What can an MP do?

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 or not they voted for them at the General Election. MPs 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.

Their time is split between working in Parliament and working in their constituency. In Parliament, MPs spend their time fighting for the interests of their constituents, attending debates, scrutinising and voting on legislation, and attending meetings.

In their constituency, MPs host advice surgeries for their constituents to come and talk to them about local issues and problems, attend meetings and community events, as well as visiting local organisations and businesses.

Please note MPs do not have any jurisdiction over local Council decisions. However, they can write to a local Council and ask them to look into a problem or to reconsider an issue. In the first instance, constituents should contact their local Council or Councillor.

Members of Parliament are able to help with all matters for which Parliament or central government is responsible:

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills 
Responsible for Government policy on business, trade, enterprise, universities, further education and science.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport 
Responsible for Government policy on culture, the arts, media, gambling, the national lottery and sport.

Foreign Office 
Responsible for Government policy on foreign affairs and diplomacy. The Foreign Office is also responsible for Consular services, travel advice and sanctions implemented by the UK.

Home Office 
Responsible for Government policy on crime, the police, counter terrorism, alcohol, drugs, immigration and passports.

Department for Defence 
Responsible for Government policy on all defence issues.

Department for Energy and Climate Change 
Responsible for Government policy on energy and climate change.

Department for International Development
Responsible for Government policy on international development and foreign aid.

Department for Transport 
Responsible for Government policy on aviation, roads, rail and shipping.

HM Treasury 
Responsible for Government policy on economics, finance and taxation.

Department for Work and Pensions 
Responsible for Government policy on welfare and pension policy, including pensions, the child support agency and job centres.

Writing to your MP
When a constituent writes to their MP, they will then write to the relevant department, or official, or the Minister involved. Many problems are often solved in this manner.

Alternatively, if a constituent is happy for the issue to be made public, an MP can ask an oral or written question, secure a debate, or petition Parliament.

Oral or Written Questions
Once a month each minister from each Government department answer questions from MPs at the Dispatch Box. There is a limit to the number of questions that can be asked. MPs can also table a written question to the relevant Government department, which are published in Hansard.

Adjournment Debate
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.

Petition
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 further information or guidance, please contact:

Clerk of Public Petitions
Journal Office
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA