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 can only deal with issues raised by people who live in their constituency, called ‘constituents.’

You can find out if Angela is your MP using the Postcode Checker on the UK Parliament website.

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 Councillors.

You can find your local Councillors by clicking here.

Reserved and Devolved Matters

Since the Scottish Parliament reconvened in 1999, decision-making power is now split between MPs at Westminster and MSPs in Holyrood. Issues decided at Westminster are said to be ‘Reserved’ while issues decided by the Scottish Parliament are ‘Devolved’.

Therefore, MPs can only assist constituents with matters reserved to the UK Parliament.

Below is a list of reserved and devolved matters.

Reserved Matters – UK Parliamentary Responsibility at Westminster (includes but not limited to):

  • Benefits and Social Security
  • Broadcasting
  • Consumer Rights
  • Data Protection
  • Defence
  • Employment
  • Foreign Policy
  • Immigration
  • Nuclear Energy, Oil, Coal, Gas, and Electricity
  • Trade and Industry
  • The Constitution

Devolved Matters – Scottish Parliamentary Responsibility at Holyrood (includes but not limited to):

  • Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries
  • Education and Training
  • Environment
  • Health and Social Services
  • Housing
  • Law and Order
  • Local Government
  • Sport and The Arts
  • Tourism and Economic Development
  • Many Aspects of Transport

You can find out more about Reserved and Devolved Matters by clicking here.

You can find your local MSPs by clicking here.

Therefore, MPs can help with the following matters which Parliament or Central Government is responsible for:

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
Responsible for Government policy on business, industrial strategy, science, research and innovation, energy and clean growth, and climate change.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ministry of Defence
Responsible for Government policy on all defence issues.

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