A delegation to the Westminster (British House of Commons and House of Lords) was led by the NA speaker and included besides myself, Mr Mahmood Khan Achakzai (PKMAP), Raja Ikhlas (PMLN) and Dr Darshan (PMLN). Mr Khursheed Shah Leader of the Opposition could not make it. Meetings were arranged with British Parliamentarians, Speakers of the House of Lords and Commons, other dignitaries and MPs. Particular focus was to understand how does the British Parliament work, particularly its Public Accounts Committee.
We were accompanied everywhere by the Pakistan Acting High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Mr Imran Mirza and a few members of the High Commission who had scheduled this interaction.
After a briefing on the Westminster system on July 7th 2014 we went to view the sitting of the Public Accounts Committee that is chaired by Rt. Hon. Margaret Hodge MP from the Labor Party which is in opposition. The deliberations were on UK’s Child Maintenance Scheme. It was a small room the sound system was very poor so though we were sitting only in the third row, we could not hear much especially when you are less familiar with the British accent. The Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) is always present and there were about four witnesses, which is a general description for those who are called in either from the particular Ministry or from the General Public if need be. The proceedings were being televised on the Parliament Channel.
Then we met with the Chairperson of the PAC, Margaret Hodge who said nobody has ever refused to appear before the committee and that almost 100% of their directives are met and rigorously followed upon. This was interesting as in Pakistan we see poor compliance of the directives.
Dr Arif Alvi