hansard.
Discussions over next steps following the Workshop concluded that there is potential for Overseas Territories to record, update, maintain and even broadcast their parliamentary proceedings live to increase public engagement. However, a lack of financial and human resources were identified by the delegates as barriers to increased engagement with the public at this time.
The Clerk Workshop was delivered under the CPA UK Overseas Territories Project (UKOTP), a coherent programme of transformational activities to enhance good governance and oversight of public finances in the UK Overseas Territories.
UKOTP is currently funded through the International Programme of the Overseas Territories Department of the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO).