Members of Parliament (MP's) are elected to represent their interests and concerns and those of their constituents, in the House of Commons. MP's are involved in considering and proposing new laws and can use their position to ask government ministers questions about current issues.
Nigel Adams splits his time between working in Parliament itself (usually Monday to Friday) and working in the constituency of Selby and Ainsty.
Working in Parliament
When Parliament is sitting, MP's generally spend their time working in the House of Commons. This can include raising issues affecting their constituents, attending debates and voting on new laws. Some MP's are also members of committees which look at issues in detail, from government policy and new laws, to wider topics like human rights.
By raising an issue in the House of Commons, MP's can bring it to the attention of the press and public, with the possibility that enough publicity could persuade government ministers to act.
MP's can ask Ministers questions during Question Time to any Minister or send written questions to them. The government is required to answer parliamentary written questions. The questions and answers are published in Hansard, the official transcript of what is said in Parliament.
Adjournment debates in the chamber of the House
The half-hour adjournment debate offers another opportunity for MPs to raise matters. Usually taken as the last business of the day, MP's must either win a ballot or be chosen by the Speaker to voice their concern.
Private Members’ Bills
An MP might introduce a Private Members’ Bill in an attempt to pass a new law. Few of these Bills are successful but they may draw public attention to the problem. Nigel was fortunate to have been drawn out of the ballot to enable him to table a bill and his Protection of local services (planning) bill will get a reading in January 2011
Ministers are restricted by the Code of Conduct and cannot raise matters in the House. Parliamentary Private Secretaries (PPS) and opposition spokespeople may also be restrained by internal party rules.
Working in the constituency
In the constituency, Nigel regularly holds advice 'surgeries', where local people can come along to discuss any matters that concern them. Nigel also attends functions, visits schools and businesses and generally try to meet as many people as possible. This gives MP's further insight and context into issues they may discuss when they return to Westminster.