What are Cross-Party Groups?
Cross-Party Groups (CPGs) provide an opportunity for Members of all parties, outside organisations and members of the public to meet and discuss a shared interest in a particular cause or subject.
Applications for recognition as a CPG must be submitted to the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee for approval and only those Groups approved by the Committee are permitted to use the title ‘Cross-Party Group in the Scottish Parliament’.
How do Cross-Party Groups operate?
The operation of CPGs is regulated by Section 6 (Volume 2) of the Code of Conduct for MSPs which outlines the procedures for establishing a CPG and sets out the framework for their operation.
The framework set out in the Code of Conduct for the operation of CPGs is not prescriptive in relation to the procedures to be followed by the Groups and Groups may determine their own procedures, provided that these procedures are in line with the general rules set out in Section 6.
Further guidance in relation to CPGs can be found in the Best Practice Guidance and in Volume 3 of the Code of Conduct.
Re-registration for previously recognised Groups
A previously recognised Group may re-register within 90 days of the first meeting of the Parliament following an ordinary or extraordinary general Scottish Parliamentary election. For the purposes of calculating the 90 day period, no account will be taken of any time during which the Parliament is in recess for more than 4 days. Therefore the date that all previously recognised Groups must re-register by is 7 October 2016.
A Group seeking to re-register must follow the process of holding an initial meeting and electing office bearers as set out in Section 6.2 of the Code. Within 30 calendar days of the initial meeting the Convener must submit a completedregistration form to the Standards clerks. If the Group meets the criteria detailed below the Standards clerks, in consultation with the Convener of the SPPA Committee, will undertake a sifting exercise and highlight applications to be referred to the Committee for further scrutiny (either through a paper to the Committee or an evidence session with the Convener of the proposed group).
Groups that do not require further scrutiny will be re-registered. If the Group does not meet the criteria, the Standards clerks will draw the application for re-registration to the attention of the Convener of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee. The Convener will decide whether the Group can be re-registered or if the application should be considered by the Committee before a decision is reached.
The Standards clerks will apply the following criteria to re-registrations—
Name and purpose of Cross-Party Group: These must be the same as were registered in the previous Session to be considered for re-registration;
MSP membership: There must be at least 5 MSP members and at least one MSP from each of the parties or groups represented on the Parliamentary Bureau (in practice, the requirement that every party or group can waived in certain circumstances);
Non-MSP membership: There are two categories of membership, individual and organisational. For organisational members, if a Group has listed names of individuals who may represent the organisation at meetings, the registration will be updated so that only the name of the organisation is given and the Group informed. The balance of MSP to non-MSP members must be “Parliamentary in nature”;
Office Bearers: There must be at least 2 MSP office bearers and one of these must be the Convener of the Group;
Financial Benefits: the value and source of any financial benefit must be given. In the first instance, the Group will be contacted and asked to provide more information;
Contact: Must be the Convener of the Group;
Annual Return: The application for recognition must be accompanied by the Group’s most recent Annual Return to demonstrate that the Group has previously operated effectively and in compliance with the Code.
Registration of new Groups
New Groups must follow the process of holding an initial meeting and electing office bearers as set out in Section 6.2 of the Code. The name and purpose of the Group must also be confirmed at the initial meeting. Within 30 calendar days of the initial meeting, the Convener must submit a completedregistration form to the Standards clerks.
Once the completed registration form has been received by the Standards clerks it will go to the next suitable meeting of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee. The Convener of the proposed Group will be invited to that meeting to discuss the Group's registration.
Modification of Volume 2, Section 6.4.1 of the Code of Conduct
Volume 2, Section 6.4.1 of the Code of Conduct requires that each CPG must include at least one MSP from each of the parties or groups represented on the Parliamentary Bureau.
At its meeting on 30 June 2016 the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee agreed to exercise its right to make a general modification to this section of the Code of Conduct to allow CPGs which have at least one MSP member from the majority of parties represented on the Parliamentary Bureau to register. There are currently five parties represented on the Bureau therefore, if the Group has MSPs from at least three parties, it meets the requirements of the Code.
Cross-Party Groups documentation
Proposed Cross-Party Groups
The Proposed Cross-Party Groups page details any forthcoming meetings of Cross-Party Groups pending re-registration or approval by the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee.
Session 4 Cross-Party Groups