About cross-party groups
What are cross-party groups?
Cross-party groups (CPGs) are groups of MSPs and other people who are interested in a subject or issue. They must meet at least twice a year. At least 2 MSPs who are members of the CPG must attend meetings.
CPGs are not formal Parliament business. However they must follow the rules about CPGs in the Parliament’s Code of Conduct for MSPs in the Scottish Parliament.
CPGs cannot raise issues in Parliament (for example by having a debate) or to the Scottish Government.
There is no limit to the number of CPGs that can be registered.
Support for CPGs
CPGs do not get financial or staffing support from the Parliament, other than to help them meet in Parliament. The Parliament does not cover the costs of translation services, catering, travel or equipment.
CPGs can charge members a subscription to cover costs.
Groups can also receive money from organisations to cover costs and these are called financial benefits. Any benefit that exceeds £500, from a single source in a year, must be declared on the registration and annual return forms.
Rules for CPGs
The rules for CPGs are in Section 6 of the Code of Conduct for MSPs. These explain how CPGs must be set up and how they work.
CPGs can have their own ways of working but they must be in line with the rules.
The rules say all CPGs must:
- email the CPG mailbox (CrossPartyGroup@parliament.scot) at least 10 days before a meeting so the CPG webpage is updated
- meet formally at least twice a year
- have at least 2 MSPs, who are members of the Group, attend the CPG for it to be a formal meeting
- provide minutes of their meetings
- email any membership changes to the CPG mailbox within 30 days (the email must be sent by the CPG convener)
- hold an annual general meeting (AGM) 11-13 months after the first meeting and then every 11-13 months
MSPs on CPGs
CPGs must have at least 5 MSP members and a certain number of MSPs from different parties.
To register as a CPG a group needs at least 1 MSP from the parties on the Bureau. Parties with 5 or more MSPs are represented on the Parliamentary Bureau.
There are currently 4 parties represented on the Bureau. At the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee meeting on 22 June 2021 the Committee agreed to change the rule, for this session of Parliament, as long as Groups have MSPs from at least 3 parties on the Bureau they meet the requirements of the Code.
Complaints/regulation of CPGs
The convener of the CPG is responsible for making sure the group follows the Member’s Code of Conduct.
The Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee (SPPA Committee) looks at whether CPGs are complying with the Code. They also consider any complaints that the CPG is not complying with the code. Not following the Code could lead to:
- a CPG's recognition being withdrawn
- sanctions being imposed on individual MSPs
How to make a complaint
Complaints about CPGs are made to the SPPA Committee.
The process for dealing with complaints about CPGs is set out in Section 6 of the Code of Conduct for MSPs.
All complaints about CPGs should be sent to the SPPA clerks in the first instance:
Our ability to deal with letters is currently extremely limited so please contact us by email at SPPACommittee@parliament.scot
You can write to us at:
The Scottish Parliament
Forming a new CPG
The rules for forming a new CPG are in Section 6 of the MSP Code of Conduct.
CPGs are formed and led by MSPs. They must have at least 5 MSP members and a certain number of MSPs from different parties on them and may also have members who are not MSPs. The remit for the new CPG should:
- be about something in the public interest
- not overlap with another CPG’s remit
To register as a CPG a group needs at least 5 MSP members and 1 MSP from the majority of parties on the Bureau. Parties with 5 or more MSPs are represented on the Parliamentary Bureau. There are currently 4 parties represented on the Bureau so a CPG must have MSPs from at least 3 parties.
The new CPG must have an initial meeting and complete a registration form.
When a new CPG has the required number of MSPs, it should hold an initial meeting. At the meeting the CPG should:
- elect at least 2 MSP office-bearers – and 1 of these must be the convener
- confirm the name and purpose of the CPG
- confirm membership
Within 30 days of the initial meeting, the convener of the proposed CPG must email a completed registration form to the SPPA clerks (CrossPartyGroup@parliament.scot). The CPG cannot formally meet again until the SPPA Committee has recognised it as a CPG.
The registration form is looked at by the SPPA Committee. It will invite the convener of the proposed CPG to a committee meeting to discuss the group. The SPPA Committee will then decide whether to approve the CPG.
Only approved groups can be called a “Cross-Party Group in the Scottish Parliament”.
Re-establishing a CPG after an election
After a Scottish Parliament election, a previous CPG can re-register again. This must be done within 90 days of the first meeting of Parliament after the election.
A CPG which wants to re-register must hold an initial meeting and elect office-bearers. The convener must then submit a registration form to the SPPA clerks.
The name and purpose of the CPG must be the same as in the previous session.
Joining a CPG
Any MSP may be a member of a CPG.
CPGs can also have members who are not MSPs. These members can be individuals or organisations. If someone joins the CPG as part of a specific organisation, the organisation (not the person) is the member of the CPG.
If you want to join a CPG, please contact the group directly. Any decisions about membership, including whether to limit the number of non-MSP members, can be decided by the CPG.