"At its regular meeting yesterday evening (03 June), the House of Commons Commission briefly discussed the implications of recent media stories relating to members of both Houses, lobbying and all-party parliamentary groups. Two actions resulted from that discussion.
The first relates to the rules for APPGs. In 2011 the Speaker and the Lord Speaker asked a working group led by Rt Hon Jack Straw to undertake a review of APPGs. This was completed in June 2012 and is available on the Parliament website.
The Committee on Standards (with input from the Administration Committee) is currently considering that report and the changes that might be required to the regime for registering and administering APPGs.
The Speaker has today written to the chair of the Committee on Standards, Rt Hon Kevin Barron, asking that his Committee prioritises this work with the intention that the Commission can discuss the conclusions before the House rises for the Summer recess.
There are currently 83 parliamentary passes that have been issued specifically to staff of APPGs (around 0.6% of the total number of passes). The Speaker has instructed the Serjeant at Arms to ask Members who have sponsored these parliamentary passes to confirm that they have been properly requested and allocated, as required by the rules governing APPGs. In the interim, no new passes in this category will be issued.
The Serjeant at Arms has also been asked, as a matter of urgency, to consider with the Administration Committee whether it is necessary or appropriate for this category of passes to exist at all.
The Commission also intends that, more generally, applications for passes for Members' staff should seek more information than at present about the purposes for which a pass is required".
The Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon John Bercow MP, said:
“As Speaker I have long felt that the operation of All-Party Parliamentary Groups needed to be improved to meet the high expectations of transparency and accountability required in public life. To that end the Lord Speaker and I established a review of APPGs in 2011. Recent events have heightened my concern and underlined the need for urgent and effective action”.
House of Commons Commission
As the overall supervisory body of the House of Commons Administration, the House of Commons Commission is responsible for the administration and services of the House.
Its responsibilities include appointing staff of the House, preparing and laying before the House the Estimate for the House of Commons Service, allocating functions to House departments and keeping staff pay and conditions broadly in line with those of the Civil Service. The Commission was established by the House of Commons (Administration) Act 1978.
All Party Groups
All-Party Groups (APGs) are informal cross-party groups that have no official status within Parliament. They are essentially run by and for Members of the Commons and Lords, although many groups involve individuals and organisations from outside Parliament in their administration and activities.
Committee on Standards
The Committee considers reports from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, oversees her work and recommends any changes to the Code of Conduct or to the rules relating to the conduct of MPs.
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