Finding legal advice for your constituents

Standard

MPs’ offices should not give out legal advice to constituents.  You should ask your constituents to seek independent legal advice given by a suitably qualified person with professional liability insurance.

Law Centres defend the legal rights of people who cannot afford a lawyer. They are specialists working in their local communities to uphold justice and advance equality.

There are various Law Centres throughout the country who https://www.lawcentres.org.uk/about-law-centres/law-centres-on-google-maps/alphabetically

Immigration

In the case of immigration matters, it is against the law to dispense immigration advice unless you are registered with the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) or a member of an approved professional body such as the Law Society.

Find an immigration adviser: https://www.gov.uk/find-an-immigration-adviser

The Public Law Project employs specialist lawyers who assist individuals experiencing personal disadvantage, or charities or organisations representing the interests of marginalised or disadvantaged groups.  PLP also employs expert academics and researchers.

They may be able to take on individual cases that are referred to them by other lawyers, advisors, MPs or voluntary groups.  If they are unable to help, they may be able to signpost you to other lawyers or agencies that can.

Have a look at their page on helping individuals here; https://publiclawproject.org.uk/can-we-help/individuals/

The Unity Project supports migrants who have No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF).

Karma Nirvana is a project which supports victims of honour-based violence and forced marriage.  https://karmanirvana.org.uk/

Further information

See the House of Commons Library Constituency Casework Guide to Legal Help: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/legal-help/

House of Commons Guide to Complaints against solicitors and other lawyers: 
https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/sn03762/

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Legal Aid: https://www.apg-legalaid.org/

From the APPG’s website:

“The APPG on Legal Aid provides bespoke training to MPs and their caseworkers on a range of subjects through the House of Commons Library. Studies and research have shown that as a consequence of the LASPO cuts there has been a huge increase in the number and complexity of legal problems that MPs are encountering in their surgeries. Our training is designed specifically with caseworkers in mind and provided by industry experts. To date, we have provided training in the following areas:

  • Legal Aid,
  • Immigration,
  • Housing Law,
  • Disability and Discrimination Law,
  • Employment Law,
  • Anti-Social Behaviour Orders and
  • Special Education Needs.

Feedback for the courses has been excellent. We have also developed courses in soft skills and interviewing techniques for new casework staff as part of the House of Commons induction process.

For further information about these courses, please check the ACT website.

We also provide briefings for individual MPs and select committees on various areas within legal aid. For further information, please contact Rohini.Teather@lapg.co.uk.”

All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group

Standard

All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group

The All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group is a cross-party group of Members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords of all the main parties, including members from the Crossbenches in the Lords.

The Group has grown rapidly, from its first beginnings in the 1960s; in 1996 it had 47 members and it now has over 110. Associate membership of the Group is also open to staff of MPs and peers and staff working for the House of Commons or House of Lords.

The Group is not part of Humanists UK, but Humanists UK provides the secretariat for the Group.

For more information you can email Karen Wright, Humanists UK Public Affairs Manager and the APPHG Administrator.

The Group meets around four times a year to hear speakers and discuss relevant issues, as well as to share information and receive briefings on matters of interest. These matters are wide-ranging and include the promotion of a rational approach to bioethical, medical, and scientific issues; the defence of free speech, civil liberties, and education; constitutional issues and freedom of religion or belief; and other issues of relevance to humanists.

On 25 February 2020, members elected the following individuals as officers for the parliamentary term. 

Chair: Crispin Blunt MP (Conservative) 

Co-Chair: Baroness Bakewell DBE (Labour) 

Vice Chairs: Clive Lewis MP (Labour), Tommy Sheppard MP (SNP), Jeff Smith MP (Labour), Lord Warner of Brockley (Crossbencher), Lord Taverne of Pimlico (Liberal Democrats), Baroness Burt of Solihull (Liberal Democrats), and the Viscount Ridley (Conservative)

Secretary: Baroness Massey of Darwen (Labour) 

Treasurer: Lord Dubs of Battersea (Labour)

For more information, please contact Crispin Blunt MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA. Tel: 020 7219 2254. Email: crispin.blunt.mp@parliament.uk

or view the Group’s website: https://humanism.org.uk/about/humanists-in-parliament/

Christians in Parliament

Standard

Christians in Parliament is an All-Party Parliamentary Group, which exists to support all Members and staff in their work in the Houses of Parliament.

