all party group

Parliament has a number of all-party subject groups concerned with a wide variety of subjects. Membership of these groups is drawn from backbench members of all political parties in the House and they provide an opportunity for cross-party discussion and co-operation on particular issues. All-party groups sometimes act as useful pressure groups for specific causes helping to keep the government, the opposition and MPs informed of parliamentary and outside opinion. Concern over the increasing number of these groups - particularly those including non-MPs, led to a recommendation by a select committee in 1983-84 to distinguish between all-party groups and parliamentary groups. Under a standing order of the House, an all-party group must include at least five members of the government party and five from the opposition parties. Officers must be elected annually. Peers as well as MPs can belong to these groups. If an all-party group also wishes to admit strangers as members it must refer to itself as a parliamentary group. The range of subjects can be diverse, including animal welfare, sport, science, civil liberties, industry and the environment. As well as such subject groups there are also a number of all-party country groups consisting of members with an interest in a particular country and its welfare. There are over 100 such country groups with membership roughly ranging between one and 10 members.

contributed by user Tom Loosemore