Copyright of MR Sport for the All-Party Parliamentary American Football Group.
1. This paper presents the constitution of the All-Party Parliamentary American Football Group (henceforth “the Group”). It should be read in conjunction with the Guide to the Rules on All-Party Groups, to which it is subservient.
2. The contents of this document can only be altered by resolution of the Group or to reflect changes to the Rules on All-Party Groups.
3. The purpose of the Group is to support the sport of American football.
4. The Group operates in an entirely independent manner and will conduct its business in line with the Rules on All-Party Groups. The Group will undertake any activity it sees as necessary to deliver its purpose, including but not limited to deciding any inquiries or activities it considers appropriate and seeking appropriate counsel from any suitable source.
Membership & Officers
5. Members of the Group comprise any Member of the House of Lords or the House of Commons that wishes to join.
6. In addition, the Group welcomes as Associate Members such individuals, sporting body, commercial organisation, charity or any other body that has an interest in American football. Associate Members are expected to adhere to items laid out below in item 36 specifically, as well as the constitution as a whole, as appropriate.
7. Honorary Life Membership will be awarded by the Group to individuals as the Group sees fit after a vote during an Ordinary Meeting. Such Members are afforded rights set out in items 26-28.
8. Any Member of the House of Commons or House of Lords may seek election to become an Officer of the Group.
9. Officers are elected by a vote held at the Group’s Annual General Meeting or at an Extraordinary General Meeting; in accordance with the Rules on All-Party Groups.
10. Members may nominate themselves for election, either by informing the Chairman or Honorary Secretary ahead of the meeting, or by making clear their intention to stand for election during the AGM or EGM. It is not necessary for a Member to be present at the AGM or an EGM to seek election.
11. The number of Officers and their roles is at the discretion of the Group and will normally will comprise:
12. In exceptional circumstances, the Group may elect a President or Life President of the Group. See items 18 and 47.
13. An Honorary Secretary may be elected by vote at the Group AGM or an EGM to provide counsel and undertake the executive function of the Group over the coming year. See item 25
14. Officers are expected to undertake duties on behalf of the Group in order to deliver the Group’s objectives. Officers are Members of the Group and will ensure open communication between the Group and the Officers.
15. Officers act as spokespeople for the Group.
16. Officers may meet independently of the Group in order to deliver the Group’s decisions or activities but will ensure the Group remains informed of all relevant decisions taken.
17. The Chairman will chair Group meetings. When the Chairman is unavailable, an officer will take the chair. See items 75-81
18. The President, Life President or Chairman is the host of the Group’s Annual Dinner (items 47-54).
19. The Chairman oversees the Honorary Secretary and is the main contact for the Group.
20. The Chairman oversees the Group’s finances. A Treasurer may be appointed to manage operational accounting, but the Chairman has ultimate responsibility. The Chairman will be the lead signatory on any bank accounts held by the Group (items 42-48) and she or he may delegate or instruct the Treasurer or Honorary Secretary to manage the accounts as appropriate. The Honorary Secretary and other Officers may be signatories as required to facilitate running of the Group.
Delegation of powers
Sub-Groups and Committees
21. Officers maintain an open dialogue with Members of the Group and all Members have equal rights. In delivering the Group’s actions, the Group may authorise:
a. the Chairman or any other Officer;
b. a committee or sub-group; or
c. the Honorary Secretary
to exercise, on behalf of the Group, such of its functions , in such circumstances, as it may determine.
22. Where a committee or sub-group is established, such committees or sub-groups should include at least three Members one of whom must be an Officer of the Group.
23. As required, terms of reference will be created for any sub-group or committee.
24. The Chairman shall prepare and maintain a scheme of delegations identifying which functions the sub-group or committee shall perform. These will be available to all Members.
25. The Group may delegated such authority and powers to an Honorary Secretary, on the understanding that:
a. Officers retain oversight of activities;
b. the powers shall not be exercised in a manner that is likely to be a cause for concern or that might have an effect on the reputation of the Group or its members; and
c. any costs involved can be met within the authorised budget.
d. the agreement with the Honorary Secretary is that they are responsible for raising all monies, and can only receive payment based on monies raised.
Honorary Life Membership
26. Honorary Life Membership will be awarded by the Group to individuals as the Group sees fit, in recognition of service to or with the Group.
27. Nominations for Honorary Membership must be made in writing by Members to the Chairman or Honorary Secretary, after which the nomination will be presented to the Officers for a decision to take to the wider Group for a vote during a private session.
28. If the Group agrees the nominee is a suitable candidate for Honorary Life Membership, the newly-created Life Member will receive formal recognition of their Membership and the rights and privileges it affords:
a. Honorary Life Members may attend any Ordinary Meeting they wish.
b. Honorary Life Members have first-refusal to attend the Group’s Annual Dinner, after Members.
c. There is no subscription fee for Honorary Life Members.
29. At its discretion, the Group will invite Honorary Life Members to attend private meetings or will seek counsel from Honorary Life Members.
30. The Group is inclusive and welcomes as Associate Members individuals and organisations from outside Parliament. There are no specific Associate Membership selection criteria, other than a commitment to deliver the Group’s purpose.
31. Any individual or organisation seeking to become an Associate Member may do so via the Group’s website or in writing via a Member who will pass to the Chairman or Honorary Secretary. Associate Membership is awarded based on adherence to this constitution.
32. Associate Members will agree to adhere to guidelines for Associate Membership, set out in items 38 and 39. The Group may change these guidelines at any time as it sees fit or in order to adhere to the Rules for All-Party Groups. In such circumstances, Associate Members will be informed.
33. Individuals or a representative of an organisation may attend an Ordinary Meeting of the Group before deciding if they want to join the Group as an Associate Member. In such cases, a request should be made in writing to the Honorary Secretary.
34. An annual subscription fee will be payable by Associate Members, on the date of their joining. The value of any subscription will be agreed by the Group at each AGM on the recommendation of the Group’s Officers. Any individual or organisation providing funding to the Group at a value equal or above that of the annual subscription will be considered an Associate Member of the Group, unless declined.
35. The following shall be offered Associate Member status:
a. The sport’s governing bodies in the UK.
b. The sport’s international ruling body, the R&A.
Guidelines of Associate Membership
36. In order to become an Associate Member of the Group, an individual or appropriate representative of an organisation must adhere to the following guidelines:
a. Associate Members are not eligible to attend closed Meeting.
b. Associate Members are not entitled to vote on any Group decision but may provide input ahead of any vote, at the discretion of the Meeting’s Chairman.
c. Associate Members may suggest items for an Ordinary Meeting as Any Other Business. Such suggestions should be made in writing or email to the Chairman or Honorary Secretary 24hours before the Ordinary Meeting takes place.
d. Associate Members may not supply papers to the Group without consent from the Group’s Officers ahead of the meeting and must be submitted through the Chairman or Honorary Secretary no later than 24 hours in advance. Items may not be tabled at Meetings.
e. Organisational Associate Members may state up to four representatives for their organisation; any two of whom may attend any Ordinary Meeting without written notice. Contact details must be provided to the Chairman or Honorary Secretary. See item 64).
f. Associate Members may not bring guests to Group meetings without written authorisation from one of the Group’s Officers or Honorary Secretary on behalf of the Officers.
g. Any individual representing an Associate Member organisation must make clear any conflicts (actual or potential) to the Chairman of the meeting. See items 102-105.
h. Annual subscriptions for Associate Members will run annually and concurrently, with fees due on the anniversary of their joining date. Associate Members will be notified in advance of their subscription date and will be required to pay the requisite subscription by their anniversary date. If subscription is not received by the relevant date, the Group will consider the Associate Member to have declined to continue with that status.
i. Associate Members acknowledge that they are associated with the Group and their names may be made public.
