The general election has been called and MPs have left Westminster’s corridors of power to canvass for votes in suburbs, shires and regions across the UK. Parliament has been dissolved, and so the parliamentary work of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Global TB has ceased until after the election. But sadly this doesn’t mean that the work of the Group’s Secretariat stops – no afternoons spent surfing the web and sipping cups of tea! While the Group’s MPs have now all returned to campaign in their constituencies, the APPG is looking towards after the election when the House of Commons returns to form the new Parliament.
The first challenge facing the All Party Parliamentary Group will be to hold its Annual General Meeting, elect new officers and formally re-register as a Parliamentary Group. A major part of this is to recruit new officers and members to the group. General elections are times of uncertainty with no one knowing which MPs will win back their seats or which party will end up forming the Government. This means that we don’t know which members of the Group from the last Parliament will be able to rejoin, either because they are no longer MPs, or because they have been promoted to new jobs in Government. There are also a number of MPs who were members of the Group who are choosing to step-down at this election.
All of these changes mean that the APPG will need to work hard to recruit new members to the Group, and to perhaps replace some of its officers after the election. At the start of a new Parliament, MPs are bombarded with a barrage of requests to join groups and to get involved with campaigns. The APPG Secretariat is currently working to identify potential new MPs who may be interested in joining the Group, and is creating briefings and drafting letters to send out as soon as the new Parliament forms.
But the post-election uncertainty doesn’t stop there. Not only do we not know which MPs are likely to be in Parliament after the election, but we also do not know which political party will form the next Government. This means that new policies, priorities and personalities may be in place in the Departments of Health and International Development after May 6th, it’s important that the APPG secretariat is up to speed on what a change of Government would mean for the future work of the Group.
This brings us to the APPG’s future work. The dissolution of Parliament provides an important opportunity to consider the future priorities of the APPG. Bearing in mind that the work of the Group is ultimately the responsibility of the members of the APPG, the Secretariat is drawing up a guideline of potential areas of work in the coming 12 months to suggest at the AGM. The Group will continue to work on both TB in the UK, as well as internationally. With rates of TB in the UK, especially in London and in specific communities increasing rapidly, and global challenges like the rise of multi-drug resistant TB, HIV-TB co-infection, TB stigma and the need for coordinated international action on the replenishment of the Global Fund, there are plenty of areas of future work to consider.
So even though MPs are no longer sitting in the House, the work of the APPG on Global TB continues in order to make sure we ‘hit the ground running’ and form a refreshed and strong group of MPs campaigning in Westminster on TB. If you’d like further details on the work of the APPG on Global TB please contact the Group’s Coordinator, Mike Smith, at firstname.lastname@example.org.