FAQS

Welcome to the FAQs page, which has been designed to answer many of the most common questions that I am asked by people in Hackney.

The page will be reviewed regularly but if there is something else that you think should be added to it or if you spot any broken links, please let me know by using the form here.

What does an MP do?

MPs are elected to Parliament by the British and Commonwealth residents of a constituency. Following the 2010 General Election there are 650 constituencies in the UK. (533 of these are in England, 59 in Scotland, 40 in Wales and 18 In Northern Ireland).

MPs have responsibilities to three main groups – their constituents, Parliament and their political party.

In Parliament, MPs participate in debates and vote on proposed laws and other matters. Many MPs are also members of parliamentary committees that examine proposed laws or the work of individual government departments. Some will also have a role as a government minister or as an opposition spokesperson.

MPs can help their constituents by helping with problems caused by Government departments and by representing local concerns in Parliament. MPs usually support their political party by voting with its leadership in the House of Commons and acting as a representative for the party in their constituency.

Is Meg my MP?

You can easily check by using the FindYourMP tool at the website of Parliament. All you need to do is type your home postcode into the relevant box. The tool can be found here

Can Meg help if she is not my MP?

No, even if the problem you experienced happened in Hackney South & Shoreditch. Very strict rules dictate that MPs can only offer assistance to people who live in and businesses that are located in the constituency they represent. The FindYourMP tool will provide details for your MP and you should then make contact with him or her.

Why should I vote?

If you don’t vote, you have no influence over the way in which our country is run. People have fought and died for the right to vote and people in many other countries are still doing so. The more that people from all age and gender groups vote, the more that politicians will have to take account of their views. Also, voting only takes a few minutes and it is really easy to do. If you have never voted before, further information about how you can do so can be found here.

How do I register to vote?

It’s easy. Just follow the link here . You can register to vote up to 20th April to vote in the General Election 2015.

How can I contact Meg?

There are lots of ways. You can use the form here on Meg’s website.

You can also write to Meg at the following address; Meg Hillier MP, House of Commons, Westminster, SW1A 0AA.

You can call Meg’s office from 10am to 5pm Monday-Friday on 0207 219 5325 or send her a fax to 0207 219 8768.

You can also come to one of Meg’s regular advice surgeries.

What problems/issues can Meg assist me with?

Meg can primarily offer assistance with matters that Parliament and Central Government are responsible for. She will also try and help when a private company has caused problems to you.

Meg is not elected to Hackney Council and has no direct control over the decisions that it makes on the various issues for which it has responsibility. These include social housing, refuse collection, education and planning decisions. For those issues you should contact your locally elected councillors in the first instance. They will be best placed to offer assistance. In Hackney you can find out who your councillors are by using the link here.

Meg cannot intervene in ongoing legal disputes.

How long will I usually have to wait for a reply to my enquiry?

Meg receives many requests for help and assistance and tries, along with her caseworkers, to ensure that all work is dealt with as quickly as possible. All requests for help are looked at on receipt and urgent cases are prioritised whenever possible. Meg aims to reply to all requests for assistance within 10 working days but sometimes, with very complex cases or at times of peak demand, it may occasionally take a little longer. For enquiries on policy matters, we aim to respond within 15 working days.

If you have not had a response to an enquiry, please call Meg’s office on 0207 219 5325.

What actions can Meg take to help me with my problem?

Meg can write to senior officials or ministers in government departments and may lobby a minister personally when it is appropriate. For issues that affect many constituents, Meg may also consider applying for a debate in the House of Commons or in Westminster Hall. If a lot of people locally feel strongly about an issue, they can organise a petition to Parliament which Meg can present on the floor of the House of Commons. Please contact Meg in advance as there are Parliamentary rules about how petitions are worded.

What is an advice surgery?

Many MPs hold advice surgeries. These are opportunities for constituents with problems to come along and speak to Meg about personal issues or problems that they are experiencing. Meg and her caseworkers take details of the problems and will then make enquiries about them.

How do I get an appointment at an advice surgery?

Meg organises her surgeries on a “first come, first served” basis. No appointments are required. Full details of Meg’s upcoming surgeries can be found here.

If you are not able to attend an advice surgery, Meg will try and arrange a meeting at another time. However, her diary is booked up many weeks in advance. Please call Meg’s office or send an email with further details of your problem if this is something you would like Meg to consider.

Meg also conducts roving surgeries and holds open coffee mornings regularly. These are advertised locally in advance.

What is the best way to invite Meg to an event?

Please send Meg an email or write to her at Meg Hillier MP, House of Commons, Westminster, SW1A 0AA. When sending an invite, please be as clear as possible about what the event is, where it will be and what times it will run from and to.

How can I find out how Meg voted on a particular issue?

