Westminster Seminar 2020: Preparing Parliamentarians for a Changing World

Published 02 December 2020

From the 23-25th November 2020, CPA UK hosted the 69th Westminster Seminar, its flagship capacity building event. The Westminster Seminar brings together parliamentarians and parliamentary staff from across the Commonwealth to engage in peer to peer learning.

This year the Seminar was the first ever to take place virtually and focused on the theme “Preparing Parliamentarians for a Changing World”. With parliaments adapting to COVID19 restrictions, the Seminar offered delegates a chance to consider how the pandemic has created challenges as well as opportunities for strengthening democracy.

CPA UK welcomed 151 delegates from every Commonwealth region, with 39 speakers (from the UK, The Gambia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago, the Maldives, Barbados, Pakistan, Jamaica, and the Turks and Caicos Islands) sharing their expertise. The range of speakers enabled delegates to draw on differing approaches to parliamentary democracy from across the Commonwealth.

The three-day programme included speeches, training, and interactive sessions. Delegates also took the opportunity to participate in live polls, chat discussions, and networking sessions on the virtual platform.

The final event report can be downloaded here

The first day of the Seminar focused on ‘Adapting Parliaments’. Members, Presiding Officers and Clerks shared knowledge on how their roles specifically contribute to effective parliaments. Delegates then learnt about parliamentary scrutiny and privilege and conduct, before breaking off into discussion groups to consider the impact of COVID19 and the use of a state of emergency on parliamentary democracy.

Day two of the Seminar concentrated on ‘Public Engagement and Personal Impact’. Delegates underwent training on leadership and communication skills. Members and Clerks then broke into separate sessions to consider their respective pressures and discuss methods for improving public engagement. The second day finished with thematic discussions on national security scrutiny and racial disparity.

The final day of the Seminar centred on ‘Oversight and Scrutiny’, bringing together approaches from across the Commonwealth. Delegates considered tools and methods on how to structure committees, hold the Prime Minister to account, and conduct an inquiry. The Seminar concluded with an immersive exercise in which delegates could take part in a committee hearing and provide recommendations. 

Over 150 delegates attended the Seminar from more than 30 countries

Over 150 delegates attended the Seminar from more than 30 countries