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 organisations and businesses.
Members of Parliament are able to help with all matters for which Parliament or central government is responsible:
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills http://www.bis.gov.uk Tel: 020 7215 5000
Responsible for Government policy on business, trade, enterprise, universities, further education and science.
Department for Culture, Media and Sport http://www.culture.gov.uk Tel: 020 7211 6000
Responsible for Government policy on culture, the arts, media, gambling, the national lottery, sport and the Olympics.
Foreign Office http://www.fco.gov.uk Tel: 020 7008 1500
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 http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk Tel: 020 7035 4745
Responsible for Government policy on crime, the police, counter terrorism, alcohol, drugs, immigration and passports.
Department for Defence http://www.mod.uk Tel: 020 7218 9000
Responsible for Government policy on all defence issues.
Department for Education http://www.education.gov.uk Tel: 0370 000 2288
Responsible for Government policy on schools in England, children, young people, families, education and training for 16 to 19 year olds, school standards and teacher training.
Department for Energy and Climate Change http://www.decc.gov.uk Tel: 0300 060 4000
Responsible for Government policy on energy and climate change.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs http://www.defra.gov.uk Tel: 08459 33 55 77
Responsible for Government policy on the natural environment, food, farming, fisheries, animal health and welfare, rural communities and environmental protection.
Department of Health http://www.dh.gov.uk Tel: 020 7210 4850
Responsible for Government policy on Health and provides strategic leadership for public health, the NHS and social care in England.
Department for International Development http://www.dfid.gov.uk Tel: 0845 300 4100
Responsible for Government policy on international development and foreign aid.
Ministry of Justice http://www.justice.gov.uk Tel: 020 3334 3555
Responsible for Government policy on the Courts, the Probation Service and Prisons.
Department for Transport http://www.dft.gov.uk Tel: 0300 330 3000
Responsible for Government policy on aviation, roads, rail and shipping
HM Treasury http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk Tel: 020 7270 5000
Responsible for Government policy on economics, finance and taxation
Department for Work and Pensions http://www.dwp.gov.uk
Responsible for Government policy on welfare and pension policy, including pensions, the child support agency and job centres.
Department for Communities and Local Government http://www.communities.gov.uk Tel: 0303 444 0000
Responsible for building regulations, community cohesion, decentralisation, fire services and resilience, housing, local government, planning, race equality, the Thames Gateway and urban regeneration.
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.
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.
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
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.