j. Associate Members may themselves publicly acknowledge their Associate Membership of the Group, but may not under any circumstances use their association as a means to promote themselves or their organisation for commercial or other gain.
k. The Group logo may not under any circumstances be used by Associate Members.
l. Whilst is expected that Associate Members have a passion for the sport and share the aims of the Group, Associate Members must not use their association with the Group, attendance at meetings or any other interaction with the Group or its Members to seek to lobby or unduly influence the operation or decision-making of the Group or its Members.
m. The Group will amend these guidelines as it sees fit. Changes will be communicated to Associate Members.
n. Any transgression from these guidelines will see an organisation’s Associate Member status reviewed by the Group which could result in the suspension or removal of Associate Member status.
37. After Members and Honorary Life Members, Associate Members will be invited to attend the Group’s Annual Dinner (see items 47-53) at cost. Spaces will be allocated on based on the order payment is received.
38. Communication, including notice of Ordinary Meetings will normally be sent through email to all Members, Honorary Life Members or Associate Members.
39. Organisational Associate members can have up to four named contacts for correspondence.
Funding & Financial Reporting
40. The Group will manage its own accounts and will make any suitable banking arrangements it sees fit. The Chairman will be responsible for overseeing the Group’s accounts but may delegate duties to the Treasurer or Honorary Secretary.
41. The Treasurer or Chairman will present an annual report of the Group’s finances at the AGM.
42. The Group will be responsible for agreeing the Group’s budget for agreement at the AGM.
43. The Group may receive funding from outside Parliament to be used to deliver the Group’s activities as it sees fit. This includes sponsorship of the Annual Dinner, subscriptions from Associate Members and direct donations. Any Member, Honorary Member or Associate Member must contact the Chairman or Honorary Secretary with offers of funding.
44. Officers will decide on the Group’s behalf whether any donation is appropriate is accordance with the rules of the House governing donations to All-Party Groups and all donations made to the Group will be included on the Group’s Register Entry. Non-financial donations (such as tickets to matches) any appropriate gift received made to Members of the Group through the Group will be registered as appropriate).
45. The Group will maintain adequate reserves to ensure the Group can operate.
46. Members of the Group are responsible for maintaining their own entry on the register of Members’ interests and should be aware that not all items may be provided through the Group.
47. The Group will hold a dinner on an annual basis, hosted by the Group’s Chairman or President. The dinner will normally take place on the final Tuesday in January unless during recess. In such cases, it will take place during the nearest available Tuesday beforehand.
48. The Group’s Officers will oversee the Annual Dinner and may delegate organisation to the Honorary Secretary.
49. All Members of the Group are entitled to attend the Annual Dinner. There will be no cost to Members.
50. Places at the Annual Dinner will be offered in the first instance to Honorary Life Members, then Associate Members at cost, with places being allocated on receipt of payment.
51. Honorary Life Members and Individual Associate Members may bring guests
52. Thereafter, places will be made more widely available, with a small additional charge. Should there be oversubscription, the Honorary Secretary will liaise with Associate Members to ensure as many as possible have the opportunity to attend.
53. Sponsorship of the Annual Dinner will be offered by the Group to the sport’s governing body in the first instance. If declined, the Group will source sponsorship as it sees fit.
54. Any sponsorship of the Annual Dinner will be agreed on behalf of the Group by the Group’s Officers, including but not limited to any arrangements regarding number of attendees, collateral at events or speakers.
55. Subject to this Constitution and the Rules on All-Party Groups, Members may meet together for the despatch of business, adjourn and otherwise regulate their meetings as they think fit.
56. Meetings will usually be convened in person. In exceptional circumstances, meetings might be convened wholly or partly by telephone, video-conferencing facility or email, and in such circumstances participating members shall be deemed to be present at the meeting.
57. The Group will ordinarily meet on the final Tuesday of each month. Where this might fall during recess, an alternative date will be sought as close to that time as possible, but no sooner than four weeks after the previous meeting. No meetings will take place during the summer recess.
