All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) are essentially groups with cross-party membership of MPs and Peers, which meet to discuss, campaign on and promote a certain issue. MPs often find that forming and chairing an APPG can be an effective part of a parliamentary campaign, as it can act as an extra vehicle with which to spread awareness of the issue within parliament and as a springboard to events and publicity. Chairmanship of a prominent group can occasionally give serious status to the holder; the Chair of the APPG for Beer and Pubs was known informally for some years as the Minister for Fun.
There are hundreds of All Party Groups, covering almost every interest and issue you could imagine, and ranging in scope from the niche APPG for Parkrun to the huge APPG for Africa.
All groups must be properly registered with the Registrar’s Office and listed on the register, which is updated roughly every 6 weeks when the Commons is sitting. You can see the current Register here: https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/standards-and-financial-interests/parliamentary-commissioner-for-standards/registers-of-interests/register-of-all-party-party-parliamentary-groups/
Despite their usefulness, APPGs are relatively informal compared with other cross-party bodies such as Select Committees of the House, (whose membership is decided by election, who are staffed through the Clerks’ Office and whose Chairs are paid an extra salary). Any reports produced by an APPG may be co-authored by an external sponsorship organisation, and should not be confused with a Select Committee report which will be signed off purely by MPs.
The administration of the Register is maintained by the Assistant Registrar in the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards (ext. 3738). To be included on the Register or on the Approved List (see below) a group must first complete the Registration Form for APPGs.
Once registered, the group is sent the Rules on APPGs, which sets out the rules on the day-to-day conduct of registered groups. If you have been asked to administer a Group, it is worth reading the Rules – or reacquainting yourself with the recently updated Guide – to ensure you know what Groups can and cannot do. If you know the Rules, you will be in a better position to advise the officers and members of the Group.
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. Each group’s Register entry shows its title, officers, financial and material assistance received from outside Parliament, and relevant occupations of its staff.
All Party Groups are run by the group’s officers and their staff, sometimes with help from external organisations who may provide funding for receptions or staff to run the group. The amount of work a Group generates depends entirely on how active it is. Some groups may only meet a couple of times a year and have very little output; others meet far more frequently and may engage in a range of activities, such as hosting events, conducting inquiries and publishing reports. If you have been asked to coordinate a Group, you should take your lead from the group’s officers as to what they want to do and how they want to do it, as no two groups are the same.
Whenever you organise a meeting for an All Party Group, make sure you notify the Government Whips Office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, so that it can be included on the Weekly All-Party Notice. This is essential for AGMs though not compulsory for ordinary meetings. However, most Members of the House of Commons and Lords read the All-Party Notices so it is a good way of promoting the meetings. The All-Party Notices are emailed to all MPs every Thursdays with the weekly business and the deadline for submitting a notice is 5pm the day before (Wednesday).
You can see more information on All-Party Parliamentary Groups here: http://www.parliament.uk/about/mps-and-lords/members/apg/