The aim of the British-American Parliamentary Group is to promote friendly relations and mutual understanding between Members of both Houses of Parliament of the United Kingdom and Members of both Houses of the Congress of the United States of America by arranging for the exchange of collegial visits and information between these two groups of legislators and providing opportunities for discussion on matters of common interest and concern.
The core of the BAPG’s programme is alternate Annual Conferences with the House of Representatives and the Senate. The meetings are held in the U.S. and the UK, alternating every two years.
It is the Annual Conference that has been the means of stirring and cementing vital and valued relationships between Congress and Parliament. They have always been opportunities to exchange views frankly and forcefully and have been valued for their informality and their privacy.
In recent years, the BAPG have had out of programme, extra, interim conferences with the House, at their request. In this context, the BAPG have had the U.S. NATO PA delegation to the regular February Conference in Brussels and to OECD come to London to join their colleagues from the House BAPG for an interim conference.
Whenever possible, the Group’s Government Vice Chairman (a Cabinet Minister) leads the delegation at Conference. Congress is often represented by leaders of committees concerned with foreign affairs and defense.
In addition to these events, there is the regular programme:
Co-Sponsored September Visit – 10 day delegation in conjunction with the U.S. Department of State for eight MPs. The prime purpose of the visit is to give members an overview of Federal and State Government. The group first goes to Washington for five days, then splits up and goes with individual Congress Members’ to their constituencies for three days, then re-groups at a State Capitol for two days to see that tier of Government. The BAPG pays transatlantic fares and subsistence, the Department of State organises the programme and provides internal U.S. travel for phases two and three.
Every second year, after Congressional Elections, the Group sends MPs to attend as observers the New Members Orientation Programme run by the Institute of Politics at Harvard University for newly elected Members of Congress.
Republican and Democratic Conventions – the Group sends two MPs to each to see Presidential candidate selection.
Ad hoc specialist delegation visits – two to four members visit the U.S. to study and share information and best practise in particular policy areas. The British Embassy in Washington D.C. and the individual Consulates assist in arranging the programmes.
For example, four members visited Washington D.C., Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania and New York City in 2012 to look at the U.S. economy, the impact of the stimulus package and the challenges of the political deadlock. The meetings were arranged by the British Embassy and the British Consulate General New York.
Annual Reception for U.S. Ambassador to UK to meet MPs.
Hospitality : – Meetings, receptions, luncheons and dinners are held in the Houses of Parliament to enable distinguished visitors from the United States to meet members of the Group. Among those from the United States so entertained have been members of both houses of Congress, U.S. Presidential candidates , Vice-Presidents and members of the Cabinet, as well as other prominent visitors from America.
In addition, MPs give Congressional visitors (and families) tours of Parliament.
The BAPG also makes arrangements for the Marshall Scholars annual intake to tour Parliament and talk to one or more MPs afterwards.
A significant role in the success of the Group’s programme depends on the help and goodwill of both the United States Embassy in London and on the Foreign Office. The BAPG is grateful to them both for their unfailing co-operation.