What you can do:
How can your MP or a member of the House of Lords help your campaign?
One of the simplest things an MP can do for you is to write a letter to a government minister. An MP should get a non-standard response, directly from the minister. The MP may not agree with your point of view but is obliged to write to the relevant minister outlining your concerns and asking for a reply. The MP will then forward this reply to you.
Other actions that MPs can take include signing up to a parliamentary motion showing support for a particular issue, asking a specific question in Parliament, or requesting a debate in Parliament. In general the support of your MP can help to 'open doors' that will help you to progress your campaign.
If you are holding an event invite your MP along. Their name, alongside other prominent local people, at the head of a petition may encourage others to sign and their involvement in your campaign may help to get local press interested. But be careful not to be too closely aligned to one political party if you are worried about appealing to the widest possible audience.
Is is worth keeping in touch with my MP? Yes. The more MPs hear about an issue from their constituents, the more likely they are to take action.
Do I need to be an expert? No, MPs need to keep on top of a wide range of issues. Often you will know more about a particular issue than your MP. And your MP may well be grateful for any information you can provide.
Does it matter which party my MP belongs to? No. The party in power formulates current government policy, but all MPs have influence that they can use in Parliament or in the Government.
What if my MP shows no particular interest in the use of private healthcare providers in the NHS?
Even if your MP does not immediately appear to be interested in the use of private healthcare providers in the NHS, it's essential for you to keep raising your concerns. It may take time to see results, but it is worth persisting. Ultimately it is always MPs' responsibility to pass on the issues you raise, whatever their own priorities.
MPs may well take up your case as an individual or group if you have already been in touch with other agencies and have not had a satisfactory result. They can contact the agencies and take matters up with them directly. They will be more likely to take up a case for you if you are contacting them as a "last resort" and can show that you have already tried to sort out the matter yourself, but have hit a dead end.
MPs are also very useful if you are contacting the media. If your local MP is involved in an issue, you are more likely to get media interest in your campaign, which will mean more publicity. Photocalls with your MP are a particularly good way of gaining media interest. You can also ask for your MP's comments on an issue before you present your story to the press, television or radio. The media will be more likely to seek the opinion of the MP when they write the story. This will get the story more publicity and also make sure the MP states their view publicly.
If your MP sees a link between your issue and a wider problem, they will be more likely to take it up in Westminster. It is a good idea to look for ways in which your issue might be part of the wider political picture. A good MP should do what they can, both locally and nationally, to support your case, and should be able to give you an idea of how they can help you.
How to contact your MP
Remember that it is your MP's job to represent you. It doesn't matter whether or not you voted for them.
If you can't remember who your MP is, you can find out (and send an e-mail) by filling in your postcode below:
Otherwise you can find out who your MP is from the local library or Citizens Advice Bureau, or you can contact the electoral registration office at your local town hall. Alternatively you can consult the website www.parliament.co.uk.
You can write to your MP or go to see them. You should always write first. Most MPs hold a "surgery" in their constituency, where you can see them personally. It is usually held once a week or once a month. Details of the surgery are often advertised in local newspapers, or you can try asking at your local library. Alternatively, you can contact them through their office at the House of Commons. Address your letter as follows:
Name of MP
House of Commons
You can also telephone your MP's office there. The number is: 020 7219 3000.
You can use our templates as a basis for your letter. Don't forget to add your MP or peer's name, the date, and to sign it!
Meeting your MP
You can meet your MP at their surgery, or you can ask them to attend a more formal meeting with a group of you to discuss issues. This gives them a bit of information about your campaign and means they will have the time to find out more before you meet, so you will be able to have a more productive discussion. Keep your letter short and to the point - preferably about one side of A4. Follow your letter with a telephone call to arrange a meeting.
When you meet your MP, be clear about what you want to say and what you want them to do. Bring your facts and show clearly why you need what you are asking for. Include somebody in the group who has personal experience of the issues you are talking about, so they can explain how they have been affected. If it is relevant, point out how many people in the constituency you represent, or how many people are affected by your issue.
Everybody has a right to visit their MP at the House of Commons and to ask to speak to them about their concerns. MPs have to make every effort to meet constituents when they do this. Making the effort to lobby your MP this way will show them you think the issue is really important. Mass lobbies of Parliament are a good way of letting Mps know how strongly people feel. Lots of people attending a lobby at the House of Commons can attract media attention, especially if the people attending represent different groups of people. Mass lobbies are usually organised by local or national pressure groups.
The advantages and disadvantages of a lobby of Parliament are very similar to a lobby of your local council. There are rules concerning lobbies of Parliament, so make sure you are aware of these. For parliamentary lobbies, you will need to contact the House of Commons' Sergeant at Arms. If you are expecting a large number of people, you should also contact the police.