Table Office training for Members’ staff

The Table Office is running another of its training sessions for Members’ staff on drafting effective and orderly Parliamentary Questions.  

Date: Monday 2 December.
Time: 10.30am-12noon.
Location: Room Q, Portcullis House

The session will cover:

  • The rules governing Parliamentary Questions
  • The role of the Table Office
  • Guidance on how to construct orderly questions.

The course is suitable for anyone who has recently joined a Member’s office or would like a refresher on how to assist their Member in the preparation of PQs.

Booking details: wardrd@parliament.uk.    Further information: Richard Ward, x3753

Commons Library Open Day for Librarians and Information Officers

Register your interest online for the House of Commons Library Open Day, to be held on Wednesday 19 February 2014.  Click here for full information

This is an enjoyable and highly informative event, providing an opportunity to hear about the valuable, professional service provided by the House of Commons Library to Members of Parliament and their staff. This is a full-day event that includes: talks and presentations by Library staff, a short tour of Parliament and a very rare opportunity to see the Members’ Library. Participants will also have the chance to view an exhibition of interesting older material held by the Library.

Location: Portcullis House, Westminster, London
Time: 10.00am-4.30pm (registration from 9.30am)

The Open Day is specifically targeted to those currently working as information professionals, including:

  • Librarians
  • Information Officers/Advisors/Analysts
  • Knowledge Management Officers
  • Researchers

Caseworkers – two sources of help for constituents

Calling all caseworkers…..

Here are a couple of resources which you may find helpful for certain groups among your constituents:

  1. The first one is run by the Royal British Legion for certain members of the armed services in need of help and support: http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/can-we-help/care-and-support/in-home-services/handy-van.
  2. The second, run by Age UK, offers older people extra help with small practical jobs to make their lives life easier and safer around the home: http://www.ageuk.org.uk/home-and-care/home-safety-and-security/handyperson-services/.

If you know of other such services which you have found useful let w4mp know and we will spread the word.  Email the information to us at editor@w4mp.org.

Where are the women? New ERS app.

It’s Parliament Week and this year’s theme is Women in Democracy.

To mark the occasion, the Electoral Reform Society has developed an online app which shows how much more needs to be done to reach gender parity in the House of Commons.

Find out if your constituency has ever been represented by a woman – use their online app and don’t forget to share the results with your friends!

The Electoral Reform Society firmly believes that our parliamentary representatives should reflect the diversity of Britain. Currently, only one in five Westminster MPs are women – yet women make up 51% of the population of Britain. Over half of constituencies have never had a female MP.

The ERS is urging all political parties to get serious about improving the diversity of selected candidates in winnable seats. Only then will we have a truly representative cross-section of MPs who can help build a better democracy in Britain.

What are your thoughts? Email them at ERS@electoral-reform.org.uk, or share what you think on their Facebook page and on Twitter.

Important changes to ads we will accept on w4mpjobs

From 1 December 2013 w4mpjobs will no longer be accepting some adverts for work that does not pay at least the current rate of national minimum wage (see https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage).

The exceptions to this (ie, ads that pay less than national minimum wage that we will still accept) are:

  • Adverts for voluntary work for registered charities.  Please note that if you are a charity, from 1 December you will be asked to include your registered charity number when submitting an advert.  Without this, your advert will not be accepted.
  • Adverts for volunteers for any of the political parties represented in the UK parliaments or assemblies – this includes voluntary work for MPs, MSPs or assembly members, local party constituency groups, local council constituency groups, prospective parliamentary/assembly candidates, prospective councillors and any other specifically party political related volunteer work.
  • Adverts from legitimate political organisations asking for one-off or short term voluntary help with a specific project.
  • Adverts for voluntary contributors to political websites and blogs.

These are the only exceptions which we will make. Please do not ask us to make any others.

A NOTE FOR MPs: when taking on a voluntary intern you should ensure that you and the intern have agreed and signed the IPSA Model Volunteer Intern Agreement. See http://parliamentarystandards.org.uk/IPSAMPs/HR%20Payroll%20and%20Interns%20libruary/Model%20Volunteer%20Intern%20Agreement.pdf.

Important note: w4mp reserves the right to refuse any adverts which do not fulfill the above criteria or which, for any other reason, are deemed to be inappropriate for w4mpjobs.

Parliament Week starts 15 November – reminder

Parliament Week 2013 will be taking place from 15-21 November 2013.

In 2012, Parliament Week attracted 95 partners across the country, ranging from local museums to universities and national organisations. As a result of these partnerships, the Parliament Week programme included a fantastic range of events, including debates, exhibitions, talks and online activities, and attracted thousands of participants.

Members of the House of Commons and the House of Lord take an active part in Parliament Week – visiting schools, taking part in debates and attending events across the country.

All you need to know is here: http://www.parliamentweek.org/.

Tips on joining a MP’s office – why no induction training?

The article below appeared in the recent copy of Commons View – the e-newsletter for Members’ staff – and we reckon it needs a wider airing. A couple of good reasons:

  1. So other new staff realise they are not alone in feeling pretty lost when they start in the job, and
  2. So everyone considering working for an MP has a realistic view of what it’s likely to involve.

The views expressed are those of someone who works at Westminster but our experience is that it can be even more problematic for those based in constituency offices.

Of course the Open Days for Constituency-based staff have been a great improvement and W4MP is pleased to see that a version of this event for staff based at Westminster has now been set up. [Do click on those links for more information.]

But whatever happened to the Induction Days run by Capita?  You can see their current schedule of training opportunities here.

While you wait for things to improve you can always look at W4MP’s own Guide to Working for an MP.  Although written for newcomers after the 2010 election and some aspects may need updating, it is still full of advice and encouragement for new staff….and that’s what you need isn’t it!

Good luck!

____________________________________

Joining a Member’s office is an exciting experience, as is arriving in Parliament to start your new role. It can be a bewildering place and it remains so a couple of years later as you try to find the meeting room in the basement of Norman Shaw North.

If there was one thing that I wished I had been told, it was that you would have to get used to asking for directions and navigating your way round various helpdesks to locate who to contact when a broken chair needs replacing. This is where an induction, provided by the House, would be valuable to Member’s staff.

Whilst learning on the job is part of the challenge, it would have been helpful to have had an induction day where, as a new starter, you were shown round the estate by someone who has been here a while and informed of the departments and facilities available. These are often departments that, at most other places of work, you would expect to be introduced to during a tour (e.g. print services).

I am not suggesting that these run every day but perhaps one a month. Other Members’ staff I have spoken to agree that such a scheme would be useful and they would have taken it up if it were offered to them. It would be interesting to find out if others agree.

Whilst each Member has particular interests, you will need to use most of the House services at some point. A number of times I have been asked who to contact for X or where to find the Pugin Room over the last few years. It would make sense to utilise such knowledge.

The best thing to do is to explore the intranet. When you make use of the House switchboard build up a collection of available services, names and numbers so that colleagues in your office, both present and future, can have easy access to contact details in order to get things done as efficiently as possible.

Megan Brown