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News from the Society

The 58th General Meeting of the Society will take place in Sydney, Australia in November of 2024.

History of the Society

The Society was founded in 1932 by Owen Clough, a former Clerk of the Senate of South Africa. In 1903 Clough had accompanied the South African representative to the Delhi Durbar and when Sir Howard D’Egville founded the Empire (now Commonwealth) Parliamentary Association (CPA), Clough became the South African branch secretary which gave him the opportunity to visit Australia and Canada. As a result, on his retirement from the Clerkship of the Senate, Clough determined to do for the officers of Parliaments what D’Egville had already done for their Members.

For the next twenty years Clough served the Society he had created as Secretary, Treasurer and Editor. From the beginning the object of the Society was to provide a means by which parliamentary officials could share knowledge of the practices and procedures of the various legislatures of the Commonwealth. This was achieved initially primarily through the annual publication of the Society’s journal – The Table. The first volume of The Table was published in 1932 and it continues to be published on an annual basis to this day.

The changed conditions of the post-war world and the ever increasing contact between the Parliaments of the Commonwealth caused the Society to think seriously about the possibility of also holding conferences. The Society began discussions with the CPA to see how its members’ wish to have properly organised meetings at least once a year could best be handled. The result was an agreement that time would be provided during the annual CPA Conference for a General Meeting of the Society. The first such meeting was held in the United Kingdom in 1961 and they have continued ever since that inaugural meeting.

Since 1952 the Clerks of the two Houses of the UK Parliament have had responsibility for the administration of the Society – an arrangement which was endorsed unanimously during the reorganisation of the Society in 1969. The Clerk of the Commons Overseas Office acts as Secretary to the Society. At its 2005 meeting, following extensive consultations on its future structure, aims and strategy, the Society agreed to set up an Advisory Committee with representation from all Commonwealth Regions to provide advice on a range of issues concerning the operation and further development of the Society.