Almost everybody I meet at the moment asks me what it’s like to be an MP. So I thought I’d explain a wee bit about The House of Commons part of the job.
Parliament meets in Westminster roughly 32 weeks a year. The weeks vary drastically, but usually I leave the house about 7am on a Monday morning and fly to London. I go straight to Westminster and arrive by 1pm. Parliament sits from 2:30pm to 10pm on a Monday, although a half hour adjournment debate follows the 10pm votes.
On Tuesday and Wednesday the House sits 11:30am to 7pm and on Thursdays from 9:30am and to 5pm. Usually I fly home on a Thursday evening after 5pm votes, arriving home sometime after 10pm.
Generally the topic under discussion is set by the government, announced about two weeks in advance. Some days are set aside for opposition debates, some time for backbench business, and sitting Fridays are for Private Members Bills. Select Committees and all party groups also meet while Parliament sits. Debates in another part of the building – Westminster Hall – go on also.
There’s not a lot of advance warning for topics and debates. Because of the strange procedures and way things are done, it’s often the case that we are not clear exactly what votes will be on until a few hours before the vote (occasionally only a few minutes!).
Days are usually structured with questions at the beginning, ministerial statements next and urgent questions, then the main business of the day. There may be votes during the day, but often these only happen at the end. A half hour adjournment debate follows the end of day votes. The adjournment topic (and the topics for debate in Westminster Hall) are chosen by a lottery system. Lots of MPs apply for debates each week and only a lucky few are chosen.
It’s a pretty hectic schedule down the road. Reading needs to be done fast as papers don’t appear much in advance and there are lots of other meetings that go on outwith the main chamber business.
Kirsty Blackman is the MP for Aberdeen North and gave permission for this to be lifted from her facebook page