Behind the scenes: what does your MP do?

With MPs back in the House of Commons following the Easter break, we take a look at what contribution Sir Mark Hendrick makes to Parliament.

By Andy Moffatt
Tuesday, 19th April 2022, 12:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st April 2022, 11:37 am

In the first of this series, analysis of figures from the House of Commons Library shows some of the work that the Labour (Co-op) MP for Preston does behind the scenes.

Much of the day-to-day business of being an MP takes place in committees, which examine issues in detail, from government policy and proposed new laws, to wider topics like the economy.

Mark Hendrick, who serves as a backbench MP, was sitting on two committees, as of March 7 this year.

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Preston Mark Hendrick MP

These were the International Trade Committee and Panel of Chairs.

The average sitting MP was also a part of two committees, while around a quarter were not part of any.

Meanwhile, two Labour MPs were members of 11 each.

Members can also be active in informal, cross-party All-Party Parliamentary Groups, for those who share a common interest in a particular policy area, region or country.

Britain's Houses of Parliament on the northern bank of the River Thames

Sir Mark Hendrick, 63, had a role in 13 APPGs.

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The vast majority of bills that the House passes into law come from the ruling party, but MPs – typically those not in Government – can also introduce legislation through Private Members' bills.

Very few of them become law but it can create publicity around an issue, or affect future legislation indirectly.

Preston MP Sir Mark Hendrick played an active role in the city response to the Windrush scandal. He is pictured here with organiser Sekeena Kydd

Mark Hendrick presented none of these bills between the state opening of Parliament on December 16 2019 and March 7.

The same was true for the majority of his parliamentary colleagues.

Over this period, he has signed 95 Early Day Motions – which are another way an MP can draw attention to a particular issue, though they rarely result in any action being taken.

MPs can also bring forward petitions, calling for Government action, on behalf of their constituents – but Mark Hendrick has not presented any.

Finally, Members can apply for certain types of debates or Urgent Questions to initiate discussions on a topic in the Commons or Westminster Hall.

However, Mark Hendrick, who was elected to his seat on November 23, 2000, has not been granted any applications during this Parliament.

John O'Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "These figures give taxpayers some much-needed insight into the workloads of their Westminster representatives.

"Given the average MP now costs over £200,000 in total, constituents are right to expect them to deliver on their duties.

"It's up to the electorate to decide if parliamentarians are earning their keep."

The Institute for Public Policy Research said the essence of democracy is MPs linking citizens to policymaking.

But Dr Parth Patel, research fellow at the think tank, said their research shows that the vast majority of citizens no longer believe they have the most sway over policy decisions made by their representatives, and that trust in MPs is nosediving.

He added: "We need an active and empowered Parliament, with MPs on all sides of the house able to speak their minds and act in the interests of their constituents.

"When participating in debates, MPs must remember to put citizens at the heart of everything they do and say in their name."