In the last couple of months I have written about different ways in which I work and about the way in which Parliament works. I am often asked about the work that I do on behalf of the Government overseas. This month let me explain how this fits into the overall picture.
I have two roles on behalf of the Government with take me abroad on a regular basis. These are as the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Nigeria and as a representative on the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Also as a Member of the Justice Select Committee I am sometimes asked to go on fact finding missions to other countries with the Committee.
Trade Envoys are appointed to countries where substantial trade and investment opportunities have been identified by the government. My role in Nigeria is therefore to promote British business and trade interests and particularly to help open channels for people from the UK to trade with Nigeria. The Trade Envoy programme predates Brexit but has taken on greater significance in the light of it. The programme is to support the drive for economic growth by building on the UK’s existing relations with these markets and maximising bilateral trade, thereby generating real and long term benefits for the UK. Nigeria is one of the largest country in the sub-Saharan Africa and has a population of some 186 m people. It is also rich in natural resources, especially oil and has a fast-growing economy. It is infamous for corruption but the current Government there is working to stamp this out. In this role I am asked to go to Nigeria on short visits several times a year. I also meet with representatives from Nigeria here in the UK and attend a series of bi-lateral meetings as arranged by the Department for International Trade.
The Council of Europe is an older and wider circle of nations than the European Union – it includes, for example, Russia and Turkey among its member states. We will still remain members of the Council of Europe once we have left the EU. The Council was founded in 1949 and currently has 47 member states. As an international organisation it is dedicated to upholding human rights, democracy and the rule of law. It oversees the European Court of Human Rights. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) is made up of 324 members drawn from the national parliaments of the Council’s member states. It usually meets four times a year for week-long plenary sessions in Strasbourg. PACE is one of the two statutory bodies of the Council of Europe, along with the Committee of Ministers, the executive body representing governments. The Assembly is often seen as the driving force of the Council, holding governments to account on human rights issues, pressing states to maintain democratic standards, proposing fresh ideas and generating the momentum for reform.
These international roles are yet another facet of the work of an MP and are an important part of the work we do on the international stage to secure the UKs place among other countries.
There is information about both of these roles on the UK Parliamentary website www.parliament,uk alongside all the other information on the working s of Parliament.
If you would like to know more about my work in Westminster, on behalf of the Government and the Constituency please do look at my website which is regularly updated. The address is www.johnhowellmp.com. As always, I am interested to hear constituent’s views on the proposals before the House. If you would like to share your thoughts on an issue you can email me at email@example.com or write to me at the House of Commons.