What is an MP?
Members of Parliament are elected to the House of Commons to represent the interests and concerns of all the people who live in their constituency, whether they voted for them at the General Election or not. Totnes constituency has approximately 70,000 constituents.
MPs are only able to deal with issues raised by people who live in their constituency. To check if you are one of Anthony's constituents, please enter your postcode on the Parliament website .
What does an MP do?
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, Anthony spends his time fighting for the interests of all his constituents, attending debates, scrutinising and voting on legislation, and attending meetings. Back in the constituency, Anthony holds advice surgeries for his constituents (where they can come and talk to him about any local issues and problems), attend meetings and community events, and he also visits local organisations and businesses across the constituency.
What can my MP do to help me?
An MP can try to help you with all matters for which Parliament or central government is responsible, such as:
- HM Revenue and Customs Department (problems with tax or national insurance)
- Department for Work and Pensions (problems with benefits and pensions)
- Home Office (problems with immigration and passports)
- Department of Health (problems with hospitals and the National Health Service (NHS).
What an MP cannot do
An MP cannot:
- Intervene with legal matters or court cases, nor interfere with decisions previously made in court.
- Provide any financial or business advice.
- Assist in settling family arguments or private disputes with neighbours, employers or consumer matters.
- Have any jurisdiction over local Council decisions. Anthony can write to the council on your behalf and ask them to look into a problem or to reconsider an issue. In the first instance though, constituents should contact their local council or councillor directly.
If your problem concerns the Local Government (Council), you should have exhausted the internal complaints procedure at the Council before you contact Anthony. Find your local representative along with their responsibilities here: https://www.writetothem.com/
Totnes constituents have several elected representatives at different levels of government.
- The unitary authority for those living in Torbay is Torbay Council, which is responsible for all aspects of local services and policy, including planning, transport, roads, public rights of way, education, social services and libraries.
- The South Hams are has two-tier local government, meaning that Devon County Council is responsible for issues such as education and social care while South Hams District Council is responsible for issues such as planning and rubbish collections.
If you are unsure of who to go to or you have a problem of a more general nature then your nearest Citizens' Advice Bureau will be able to guide you.
How does my MP deal with my issue?
When a constituent writes to Anthony, he might write to the relevant department or official or the Minister involved. Many problems are solved in this way although complex cases may take a longer to resolve.
Alternatively, if a constituent is happy for the issue to be made public, Anthony can ask an oral or written question, secure a debate or even petition Parliament itself.
- Oral or Written Questions: Once a month each minister from each government department answer questions from MPs at the Despatch Box in the Chamber of the House. There is a limit to the number of questions that can be asked but Anthony can also table a written question to the relevant government department, which are published in Hansard .
- Adjournment Debates: MPs may be able to raise a constituent’s issue in a half-hour Adjournment Debate. To get an Adjournment Debate, MPs must be successful in a ballot of Members of Parliament or have the subject chosen by the Speaker. The debates are usually the last business of the day and a government minister responds at the end of the debate.
- Petition: Members of Parliament can present a petition to Parliament on behalf of their constituents. The format and wording of the petition need to be in a particular way. For more information or guidance, please contact:
Clerk of Public Petitions
House of Commons