All-Party Parliamentary Group on World Government

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All-Party Parliamentary Group on World Government


Simon Burall, the Director of One World Trust and Clerk to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for World Government, writes:

"Henry Usborne was elected to Parliament as a Labour MP in 1945, serving for a total of fourteen years before he lost his seat. He established the All-Party Parliamentary Group on World Government (PGWG) in 1947, two years after taking his seat, "to act in whatever way it deems effective, as the focus in the House for study and action on world government". In its prime, in the 1960s, the group had over 200 members from the House of Commons and the House of Lords. These members included many illustrious figures from British political life but most notable perhaps was the former Prime Minister Clement Atlee. It would be wrong of any history of the Group be written without mention of the indefatigable work of its first Clerk, Patrick Armstrong, who collaborated closely with Henry Usborne and, for nearly 40 years, provided ideas and initiatives and was responsible for many of its successes.

"Through the 1970s and 80s the group suffered from a big slump in membership. By 1975 membership was just over 100, by the mid-80s this had dropped to below one hundred. By the 90s the situation was calamitous though, with the appointment of my predecessor, Daniel Wheatley, as co-ordinator of the group, membership was stabilised and by the mid-90s it was slowly growing. At the time this article is written the group boasts over 160 members from both Houses of Parliament and from regional government in the UK and MEPs from across Europe and is now one of the largest in Parliament. Though Winston Churchill was never a member of the Group, he obviously had great sympathy for its views declaring "The creation of a cooperative all-powerful world order is the ultimate end towards which we must strive. Unless some effective world super-government can be set up and brought quickly into action, the prospects for peace and human progress are dark and doubtful."

"This statement from Churchill, which modern commentators in Britain seem to have forgotten in the current debate about the European Union, is echoed by a quote from Harold Macmillan, another former Prime Minister, made at the time he was defence minister; "On the whole question of disarmament the Government's purpose is simple, and our record clear. Genuine disarmament must be based on two simple but vital principles. It must be comprehensive and it must have a proper system of control& The control must provide effective international - or, if we like, supra-national - authority invested with real power. Members may say that this is elevating the United Nations, or whatever may be the authority, into something like world government; be it so, it is none the worse for that. In the long run it is the only way out for mankind."It is undoubtedly true that the PGWG, with its support in both Houses of Parliament and across parties, was crucial in ensuring that these leaders were exposed to World Federalist thinking and influenced their thoughts about the way the world should be governed.

"The PGWG had greater ambitions than influencing the debates inside Parliament. In 1951, the group established the One World Trust (OWT) as its charitable arm. The Trust was formed to promote research into the "facts, principles and methods of planning and organising on a world basis to the greatest advantage of the human species." It was also charged with promoting education around the same area of endeavour. The relationship between the Trust and the PGWG has always been close, with the director of the Trust playing the role of Clerk to the group and acting as the main co-ordinator and supporter of its activities." [1]


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  1. A History of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for World Government, One World Trust, accessed November 24, 2008.