Here you will find answers to frequently asked questions
Q: How can Penny help me?
Penny is the elected constituency MP for Portsmouth North. If you live within the Portsmouth North constituency, Penny will be able to assist you or signpost you to help services or take on a case on your behalf
Where it may be a local authority issue, Penny may also be able to put you in direct contact with your local councillor.
Q: What does an MP do?
The UK public elects Members of Parliament (MPs) to represent their interests and concerns in the House of Commons. MPs consider and can propose new laws as well as raising issues that matter to you in the House. This includes asking government ministers questions about current issues including those which affect local constituents.
MPs split their time between working in Parliament itself, working in the constituency that elected them and working for their political party.
Some MPs from the governing party (or parties) become government ministers with specific responsibilities in certain areas, such as Health or Defence. These MPs do not stop working for their constituency and, whatever their role in Government or Parliament, will still hold regular surgeries to help their constituents.
Q: What do MPs do in Parliament?
When Parliament is sitting (meeting), MPs 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. This can either be by asking a question of a government minister on your behalf or by supporting and highlighting particular campaigns which local people feel strongly about.
Most MPs are also members of committees, which look at issues in detail, from government policy and new laws, to wider topics like human rights.
Q:What do MPs do in their constituency?
In their constituency, MPs often hold a ‘surgery’ in their office, where local people can come along to discuss any matters that concern them.
MPs also attend functions, visit schools and businesses and generally try to meet as many people as possible. This gives MPs further insight and context into issues they may discuss when they return to Westminster.
Q: How can I get a meeting with Penny?
If you are a Portsmouth north resident or business, we offer face-to-face, telephone and video call surgery appointments for constituents and businesses. Please get in touch with my office by using the contact page.
Q: Can Penny help my immigration enquiry?
MPs can make representations to the Home Office about your immigration case usually with the purpose of chasing an outcome or decision. In urgent cases, there may also be the opportunity for an MP to raise cases with the Immigration Minister.
MPs cannot overturn immigration decisions as there is a process for formally appealing these through HM Courts and Tribunals Service usually detailed in any decision notice; nor can they express a view in respect of the merits of a case. This is because MPs are not qualified to provide legal advice, nor are their staff. For legal advice constituents should seek the advice of an accredited Solicitor or Legal Advisor.
There is an expectation that individuals will fully fund any costs (for an application and or legal case) connected with their immigration case and whilst there may be opportunities for constituents to seek advice on a pro bono basis it should be remembered that it is the responsibility of the individual to check and ensure the advice being received is sound.
Q: Can Penny help me sort out my debts?
As your MP, I am able to go through your debts and signpost you to relevant organisations that are specially trained in helping people to manage their finances. Furthermore, if your debt relates to an outstanding benefit, I am able to communicate with the DWP to see if any further assistance can be provided.
You will be pleased to know that there are a range of online tools to help constituents manage their money. The Citizens Advice information website citizensadvice.org.uk includes a list of what priority debts are, template letters, budget calculators and interactive guides to help constituents work through their finances.
Q: Can Penny take legal action on my behalf?
Unfortunately, as an MP, I cannot provide you with legal advice as my staff are not legally trained, but I can often point you in the direction of free local provision, and I can refer you on to local providers.
Q: Can Penny help me sort my housing problems out?
MPs can make representations to the Local Authority in respect of constituents who are at risk of facing homelessness; however, they are not responsible for the decisions made by the Local Authority in respect of the housing band awarded (for those accepted onto the social housing waiting list). This is because this process is administered by the Local Authority, and it would not be fair or appropriate if an MP were to seek to influence this process.
It is very important that constituents provide all information to the Local Authority to enable them to reach a decision; for example be it medical, where a property is unsuitable because of a medical need. MPs cannot offer a medical opinion or view and therefore we always advise constituents to speak with a healthcare professional or similar for advice and support.
If you are unhappy with a decision made in respect of the band awarded you do have the opportunity to appeal a decision by asking for a review. This is not something MPs can do on a constituent’s behalf.
Again, MPs cannot provide legal advice in respect of the eviction process, steps to take etc and so we would always encourage legal advice is sought or contact made with advisory bodies in the city such as CAB or Advice Portsmouth who can provide housing advice by suitably trained professionals.
If your home is suffering from disrepair e.g. damp, mould, leaks and or other issues and your Landlord is unwilling to take action. Constituents have the option of raising this with their Housing Officer or Team (for social housing tenants) or the Local Authority through the Environmental Health and Private Sector Housing Team. The Local Authority can take steps to require Landlords to act through powers conferred upon them by Government.