Register Of All-Party Groups [as at 24 October 2013] Introduction
APGs are informal, cross-party, interest groups that have no official status within Parliament and are not accorded any powers or funding by it. They should not be confused with select committees, which are formal institutions of the House.
There are a great number of APGs. They cover many and diverse fields such as health, education and transport. Some exist to foster links with other countries and parliaments, others to address a particular issue, and a couple exist mainly for social reasons (eg some sports groups). Some APGs have existed for many decades whereas others come and go in response to issues of the day.
APGs are essentially run by and for Members of the House of Commons and House of Lords. Mostly they are run by backbenchers, though ministers may also be officers or members of APGs and many groups choose to involve individuals and organisations from outside Parliament in their administration and activities.
The Register of All-Party Groups was set up by a Resolution of the House of Commons in 1985, primarily to show which APGs are recognised by Parliament, who their officers are, and information about the source and extent of financial and material assistance received by APGs from outside Parliament.
Any group whose membership:
· is open to all Members of the House of Commons and House of Lords, and
· includes at least 20 Members (each of whom must be a Member of the House of Commons or House of Lords), comprising: at least 10 Members who are from the same political party as the government, and at least 10 who are not from the government party (of whom at least 6 must be from the main opposition party), and
· includes at least one officer who is a Member of the House of Commons
is required to complete the Registration Form for All-Party Groups, so that the group’s details may be recorded on the Register of All-Party Groups.
APGs are classified on the Register either as subject groups (relating to a particular topic eg. forestry) or country groups (relating to a particular country or region). Most country groups are affiliated to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association’s United Kingdom Branch and/or the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s British Group. Section 1 of the Register lists the country groups, Section 2 the subject groups.
If any member of staff to the group holds an APG Pass because of his or her work for the group, the passholder is required to register details of paid employment they are engaged in as well as certain gifts, benefits and hospitality they receive. Their details are provided in Section 3 of the Register.
The Committee on Standards advises the House of Commons on the rules relating to the registration of APGs and oversees the administration of those rules by the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. The Administration Committee also has an interest in APGs, chiefly in the use made of the House’s facilities by groups, and advises the House on that aspect of the regulation of groups.
The rules on APGs are incorporated in the ‘Guide to the Rules on APGs’, published by the Commissioner’s office. That office also publishes on Parliament’s website an updated edition of the Register every 6 weeks approximately when the House of Commons is sitting.
Complaints, whether from Members, the public or anyone else alleging that a group has acted in breach of the rules on APGs, should in the first instance be sent to the Registrar of Members’ Interests in the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. The Registrar will then seek to resolve the complaint, though in serious cases the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards may seek the agreement of the Committee on Standards to undertake a formal investigation.
Information about APGs (including the Guide to the Rules on APGs, the Register of APGs and the Registration Form for APGs) can be found at www.parliament.uk by looking under ‘All-Party Groups’ in the A-Z Index on the home page there. Should you require any further advice please contact:
The Assistant Registrar
Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 0401
Fax: 020 7219 0490