Pakistan Delegation visits the British Parliament

London; February 23; A Delegation of 5 Members of Youth Parliament Pakistan alongside 2 Members of the National Assembly of Pakistan visited the British Parliament today as a part of the Study Visit to the UK and Denmark.


The day began with a historical tour of the British Parliament and a briefing on the historical development of the UK’s political system. The members were taken to highly symbolic places such as the Westminster Hall, Saint Stephens Chapel and were also shown some significant documents such as the Magna Carta.


The Delegation was briefed by Mr. Liam Laurence Smyth, Acting Clerk of Legislation Chamber Business Directorate, House of Commons, and Mr. John Turner, Table Office Clerk, House of Lords on the British Parliamentary system. Both of them presented an overview of the overall structure and Rules of Procedures of House of Commons and House of Lords respectively. Mr. Smyth explained the primary differences between the two Houses of the British Parliament including the membership criteria and election process. While answering a question regarding Britain’s unwritten constitution, Mr. Smyth discussed the merits and demerits of having an unwritten Constitution but hinted towards an increasing trend in the UK over adopting a written Constitution.


Briefing the Delegation on the workings of the House of Lords, particularly the power of the House with regards to influencing legislation, Mr. John Turner said that a particular percentage of the Lord had to be Bishops. Commenting on the role of the speakers of both the Houses, Mr. Turner said that the speaker of the House of Lords had merely a symbolic role as compared to the speaker of the House of Commons.


In a briefing on British Parliamentary Committee system, Mr. David Lloyd, Head Clerk of the Health Committee, briefed the delegation about the powers and structures of Select Committee system in the UK. While elaborating on Health Committee, Mr. Llyod said that it consisted of 7 members and was responsible for producing multiple reports during a year regarding several issues which they were working on. Mr. Lyod also explained a recent change in the Committee system whereby the Committee members and Chairs were now not elected by the members of the House of Commons. He, in particular explained to the delegation certain themes that the Health Committee had been following such as diseases causes by air pollution, Ebola and most importantly obesity which according to the Mr. Lolyd was on the rise in the UK.


The Pakistan delegation held a detailed interaction with Mr. Andrew Stephenson, a young Member of the UK Parliament and the Chairman of All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Pakistan. Mr. Stephenson explained that coming from a constituency nearly 20 per cent of his electorate from Pakistani origin, it was an honour for him to chair the APPG on Pakistan. Mr. Stephenson shared with the delegation the roles and powers of an MP in the British political system. As UK faces an election in May 2015, many questions were raised with Mr. Stephenson regarding the electoral process in the UK. Mr. Stephenson emphasised that there exists a spending limit on electoral expenses which is strictly followed and publicly scrutinized. Roughly of about 40,000 GBP, the expense limit does not allow candidates buying airtime on electronic media. Instead, mass leaflet distribution is the most important campaigning tool. Differentiating between the role of the members of Parliaments in Pakistan and the UK, he said that in the presence of a well-established bureaucracy in the UK and a functioning system of delivery of services to citizens and voters, the UK public, unlike in Pakistan, does not expect MPs to facilitate provision of services for them.


The Pakistan Delegation also observed the proceedings in both the Houses of the UK Parliament as well as the working of the Public Accounts Committee.


The study programme aims to facilitate learning about the democratic and Parliamentary systems, institutional measures of public accountability and transparency of Governments. The programme will provide specific learning about the UK and Danish democracies, electoral, parliamentary and political systems, including local governance, multi-culturalism and youth participation.


Pakistan Delegation who are on a week long Study Visit to the United Kingdom and Denmark include: Honourable Syed Naveed Qamar, MNA (NA-222, Hyderabad, Sindh, PPPP), Chairman National Assembly Standing Committee on Railways, Honourable Mr. Omar Ayub Khan, MNA (NA-19, Haripur, KP, PML-N), Chairman National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue, Mr. Aqeel Ahmed Yousafzai, Youth Prime Minister, Mr. Muhammad Shahzar Ilahi, Youth Leader of Opposition, Mr. Sohaib Saeed, Chairperson Youth Parliament Committee on Economic and Finance Affairs, Mr. Ali Shan Khan, Youth Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Syeda Mizghan Mehboob Kirmani, Chairperson Youth Parliament Standing Committee on Education & Youth Affairs and Ms. Rahy Farooq, Member Youth Parliament Standing Committee on Education & Youth Affairs.


The Youth Parliament Pakistan, a PILDAT initiative since 2007, is currently funded by the Danish Embassy under the development programme 2013-2016. The platform envisioned and created by PILDAT is facilitated at inculcating in youth of Pakistan values and spirit for democracy, the importance of dialogue and an understanding of the concept of Parliament and its role in democratic decision-making and oversight.

PILDAT would like to thank you the support and facilitation provided by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, United Kingdom (CPA-UK) for facilitating meetings and interactions for the Study Visit in London.
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