Delegates of the Overseas Territories Forum stand for a group photo in Westminster Hall, UK Parliament.
The Overseas Territories Forum 2022 brought together parliamentarians, clerks, electoral officials, and external and internal and auditors from nine UK Overseas Territories for a three-day programme.
Running between 29 November – 1 December, the Overseas Territories Forum was delivered by CPA UK in partnership with the National Audit Office and the Government Internal Audit Agency. It welcomed 35 delegates from nine UK Overseas Territories delivered over 30 individual sessions covering a wide range of topics, ranging from scrutiny practices for good governance to effective public engagement.
To read the Overseas Territories Forum Final Report, click here.
Formally opened by the Rt Hon. Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, the three days were organised into three themes: Partnerships for Good Governance; Scrutiny in Practice; and Leadership and Public Engagement.
On Day 1 of the Forum, delegates shared their experience and insights in developing networks and collaborative models for better productivity and good governance. One attendee shared:
“The higher you go in your role in organisations, the less it becomes about technical things and more about building mutually beneficial relationships with key partners”.
Another attendee spoke of the importance of maintaining regular meetings to keep up the momentum throughout activities. This institutional insight, among others, was well received by delegates, and continued to reflect the quality of discussion around building sustainable networks both within and across teams.
Jon Davies, the Chief Executive at CPA UK, addresses delegates at the start of the Overseas Territories Forum 2022.
On the second day of the Forum, delegates attended several panel discussions and meetings covering topics related to practices in scrutiny. Deliberations on how to hold government to account, whether from the perspectives of a parliamentarian or auditor, proved to be interesting material for attendees to discuss openly, enabling attendees to better understand how each other’s roles contribute to a wider good. Information on how organisations dealt with scrutiny practices during the Covid-19 pandemic was shared, as well as how teams have moved on from that time.
Legislative scrutiny was also a prominent topic of the second day. In one exercise looking at best practices for legislative scrutiny for parliamentarians, one attendee observed that:
“Good legislative scrutiny is key to improving outcomes for citizens. We must ensure that relevant questions are put to government ministers when they propose legislation. I was very encouraged to hear members from the Overseas Territories’ legislatures suggesting excellent questions in our scrutiny exercise. Why do we need this legislation? How will it achieve its aims? Are the aims the outcomes the public want? How much will it all cost? All these questions are at the heart of best practice scrutiny.”
A delegate contributes to a discussion during the Overseas Territories Forum 2022.
On the final day of the Forum, delegates participated in panel discussions and a workshop on public engagement. Delegates heard from communications professionals from the audit, clerk, and wider parliamentary context. Much practical information was shared about how to go about communicating reports to a public that may not otherwise be familiar with that work.
Discussions also covered communications between members of the public and parliamentarians, which were further explored during a workshop on public engagement. Participants were invited to engage with communications resources designed to invite strategic communications planning around changing and challenging events. One participant shared their experience:
“The scenario was thought-provoking and made me think about the other side – uncomfortable, but useful, to hold government to account. The activity also demonstrated how you have to be ready to react at pace…”
A delegate participates in a workshop during the Overseas Territories Forum 2022.
The final day of the Forum was also an opportunity for delegates to put their own work into perspective against the backdrop of public engagement and public awareness of their roles and duties. Whether as a parliamentarian, clerk, or auditor, one attendee summarised this value:
“People are looking to be more engaged, and feel they have a voice beyond elections. They don’t want people to disappear after elections are finished…but more opportunities to engage”
To learn more about the UK Overseas Territories Project, click here.