Nitty-gritty of how Westminster works

One of the things I most enjoy about being an MP is meeting school students – they always have great questions about the role of an MP.

Some questions come up frequently, often including asking about the rules for MPs in the chamber of the House of Commons, and why MPs aren’t in the chamber all the time listening to debates.
I am also asked about the balance of my role between being a local MP and being a Government Minster. Secondary school students are far more likely to have seen my name in the news from my work as Solicitor General, so they sometimes presume that my constituency work has ended – which is far from the case!
Whenever I am asked why the chamber of the House of Commons is not always packed, I explain that a great deal of Government work is going on in other parts of the Palace of Westminster.
There are debates in Westminster Hall; all party parliamentary groups; bill committees; and select committees, to name but a few. I recently appeared before the Justice Select Committee, to answer questions about the work of the Attorney General’s Office. Select committees hold the Government to account and are an important part of the scrutiny of our work. MPs from several parties asked the Attorney General and me a wide range of questions including on sentencing guidelines, the funding of the Serious Fraud Office and the work of the Crown Prosecution Service.
People also often presume that the only way MPs can ask questions of Government Ministers is by standing up on the floor of the House – Oral Parliamentary Questions. In fact, there are numerous other ways. Written parliamentary questions are a very effective way of getting specific and detailed answers to questions. As Solicitor General I answer oral questions from MPs in the Chamber every five to six weeks, but I answer written questions almost every week, and sometimes several times a week. Contributions to debates, oral and written questions, and select committee questions are all published on the parliamentary website, to ensure transparency and openness for everyone.
I have been out and about in the constituency as usual, and working to resolve issues for people as they arise. Several residents had contacted me recently about a local accident blackspot, and I am pleased that following my intervention, Google’s online map has been updated, and Dorset Council will be refreshing the road markings. I have also been updating residents across the constituency about Government grants for insulation, and energy support for those who do not have mains gas – you can find out more about both of these on my website.
Organisations and charities often get in touch with helpful information, and each month I will be sharing these through my ‘Community Notices’. Please email me if you have anything you would like to be included – you can find last month’s at

I continue to hold regular surgeries in the constituency so please get in touch if there is something you need help with, or if you’d like me to visit your organisation or business. Email me at or contact my office on 01202 624216. You can also follow what I’ve been doing on Twitter @Michael4mdnp, Facebook and on my website

Michael Tomlinson
Member of Parliament for Mid Dorset & North Poole

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