The Thirteenth Workshop of Parliamentary Scholars and Parliamentarians took place at the weekend at Wroxton College, Near Banbury – the venue for the every Workshop since the second in 1996. (The first Workshop was held in Berlin.) The Workshops are held on a biennial basis. They are co-sponsored by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Centre for Legislative Studies at the University of Hull. They bring together scholars and parliamentarians from usually twenty or more nations, the former providing research findings likely to be of interest to the latter. This Workshop drew a capacity attendance. The top picture shows about one third of participants – those who attended the final plenary session on the Sunday afternoon.
Those attending the Workshop included parliamentarians and parliamentary officials from nations as diverse as Cambodia, Benin, Mongolia, Pakistan, Kenya, Zambia, Greece, Madagascar, Bahrain, Nigeria, Argentina, Portugal and Turkey.
The second picture shows me welcoming participants to the Workshop. I addressed the importance of studying legislatures. They are core to political stability and typically fulfil a range of functions beyond the core defining function of giving assent to measures of public policy that are to be binding. The functions encompass not only those in relation to the executive, but also to the people. Legislatures are an essential link between the government and the people. A good number of the papers addressed relations between legislatures and the public and how parliamentarians communicate with the people. The final session provided a preview of the forthcoming UNDP/IPU report on a key function in relation to the executive, that of oversight.
The panel sessions proved extremely worthwhile. A total of thirty papers were delivered during the Workshop, with extensive discussion in each panel and more informal dialogue taking place in between panel sessions. There were also presentations on the work of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy.
Now that the Thirteenth Workshop has concluded, preparations for the Fourteenth, in July 2019, are already underway.