Added: 13 March 2009
MPs like to use photos of themselves speaking in the Chamber on their reports back, to show their constituents how hard they are working representing them in Westminster, as well as in the constituency. Sometimes these are updated quite regularly; other times you will find yourself using photos with MPs in the background that retired or became Lords long ago.
It’s good to use a more recent one, especially if you are reporting back about a specific debate or question and it’s really easy to get a nice photo of your MP speaking in the Chamber.
- First find a recent debate/Question Time in which they have spoken, (preferably in the main chamber but if your MP is on a Select Committee they might want to take a photo from that). Bear in mind they’ll be especially keen on ones with recognisable politicians sitting near them gazing up at them listening earnestly to the brilliant speech they’re making.
- Find out the date, exact time (to the minute) and Hansard reference (column number) of your MP’s contribution. These are all in Hansard on http://pubs1.tso.parliament.uk/pa/pahansard.htm. If you don’t have a rough idea of the date then you use the ‘Search this person’s speeches’ function on www.theyworkforyou.com after going to your MP’s page.
- Get in touch with the Parliamentary Recording Unit, which is responsible for filming all House sittings, Westminster Hall and Select Committees. They can be contacted on (020 7219) 5511, or by email on the Global Address List as ‘Parliamentary Recording Unit’.
- You can ask for a close up or a wider shot (close ups are normally better for a report back).
- The guys in the Recording Unit will reply pretty quickly with a still which they think looks good.
- If you or your MP aren’t that keen on the one they have proposed you can book a slot to go and see the Recording Unit and go through the speech frame by frame until you find a photo you like more (make sure your MP and the ones in shot have their eyes open and look awake and engrossed, for a start!) The Recording Unit is based in 7 Millbank (just past the BBC/Sky studios, where Select Committees are also based), but the person who you arrange the appointment with will meet you in the lobby so don’t worry about getting lost.
- Once you have agreed a photo/specific frame they will email you an electronic copy. An invoice for £5 per photo will be sent to your MPs’ House of Commons address and once you have paid it you are free to use the photo as you wish.
If you are reading this and are a constituent who wants a photo of your MP, contact his/her office or try his/her website. Don’t know it? You can search here: http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/commons/l/.
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