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.
They split their time between working in Parliament and working in the 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 the constituency, MPs hold 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 schools, organisations and businesses etc.
Members of Parliament are able to help with all matters for which Parliament or central government is responsible. 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. You can find out who your local councillor is at www.writetothem.com
When a constituent writes to their MP, they will write to the relevant department or official or the Minister involved. Many problems are solved in this way. 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.
Attorney General's Office Tel: 020 7271 2492
The Attorney General's Office (AGO) provides legal advice and support to the Attorney General and the Solicitor General (the Law Officers) who give legal advice to government. The AGO helps the Law Officers perform other duties in the public interest, such as looking at sentences which may be too low.
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Tel: 020 7215 5000
The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) is the department for economic growth. The department invests in skills and education to promote trade, boost innovation and help people to start and grow a business. BIS also protects consumers and reduces the impact of regulation.
Department for Culture, Media and Sport Tel: 020 7211 6000
The Department for Culture, Media & Sport is here to help make Britain the world’s most creative and exciting place to live, visit and do business. It is responsible for Government policy on culture, the arts, media, gambling, the national lottery, UK sport and 2012 Olympic and Paralympic legacy.
Foreign & Commonwealth Office Tel: 020 7008 1500
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office promotes the United Kingdom's interests overseas, supporting our citizens and businesses around the globe. It is responsible for Government policy on foreign affairs, diplomacy, Consular services, travel advice and sanctions implemented by the UK.
Home Office Tel: 020 7035 4745
The Home Office leads on immigration and passports, drugs policy, crime policy and counter-terrorism and works to ensure visible, responsive and accountable policing in the UK.
Ministry of Defence Tel: 020 7218 9000
The Ministry of Defence protects the security, independence and interests of our country at home and abroad. It works with our allies and partners whenever possible. Its aim is to ensure that the armed forces have the training, equipment and support necessary for their work, and that we keep within budget.
Department for Education Tel: 0370 000 2288
The Department for Education is responsible for education and children’s services in England. It works to achieve a highly educated society in which opportunity is equal for children and young people, no matter what their background or family circumstances.
Department of Energy and Climate Change Tel: 0300 060 4000
The Department of Energy & Climate Change works to make sure the UK has secure, clean, affordable energy supplies and promote international action to mitigate climate change.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Tel: 08459 33 55 77
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is responsible for Government policy on the natural environment, food, farming, fisheries, animal health and welfare, rural communities and environmental protection.
Department of Health Tel: 020 7210 4850
The Department of Health helps people to live better for longer. We lead, shape and fund health and care in England, making sure people have the support, care and treatment they need, with the compassion, respect and dignity they deserve.
Department for International Development Tel: 0845 300 4100
The Department for International Development (DFID) leads the UK’s work to end extreme poverty. We're ending the need for aid by creating jobs, unlocking the potential of girls and women and helping to save lives when humanitarian emergencies hit.
Ministry of Justice Tel: 020 3334 3555
The Ministry of Justice works to protect the public and reduce reoffending, and to provide a more effective, transparent and responsive criminal justice system for victims and the public.
Department for Transport Tel: 0300 330 3000
The Department for Transport work with various agencies and partners to support the transport network that helps the UK’s businesses and gets people and goods travelling around the country. The Department plans and invests in transport infrastructure to keep the UK on the move.
HM Treasury Tel: 020 7270 5000
HM Treasury is the government’s economic and finance ministry, maintaining control over public spending, setting the direction of the UK’s economic policy and working to achieve strong and sustainable economic growth.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is responsible for welfare, pensions and child maintenance policy. As the UK’s biggest public service department it administers the State Pension and a range of working age, disability and ill health benefits to over 22 million claimants and customers.
Department for Communities and Local Government Tel: 0303 444 0000
The Department for Communities and Local Government's job is to create great places to live and work, and to give more power to local people to shape what happens in their area.
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: hansard.digiminster.com
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, Journal Office, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA