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How to become a Member of Parliament

member of parliament careers

What does a Member of Parliament do?

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.

What's the working environment like working as a Member of Parliament?

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.

What does it take to become a Member of Parliament?

To be an MP you should:

  • have ambition, drive and commitment
  • strong political or social beliefs, and the passion, energy and enthusiasm to do something about the things you believe in
  • be good at public speaking and persuading people
  • have self-confidence and conviction, especially when you're supporting unpopular ideas
  • have good writing skills
  • have an enquiring mind and investigative abilities
  • be interested in current affairs and social and economic issues
  • have stamina for long, hard hours at work and for constant pressure.

Member of Parliament Career Opportunities

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.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Member of Parliament that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

House of Commons
Information Office
Tel: 020 7219 3000

National Assembly for Wales
Cardiff Bay
CF99 1NA
Tel: 029 2082 5111

Scottish Parliament
EH99 1SP
Tel: 0845 278 1999

Facts and Stats:

  • If every MP turned up at the Chambers of the House of Commons at the same time, there would not be enough seats for all of them to sit down.

  • The Prime Minister never actually owns a set of keys for Downing Street.
  • Number 10 Downing Street is not actually a black brick building; people got so used to seeing it that colour from London's smog and pollution that in 1960 they painted it black for the sake of tradition.
  • MPs first received an official salary in 1911. It stood at £400 per annum
  • .

Courses to help you become a Member of Parliament