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2010 booklet - Foreword by Mr Speaker

This page last updated: 7 May 2010

The parliamentary and constituency staff in MP’s offices are the unsung heroes of the Westminster Village. The modern House of Commons could not exist without these individuals yet on the whole they serve to make others look more impressive rather than themselves. The truth is that the sheer size and complexity of modern government means that it is impossible for MPs to devote the time that would be required to seeking the material that is needed to challenge and scrutinise the executive in its many forms. Members of Parliament need help and it is right that such assistance is provided, principally through research. My thoughts on this matter are not merely the consequence of observation. I myself started my time at Westminster working part-time as a researcher to Dr Michael Clark MP and I found it an immensely fulfilling experience. I know that there are many other MPs with similar life stories.

The life of a researcher or caseworker can, though, be a traumatic one. There are no shallow ends at the Palace of Westminster. A person can find themselves hired and then within minutes be asked to undertake duties for which they have had little or no formal training. The tools of modern technology can be an asset in this regard but they also create the expectation that incredibly detailed data can be discovered in relatively little time. It has long been the frustration of researchers that no one has done the research which would allow them to appreciate better how they should attempt to do research. This produces an ultimately unattractive psychology of “sink or swim”.

This Guide to Working for an MP should mark a significant improvement in this regard. It will be a handbook for researchers and MP’s staff, whether they are operating from Westminster or the constituency. It should also promote an understanding of the dramatically new way in which the House of Commons will work in the aftermath of the expenses scandal and with the benefit of considerable internal procedural reform. My congratulations go to DODS and Working4anMP for producing this volume and my best wishes are sent to all of those who will benefit from the information which is set out here.

Rt Hon John Bercow MP
Speaker of the House of Commons

 


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