58. Meetings will normally take place between 1800-1900.
59. The Chairman or Honorary Secretary will circulate dates and times for meetings by email in advance of meetings on an annual basis, after the AGM and once Parliamentary recess dates have been published.
60. Notice of meetings, agenda and papers for Ordinary Meetings will be circulated by the Chairman or Honorary Secretary one week ahead of an Ordinary Meeting.
61. The non-receipt of a notice of a meeting by any Member, Honorary Member or Associate Member shall not invalidate the business transacted at the meeting.
Attendance at Ordinary Meetings
62. Members may attend all Meetings as they wish and may bring any guests to public meetings they wish. Members’ guests will be expected to adhere to the same guidelines as those of Associate Members.
63. Honorary Members may attend Ordinary Meetings as they wish.
64. Associate Members may attend Ordinary Meetings as they wish (two representatives in the case of organisational Associate Members), subject to receiving notice of the Meeting, which will act as invitation and must be brought to the Meeting and made available to security personnel as requested. See item 65.
65. In accordance with the Rules on All-Party Groups, for security reasons Ordinary Meetings are not advertised as “public meetings”. However, anyone seeking to attend a Group Meeting may do so if they receive written authority from one of the Group’s Officers or Honorary Secretary on behalf of the Officers.
66. The Group may hold meetings privately to conduct any business that it considers relevant. The terms of reference for such meetings, and any publication of proceedings or decisions taken will be at the discretion of the Group and decided ahead of or during the meeting.
67. The Group will invite any individual or organisation to a Private Meeting as it sees fit.
68. It is expected that the Officers of the Group will hold regular meetings to conduct any business of the Group that considered relevant. Any terms of reference for such meetings, and notification of any decisions taken will be made to the Group (see items 14 and 16).
69. Members may attend any meeting of the Group’s Officers.
70. Officers will invite any individual or organisation to a Meeting of the Officers as they see fit.
Annual General Meeting
71. The Group will hold an Annual General Meeting in accordance with the Rules on All-Party Groups, notice of which will be issued in accordance said rules.
72. The AGM will normally be held in private.
Power to call Group Meetings – Extraordinary General Meetings
73. Where, in the opinion of the Chairman, an urgent matter has arisen, the Chairman may call a meeting as soon as is practicable; facilitated by the
Honorary Secretary. Such meetings are considered Extraordinary General Meetings.
74. Where five or more Members submit a request for a meeting to the Chairman, the Chairman shall call a meeting as soon as practicable.
Procedure at Meetings
Chairing of meetings
75. The Chairman shall, if present, preside at all meetings.
76. In the absence of the Chairman, an officer shall take the chair.
77. The procedure at meetings shall be determined by the Chairman, in accordance with this Constitution and the Rules on All-Party Groups.
78. The Chairman shall:
a. preserve order and ensure that all Members have sufficient opportunity to express their views on all matters under discussion;
b. determine all matters of order, competency and relevancy;
c. determine in which order those present shall speak, including Associate Members; and
d. determine whether or not a vote is required.
79. Written comments on agenda items submitted by any Member who is not present shall be discussed at the appropriate point in the Meeting by an Officer or Honorary Secretary at the discretion of the Chairman.
80. Members may raise any item under Any Other Business during the meeting, at the discretion of the Chairman.
81. The Chairman will decide if any submissions received from Associate Members before the meeting shall be discussed as Any Other Business.
Voting at Meetings
82. Decisions of the Group will normally be made by consensus. Failing consensus, decisions shall be reached by means of a vote when:
a. the Chairman believes that there are Members present at the meeting who disagree with a proposal;
b. a Member who is present requests a vote to be taken; or
c. the Chairman considers that a vote should be taken.
83. A resolution put to the vote of a meeting will be decided on a show of hands unless a poll is duly demanded. In the case of any rights or restrictions to which Members are subject (such as a conflict of interest set out in items 102-105), on a show of hands, every Member who is present in person shall have one vote.
