Behind the scenes: what does Ashfield's MP do?

With MPs back in the House of Commons following the Easter break, we take a look at what contribution Lee Anderson makes to Parliament.

By Patrick Jack
Monday, 25th April 2022, 4:00 pm

Analysis of figures from the House of Commons Library shows some of the work the Conservative MP for Ashfield does behind the scenes.

Much of the day-to-day business of being an MP takes place in committees, which examine issues in detail, from government policy and proposed new laws, to wider topics like the economy.

But Lee Anderson, who serves as a backbench MP, was not sitting on any committees, as of March 7, having been replaced on the Women and Equalities Committee late last year.

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Lee Anderson, Conservative MP for Ashfield.

The average sitting MP was a part of two committees, while about a quarter were not part of any.

Meanwhile, two Labour MPs were members of 11 each.

Members can also be active in informal, cross-party All-Party Parliamentary Groups, for those who share a common interest in a particular policy area, region or country.

Mr Anderson did not have a role in any APPGs either in March, but has joined the newly set-up Nottingham Forest APPG, designed to promote the football club.

The majority of bills the House passes into law come from the ruling party, but MPs – typically those not in Government – can also introduce legislation through Private Members' bills.

Very few of them become law, but it can create publicity around an issue, or affect future legislation indirectly.

Lee Anderson presented none of these bills between the state opening of Parliament on December 16, 2019, and March 7.

The same was true for the majority of his parliamentary colleagues.

Over this period, he has signed one Early Day Motion – another way an MP can draw attention to a particular issue, though they rarely result in any action being taken.

MPs can also bring forward petitions, calling for Government action, on behalf of their constituents, but Mr Anderson has not presented any.

Finally, Members can apply for certain types of debates or Urgent Questions to initiate discussions on a topic in the Commons or Westminster Hall.

Mr Anderson has been granted one of these applications during this Parliament.

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John O'Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “These figures give taxpayers some much-needed insight into the workloads of their Westminster representatives.

“Given the average MP now costs more than £200,000 in total, constituents are right to expect them to deliver on their duties.

“It’s up to the electorate to decide if parliamentarians are earning their keep."

The Institute for Public Policy Research said the essence of democracy is MPs linking citizens to policymaking.

But Dr Parth Patel, research fellow at the think tank, said their research shows the majority of citizens no longer believe they have the most sway over policy decisions made by their representatives and trust in MPs is nosediving.

He said: “We need an active and empowered Parliament, with MPs on all sides of the house able to speak their minds and act in the interests of their constituents.

“When participating in debates, MPs must remember to put citizens at the heart of everything they do and say in their name.”