Meet UK Parliamentarians at this year’s Parliamentary Reception for Commonwealth Scholars
The Parliamentary Reception for Commonwealth Scholars offers a rare opportunity to hear from UK Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of the House of Lords (Peers) at the heart of government in Westminster. The event is a fantastic occasion for Scholars to learn more about the roles of legislators and policymakers, as well as gaining an insight on the workings of the UK’s House of Commons and House of Lords.
The annual Parliamentary event is jointly organised by the CSC and the Council for Education in the Commonwealth’s (CEC) CSFP Support Group. It is co-sponsored and hosted by the UK Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA UK) for Commonwealth Scholars.
13:45 Scholars arrive at CPA room
14:00 Welcome by the hosts – CEC, CPA UK, and CSC
14:15 Talks by Parliamentarian guest speakers – timings TBC
15:30 Tea reception with invited Parliamentarians
16:30 Group tours of the Palace of Westminster
17:15 Conclusion of the programme
Dr Alastair Niven LVO OBE, Chair of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP) Support Group and former Trustee for the Council for Education in the Commonwealth (CEC)
Dr Niven is a former Trustee of the Council for Education in the Commonwealth and chairs the Support Group for the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan. He is an English literary scholar and author. He has been Director General of The Africa Centre, Director of Literature at the Arts Council of Great Britain and of the British Council, the Principal of Cumberland Lodge, and President of English PEN. He was a Commonwealth Scholar for two years at the University of Ghana where he undertook research in the field of African literature, receiving his Master’s degree and lecturing in English literature. He next lectured in English literature at the University of Leeds, where he received his Doctorate, and then taught English Studies at Stirling University, where he was given charge of Commonwealth literature.
Lord Sonny Leong CBE, Chair of the Council for Education in the Commonwealth and Member of the House of Lords
The Lord Leong CBE has been a member of the House of Lords since October 2022. He is Opposition Whip (Lords) and Shadow Spokesperson for Business and Trade and a member of the Statutory Instruments joint committee. He was previously a member of the Industry and regulators committee.
Lord Leong is Chair of the Council for Education in the Commonwealth, a parliament based NGO, founded nearly 50 years ago, at the time of the first Commonwealth Education Ministers’ Conference.
He has over 35 years of training, education and publishing experience, having worked in various academic and professional publishing houses. He founded Cavendish Publishing and developed it to be the largest independent academic law publisher in the UK before it was acquired by Informa PLC.
Professor Robin Mason ORB, Chair of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK (CSC) and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) at the University of Birmingham
Robin is the Chair of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK (CSC) and the Accounting Officer of the CSC.
Robin is Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) at the University of Birmingham and is responsible for all aspects of the university’s global engagement. He is also the executive lead for LGBT+ equality in the University. He has held senior leadership positions in higher education since 2006 and has been a member of the executive board of two UK Russell Group universities. As Chair, Robin is responsible for ensuring the CSC makes good decisions (consistent with UK Government priorities) and for ensuring the Commission develops and implements an effective strategy. Robin is firmly committed to the mission of the CSC – to provide opportunities for talented and motivated young people who could not otherwise afford them – having himself been educated from the age of 11 thanks entirely to scholarships.
Robin is a decision-making Member of the Competition Appeal Tribunal and the Financial Conduct Authority. He has acted as advisor to a number of regulators, in both the UK and internationally; to the Prime Minister of Mauritius on competition policy; and to a number of private-sector companies worldwide.
Dr Joanna Newman MBE FRSA, Chief Executive and Secretary General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU)
Dr Newman is Chief Executive and Secretary General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) – the world’s oldest international network of universities, dedicated to building a better world through higher education. Joanna represents the ACU on the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s Leadership Council, and the High-level Advisory Group for Mission 4.7. She is a lay member of the Council of Cardiff University, sits on the board of the Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA) and is a member of the Talloires Network Steering Committee. Joanna’s previous roles include the Vice-Principal (International) at King’s College London, where she is a Senior Research Fellow in History.
Jon Davies, Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK (CPA UK)
Jon has been Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK (CPA UK) since September 2017. He joined the UK Civil Service in 1990, in the East African Department in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). He later worked in Kuwait and Madrid as well as other roles in the FCO and Cabinet Office. From 2007- 2010 Jon was Deputy Head of Mission, British Embassy, Cairo. In 2010 he returned to London as Iran Co-ordinator, and from 2011-2013 he was also Director, Middle East and North Africa. Jon then became the first Director of the new FCO Diplomatic Academy, from 2014 to July 2017.
Jon has attended multiple CPA events since starting in 2017, including Commonwealth Parliamentary Conferences in Dhaka and Kampala and CPA Executive Committee meetings in Mauritius, London, Ottawa and Assam.
The Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP, Minister of State (Development and Africa) at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and Conservative Member of Parliament for Sutton Coldfield
Andrew Mitchell was appointed as a Minister of State in the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) on 25 October 2022.
He was previously Secretary of State for International Development from May 2010 to September 2012. He was elected Conservative MP for Sutton Coldfield on 7 June 2001
The Baroness Maeve Sherlock OBE, Shadow Spokesperson for Work and Pensions and Labour Member of the House of Lords
Baroness Sherlock has been a member of the House of Lords since June 2010. She is shadow spokesperson for work and pensions. She was previously shadow spokesperson for Education and Opposition senior whip (Lords).
From 2007 to 2010 she was a commissioner of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). She chaired the National Student Forum from 2007 to 2010 and was a Non-Executive Director of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission from 2008 to 2010.
She was Chief Executive of the Refugee Council, a charity supporting refugees and asylum seekers in the UK, between August 2003 and October 2006. Prior to joining the charity, she worked as a special advisor to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown MP. At the Treasury her brief covered social issues such as child poverty and welfare reform.
Seema Malhotra MP, Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) and Labour (Co-Op) Member of Parliament for Feltham and Heston
Seema Malhotra is the Labour and Cooperative Member of Parliament for Feltham and Heston. She has been the MP for the constituency where she grew up and went to school since 2011. In March 2020 Seema was appointed as Shadow Minister for Employment under Keir Starmer.
Seema is a Commissioner for the Financial Inclusion Commission. She chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Entrepreneurship and co-chairs the APPG on Mortgage Prisoners. Seema is a Vice Chair of the APPG on the Future of Aviation and the APPG on Assistive Technology.
Prior to entering Parliament, Seema was an advisor working with the video game and film industries on issues of child safety. She has over ten years’ experience with leading firms Accenture and PricewaterhouseCoopers working in strategy and IT systems development.