What happened to all the APPGs?

Over Easter, some groups went missing in Parliament.

No, not lost tourists: of the 722 All Party Parliamentary Groups registered in March, only 444 are left – a 39% decrease in the space of a month. What caused this, which groups have been removed, and what happens next?

Tl;dr: we’ve published the changes as a spreadsheet.

What is an APPG?

All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) are self-selecting groups of MPs and Lords with an interest in a particular policy area. Browsing the list might help you find out that you have more in common with MPs than you think; subject-based APPGs include Craft, Jazz, and Parkrun, and country APPGs range from Albania to Zimbabwe. Most groups are supported by a secretariat, which is usually a charity, membership body or consultancy organisation.

The logic behind APPGs is to create legitimate avenues for experts and interested parties from outside Parliament to discuss policy with MPs – but unfortunately they can also be vehicles for corruption. As  Transparency International argue: “While APPGs can help inform debate, time and time again we see examples of MPs and Peers exercising poor judgement by accepting all-expenses-paid trips from regimes with highly questionable records on corruption and human rights.”

Why were so many groups removed?

New rules came into place on 31st March 2024 that required:

  • Increased financial reporting 
  • A ban on funding from foreign governments
  • Increased reporting on secretariat support 
  • A minimum of 20 members 
  • Exactly four officers, two of whom must be MPs

How did the Register change?

Parliament maintains the Register of all APPGs that gets updated approximately every six weeks. The last edition before the rule change, published on 6th March 2024, showed 722 groups in total – 130 country groups and 592 subject groups. The 8th April edition shows 444 in total – 74 country groups and 370 subject groups. In total, 39% (278) groups were removed, with the countries list shrinking by 43% and the subjects list by 38%.

Why does this matter?

We don’t know exactly why each group was removed from the register. In some cases they simply may not meet the new 20 member threshold, but in others, deregistering might be an attempt to evade scrutiny.

Deregistered “unofficial” groups can operate in very similar ways to registered APPGs (and there is some evidence they are already doing so) but will not have to abide by the same rules. This means that the only way to track the activities and spending of these groups, and the outside interests that fund them, is through individual Members’ Registers of Financial Interests. Parliament’s rules are clear that MPs are supposed to declare all benefits received through group membership (whether or not a group is an official APPG) but in practice this can be inconsistent.

Which groups were removed?

We’ve published the full list of groups from the last two registers, the changes, and the list of removed groups as a spreadsheet.

What next?

TheyWorkForYou has a long history of making MPs financial interests data easier to access and understand. We make it easier to see changes in MPs’ declarations over time and are now publishing this information as a big spreadsheet

We have a lot more work in the pipeline around both APPG data and Register of Members Financial Interests data (stay tuned for details in our newsletter).

If you think what we’ve done so far is valuable, and want to help us go further: please donate

Photo by Zetong Li on Unsplash