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You might have heard that Tommy has been elected Vice-Chair of the Britain-Palestine All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG). This is fantastic news for both Tommy and for the people of Palestine but you might be wondering what it means. As things develop in Westminster, one of the things Tommy and his staff team are keen to do is make Parliament as transparent as possible. As such, we will be writing a series of short articles about various aspects of the workings of Westminster. Given Tommy’s recent appointment, it seems appropriate to start with APPGs!
Sadly, APPGs are not about everyone having a party (though we note from the invitations Tommy’s received that there’s one on Beer and one on Cricket) but are part of the informal work of the Parliament. They have no official status but allow MPs and Members of the House of Lords from across the political spectrum to come together on matters of interest. They can also involve organisations from outwith Westminster. APPGs have a strict set of rules to adhere to, including transparency about membership and funding. There is a list of registered APPGs maintained by the office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.
MPs can choose which APPGs they wish to join based on their interests and those of their constituents but there is no compulsion to join any. Tommy has had a strong interest in the Middle East throughout his adult life and visited Palestine in 2013. The purpose of the Britain-Palestine APPG is to foster good relations and understanding between Britain and Palestine and to promote a just and durable peace in the Middle East, something Tommy is wholeheartedly supportive of. We will let you know more about what is happening in the group over the course of the Parliamentary term.
More information about APPGs and a list of all the APPGs and their members can be found here: http://www.parliament.uk/about/mps-and-lords/members/apg/
Time is running out for many of Edinburgh's small businesses. Today I've written to the Chancellor asking for additional emergency assistance for our hospitality sector through the COVID-19 epidemic.