Role of an MP

What does an MP do?

The UK public elects Members of Parliament (MPs) to represent their interests and concerns in the House of Commons.There are 650 MPs, each representing one area of the country called a constituency. MPs work in Parliament on behalf of all the people in their constituency – even those who did not vote for them. MPs are involved in considering and proposing new laws and can use their position to ask Government Ministers questions about current issues.

In broad terms, MPs split their time between working in Parliament itself, working in the constituency that elected them and working for their political party. Duties in Parliament include participating in debates in the Chamber and Westminster Hall and voting on legislation and other matters. Many members are also involved with Select Committees.

Liz is Chief Secretary to the Treasury. She is a member of the Cabinet. The Cabinet consists of a maximum of twenty-two paid government ministers chosen by the Prime Minister. They can be Members of either House of Parliament. The Cabinet develop government policies and some members head government departments. This means that Liz can not speak in general debates in the House of Commons or ask questions. Nevertheless, Liz is able to raise issues with the relevant government minister by letter or email and is therefore still able to fully represent her constituents. Please see the section below about debates and EDMs to find out more. 

Is Elizabeth your MP?

Find out if Liz is your MP at www.parliament.uk.

What an MP can do for you?

The main roles of a Member of Parliament are to review legislation and to represent local interests in Parliament at Westminster. In the House of Commons, MPs scrutinise legislation, attend debates and committees, and generally protect, advocate and promote the interests of their constituency at a national level.

In the constituency, MPs support local community groups, publicise local issues and endeavour to help constituents resolve any issues that they have by making representations on their behalf and ensuring that their cases are clearly presented. In general, they can help with any issue over which Parliament, a Central Government Department or an Agency has responsibility – including the Home Office and the UK Border Agency, the Ministry of Defence, the Foreign Office, the Department of Health, the Department of Work and Pensions and HM Revenue and Customs.

MPs are not able to solve every problem. They cannot obtain preferential treatment for you or seek to get results outside of the relevant laws or rules. Furthermore, they cannot help with private disputes with other individuals or interfere with court decisions.

MPs can help you with all matters for which Parliament or Central Government is responsible, such as:

  • Tax problems involving the HM Revenue and Customs Department
  • Problems dealt with by the Department for Work and Pensions such as benefits, pensions and National Insurance
  • Problems dealt with by the Home Office, such as immigration
  • Problems dealt with by the Department of Health, such as hospitals and the National Health Service (NHS)
  • Problems dealt with by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, such as school closures and grants

If your problem concerns the Council you should – in the first instance – contact the relevant Council department or service directly. If this does not resolve the matter, you should then approach your local Councillor.

South West Norfolk is served by:

They manage the following services:

  • Schools
  • Adult and Family learning
  • Social services
  • Strategic planning matters
  • Highways
  • Refuse and waste disposal sites
  • Museums and libraries
  • Town planning
  • Environmental health
  • Street cleaning
  • Licensing
  • Housing
  • Benefits
  • Council tax collection
  • Refuse collection
  • Leisure facilities
  • Planning permission and disputes

There are also Parish and Town Councils, which are the most local level of Government. They are independent but work closely with both the MP and District & Borough Councils. If you are unsure of who to go to or you have a problem of a more general nature then your nearest Citizens’ Advice Bureau will be able to guide you.

Debates and Early Day Motions

As Liz is a member of the government, she is unable to raise issues in the House of commons or support Early Day Motions. This is due to a principle known as Cabinet Collective Responsibility, which means that all members of the cabinet must publicly support all governmental decisions made in Cabinet, even if they do not privately agree with them. This support includes voting for the government in the legislature. Liz is still able to raise issues and concerns in writing with government departments on behalf of her constituents.

  • Petition
    • Liz is unable to support petitions. 

    • If you and other people feel very strongly about a certain issue you may decide to organise a petition to the House of Commons. You can obtain advice on petitions by visiting

      Anyone can petition Parliament. All that’s needed is that the petition is properly set out and has the signature and address of at least one person. More Information can be found on http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/have-your-say/petitioning or by writing to:

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

  • Earl Day Motions:

    • Early Day Motions (EDMs) are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons. However, very few are actually debated. EDMs allow MPs to draw attention to an event or cause. MPs register their support by signing individual motions.

    • By convention, Ministers do not sign EDMs as doing so is likely to breach the Ministerial Code’s rules on collective responsibility. Furthermore, Liz has always had a policy of not signing them as they have no legislative effect and cost the taxpayer £400,000 per year.

What is the difference between an MP and a Councillor?

A local Councillor whether town, district or county, represents a ward on their respective Council. An MP represents the whole constituency at Westminster. Councils have responsibility for areas such as education, social services, rubbish collection, and planning all at a local level. An MP debates and votes at Westminster on legislation concerning national and international issues – such as climate change, defence, law and order, economic policy, and health.

Who forms a Government and how?

It takes 326 MPs to form a Government outright. If no party secures this number then the leader of the largest party is usually invited by the Monarch to attempt to form a Coalition with other parties. If no party can form a Government then the largest party can attempt to govern with a “minority government”. However, if the Government loses a vote of confidence in the House of Commons (which it is obviously easier to do if the Government relies on others for its majority) then another election must be held.

Select Committees

A Select Committee is a small group of MPs who are elected by all the other MPs to examine the work of either a specific Government Department or issue. Committees consider policy issues, scrutinise the work and expenditure of the Government, and examine proposals for primary and secondary legislation. They gather written and oral evidence and publish their findings.  The Government then usually has 60 days to reply to the committee’s recommendations.

What are All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs)?

All-Party Groups (APPGs) are informal cross-party groups that have no official status within Parliament. They are essentially run by and for members of the Commons and Lords, although many groups involve individuals and organisations from outside Parliament in their administration and activities.

To find out more visit: http://www.parliament.uk/about/mps-and-lords/members/apg/.

How do I find out more about Parliament?

If you would like to find out more about Parliament visit http://www.parliament.uk/