title="Baldons Parish Council in Oxfordshire">

From Our MP, September 2021

From John Howell MP


An overarching question asked of many MPs is what does an MP do? There is no job description, and each MP has to work out the best way to pursue the role for themselves. The last 18 months have forced some changes in working patterns and some forced changes have proved to be for the better. For example I intend to continue doing my advice surgeries virtually as this has proved to be very popular.


The main task for an MP is to consider and propose new laws as well as raise issues relating to the constituency or constituents. This is not always easy as contentious and divisive issues are often debated with several differing views. These tend to be the issues that the media is quick to pick on. For my part I think it is important to listen to different views and to weigh up arguments. I am happy to have robust but polite debate, but an MP is not a delegate and in the end, as with the rest of my colleagues, I have to make my own judgement on how I respond on any particular issue. With a Party-political system is will be no surprise that an MP on the whole supports the Party on whose manifesto they stood for election.


For the most part an MPs time is divided between working in Parliament and working in their constituency. When Parliament is sitting MPs are generally expected to be in Westminster from Monday to Thursday. Outside of sitting weeks there is more time for constituency meetings and visits.


When in Westminster every day brings competing demands on an MP's time. Days can include time spent scrutinising legislation, attending debates, ministerial question sessions, committees, briefings and other meetings, and also responding to correspondence. These competing demands mean that it is not always possible to attend a particular debate or drop-in session that a someone may ask me to attend, although I do try to fit in as much as I can each week. 


MPs do not have any jurisdiction over local council decisions. Thus the primary focus of questions that MPs raise will be relating to Parliament and the work of Government departments such as the NHS, HM Revenue and Customs, and the Department of Work and Pensions. These questions may arise from an MP’s own concerns or may be on behalf of constituents. Questions can be formal written or oral questions however I have found that it is often better to discuss issues privately with Ministers. With local issues MPs can write to councils on behalf of a constituent, and this is something that I often do. However there are locally elected representatives to these councils who should really be the first point to contact for council issues. I will write more about this in a later newsletter.


If you have an issue that you would like to raise with me, if possible, please email me at john.howell.mp@parliament.uk. If you cannot email you can still write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1 0AA or PO Box 84, Watlington, OX49 5XD. To find out more about my work please do visit my website which is regularly updated on key issues. www.johnhowell.org.uk.