Members of Parliament are elected to the House of Commons to represent the interests and concerns of all the people who live in their constituency, whether they voted for them at the General Election or not. They are only able to deal with issues raised by people who live in their constituency, called constituents.
MPs consider and vote on legislation and use their position to ask government ministers questions about current issues.
MPs split their time between working in Parliament and working in the constituency. In Parliament, I spent my time fighting for the interests of all my constituents, attending debates, scrutinising and voting on legislation, and attending meetings. I held advice surgeries for my constituents (where they could come and talk to me about any local issues and problems), attended meetings and community events, as well as visited local organisations and businesses across the constituency.
When a constituent wrote to me, I contacted the relevant department, official, or Minister involved. Many problems were solved in this way.
Alternatively, if a constituent was happy for the issue to be made public, I could ask an oral or written question, secure a debate or even petition Parliament itself.
Oral or Written Questions
Once a month each minister from each government department answer questions from MPs at the Despatch Box in the Chamber of the House. There is a limit to the number of questions that can be asked but I also tabled written questions to the relevant government department, which are published in Hansard .
MPs may be able to raise a constituent’s issue in a half-hour Adjournment Debate. To get an Adjournment Debate, MPs must be successful in a ballot of Members of Parliament or have the subject chosen by the Speaker. The debates are usually the last business of the day and a government minister responds at the end of the debate.
Members of Parliament can present a petition to Parliament on behalf of their constituents. The format and wording of the petition need to be in a particular way. For more information or guidance, please contact:
Clerk of Public Petitions
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
What MPs cannot do, however, is have any jurisdiction over local Council decisions. They can write on your behalf to the council and ask them to look into a problem or to reconsider an issue. In the first instance though, constituents should contact their local council or councillor directly.