Unless someone has worked in parliament or is familiar with how it works, it is tricky to know what an MP actually does. So I thought I’d let you know some of the duties of an MP.
First things first, we spend quite some time in the Chamber of the House of Commons, where we listen and contribute to debates. We also vote at the end of certain debates to either pass a motion on which the house agrees or reject one which does not have majority support and we frequently vote on new legislation. The sense of responsibility is as strong today as when I was first elected in 2005. It is a true privilege to have been elected and to be able to shape our country’s future.
As well as debating and voting, many of us are also involved in All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs). These are like interest groups for Parliamentarians to discuss and forward important issues, and have great value to the policy making process. I am Chair of the APPG on Financial Technology as well as the APPG on Freedom of Speech. The latter has been especially exciting recently, as we have hosted packed out and incredibly productive events about the Online Safety Bill. We have brought in people and stakeholders from a very wide range of areas, including social media companies, gay rights activists, human rights campaigners and legal experts – everyone contributing to lively and robust debate, with the Minister giving us some of his valuable time to listen and discuss the Government’s position.
A particular highlight of my time in Westminster is my involvement with the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST) which I have chaired for the last decade. I have a longstanding passion for science and reason, going all the way back to my student years, and was the Shadow Minister for Science many moons ago. POST produce impartial world-respected briefings for MPs – in the form of POSTNotes – that offer a comprehensive, peer reviewed and incredibly well researched insight into the science and evidence around a policy area under debate. This enables parliamentarians to understand the area on which they legislate. These briefings can be found online, and I would highly recommend taking advantage of this wonderful free resource.
Of course a key part of my job is responding to constituents and assisting where possible. I often have up to 1,000 incoming emails, letters and calls each week. In recent weeks Ukrainian refugee visas and accommodation have featured highly. This is a valuable part of the role of an MP and it enables us to feed back to Ministers and colleagues who make the key decisions. I like to keep abreast of the incoming correspondence, as it offers a real insight into what constituents are thinking and feeling.
Alongside these responsibilities come my many meetings with constituents, door-knocking, campaigning and constituency engagements such as visits to local schools, clubs, fetes, businesses and sporting events.
In Parliament every week is different. We often sit until 11pm, even sometimes beyond midnight, and my diary is always full to the brim with activity! There is so much more that I cannot describe all that MPs do in this column because I’m running out of spac…