Britain’s first woman Sikh MP has been elected to an influential cross-party panel in the UK Parliament that examines the workings of the Home Office. Preet Kaur Gill, who won the Edgbaston seat for the Labour party in the June 8 snap general election, was elected to the Home Affairs Select Committee in the UK Parliament. “We had no Sikh MPs prior to this election. So, Sikhs had no representation, and we had no female Sikh representation. Parliament must reflect the people it serves,” said the 44- year-old, who will join 10 other British MPs on the committee. The House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee was chaired by Keith Vaz, Britain’s longest-serving Indian-origin MP, until he stepped down from the post last year. Its newly-elected chair is Labour party MP Yvette Cooper, elected unopposed to the post last week.
The Committee chooses its own subjects of inquiry and seeks written and oral evidence from a wide range of relevant groups and individuals. At the end of an inquiry, the committee often produces a report setting out its findings and making recommendations to the UK government. It is incumbent upon the government to respond to each of the report’s recommendations within two months of publication. Gill has also been chosen to lead the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Sikhs. “The APPG has made an excellent start this week…we are confident Preet will make an excellent chair to guide the APPG to make concrete progress on some of the key issues of importance to the Sikh community,” said Bhai Amrik Singh, chair of Sikh Federation (UK).
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Meanwhile, a veteran Indian-origin Labour MP, Virendra Sharma, was re-elected chair of the Indo-British All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG). The 70-year-old, who has been the Chair of the group for seven years and prides himself as the only first-generation member of the Indian Diaspora in the House of Commons, was unanimously re-elected by the cross-party meeting of members of both Houses of Parliament this week. The group, of which fellow Indian-origin Labour MP Seema Malhotra was elected vice-chair, works to promote understanding and co-operation between the people and parliamentarians of India and Britain. “The Brexit negotiation period will be a challenging time for the United Kingdom and I want to do everything I can to encourage further trade and investment opportunities between the UK and India,” said Sharma, the MP for Ealing Southall Earlier this year, he had led an international cross party delegation of parliamentarians to Agra and Delhi, where the group met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.