To avoid a scandalous new loophole, Parliament “plans to clampdown on foreign government funding for cross-party interests groups and ban lobbyists from running them”

  • MPs examine funding and managing all-party parlamentar groups
  • APPGs are informal arrangements with no official status within Parliament
  • Yet there are more than 700 producing reports and funding trips abroad

Parliament is planning an overhaul of special interest all-party parliamentary groups over fears they could become the next source of a political sleaze scandal.

They are considering a ban on foreign funding for cross-party APPGs and the role of lobbyists in running them amid fears some whitewash controversial nation states.

APPGs, which are informal arrangements without any official status inside Parliament, have no official status., yet there are more than 700 registered covering everything from various different countries to Smoking and Health and Yoga in Society.

For MPs or peers who are involved in their work, they produce reports and finance visits. 

According to the Telegraph, Speaker Lindsay Hoyle and Commons Leader Jacob Reese-Mogg have joined forces with Chris Bryant, chairman of Standards Committee to make them transparent.

Transparency International’s research suggests that 36 AppGs on countries were run by perpetual bodies. Two are funded by foreign states, 23 by campaign groups, and six are managed by private companies. 

Now Speaker Lindsay Hoyle is reported to have teamed up with Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg and Standards Committee chairman Chris Bryant to make them more transparent.

According to reports, Speaker Lindsay Hoyle has teamed up to Jacob Rees Mogg, Commons Leader and chairman of the Standards Committee to improve transparency.

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Chris Bryant

Transparency International conducted research that found 36 appgs regarding countries are managed by permanent bodies. Twenty-three of these were funded by foreign governments, twenty-three by campaign groups, six by individuals, and two by international states.

Alex Runswick from the Telegraph, an anti-corruption expert for Parliament, said: ‘While APPGs may benefit Parliament and wider society in general, they can also be a route for vested interest, such as foreign governments to have access to MPs and Lords. 

“Despite the fact that these groups have a reputation for being backdoors for lobbying there are no safeguards in place to prevent undue influence or perception that money could buy influence in politics.

‘We know that corrupt regimes and repressive ones have sponsored APPGs for them to hide their appalling record of human rights violations and corruption.

“Some despotic governments have tried to gain legitimacy by engaging with our parliamentarians through all-expenses-paid trips, choreographed photo opportunities and the like.”

Earlier this year Parliament’s two speakers had to intervene to ban China’s ambassador to the UK from visiting Westminster after an invitation from the APPG on China.

Zheng Zeguang was informed by Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Commons Speaker, and Lord McFall that he couldn’t enter the estate to give a September talk.

He was to meet Richard Graham (Tory MP) at the APPG.

Sir Lindsay, however, argued that it was inappropriate for the ambassador not to meet at Commons. Seven parliamentarians are still sanctioned in Beijing by Beijing for their criticisms of the Communist regime.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, a former Conservative leader, and other approved politicians appreciated the “strong principled position” taken by the speakers.

Graham regretted that he had to delay the discussion.