Parliamentary intern Gabrielle Laing explains how MPs and peers interact with stakeholders through the all-party parliamentary groups.
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Since becoming parliamentary intern to Lord Trees, I have been asked to speak at a number of events about our work in parliament. One thing that often puzzles people is how parliamentarians interact with stakeholders. This brings us onto the topic of APPGs, which stands for All-Party Parliamentary Groups and refers to the many special interest groups that exist alongside parliament. These groups cover a huge range of topics, from hydrogen and human rights to the expansion of Heathrow, and from pensions, to poverty and plastic waste.
APPGs are a way of bringing together stakeholders and interested members from the Commons and Lords across all parties. The groups have a variety of structures. Some have informal information-gathering sessions while others produce written evidence reports from invited witnesses: they can also be long-standing or temporary, large or small (some only just meet the minimum requirement of having four interested MPs or peers).
Lord Trees sits on a number of these groups, including the APPG on antibiotics and another on malaria and neglected tropical diseases. However, the group that we are perhaps most involved with is APGAW, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare. APGAW was set up more than 20 years ago by Sir Roger Gale MP, to cover all species of animals. It liaises with the Animal Health and Welfare Board and sector groups (such as the Canine and Feline Sector Group). It is co-chaired by Angela Smith MP and Lord Trees (both of whom who spoke at BVA Congress in November 2018) and has covered topics as diverse as livestock worrying and puppy smuggling, to the future of small abattoirs.
Each meeting focuses on a matter of animal welfare. Experienced and expert speakers from a range of stakeholder groups are invited to present and answer questions asked by MPs or peers from which, when appropriate, a written report or consensus statement can be published.
The groups are not officially run by parliament so they require independent funding. APGAW, for example, receives generous support from the RSPCA and the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association but is run entirely independently by the administrater Marisa Heath, who also runs the website (www.apgaw.org) and Twitter account (@apgaw).
A list of all the APPGs and their contacts is featured on the parliament.uk website. If you have a particular interest, I would urge you to follow the relevant APPG’s work and, if you are able, come to parliament to attend a meeting.
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