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British Jews to run parliamentary cross-party group on Jewish issues

(JTA) — The representative board of Jewish communities in Britain has announced the creation of a parliamentary, cross-party group on Jewish issues.

The group is scheduled to begin working in September and will be open to lawmakers from all parties, the Board of Deputies of British Jews said in a statement published Wednesday on its website. The Board will help run the group and serve as its secretariat, according to the statement.

All-party groups, or APGs, lack official status in parliament as they are informal, according to the website of the British Parliament. Groups are essentially run by and for lawmakers, although many groups involve third parties from outside Parliament in their administration and activities.

Britian’s Parliament already has 465 known APGs on various issues and communities, including on Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Baha’i, according to the website allparty.org, which aims to “enhance the effectiveness” of APGs.

The new group “will support MPs by offering brokered meetings with Jewish constituents, invitations to Jewish community events, tailored to individual parliamentarians in accordance with their particular interests, an invite to an annual Hanukkah Reception in Parliament,” among other events.

Another planned activity is providing “regular briefings on Jewish communal issues by the Board of Deputies – including on religious freedom, equalities, extremism, medical ethics, education, welfare and issues facing World Jewry.”

But the new group “will not seek to duplicate the existing work of excellent parliamentary initiatives on Israel or anti-Semitism, but work with them for the common good,” Board President Vivian Wineman wrote.

The new initiative “will offer a mechanism for a deeper relationship between British Jews and our Parliament,” he added.

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