Engaging with All-Party Parliamentary Groups

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Engaging with All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) is an accessible way of connecting with policy makers about your research. However, APPGs are little-known outside of policy circles. So, what are they exactly, what are they not, why are they a useful route for policy engagement, how can you get started?

APPGs are informal cross-party groups. There are over 500 APPGs which cover an incredibly diverse range of specific topics. They bring together Parliamentarians who have an interest in a specific topic, and are a means of them engaging with individuals and organisations outside Parliament who have expertise or useful insight into the subject.

While APPGs are recognised by Parliament, they are not official parliamentary bodies and have no official status within Parliament. So why should you care about engaging with them if they don’t have the influential teeth that a Select Committee or a Minister have?

  1. There is probably one that aligns very closely to your area of expertise.
    With over 500 APPGs spanning the full A to Z of Acquired Brain Injury to Zoos and Aquariums, with group as diverse as Energy Costs, Legal Aid, and Tennis in between, there is likely to be one that would have an interest in your research and what it means for public policy. It is worth taking a look at the full register of APPGs.
  2. They are a relatively easy way to engage with and cultivate strong relations with Parliamentarians.
    MPs join APPGs voluntarily because of their personal policy interests and to learn more about the latest thinking on a specific topic. You are therefore pushing on an open door as you know these MPs are interested in the topic of the APPG.  It’s a route to policy makers that’s suitable no matter whether you are seasoned in policy engagement or whether you are new to it.
  3. They can be more influential than you think.
    While APPGs are not part of decision making or scrutiny processes, their work can and does have wider impact. One of the most recent examples of this was when the number of deaths on ‘Smart Motorways’ made the news earlier this year.  This was the result of a report by the APPG on Roadside Rescue and Recovery being picked up by the media, putting further pressure on the Government to review their use.

APPGs all operate in different ways, although most tend to have meetings in Westminster every few months. They each have a secretariat organisation (listed on the APPG directory) which is typically a pressure group, charity or consultancy. They also each have a Parliamentarian as a Chair or Co-Chair.

It is often best to start by writing to the Chair with a short briefing note on your area of research and any recommendations you may have for public policy and offering a one-to-one meeting to brief them further and stating that you would also be open to presenting at one of their APPG meetings. Once invited to an APPG meeting, take the opportunity to speak about your research and network. In developing relationships with APPG members this could lead to contributing to an APPG report (although not all APPGs choose to write and publish reports), MPs asking questions in Parliament citing your research, or being asked to give evidence at a Select Committee.

If you are planning any kind of policy engagement activity it’s a good idea to drop us a line in the public affairs team at publicaffairs@contacts.bham.ac.uk before you get started and the team will be happy to advise you further.

Author: Jennifer Crisp, Head of Public Affairs and Stakeholder Relations

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