The most user friendly option is the search function on the PublicWhip website. The same information is also available (in a less accessible form) on the website of Parliament.

Where can I find details of what Meg has said in the House of Commons?

The most user friendly option is the TheyWorkForYou.com website.

The same information is available at Parliament’s website.

What are Early Day Motions (EDMs) and why doesn’t Meg sign them?

Early Day Motions (EDMs) are supposed to be a formal request for a debate in the House of Commons. They rarely, if ever, actually lead to a debate though and there are several other ways in which MPs can seek time in the House of Commons or Westminster Hall to discuss issues. EDMs are therefore used mainly as a way of recording opinion on certain issues.

Meg is often asked to sign EDMs but has chosen not to do so at this time. This is partly because the system of recording them costs so much. In the 2009/10 financial year, the EDM system cost more than £1million to operate. Meg is also concerned that the high number of EDMs (at least 1300 are tabled every year) mean that they have almost no effect. Meg prefers to lobby ministers or officials in person or in writing on the many issues constituents raise with her.

Further information on EDMs can be found here.

Where can I find out more about Meg’s work on the Public Accounts Committee?

Meg has been a member of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee since 2011. This cross party committee of MPs examines the ways in which government spends taxpayer money and makes recommendations for improvement. The focus is on the effectiveness, efficiency and value for money. The committee does not debate the pros and cons of a policy but instead whether it has been managed well. The committee has its own website which allows access to the reports that it produces. You can find it here.

Where can I find more information about the expenses that Meg has claimed for?

Full information is available at the website of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA). Please click here for further details.

How do I apply for a job with Meg?

Like many MPs, Meg advertises vacant roles, when they arise, in the jobs section of the Working for an MP website. Please click here for further information.

Can I get work experience in Meg’s office?

Meg will always consider requests for short periods of work experience from constituents who have a genuine interest in politics. However, the decision to accept or decline requests will depend on her schedule and space in the office. She wants to make sure that any work experience offered is worthwhile. Priority will be given to constituents. Meg will always offer, as a minimum, travel and lunch expenses. If you are interested, please contact Meg’s office at least two months in advance.

Where can I find more information about how Parliament works?

There are many resources available on the internet and in books. A good source of information for younger readers is the website of Parliament’s Education Service, which can be found here. Older readers might want to start their research here.

How can I apply for a tour of Parliament and/or Big Ben?

Meg is always happy to try and help to arrange a tour of Parliament or of Big Ben for her constituents. Tours booked by MPs are free but are also very popular and are booked up many months in advance. Further information on MP booked tours of Parliament and of Big Ben can be found here and here. Please note that tours of Big Ben are available in only very limited numbers and are only suitable for people who can climb a large amount of stairs. Children must also be at least eleven years old before going on the tour. Babes in arms cannot be taken on the tour.

If you would like Meg to arrange a tour of Parliament or of Big Ben for you, please contact her via email.

Commercial tours of Parliament are also run at weekends and when Parliament is in recess. The commercial tours can be personally guided as part of a group or with an audio headset. You can also book a commercial tour that includes an afternoon tea. Further details can be found here.

How can I watch a House of Commons debate?

MPs are allocated a small number of Public Gallery tickets each month which they may pass on to constituents who would like to watch a debate in the House of Commons. Alternatively, if there is a specific date on which you would like to visit, she may be able to obtain further tickets (subject to availability). Please contact Meg’s office directly. Further information on watching debates can be found here. You can often get tickets just by queueing but not for popular sessions such as Prime Minister’s Question Time.

How can I get a ticket for Prime Minister’s Questions?

The Public Gallery for the House of Commons is very small. MPs receive three pairs of tickets for Prime Minister’s Questions in any one calendar year. Meg operates a waiting list for her tickets. If you would like to have your name added to the list, please contact Meg’s office directly.

Can Meg help me nominate somebody for a UK honour?

Not unless she knows the person you are thinking of nominating personally. The UK honours system has been made more open in recent years and anybody is welcome to make a nomination. Further information can be found here. Meg is always happy to consider supporting nominations – please contact her to discuss.

Can Meg help me to get a 100th birthday message or 60th wedding anniversary message from the Queen for my relative?

No. These are coordinated by the Anniversaries Office of Buckingham Palace. The process of sending the 100th birthday message should be automatic as the Department for Work & Pensions works with Buckingham Palace on those. Wedding anniversary messages do though need to be organised several weeks in advance. Further information can be found here.

Can Meg countersign the back of my or my children’s passport photos before I send off the application to HM Passport Office?

Not usually as counter signatories have to have known you or your children well for at least two years. She cannot endorse photos for people that she has just met. Further information on the rules for countersigning passport photos can be found here.