Delegation from Uruguay highlights shared values and consolidates strong bilateral relations
From 11 – 13 September, BGIPU was delighted to host a delegation from the House of Representatives of Uruguay. Arranged in close collaboration with the British Embassy in Montevideo, the visit was led by the President of the House of Representatives Sebastián Andújar, and included Second Vice-President of the House of Representatives Silvana Pérez Bonavita, Pedro Jisdonian, Federico Ruiz and Felipe Schipani. The visit also benefitted from the support of the Uruguayan Group of the IPU, namely Carina Galvalisi and the Embassy of Uruguay in the UK.
The visit commenced with a comprehensive ‘scene setting’ overview of Westminster procedures by Clerk of the Interparliamentary Relations Office, Lynn Gardner. This was followed by a tour of the Palace, where BGIPU director Rick Nimmo shared some of the rich history of the Palace of Westminster. President of the Board of the Forum of Young Parliamentarians Dan Carden MP hosted a welcome lunch for the delegation and took the opportunity to learn more about the experiences of young parliamentarian Silvana Perez Bonavita, as well as discuss the imminent opening of the regional IPU office in Montevideo.
In the afternoon, the delegation paid a visit to Wembley Stadium to discuss everything from the importance of football in UK and Uruguayan culture and Uruguay’s World Cup bid to measures taken to combat anti-social behaviour at football matches. These conversations were to be elaborated on at a further meeting with the Premier League Safety Team.
The visit saw the delegation meet with the Home Office team to learn more about the joint projects undertaken with the Uruguayan National Defence. Prominent Latin Americanist Baroness Hooper welcomed the visitors at a working lunch with fellow peers, and the delegation had the opportunity to observe House of Lords Question Time in action.
Members of both houses sat down with the delegation at a roundtable meeting to discuss all aspects of the Uruguay-UK relationship. Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP praised Uruguay for their progressive advances in social and labour policies, whilst Lord Mountevans and Baroness Hooper led questions on trade negotiations and rapprochements with Uruguay in the post-Brexit era.
The final day of the Westminster visit saw the delegation meet the Minister for the Americas and the Caribbean David Rutley. The Minister lauded the recently announced Youth Mobility Scheme as an excellent initiative which paves the way for young Brits and Uruguayans to live and work in either country, and he reiterated his appreciation for the strong bond between the two Governments. The delegation also met with the Energy and Net Zero Committee before observing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak answering questions from MPs on issues ranging from prison safety to the use of Raac concrete in buildings around the UK.
In the afternoon, the delegation met with Chris Law MP to discuss the upcoming Second World Summit of the Committees of the Future, which was to be held at the Uruguayan Legislative Palace and to focus on the challenges AI poses to democracy and the importance of anticipatory governance. The Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, then hosted his Uruguayan counterpart President Andújar and the delegation at Speaker’s House, where they discussed their mutual experiences leading the respective houses. Mr Speaker also took the opportunity to share his experience of visiting Uruguay as part of a BGIPU delegation in 2016.
The visit concluded with a meeting between Chair of the Education Committee, Robin Walker MP, and Mr Schipani, a member of Uruguay’s respective Education and Culture Committee, where the latter discussed his ambitions to establish a virtual university system in Uruguay, based on the British Open University model. The two parliamentarians had an interesting discussion about an educational initiative in Uruguay whereby vulnerable children have access to longer school days to ensure they receive the necessary support. In the UK, a similar debate is ongoing about whether disadvantaged children should have access to extra schooling over holiday seasons to tackle educational inequality in the UK.
Throughout the visit, there was mutual enthusiasm for consolidating and strengthening the close relationship the UK and Uruguay share, both on a parliamentary and governmental level.