Working as an MP
There are many misconceptions about the work of MPs and I felt that it might be helpful to list the functions that they exercise.
MPs serve all their constituents, not just the ones who voted for them and I devote myself to working hard on behalf of everyone living and working in Leeds NE. The majority of my work in the constituency consists of taking action on behalf of constituents who ask for my help. Since becoming MP for Leeds NE, my lists now show nearly 11000 items of casework.
The key function of the House of Commons and the House of Lords is to debate and approve new laws and to revise or suspend existing ones. The process of making law is complex and only simple changes can be attempted quickly. The purpose of law is to secure justice, fairness and equality for all citizens and organisations. What is considered fair and just can depend upon political perspectives and so priorities for passing new laws and their purpose will depend upon the philosophy of the party in power. It is possible for members of parliament to promote new laws individually but it is difficult to achieve. The main role of MPs is to carefully examine the purpose of new legislation and the detailed wording. This is done through debate in the House of Commons and through work in specialist committees. Voting in party groups decides the law when there is controversy but much work is achieved through consensus achieved through the process of debate.
If new laws are being framed or amendments are proposed for existing ones, it is very appropriate to communicate and tell me your views if you feel strongly about an issue. Such input is the key to all MPs understanding all the implications of any legislative change and deciding accordingly what is fair and just. Real concerns can then be brought to the attention of the lawyers writing the wording of the law and many detailed but important changes are secured in this way.
MPs and members of the House of Lords from the majority political party (or the coalition which operates currently) form the pool of people from which the Prime Minister chooses the government (or executive). MPs occupying posts of responsibility are called ministers and the key positions are given to MPs who will be in charge of major government departments such as Education or Defence. The government runs the country, taking the key decisions on a day-to-day basis. Those MPs who have government posts also have to undertake all the usual work linked to their constituency.
As all members of the government are either MPs or members of the House of Lords, they are held to account by their colleagues. Constituents who are dissatisfied with the work of any member of the government can make their views known to their MP and such information is great value. It is obviously more difficult for me to have any influence on government policy and actions now that Labour is no longer in power but I will play my part in opposition to challenge the decisions of the ruling Conservative Party where I feel that its actions are wrong.
It is of absolute and overriding importance that MPs continually check that government is working fairly and efficiently and to ensure that its actions and decisions are appropriate. This not only applies to the work of government ministers but also to all the institutions of government for which they are responsible. In addition, MPs also have the responsibility to ensure that government policy is working in the way intended, for example measures that might be expected to reduce unemployment or promote investment. Scrutiny is most often undertaken through the work of parliamentary select committees on which MPs sit. Meetings are open to the public. Ministers and civil servants are interviewed in depth about their work.
If you find that government institutions are not working for properly for you, it is very important that you tell me. Major issues can be addressed through select committees but often most useful of all is a letter from me to the minister responsible who can ensure that each case of concern can be looked at. The principle of scrutiny dictates that answers and explanations must be given and frequently this process can clear up errors and generate greater efficiency. When I write to ministers on behalf of constituents I always pass on the response I receive.