We do this through:

  • Bible study and prayer groups, one-to-one contact and chapel services
  • Speaker events and discussion groups examining the truth and relevance of the Christian faith to personal and political life
  • Policy discussions and briefings informed by the Bible and Christian theology
  • Organising the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast

 Particular events of interest may be:

  • weekly chapel services on Tuesday lunchtimes when Parliament is sitting
  • weekly prayer meeting for Parliamentary staff on Thursday lunchtimes

For further information, please see the Christians in Parliament website here: https://www.christiansinparliament.org.uk/

Follow them on Twitter: @CiPAPPG

How to Support an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) – Online Workshop Seminar

Standard

Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Registrar of Members’ Financial Interests will be holding seminars virtually (via MS Teams) until further notice, with each lasting about an hour.

How to Support an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG)

This seminar will cover:

  • Register entries
  • APPG Secretariats (volunteers, Members’ staff, outside organisations)
  • Members and Officers
  • Meetings (including AGMs, inaugurals and other formal meetings)
  • Transparency and records, including APPG websites
  • Income and expenditure statements

Forthcoming dates:

  • Thursday 9 July at 2pm
  • Friday 24 July at 3pm
  • Thursday 20 August at 11am
  • Wednesday 2 September at 12 noon

Please email CommonsRegistrar@parliament.uk to tell them your preferred date.  They will then email you the joining instructions. These will include a link to the MS Teams App, which you should download and install before the meeting if you do not already have it on the device that you will be using to attend the meeting.

If the dates above are unsuitable please tell them and they will contact you when further dates are arranged.

CANCELLED: Workshops from the Registrar of Members’ Financial Interests

Standard

The Registrar of Members’ Financial Interests runs workshops for Members and their staff on the following subjects together with the next available dates:

A. Registering Members’ Financial Interests, covering:

1. How to help your Member register and declare interests

2. The rules on paid lobbying by MPs

3. How and when to register your own interests

Wednesday 11 March 2020 at 1pm-2pm in Room B, 1 Parliament Street

THIS DATE HAS BEEN CANCELLED – Wednesday 1 April 2020 at 10am-11am in Room B, 1 Parliament Street

 

B. How to Support an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), covering

1. Register entries

2. APPG Secretariats (volunteers, Members’ staff, outside organisations)

3. Members and Officers

4. Meetings (including AGMs, inaugrals and other formal meetings)

5. Transparency and records, including APPG websites

6. Income and expenditure statements

Wednesday 11 March 2020 at 12noon-1pm in Room B, 1 Parliament Street

THIS DATE HAS BEEN CANCELLED – Wednesday 1 April 2020 at 11am-12noon in Room B, 1 Parliament Street

 

Booking required. Please contact CommonsRegistrar@parliament.uk to book a place.

Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Team training workshops/seminars

Standard

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Team is presenting some useful training workshops and seminars.  Book now to secure a place.

Please email: commonsregistrar@parliament.uk or telephone Pam Morris on 020 7219 3738 to reserve a place.

All workshops will be held in Room “B”, 1 Parliament Street, London SW1A 0AA

Keeping on the right side of the rules: the proper use of Parliamentary resources

  • Tuesday 14 November 1.00pm – 2.00pm

Workshop of how to support an All-Party Parliamentary Group:

  • Wednesday 27 September 11.00am-12 noon
  • Wednesday 18 October 12 noon – 1.00pm
  • Tuesday 14 November 3.00pm – 4.00pm

Seminar on registering MP’s financial interests:

  • Wednesday 27 September 10.00am-11.00am
  • Wednesday 18 October 11.00am – 12 noon
  • Tuesday 14 November 2.00pm – 3.00pm

Guide to All Party Parliamentary Groups

Standard

Index

  1. Introduction
  2. Registering a Group
  3. Notifying changes
  4. Administration of Groups
  5. Meetings

1. Introduction

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.

2. Registering a Group

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.

3. Notifying changes

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.

4. Administration of Groups

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.

5. Meetings

Whenever you organise a meeting for an All Party Group, make sure you notify the Government Whips Office by emailing allpartynotice@parliament.uk, 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/