HC Deb 18 January 1988 vol 125 cc669-70
31. Mr. Adley

To ask the Lord President of the Council if he will propose to the House rules to require that the membership of all-party groups conforms to that nomenclature; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Wakeham

Towards the end of the previous Parliament the Services Committee instructed the Accommodation and Administration Sub-Committee to investigate and report on the desirability of introducing new rules to regulate the formation, constitution and proceedings of all-party groups. This investigation was cut short by the general election, but I understand that the new Sub-Committee intends to re-examine the matter shortly.

Mr. Adley

Will my right hon. Friend accept that I am talking about groups of parliamentarians and not outside groups? Does he agree that a group of parliamentarians that includes no Members of the Labour party, the Liberal party, the Social Democratic party, the Scottish National party and Plaid Cymru cannot call itself an all-party group, and that were it to do so it would be likely to be in breach of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968?

Mr. Wakeham

I agree with my hon. Friend that an all-party group should be what it claims to be. That was the only stipulation made by the Services Committee in its 1984 report. These are exactly the matters which the Sub-Committee will be considering.

Mr. Dobson

May I express the hope that the Leader of the House will ensure that a number of purportedly al-party groups that apply themselves to South africa and Namibia are genuinely all-party? When I last examined their composition it seemed that all the parties that they claim to represent are the parties to which Mr. Botha belongs.

Mr. Wakeham

I am not sure whether that is a correct analysis. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will have some constructive part to play in the discussions that will take place with a view to ensuring that all-party groups command the general respect of the House.