In March 2017, Westminster Foundation for Democracy’s programme Supporting the Capacity and Accountability of the Lao Parliament, offered a delegation from the National Assembly the opportunity to exchange ideas on how different jurisdictions approach the rights of citizens and legislation through a study visit to the UK.
WFD uses the full breadth of the UK democratic experience to support best-practice exchange platforms between parliaments. The delegation, led by Mr. Khenthong Nuanthasing, Vice-Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and consisting of senior MPs and staff from the National Assembly, visited the UK’s largest parliament in Westminster and the world’s oldest parliament in Tynwald.
(Above: The delegation from Laos: Mr Khenthong Nuanthasing (Head of Delegation), Vice-chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee (NA); Mr Kongci Yangchue, Vice-chairman of the Justice Committee (NA); Mme Pingkham Lasasimma, Vice-chairman of the Economic, Technology and Environment Committee (NA);Dr Bouthan Bounvilay, Head of Research Centre of the Institute of Legislative Studies (NA); Mr Somlet Choulamany, Chairman of People’s Provincial Assembly of Salavan Province; Dr Souvanny Saysana, Chairman of People’s Provincial Assembly of Bolikhamxay Province.)
Sessions in the Houses of Parliament, including meetings with Bob Neil, Chair of the Justice Committee, Mathew Hamlym, Head of the Overseas Office of the UK House of Commons, and Simon Burton, Reading Clerk and Head of the Overseas Office of the UK House of Lords offered the delegation insight into how the UK approaches legislation related to issues of justice.
In Tynwald – the oldest continuous parliament in the world that can trace its history over 1,000 years – the delegates were given insight into the island’s life, the unique relationship between the Isle of Man and the UK and they also received information on how Tynwald operates on a day to day basis.
(Above: In Westminster’s Portcullis House, the delegation meet with Bob Neill MP, Chair of Justice Committee)
The delegation visited the High Court of Tynwald, which is the oldest continuous parliamentary body in the world, and met His Excellency Sir Richard Gozney, Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man at the Isle of Man Government House.
Of particular interest to the delegation was how Tynwald supported a diversified economy – although the island is well known as a financial base or tourism destination, the Lao MPs were surprised to know that it exports 1,500 tonnes of cheese to the USA and also provides technical equipment to the aerospace industry! These impressions provided food for thought in the role of parliament in providing the framework for a successful economy to flourish.
(Above: The delagation with Roger Philips, Clerk of Tynwald)