The Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW) is an all-party group made up of MPs, Peers and associate animal welfare organisations or groups with a specific interest in this area. The aim of the Group is to promote and further the case of animal welfare by all means available to the Parliaments at Westminster and in Europe. APGAW seeks to influence the development and introduction of effective wide-ranging legislation to improve welfare and also acts as a discussion forum of politicians and welfare experts to looks at areas of concern.
All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) have no formal place in the legislature unlike Select Committees, but are an effective way of bringing together parliamentarians and interested parties to start raising the profile on issues. APGAW chooses topics which are likely to be high profile to discuss and can then put forward ideas for improvements to the current Government. Members of the public are not able to attend APGAW meetings unless specifically invited by the Chairman but they can ask their MP to attend if they are concerned about an area of animal welfare.
The main intention of APGAW is to keep MPs and Peers informed about animal welfare issues. Regular meetings and events provide an opportunity for those with a common interest in animal welfare to meet and debate their views and the views of others. APGAW also sets up working groups to investigate and report on areas of concern to the group.
The group owes much of its success to Dame Janet Fookes and Roger Gale MP (both Conservatives), who tirelessly worked hard to establish the group. From 1997 until 2005 Ian Cawsey MP (Labour) Chaired the Group, while from June 2005 to May 2010, Eric Martlew MP (Labour) took on the role. In July 2010 Neil Parish (Conservative) was appointed chairman.
All-party groups are relatively informal committees compared with official committees of the House. However, their success at raising issues and awareness in both the UK Parliament and Europe is recognised by most NGOs.
Group activities range from informal gatherings such as receptions to formal presentations by organisations at meetings, letter writing, tabling Early Day Motions and Parliamentary Questions. APGAW has also in the past organised visits to animal establishments and written and commissioned reports.