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Visit of the Speaker of the Icelandic Althingi (Parliament), Åsta Ragnheidur Jóhannesdóttir, Arranged by the Iceland APPG

If our Parliament is the Mother of Parliaments, then the Icelandic Althingi is the Grandmother of Parliaments. Icelanders have been deciding on their laws and rules of society since the tenth century, meeting at the historic site of Thingvellir, about thirty miles east of the capital Reykjavik before the purpose-built Parliament was created in 1844. In 1262, Iceland was united with Norway and for much of its post-mediaeval history, Iceland (together with Norway) was a colony of Denmark. The Althingi continued to meet at Thingvellir until 1799.

Åsta Ragnheidur Jóhannesdóttir is the outgoing Speaker of the Althingi and is a Social Democratic Party Member of Parliament. She has been Speaker since May 2009. Iceland holds its next general election on 27th April and the polls are not looking good for the current governing coalition. Åsta, who is a former Minister of Social Affairs is retiring from the Althingi and wanted to visit the Parliaments of the countries who are Iceland’s closest allies and friends.

The lunch was organised for members of the APPG for Iceland, whose Chair is Austin Mitchell. Also present were Fabian Hamilton, Treasurer of the APPG, Robert Walter, Elfyn Llwyd, Angus Brendan MacNeil, Michael Connarty, John Mann and Kelvin Hopkins as well as Viscount Craigavon.

Iceland has done a great deal under its current coalition government, led by the Social Democratic Party, to reverse the economic crash of 2008 which famously caused the collapse of its banking system. Discussions were held during the lunch about and whether other countries, including the UK, have anything to learn from the way in which Iceland’s economy has recovered.

The Officers of the APPG are very grateful to the British Group of the IPU for funding this very important lunch which helped to bring Icelandic and British MPs even closer together

BGIPU