More than 1,000 organisations are involved in the work of cross-party groups (CPG) at Holyrood. Sixty-five cross-party groups registered within the first year of this parliamentary session alone. Out of 129 MSPs, 108 are members of CPGs; that is every single member of the Scottish Parliament who is not a Government Minister or the Presiding Officer is a member of a CPG.
CPGs bring together people with an interest in the body politic: from the voluntary public, and private sectors, industry, political activists, single issue campaigners, in fact, anyone with a political interest or issue will have an involvement in one of Holyrood’s CPGs.
One of the great successes of devolution has been just how easy it is to access and engage with Scotland’s policymakers and lawmakers. The significant numbers involved in CPGs suggest that this is an important means of influencing and shaping the political process.
The rules governing CPGs have been in place since 1999 and the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee is to examine how these groups operate in practice.
Dave Thompson MSP, convenor of the SPPA committee says: “While recognising the valuable work of CPGs, it is important we ensure that the system provides openness and transparency for both stakeholders and the wider public. Achieving this transparency, while not over-regulating CPGs, is the aim of the review our committee has just launched and the consultation exercise which will feed into it.
“The focus of the review is therefore to establish how effectively the current rules on CPGs are working and whether any changes can be made to improve the system of registration, operation and regulation. There are many people out there with an active interest in CPGs, and my committee wants to hear people’s views on whether we currently have the right balance between transparency and regulation.”
To have your say, you can respond to the 16 questions in the committee’s consultation paper by Monday 16 April.