Lord Empey questions position on All-Party Parliamentary Groups
An Ulster Unionist Party peer has queried the rationale for prohibiting members of the House of Lords from chairing All-Party Parliamentary Groups.
Lord Empey argued it sent out a "somewhat negative signal" to the wider community and placed peers in a "somewhat second class position" regardless of the qualifications they might have for such a role.
The Chairman of Committees Lord Laming said there had been concerns about both the growth and funding of APPGs.
Responding, Lord Laming said: "It was decided that it was very important to have a clear line of accountability to the House of Commons Commissioner for Standards and therefore MPs are required to be registered with the Commons registrar.
"There was nothing malevolent about this, that in no way minimises the contribution that members of this House make to APPGs."
Raising the issue at oral questions in the House of Lords, Lord Empey said: "Given what this House contains, our reputation for having members with considerable expertise in a wide range of pursuits and disciplines - w hat is the rationale for prohibiting your Lordships from chairing what are non-statutory lobby interest groups?
"Surely the Chairman of Committees would agree that this sends out a somewhat negative signal to the wider community and places us in a somewhat second class position regardless of the qualification (they) may have for the position."
Crossbench peer Lord Laming replied: "Members of this House attach great importance to the work of the All-Party Parliamentary Groups, recently there have been two extensive reviews into the rules on All-Party Groups.
"Following the second review in May 2014 the House of Commons resolved that each group must have an MP who is the chair and registered contact.
"That MP is responsible for ensuring compliance with the rules. Members of this House may of course be co-chair of a group and chair meetings, but that does not affect the accountability of the registered MP."