MPs in the House of Commons

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overview


Your guide to who's who in the House of Commons.

They make the rules that you have to follow. Members of Parliament, or MPs, have a lot of responsibility.

But just who are these decision makers?
 

Need to know

Who are MPs? Here are some key facts to help you remember who's who in the House of Commons.

 

MP spotting

Have a look where you'll find MPs at work.

 

Useful links

Learn more about MPs in the House of Commons. Play games, watch videos and find links and resources.

 

need to know


So who are the men and women who work in the House of Commons?


Who are MPs?


MPs are your 'elected representatives'

Natascha Engel MPIn a democracy like the UK, citizens elect other citizens to make decisions about how the country should be governed. Every MP in the House of Commons got his or her place by winning an election in their area of the country, called a 'constituency'.

 

Nearly every MP belongs to a political party

Cheryl Gillan MPA political party is a group of people who share the same ideas about how the country should be governed. A party's guiding principles help voters decide who to vote for during elections. Most MPs belong to a political party, but a few do not. Those who do not are called 'independents'.

 

Almost everyone is eligible to become an MP

iStock imagesAre you a British or Irish citizen? Are you 21 or over? Then you can stand for election in the UK. But if you're in prison, sorry, you can't be an MP. Also, you can't be an MP if you're a member of the House of Lords.

 


Some MPs have jobs as 'ministers'

Some MPs are selected by the prime minister to join the government. They are called 'ministers'. The government is the group of politicians who are in charge of running the country. The prime minister leads the government, and chooses MPs who support his or her party's plans for governing the UK.

 

Some MPs have jobs as 'shadow ministers'

Adam Afriyie MPMPs who belong to political parties that oppose the government's plans are known as the opposition. And, like the prime minister, the leader of the opposition chooses a group of MPs to become 'shadow ministers'. Shadow ministers question and challenge the work of the government's ministers. 

 

Most MPs are known as 'backbenchers'

Most MPs are known as backbenchers, which means they do not hold a job as a government minister or as an opposition shadow minister. They got the name because they sit on the back benches of the House of Commons chamber. Ministers and their opposition counterparts sit on the front benches.

 

MPs play an important part in making laws for the UK

Any changes to the country's laws must be approved by Parliament. The government proposes most of the changes to the law and makes its case to MPs in the House of Commons, who vote on whether to approve the change or not. Parliament's other 'house' - the House of Lords - must also approve.

 

MP spotting


MPs have duties in London at the Houses of Parliament. They also work in the area of the country they represent.


Where you'll find MPs at work


House of Commons chamber

MPs debate new laws and political topics on the famous green benches of the House of Commons Chamber. The UK Parliament is in London at the Houses of Parliament.

 

What is a constituency?

Former MP Parmjit DhandaFormer MP Parmjit Dhanda talks about the area of the country that an MP represents in Parliament.

 

What happens in a typical week?

Former MP Lembit OpikFormer MP Lembit Opik explains what MPs do in Parliament and in their constituencies in a typical week.

 

useful links


Find out more about MPs and what they get up to with these related links and stuff to do.

 

Play


MP For A Week

Enter Alt text here.Can you survive the week? Take on the role of the MP and see if you can balance the pressures of the party and your local constituency, not to mention the media.


 

Watch


MPs: In their own words

Adam Afriyie MPMPs talk about politics, Parliament, the media and more in these short video clips.


 

Read


You and your MP

An introduction to the work of MPs and the ways they can help their constituents, by the House of Commons Information Office.

 

Search


Find your MP

Enter your postcode or where you live to find out who's representing your interests in Parliament.

 

Browse the web


Democracy Live

Watch and follow the live proceedings in the House of Commons chamber and the rest of Parliament with the BBC.

 

Parliament is not responsible for the content of external links. 

Where they work

Enter Alt text here.MPs debate new laws and political topics from the famous green benches of the House of Commons chamber.

Buzzwords

  • Political party
    Almost all MPs belong to one. A political party is a group of people who share similar ideas about how the country should be run. The UK has three main parties: the Labour Party, Conservative Party (sometimes called the 'Tories') and the Liberal Democrats (sometimes called the 'Lib Dems').

They said it...

'Too bad all the people who know how to run the country are busy driving taxi cabs and cutting hair.' 

  • George Burns, American comedian (1896-1996)