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Understanding the UK Parliament

The public engagement team regularly work with researchers in regards to presenting research findings to MPs and policy makers.
This toolkit will share with you some of our top tips and starting points to consider when you have research evidence that could be used to change policy and practice within the UK.
Parliament

The UK government is split in to two houses – the House of Commons and the House of Lords, both of which have fantastic webpages outlining the common practice, routines, deadlines and briefings in which they have decision making power.

The Parliament website has an extensive amount of information and guides.

The House of Commons - The UK public elects 650 Members of Parliament (MPs) to represent their interests and concerns in the House of Commons. MPs consider and propose new laws, and can scrutinise government policies by asking ministers questions about current issues either in the Commons Chamber or in Committees

Members of the House of Lords

Members of the Lords help to make and shape laws and hold the government to account. Many members remain active in their careers and draw on this experience in their work in the House

Committees and Submitting Evidence to Parliament

Committees

A large part of the work of the House of Commons and the House of Lords takes place in committees, made up of MPs or Lords. These committees consider policy issues, scrutinise the work and expenditure of the government, and examine proposals for primary and secondary legislation. Select committees operate largely by an investigative process, while legislative committees operate mainly by debate.

Submit evidence to parliament - Committees will open “Calls for Evidence” which will inform the committees and their decision making process. Some select and joint committees (but not public bill committees) continue to accept written evidence after the initial call for evidence deadline has passed. Please refer to the relevant inquiry pages or contact committee staff for details of specific inquiries.

You can watch a short film about how the Select Committees work here.

Work with the Commons Library and Research Services

The House of Commons Library is an independent research and information unit. It provides impartial information for Members of Parliament of all parties and their staff. This service supports MPs in their work scrutinising Government, proposing legislation, and supporting constituents.

The four main areas the Library focuses on are:

  • Research briefings
  • Business Briefings
  • Insights
  • Local and Constituency Data
Engaging with MPS and Lords

Consider holding a short public event at the House of Commons / Lords to reach MPs during their working hours – our Events team can support you with the planning elements of this, including how to hire a venue within the house pf parliament.

Contact an MP or Lord - You can contact your MP when you, or people living in your area, are affected by decisions made by the UK Parliament or by the Government. MPs represent all the people in their local area, whether they vote for them or not.

Parliamentary Mailing lists

Your Parliament – https://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/attend-an-event/join-our-mailing-list/

House of Lords newsletter - https://lords-subscriptions.parliament.uk/

Commons Library – for up to date info on briefings and evidence and other services provided by the Library - https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/subscribe/

Contacting Parliament

Contact the House of Commons

The House of Commons Enquiry Service answers questions about the business, history and membership of the House.

Telephone: 0800 112 4272 (Freephone) or 020 7219 4272
Email: hcenquiries@parliament.uk
Text phone: Dial 18001 followed by our full number

Telephone enquiry service is open between 10am-12 midday and 2pm-4pm (Monday to Friday).

Contact the House of Lords

Contact the House of Lords Communications with general enquiries about the Lords.

Phone: 0800 223 0855 (Freephone) or 020 7219 3107
Email: hlinfo@parliament.uk