Sir James Duddridge KCMG, Member of Parliament for Rochford and Southend East, led a debate on Commonwealth Day in Westminster Hall on Tuesday, 21st March.
While praising the role of the Commonwealth, Sir James indicated that Commonwealth Day provides a chance to reflect on our relationships around the world.
Sir James took the opportunity in the debate to focus on the legal status of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) International Branch, which is currently based in London and holds the legal status of a charity.
Commenting, Sir James said:
“The CPA International Branch is currently based in the UK, but it has charitable status. That charitable status causes some countries around the world a problem because to a poor, small-island state or a state that is receiving money, giving moneys to a UK charity seems somewhat incongruous.”
The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association International Executive is due to meet in Gibraltar on the 17th of April, with many nations viewing this meeting as a pinch point for a decision for the future.
Sir James went on to add:
“May I ask the Minister to commit herself to holding those meetings of officials as soon as she can so we can get the best possible product on 17 April and ensure that CPA International stays in the UK? That presence is of great benefit to the CPA and to UK plc more generally.”
Replying to the debate, the Minister of State for Indo-Pacific, Rt Hon. Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP said:
"The UK values the work of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to strengthen parliamentary oversight and accountability in the Commonwealth, and the FCDO looks forward to continuing to work closely with the association.
I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Rochford and Southend East and my right hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke for their consistent and passionate voices on the legal status of the CPA. They will be pleased to know that the Foreign Secretary has tasked FCDO officials with working with the CPA secretariat to find an acceptable solution by legislative means if necessary.”