By Awa B. Bah

The National Assembly member for Kiang Central, Bakary Camara, on Tuesday 13th March 2018, presented the 2017 Westminster Seminar Report on Parliamentary Practice and Procedure for comments, consideration and adoption, before deputies at the National Assembly (NA) complex in Banjul.

The forum which was held from Monday 13th to Friday 17thNovember 2017, was hosted by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK branch and was meant to expose first term parliamentarians and those newly appointed from across the commonwealth on parliamentary practice and procedure.

Camara in delivering the report, said the annual Westminster seminar is a capacity building programme and one of the most eagerly anticipated by CPA members; that the programme brought together fifty commonwealth parliamentarians and clerks from 21 countries; that members and clerks from commonwealth legislatures including the Gambia, participated in the five day programme to explore parliamentary democracy, practice and procedure within a Westminster framework, in an observer capacity; that the ever evolving programme, highlighted current best practices and how parliaments adapt to changing domestic and global political environments.

‘‘The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is the professional association of all commonwealth parliamentarians. This is an active network of over 17,000 parliamentarians from 185 nations, states, provincial and territorial parliaments and legislatures. The UK Westminster Branch is one of the largest and most active branches in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association community and delivers a unique annual programme both in Westminster and overseas,’’ he said.

He said delegates discussed the various pressures they face in their countries highlighting the type of legislative processes such as government and private members’ bills and the type of bills in the UK parliament; that a session on select committees looks at the roles they play at scrutiny using examples of reports, effective techniques used, communicating works to the public, working with Government, bringing in witnesses and the importance of preparation.

Delegates he said, visited parliament’s education center, a facility that inspires and connects young people with parliament and democracy. The center, he said, is a dynamic and stimulating environment, distinct from the school one.

Camara said the Center makes use of creative and immersive technology by creating a unique learning experience that generates sense of anticipation; that at the end of the programme, delegates reflected on their experiences and discussed plans.

Commenting on the report, Deputies said delegates who attended on behalf of the general body, should have outlined the lessons learnt during the programmes, with concrete recommendations that can positively impact on the work of legislators. The report was finally adopted.

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