One Member of Parliament (MP) represents each constituency or electoral area in the UK, serving in the House of Commons, the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly or the European Parliament. MPs are elected by members of the public in each constituency. Most candidates for election are nominated by a political party although it is possible to stand as an independent.
MPs represent their constituency's interests in parliament when new laws or issues are debated, and reflect the views and policies of the party to which they belong. This involves attending meetings and speaking during debates, raising questions and researching issues of concern at local and national level. Many MPs are also members of committees that scrutinise governmental departments, amend and draft new legislation, or those looking at specific issues such as the environment or parliamentary reform. An MP whose political party is in power could hold a government post.
An MP represents their constituency for the duration of the parliament. This is a maximum of five years, although parliament can be dissolved at any time and a new election called. The MP could then stand for re-election.
One day a week is usually spent in the home constituency, holding surgeries and advice sessions to address local issues and concerns. Other frequent duties include attendance and speaking at conferences, social functions and charity events, touring local businesses and organisations, and being interviewed by the media.
MPs often work more than 100 hours a week, including evenings and weekends, with parliamentary debates sometimes continuing into the night.
They are based in offices at their respective parliament and in their constituency. It is usual for MPs to live near parliament during the week and travel to their constituency at weekends. There is a great deal of travel, including overseas.
To be an MP you should:
There are 659 MPs at Westminster, 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) in Edinburgh, 60 members of the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff, and 78 British Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) based in Brussels and Strasbourg.
Promotion prospects are limited. An MP whose party is in power could secure governmental posts, ranking from junior minister to minister and then cabinet minister. Opposition parties have positions as spokespersons on government departments.
In spite of the job being full-time, some MPs manage to maintain an additional job.
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