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Written parliamentary question: every MP and peer can table as many written questions as they wish. This are usually used to obtain data or factual information from ministers but cost about £165 each to answer. Projects can help MPs formulate both oral and written questions.

Methods of communication

The ground rule for any communication with policymakers is to keep it short, timely and simple. Charities, researchers and community projects have a natural tendency to elaborate and to focus on the detailed processes of their work while policymakers just want a short briefing! This kind of constrained drafting can be very difficult to produce but it is definitely key for successful advocacy. The scale of your advocacy activities will depend on your issue and aims, how much you can invest and whether your priorities are local, regional, national or international. Small projects or groups might feel that modest efforts might not have an impact but research shows that this is not necessarily true. A study conducted by NfpSynergy, asked MPs to say what they would spend a limited advocacy budget on, were they working for a charity; “Building a relationship with 10 MPs” topped the list above relatively expensive approaches such as hiring a public relations agency.7

4.1 How MPs can help MPs can be great allies to shine the spotlight on issues within Parliament. All MPs, even backbenchers, have several channels to directly impact Parliamentary activities such as debates, parliamentary questions, Early Day Motions and influencing a Committee or an All-Party Group. If you can sufficiently engage MPs they can use these activities to encourage Government to address your issues. Adjournment debate: debate within the House of Commons where a backbench MP will talk about a subject for 15 minutes and would receive a reply from a Government Minister. You can ask an MP to table a debate regarding your issue. Oral parliamentary question: each Government department answers them about every four weeks. MPs wishing to pose a question would have submitted the question a fortnight in advance and would be selected by means of a ballot to ask it. Minister will respond by reading an already prepared answer. However this can be followed-up by a supplementary question related to the original issue but one that is not known in advance by the Minister.

Early Day Motion: each Government department answers them about every four weeks. MPs wishing to pose a question would have submitted the question a fortnight in advance and would be selected by means of a ballot to ask it. Minister will respond by reading an already prepared answer. However this can be followed-up by a supplementary question related to the original issue but one that is not known in advance by the Minister. Outside of Parliament sympathetic MPs can also help. They can speak at relevant events, they could issue a press release or they could sign your pledge of support. 4.2 Approaching MPs 4.2.1 Writing to MPs For written contact with MPs, remember that they usually only respond to enquiries from their own constituencies. Here are some recommendations to keep in mind when drafting your letter: • • • • • •

Keep the letter brief, ideally to one or no more than two sides of A4. Identify yourself as a constituent. Be polite, not angry. Avoid jargon. If you share your MP’s political affiliation, say so! Write in your own words – be sure to make your letter personal and explain how and why this issue relates to you, as a constituent. The impact of your letter will be blunted if it is identical to 50 others on his/her desk. Be clear about what you are asking your MP to do (for example sign Early Day Motions 292 or 313 depending on party; ask a question focusing on local provision; accompany a delegation of constituents to see the Minister). Request that your letter is forwarded to the relevant department Minister. That way the Minister and her civil servants are reminded of the issue as well as your MP. By convention, a letter forwarded by an MP to a Minister must receive a reply and remember that the response from a Minister can be used for publicity. Keep a copy and ask for a reply.

Getting_your_voice_heard_brochure  

Advice and guidance on influencing policy makers Here, you will find some simple but extremely effective ways in which you can maximise your...

Getting_your_voice_heard_brochure  

Advice and guidance on influencing policy makers Here, you will find some simple but extremely effective ways in which you can maximise your...

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