Parliamentary Committees and Public Enquiries
Committee launches new inquiry into All Party Parliamentary Groups
The Committee on Standards yesterday announced a new inquiry into All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs). The Committee will be undertaking a wide-ranging inquiry into the rules for and regulation of the unofficial groups.
It will be the first in-depth investigation into the informal cross-party groups since the Standards Committee previously reviewed them in 2013.
The previous inquiry considered a wide range of aspects of APPG regulation, and in its report proposed a number of changes to the rules on APPGs which were agreed by the House in 2014. That inquiry followed a report by the Speakers’ Working Group led by the former Leader of the House, Rt Hon Jack Straw MP.
The Committee is now inviting written evidence from interested individuals inside and outside the House, including organisations, companies, think tanks and academics, journalists and members of the public on the rules for and regulation of All-Party Parliamentary Groups. Some of the areas the Committee is particularly interested to investigate include:
- The value and benefits of APPGs to the House.
- Transparency and appropriateness of funding of APPG activities and secretarial support.
- The role of external secretariats to APPGs
- The risk of APPGs being used for access by lobbyists, other organisations or by foreign governments, and how any conflicts of interests arising can be managed
- Use of Parliamentary passes by staff exclusively supporting APPGs
- Financial governance and controls
- Other governance and compliance issues, including assurance that APPGs are meeting relevant employment law and data protection laws
- Status of APPGs within the House, including the risk of confusion with select committees, and branding of APPG activities and publications
- Who should be accountable for ensuring an APPG complies with the rules
- How APPGs can be better supported to comply with the rules
- The proportionality and effectiveness of current requirements on holding of AGMs and formal meetings, and election of officers
Since the previous inquiry into APPGs, there has been continual growth in the number of them operating across Parliament, with more than 600 APPGs now active. The unofficial groups can represent anything from subjects such as Acquired Brain Injury to Archaeology, with country groups aiming to foster improved relations or better understanding with other countries.
Chris Bryant MP, Chair of the Committee on Standards, yesterday said:
“All Party Parliamentary Groups may be informal, but they can play a vital role in the work of Parliament and our democracy.
“These all-encompassing groups draw attention to issues and concerns of great national importance that otherwise may go under the radar. They cover everything from acquired brain injury – which I Chair myself – to arts, health and wellbeing.
“This new inquiry from the Standards Committee will take a closer look at the rules and regulation of these groups, and will investigate how they can contribute to the high standards of conduct within the House.
“Given the importance these groups have in the way Parliament develops policy, we want to make sure that all APPGs are run openly and transparently and that there is no conflict of interest.
“I look forward to reading the written evidence submissions, and giving further consideration to how we can continue to understand and improve the work of All Party Parliamentary Groups across Parliament.”
The Committee will use the written evidence it receives at this initial stage to help inform the final scope and terms of reference of its inquiry.
You can submit written evidence to the Committee here. The deadline for written evidence is Friday 20 November. Announcements of oral evidence sessions will be made by the Committee in due course. Further information can be found on the Committee's website.
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