Councillors Leslie Baldwin and Gavin Ellick have recently returned to the Island having represented St Helena at conferences in the UK.
Councillor Baldwin attended the 44th British Isles and Mediterranean Region annual conference (BIMR Conference), hosted by the Wales Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, in Cardiff Bay, from 27-30 May 2014.
The theme of the BIMR Conference was ‘Equality of Access to Democracy’ and topics discussedincluded ‘Women in Public Life’, ‘Bilingualism’, ‘Engagement of Young Citizens in the Democratic Process’ and ‘Social Media – just how are we Engaging with Young Citizens?’ The annual general meeting of the BIMR was also held.
Councillor Baldwin found the plenary sessions focusing on youth engagement particularly relevant for St Helena.
“We are hoping to extend the age considered ‘Youth’ to 25 years – it is much higher elsewhere in the Commonwealth. This would help develop the Youth Parliament on St Helena to perhaps even representing the Island at Commonwealth Youth Parliaments.”
While at the BIMR Conference Councillor Baldwin chaired a workshop on ‘The Case for Youth Parliaments – What Influence do they have in informing Public Opinion?’ Councillor Baldwin took this opportunity to explain the difficulties St Helena has faced with re-establishing a Youth Parliament. Discussions then followed on lowering the voting age, having more interaction between Councillors and Youth Parliaments and schools, and the opportunity for Youth Parliaments to influence political decision making.
Councillor Baldwin also attended a workshop entitled ‘More than a Matter of Numbers -How are Women Making a Difference?’ which focused on positive discrimination and the fact that women are not often helped by other women who have made ‘high Office’.
Following the BIMR Conference, Councillor Baldwin was joined by Councillor Ellick to attend the 63rd Westminster Seminar held from 16-20 June in London.
Topics discussed at the Seminar included ‘Parliamentary Administration & Governance’, ‘The Role of the Speaker’, ‘MPs and Opposition MPs’, ‘The Legislative Process’, ‘Party Discipline’, ‘Media Oversight of Parliament’, ‘Women in Parliament’, ‘Parliamentary Questions & Motions’, ‘Bicameralism (where Legislators are divided into two separate assemblies) and The future of Parliament’.
Both Councillors Baldwin and Ellick found the media element of the discussions particularly interesting.
Now back on Island, Councillors Baldwin and Ellick will be highlighting the strength of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the assistance it can offer to the St Helena Legislative Council. Councillor Baldwin will also be looking to formalise connections between the South Atlantic Islands, as well as widening Youth Parliament membership in line with the rest of the Commonwealth. He also hopes to deliver a Human Rights Quality Commission and potentially develop a Citizens Advice Bureau.
A full report of Councillor Baldwin and Ellick’s attendance at these conferences will be made available on the SHG website once they have formally presented to Legislative Council.
Three photos are attached.
8 August 2014