What can an MP do?

Members of Parliament (MPs) 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. To check if you are one of Mel's constituents, please enter your postcode on the Parliament website.

MPs consider and vote on legislation and use their position to ask government ministers questions about current issues. When a constituent writes to an MP, he or she will write to the relevant department or official or the Minister involved. If a constituent is happy for the issue to be made public, MPs can ask an oral or written question, secure a debate or even petition Parliament itself.

MPs split their time between working in Parliament and working in their constituency. In Parliament, MPs spend time attending debates, scrutinising and voting on legislation, attending meetings and lobbying ministers on issues that are important to their constituents. In their consituencies MPs spend time with local organisations, businesses, schools, charities and other important groups, providing help or support where they can and making sure that concerns in their constituency are feed back directly to Government ministers in Westminster. They may also organise ministers to visit their constituency. In Central Devon Mel has brought the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to Chagford and the Secretary of State for Transport to Okehampton. During the flooding in 2012 Mel hosted a visit from then Prime Minister David Cameron to Buckfastleigh.

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 MPs can also table a written question to the relevant government department, which are published in Hansard.

Adjournment Debates

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 more information or guidance, please contact:

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

www.parliament.uk/get-involved/have-your-say/petitioning/public-petitions

MPs do not have any jurisdiction over local council decisions but 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.