This section is designed to answer any questions you may have about my role as your Member of Parliament (MP) and how I can help you.
What is an MP?
MPs are elected to the House of Commons to represent the interests and concerns of all the people who live in their constituency (called constituents), whether they voted for them at the General Election or not. The House of Commons is made up of 650 MPs, each representing one constituency. South Cambridgeshire constituency has approximately 84,000 constituents and my role is to represent them to the best of my ability in Parliament.
MPs consider and vote on legislation and use their position to ask government ministers questions about current issues. They split their time between working in Parliament and working in the constituency. In Parliament, MPs spend their time fighting for the interests of their constituents, attending debates, scrutinising and voting on legislation, and attending meetings. In the constituency, MPs hold advice surgeries for their constituents to come and talk to them about local issues and problems, attend meetings and community events, as well as visiting local organisations and businesses.
What MPs can do to help you:
MPs can try to help their constituents with all matters for which Parliament or central government is responsible, such as:
• HM Revenue and Customs - tax or national insurance problems.
• Department for Work and Pensions - benefits and pension problems.
• Home Office - problems with immigration and passports.
• Department of Health - problems with hospitals and the National Health Service (NHS)
Strict Parliamentary protocol dictates that Members of Parliament should only take up issues raised by their own constituents. I can therefore only help you if you are a resident of the South Cambridgeshire constituency, and you can check using your postcode on my homepage here.
What MPs cannot do:
MPs cannot intervene with legal matters or court cases, nor can they interfere with decisions previously made in court. They are also not qualified to provide any legal or financial advice. An MP is not able to assist in settling family arguments or private disputes with neighbours, employers or consumer matters.
If your problem relates to a matter devolved to local government (i.e. ‘the council’), you must have exhausted the internal complaints procedure there before contacting me. Local Government is two-tier in our area meaning the delivery of services is split between Cambridgeshire County Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council:
Cambridgeshire County Council manage services including: highways, schools, social services, libraries and heritage.
South Cambridgeshire District Council manage services including: planning and building control, refuse collection, benefits, council tax collection, parking, housing and leisure.
As an MP, I have no jurisdiction over planning applications or parking concerns. However, if you have exhausted the authority’s complaints procedure, I may write to the them on your behalf to ensure they have fully considered your concerns.
If you are unsure of to whom you should direct your concern or have a problem of a more general nature then your nearest Citizens' Advice Bureau will be able to guide you.
How does an MP help with a problem?
MPs can help with a problem by:
- Writing on your behalf to the relevant department or official.
- Writing on your behalf to the minister concerned with that facet of policy.
- In some cases, an MP may be able to raise a matter in the House of Commons, where it will be officially recorded
Many problems can be solved in this way, but sadly not all of them will be - the department or minister may not be able to provide the answer you seek. Please be aware that if the decision has been made in the correct way, there may be little further support I can give at that stage.
There are a number of ombudsmen available to consider specific issues. These are independent organisations tasked to assess complaints in a fair-minded way. Each is responsible for a different aspect of policy - the Financial Ombudsman, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman etc., and all have greater powers than a Member of Parliament when it comes to their findings and recommendations. As such, if you have already raised your case with the relevant ombudsman and it has been unable to assist, it is highly unlikely that I will be able to do more.
With each, the complainant must refer their case directly via the forms on the ombudsman’s website - you are very welcome to copy me in for ease of reference.
What else can my MP do?
As a rule, I do not sign Early Day Motions as they are not an effective means to achieve a change in policy and cost the taxpayer considerable sums each year with no useful outcome. I am, however, happy to attend debates as requested if diary constraints allow.
If you are unsure as to whether I can help, please do telephone my office on 020 7219 8089 for advice.