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Constituents often approach their MP with an issue, as they are unsure who else could help them. An MP’s role is to provide assistance and advice. A local councillor will usually attend their constituency surgeries to assist those constituents whose problems are connected with services provided by local authorities such as dustbins, housing repairs or simply to help ensure your voice is heard.
In public life, Members of Parliament are expected to adhere to high standards. The House of Commons has a Code of Conduct, which is backed up by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and the Committee on Standards and Privileges. The Code of Conduct is available on www.parliament.uk and provides guidance to MPs on expected standards of conduct.
Key role of MP
An MP’s key role is to help only with matters for which Parliament or central government is responsible. Problems often arise with work carried out by central government departments. Your MP will be able to help you with areas such as tax problems involving the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise Departments (but not areas such as council tax, which is paid to your local authority); problems dealt with by the Department of Health such as hospitals and the National Health Service; problems dealt with by the Department of Social Security such as benefits, pensions and National Insurance (but not problems with the social services department of your local authority); problems dealt with by the Home Office such as immigration and matters like school closures and grants, which are dealt with by the Department for Education and Employment (but not day to day problems involving schools, which are run by their governors and your local education authority).
What your MP cannot help with
Your MP is not able to help you with private disputes involving other individuals or companies who have sold you faulty goods. MPs also cannot interfere with decisions made by the courts.
You should know
If you are thinking about contacting your MP, you should first consider if he / she is the right option. There may be others who could be of more direct help than your MP. For example, if you have a complaint about your local council services, please approach your local councillor in the first instance. Otherwise, the Citizens Advice Bureau will be able to assist you with issues of a more general nature.
Your MP has a responsibility to:
Once your MP is elected, it is their responsibility to represent all the people of their constituency in Parliament, regardless of political affiliation. Your MP is there to assist you regarding all matters for which Parliament or central government is responsible.
If your issue does require your MP’s involvement, he/she can utilise a number of methods to try and resolve the issue:
- A letter from your MP to the relevant department or person can often lead to a solution;
- Escalate even further by writing to the Minister involved;
- Make an appointment to meet with the Minister in person.
Many problems can be resolved using one of the above-mentioned methods. Sometimes there is little, if anything, that the Minister can do and you may be given an unsatisfactory answer. If the issue has been dealt with using the appropriate channels and within acceptable timeframes, then there will be little you can do. However, if procedures have not been followed or there have been unacceptable delays, your MP can escalate the case to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. It is important to note that the Ombudsman can only be approached via your MP. However, they do have a website, which provides information on making a complaint: http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/
Your local Council complaints
The Commissioner for Local Administration (Local Government Ombudsman) is responsible for dealing with possible maladministration in local government matters with the exceptions of parking and planning. Your local council must be given the opportunity to deal with the complaint in the first instance, generally by following their internal complaints procedures, assuming the procedures are in place. If you are dissatisfied with the outcome, you can write to the Local Government Ombudsman after 12 weeks from officially raising a complaint or ask a councillor to write to the Government Ombudsman on your behalf. Please note that you can raise a case against your local council through resolver for free.
What if you are not satisfied with your MP’s response?
There are no formal complaints procedures is you are dissatisfied with the service provided by your MP. resolver has built a complaints process to help you out and if you are not satisfied you can escalate your case to the Chief Whip of your MP’s party. If the issue is still not resolved you can escalate your case to the Head of the Party.
resolver will help
resolver will help you submit your issue to your MP for free, remind you what to do and when and record all communications.
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