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Speaker’s Statement

Volume 744: debated on Monday 22 January 2024

Before we proceed to the next business, I would like to make a brief statement. The link between Members of Parliament and our constituents is special and fundamental to the democratic life of the country. As we enter the general election year, many hon. Members are expecting boundary changes. Some will contemplate standing for constituencies that they do not currently represent. I have received a number of representations from hon. Members from all parts of the House about colleagues involving themselves in their constituencies. I thought it would be helpful to remind the House of some important rules and conventions regarding constituency representation.

First, Members usually deal with individual cases relating only to their own constituencies. When a Member is contacted by someone seeking assistance who is not her or his own constituent, the normal expectation is that the person should be referred to the relevant constituency Member. Secondly, when a Member intends to visit another constituency other than in a private capacity, they should make every reasonable effort to inform the Member representing that constituency before they do so. That applies equally to ministerial visits. The ministerial code states that the Ministers intending to make an official visit in the United Kingdom must inform, in advance and in good time, the MPs whose constituencies are to be included in the visit. I should add that, although the ministerial code does not apply to shadow Ministers, they should adhere to the same protocol if visiting constituencies.

Thirdly, when issues relating to another constituency are raised in the House, the Member concerned should, where possible and when time permits, inform the other Member involved in advance. That applies equally to the tabling of written questions.

Hon. Members have a duty to look after the constituents who elected them to this place. Boundary changes do not take effect until the next election. We must observe the convention of not involving ourselves with another Member’s constituency until that time. More generally, I understand that the political temperature will rise as we get closer to an election. I urge all hon. Members to continue to treat each other with courtesy and respect in the remaining months of this Parliament. The election seems to have started a little too early.