General election 2017: What do Members of Parliament do?

  • 30 May 2017
MPs in House of Commons Image copyright PA
Image caption This is where MPs work in the Houses of Parliament. Find out more below

There will be a general election in the UK on 8 June.

A general election gives adults in the UK the chance to have a say on who runs the country.

They do this by voting for an MP to represent them and be their voice in Parliament (in the picture above).

You can find out more about how MPs get their jobs - and how a general election works - here.

But to find out more about what MPs do once they've got the job, read on below.

What is an MP?

MP stands for Member of Parliament. He or she is a person who represents a particular area of the country in parliament.

The UK is divided into 650 of these areas, called constituencies - and there is an MP for each one. So that makes 650 MPs in Parliament in total.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption When MPs meet together, they do it here in the Houses of Parliament in London, in something called the House of Commons

They meet together in the House of Commons, which is part of the Houses of Parliament in London.

What do MPs do?

MPs split their time between working in Parliament and working in their constituency.

When they are working in Parliament, they can suggest and consider new laws, and take part in important votes on how the country is run.

They can also bring up issues that matter to people in their constituency with important members of the government.

They might do this by asking a question to a politician on one person's behalf or they might bring up a topic in the House of Commons that is important to people who live in their constituency.

Sometimes, if the members of their constituency want something different to what their own political party wants, MPs may have to choose between upsetting their constituents or upsetting their party!

Some MPs who belong to the party (or parties) in power at the time will be given special jobs in the government, on top of their role as an MP.

They will be made government ministers and asked to look after particular areas of how the country is run - for example, health or education.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Jeremy Hunt is the current Secretary of State for Health, as he belongs to the Conservative Party, which is in power at the moment. In this general election, he is a candidate for a constituency in the south of England

When MPs are working in their constituency, they will often hold special meetings called surgeries, at which members of the public can go to meet them if they have something they want to talk to their local MP about.

Image copyright European Photopress Agency
Image caption Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh wants people to choose her to be the MP for an area in Scotland. She belongs to the Scottish National Party

They will go along to public events, and visit local schools and businesses, so they can better understand what matters most to the people they represent. It also helps local people to get to know their MP.

Can MPs have other jobs?

Currently, if MPs want to have another paid job on top of their job as an MP, they can, but they have to officially register it.

Some people think it is a good thing if MPs have another job too, as it keeps them in touch with members of the public, and means they have more skills and knowledge to bring to their job in Parliament.

Others think that MPs shouldn't be allowed to have another job, as they should be fully committed to their job in Parliament and should focus all of their time on this.

Image copyright Press Association
Image caption George Osborne, who used to be an MP, announced that he would be starting work as the editor for the newspaper the London Evening Standard. He later announced he would not try to be an MP again in this election, and would focus on his new job

There is a report currently being put together about what should be allowed with MPs having second jobs. The results will be presented in June.

What do MPs have to do with you?

When MPs come together in the House of Commons, they will debate and vote on issues that are important to the country.

This might be to do with rules in schools or how much money your parents have to spend on things, so these things can affect you.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Emily Thornberry is the current Shadow Foreign Secretary, as she belongs to the Labour Party. In this general election, she is a candidate to be an MP for an area of London

Currently, there aren't any MPs as Parliament has been "dissolved" ahead of the election. Click on the link to find out more about what this means, but it's a bit like the end of term has happened.

All over the UK, the people who want to be MPs - called candidates - are currently working very hard to convince people to vote for them on 8 June.

While you cannot vote yet, when you turn 18, you will be able to vote in the general election to choose who you want to be your MP.

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