Register of All-Party Groups Contents


The Nature of All-Party Groups

All-party groups are regarded as relatively informal compared with other cross-party bodies such as select committees of the House. The membership of all-party groups mainly comprises backbench Members of the House of Commons and Lords but may also include ministers and non-parliamentarians. Groups flourish and wane according to the interests and enthusiasm of Members.

Groups are classified 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.

Purpose and Form of the 'Register of All-Party Groups'

The Register was set up in accordance with a Resolution made by the House of Commons on 17 December 1985 and its main purpose is to record which all-party groups are recognised by the House; who their officers are; and what assistance groups receive from outside Parliament. Registration is compulsory for any group that includes Members of the Commons from more than one party and has at least one officer who is from the Commons.

Each group's Register entry shows its title, officers, financial and material assistance received from outside Parliament, and relevant gainful occupations of its staff. However, if a group is on the Approved List (see below) it has to provide additional information on its register entry, namely details of the group's purpose; its 20 qualifying members; any affiliation it has to the Inter-Parliamentary Union or Commonwealth Parliamentary Association; its voting rights; and the date of its last Annual General Meeting.

Purpose and Form of the 'Approved List of All-Party Parliamentary Groups and Associate Parliamentary Groups'

The Approved List exists as a result of a Resolution made by the House of Commons in October 1984 and its main purpose is to control the extent to which groups use the House's facilities and status.

Whereas inclusion on the Register is compulsory for most groups, a group may choose whether or not to apply for inclusion on the Approved List. Most groups are on both. This is because it is only by being on the Approved List that a group gains certain entitlements (eg. use of the All-Party Notices to advertise meetings; use of the terms 'All-Party', 'Associate' and 'Parliamentary' in the group's title; and priority over unlisted groups when booking meeting rooms in the Palace of Westminster).

In order to qualify for these entitlements approved groups are subject to more rules than unapproved groups. These are mainly to do with the way in which AGMs and other meetings are held and recorded, and about membership levels and party quotas.

A group's entry on the Approved List, as opposed to its entry in the Register, shows simply the group's title and whether it is either an 'All-Party Parliamentary Group' or an 'Associate Parliamentary Group'. The difference between the two terms is that in an All-Party Parliamentary Group only Members of the House of Commons or Lords have voting rights whereas an Associate Parliamentary Group additionally allows voting rights to persons who are neither.

Administration of the Register and the Approved List

The administration of the Register is overseen by the Committee on Standards and Privileges whereas the Administration Committee oversees the Approved List. Both the Register and the Approved List are, however, compiled and maintained by the Assistant Registrar in the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, whose address is: House of Commons, London SW1A OAA (tel: 020 7219 0401).

To be included on the Register or on the Approved List a group must first complete the 'Application Forms for Cross-Party Groups'. Once registered, the group is sent the 'Guide to the Rules on All-Party Groups', which sets out the rules on the day-to-day conduct of registered groups. Both documents are available from the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Office should you wish to know more about the rules governing groups.

Once registered, groups are required to notify the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards of any change required to their Register entry within 28 days of such a change arising. When the Commons is sitting, an updated edition of the Register is published roughly every 6 weeks. An updated edition of the Approved List is produced very 1-2 weeks and is distributed to various departments within the Commons but is not published.

When the Register is updated a new edition of it is published on the internet at (on the home page click on 'Index' then the letter 'R' then 'Register of Interests' then 'Register of All-Party Groups'). A paper copy is made available for public inspection in the Committee Office of the House of Commons (please call 020 7219 4300 to make an appointment). A further copy is placed in the Oriel Room at the House of Commons where Members of either House may inspect it.


Any suggestion that the requirement to register has not been met in a particular case should be made in writing to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, House of Commons, London SW1A OAA.

In minor cases of infringement, the Commissioner may, at his discretion, apply the rectification procedure. Under this, a late entry is printed in bold italics in the Register for 12 months from its first appearing. More major cases may be the subject of formal investigation and will be reported to the Committee on Standards and Privileges.

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© Parliamentary copyright 2007
Prepared 13 June 2007