You and your MP
In the House of Commons there are 651 MPs (Members of Parliament), each representing one area of the country called a constituency. As your MP I gained the right to represent you and the constituency when I received more votes than any of the other candidates at the last election. It is now my job, as I see it, to work in Parliament on behalf of all the people in the Mansfield constituency - even those who did not vote for me. So, even if you voted for one of the other candidates and you strongly disagree with the views of my political party, I am still your MP, there to help you with all matters for which Parliament or Central Government is responsible.
The Role of an MP
- How to contact your MP
- What can your MP do to help You?
- How your MP deals with problems
- Raising matters in the House
- Campaigns (Lobbying)
- Varied Responsibilities of Your MP
- Tours of the Palace of Westminster - visiting the Gallery
How to contact your MP
By letter:- The best way to make contact is to write to me at my constituency office or via the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA. If I am away I have made arrangements for my letters to be dealt with, so it is better to send letters here than to my home address. Sending a letter about a problem is a good idea, as it provides me with all the details of your case to which I may find it useful to refer to later.
By Telephone:- You can telephone, my constituency office in Mansfield, between the hours of 10.00am and 4.00pm Monday to Friday except on Wednesday when you can ring between 10.00am and 12.00 noon.
A telephone answering machine is on 24 hours per day outside of these times, though it might be worth remembering that staff may be working busily in the office and have difficulty in absorbing complicated information on the telephone. For this reason it is better to write.
By E-mail:- I am available 24 hours a day on the information superhighway. Send your messages, comments or queries to me at my email address.
In person:- When the House of Commons is sitting you will be allowed access to the Central Lobby to see me in Parliament. However, it is best to make an appointment before doing so, as I might have an engagement elsewhere, or have to be in the Chamber or appearing at Legislation Committee and I would not want you to have a wasted journey. To address such difficulties , as stated above I operate a full time Parliamentary Office in my constituency, which is open 5 days a week to help you contact me or make arrangements.
Remember I am only the Member of parliament for people living in the Mansfield Constituency so whichever method you choose, you should be sure to contact your own MP. (There is a protocol rule in Parliament that a MP should not deal with problems of another MP's constituents.)
See Contact Details for Phone, Fax, Email, Address, and Map.back to top
What can your MP do to help You?
As your Member of Parliament I am not in Parliament to deal with all the problems that you might have. For instance I am not there to help you in private disputes as they may be with others of my constituents. I am not there to interfere with decisions made by the court, except when a clear case of innocence or wrongful verdict is apparent. I am, however, there to help with matters for which Parliament or Central Government is responsible. So, if your complaint is about local authority services like dustbins, housing repairs or playing fields, you should contact your local councillor. (A list of Councillors by Ward is available on the Mansfield District Council Web Site).
Only if I can not be gained from this quarter should I then be contacted on such matters.
As your MP I am normally very generous about giving advice on all sorts of things, but as I have in excess of 100,000 constituents to look after, it is important that I do not have to spend time diverting queries which should have been taken elsewhere.The sort of things I as your MP can help with mainly relate to work carried out by Central Government. These include:
- Tax problems involving the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise Departments of Central Government (but not rates, or their equivalent, which are paid to the local authority)
- Problems with the Department of Health - hospitals, the national Health Service
- The Department of Social Security: Pensions and national Insurance
- Immigration, which is dealt with by the Home Office, and
- Matters like school closures and grants, which are administered by the Department of Education Science.
If you feel, upon reflection, that your problem really concerns the local council rather than Central Government you should contact your local district or county councillor.back to top
How your MP deals with problems
Where your problem does involve central governing, I as your MP, have several methods of help at my disposal. Often, a letter to the local tax office DSS office or district health official will provide a solution. If not, I may decide to take matters a stage further by writing to the Minister involved, or even arranging to see the Minister in person.
Many constituency problems will be solved in this way but not all problems have and easy solution.
The Minister may not be able to give the answer you wanted to hear but if the decision has been made in the right way there may be little that can be done. If, on the other hand, there has been unnecessary delay, or if some essential procedure has been missed out (i.e. if there has been maladministration), I may be able to take your case to the Ombudsman (Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration). He is sometimes able to solve such cases, where there has been administrative incompetence. This Ombudsman can only be approached via your MP. The Health Service Commissioner can provide similar help where the problem involves the NHS. There is also a Commissioner for local Administration (the Local Ombudsman) who deals with possible maladministration in local government matters. He or she should be approached through you local councillor.back to top
Raising matters in the House
All the methods discussed so far allow problems to be kept confidential. In some cases if I, as your Member of Parliament, am not satisfied with the answers I have received, I may feel there is something to be gained by raising the matter in the House of Commons, in front of the press and public. I may decide to put the Minister on the spot at Question Time one afternoon or in a half-hour Adjournment Debate (usually held last thing at night). This can certainly produce results and sometimes the publicity may be helpful in persuading a Minister to change his mind. At other times I may refer simply to draw attention to the matter by what is called an Early Day Motion (so-called for historical and procedural reasons) which will highlight the issue.back to top
If you and other people feel strongly about a certain issue, you may decide to organise a petition to the House of Commons. Your petition will have to be presented by me as your Member of Parliament. It must also be arranged in a particular format. You can obtain advice on this by writing to the Clerk of Public Petitions, Journal Office, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or alternatively by contacting my office in Mansfield.back to top
Members of Parliament are often contacted by constituents campaigning on behalf of a particular cause, perhaps representing an organised pressure group. In such circumstances it is up to me as you MP to decide whether to take any action, or to participate in any way.back to top
Varied Responsibilities of Your MP
As your MP I will generally do everything I can to help my constituents, but I will not be able to support every cause, nor will I be able to get the desired solution to every individual problem. For instance I may not be willing to support one constituent if in doing so I will deprive another of my support. At times a constituent's demands may conflict with many other considerations and as your MP I will have to decide where my first loyalty should lie. In some cases this will result in me supporting the minority against the majority opinion.
As your MP I have to use my judgment. I am not, on any particular issue, simply expected to go along with whichever opinion is most popular in the constituency. Whilst I greatly value the opinions of my constituents there will be times when I will not share them. Rather, as your MP, I have to decide what is in the best interest of the nation. To this end I have to act as guardian of the taxpayers' money whilst at the same time being able critically to examine the Government's work.
It is a commonly held belief in Government circles that if constituents can bear in mind the wider responsibilities of their MP they should find him or her a most useful ally and source of advice when they are in difficulties. It is something which I agree with and try always, through my work and support staff, to achieve.back to top
Tours of the Palace of Westminster - visiting the Gallery
As your MP I can issue a limited number of passes to allow constituents to tour the Houses of Parliament or visit the Public Gallery. There is a great deal of demand for these facilities and you are advised to contact my office well in advance - two or three months is not too soon - and be as flexible as possible in choice of dates. Please note that because there are 651 MPs, tickets for Parliament are extremely limited as each individual MP is only allowed only 2 tickets every 6 weeks for Prime Minister's Question Time.
I hope this information is useful to you. Please contact me if you need further advice.
ALAN MEALE MPback to top