As a UK citizen, you have many representatives, at several levels of government.
Each of them has a different set of responsibilities, and it is worth making sure that your message goes to the person who is best placed to help you.
You’ll often hear people say, "I’m going to write to my MP" when something upsets them. It’s a wide-held belief that MPs are there to solve every type of problem.
In fact, Parliament and central government are only responsible for certain matters. Those are the issues with which your MP can help. If your problem does not fall within one of the following areas, then you should consider contacting one of your other representatives.
MPs can help you with matters such as:
Your MP cannot help you in private disputes with other individuals or with companies who have sold you faulty goods, nor, for example, can they interfere with decisions made by courts.
You and Your MP [PDF], a factsheet produced by Parliament, has more information about what your MP can do for you.
Councillors have differing responsibilities depending on which council you live in. Because of these variations we are only able to give you ‘rule-of-thumb’ guidance here.
Firstly, in England you may have two levels of council: County and District, in which case their responsibilities are divided as follows:
Otherwise, you will have only one council, whose responsibilities differ depending on exactly where you live. We describe these on the page which lists your councillors.
Don’t worry if you’re not absolutely sure who to pick! Whoever you write to should forward your letter to the most appropriate person, if you haven’t got it quite right.
If you have a question about proposed European directives (laws), the European Parliament, Commission or Union, your MEPs may be able to help.
Once passed, EU laws become the responsibility of national governments and parliaments to implement, so you may wish to contact your MP about them in that case.
In addition, and for all EU matters, the European Commission and Parliament also have specific Information Offices within the UK – www.europarl.org.uk and ec.europa.eu/unitedkingdom. If you have an enquiry, rather than a problem, they are a good place to start.
Note that MEPs cannot help raise an issue with the European Court of Human Rights. The Convention is incorporated into UK law, so any challenge must start in the UK legal system.
MSPs deal with any issues for which the Scottish Parliament is responsible. They include:
For constituency matters, you can approach any one of the MSPs who represent you. Do not contact more than one MSP on a constituency matter, as this will cause potential delays.
Only contact all your regional MSPs about issues that apply to all of them – for example, if you wish them to cast a particular vote in the Scottish Parliament.
The Northern Ireland Assembly can help you with the following matters:
Issues for which you should contact your Westminster MP, rather than your Assembly Member, include navigation and civil aviation, financial services, telecommunications, postal services, the national minimum wage, defence, immigration, taxation, and elections.
The Welsh Assembly Government is responsible for:
Issues for which you should contact your Westminster MP, rather than your Assembly Member, include police, prisons, the justice system, tax and benefits, defence, national security and foreign affairs.
The Greater London Authority’s main areas of responsibility are:
Assembly Members can also hold the Mayor of London to account.
For local issues which fall outside those topics, you should contact your local councillor.