84. Where notice of a resolution is made ahead of a meeting, Members may nominate a proxy.
85. The Chairman of the meeting shall call, oversee and announce the result of a vote.
86. Members have the right to call a vote when a Member proposes a motion which is seconded by another Member. In such cases, the Chairman will call, oversee and announce the result of the vote.
87. In the case of an equality of votes, the Chairman may choose to place a second casting vote or defer a decision on a proposal to a later date. The decision to defer, together with the reasons for doing so, shall be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.
88. The minutes of the meeting will normally record only the result of a vote. A Member may require that their particular vote be recorded in the minutes.
89. In the event that the Group is taking a formal decision and a Member (or Members) is not present, views from such non-attendees may be accepted in advance in writing or by telephone. If this is not possible, the Chairman may decide that in order to make sure that all members are aware of the nuance of debate, a resolution may be circulated to all Members after a meeting and a decision subsequently taken by email. If there was any doubt, there would be an option for a decision to be delayed to a subsequent meeting.
90. Associate Members may provide input to a discussion at the discretion of the Chairman but may not vote on a resolution.
Quorum at Meetings
91. In accordance with the Rules on All-Party Groups, any Group meeting will be considered quorate if five Members are in attendance. One of the five members must be an Officer of the Group.
92. Where the meeting is that of Officers, the decisions taken in that meeting must be agreed by three Officers.
93. Meetings may proceed without being quorate, but any decisions taken are not considered to be those of the Group.
Meeting Agendas and Papers
94. If an EGM is called, Members will be informed at the earliest possible opportunity, and papers provided.
95. The order of the business at a Meeting shall follow the agenda issued in respect of that Meeting, unless otherwise directed by the Chairman.
96. Papers may only be tabled at a meeting with the prior permission of the Chairman.
97. No business other than that on the agenda issued in respect of a meeting may be taken, unless otherwise directed by the Chairman.
98. Papers shall be taken as read and where appropriate questions shall be directed via the Chairman.
99. The papers of meeting will be marked with appropriate protective markings where necessary and should be treated accordingly. If such papers are lost or misplaced, Members must report this to the Chairman or Honorary Secretary.
Minutes of Meetings
100. Minutes of all Meetings will be recorded by the Honorary Secretary and circulated in draft form in no later than a week in advance of the next Meeting for agreement or comment at the subsequent Meeting.
101. The minutes of a meeting shall record key points of discussion and:
a. the names of every Member, Honorary Life Member, Associate Member and other person present during any part of the meeting;
b. the names of members who have tendered apologies for absence;
c. the withdrawal from a meeting of any member on account of a conflict of interest; and
d. any declaration of interest (items 102-105)
Conflicts of Interest
102. If a Member knowingly has any interest or duty that is (or might reasonably be considered to be) material and relevant, whether direct or indirect and whether pecuniary or not, that, in the opinion of a fair-minded and informed observer would suggest a real possibility of bias in any matter that is brought up for consideration at a meeting, the Member shall disclose at the earliest opportunity the nature of the interest or duty to the Meeting.
103. If a Member has acted in accordance with the provisions of item 102 of these Rules and has explained fully the nature of the interest or duty, the Members present at the meeting shall decide whether and to what extent that Member should participate in the discussion and the determination of this issue shall be recorded in the minutes of the meeting. If it is decided that the Member should leave the meeting, the Chairman may first allow the Member to make a statement about the item under discussion.
104. Attendees at a meeting (Honorary Life Members, Associate Members or their representatives) should declare interests in accordance with the same procedures as for those who are Members. Where the Chairman rules that a potential conflict of interest exists, any attendee so concerned should take no part in the discussion of the matter and may be asked by the Chairman to leave the meeting.
105. Where a number of Members, Honorary or Associate Members might have a conflict of interest, the Officers shall undertake any and all review of issues or materials and consult as they see fit before making recommendations to the Group for approval. This includes aspects relating to assessment of compliance arrangements within member organisations.