How often do Ministers refer to their constituencies?


It is of course impossible to test how loud MPs are in their constituencies and in many other settings, however their speaking in the House of Commons is carefully recorded via Hansard and repeated on another agency called They Work for You. I have been following local MPs for a number of years using They Work for You. Following the latest General Election in 2019 until the 21st September this year, the quietest MP in Sussex by a very long extent was Maria Caulfield who is the MP for Lewes. However on the 17th September she was appointed as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Patient Safety and Primary Care following her time as an Assistant Whip since the General Election. Following that latest appointment she has spoken 565 times so an average of 43 times a week, essentially responding to questions and debates. By comparison during her role as a Whip she spoke once in 2021 and in 2020 she spoke on 4 separate days. To be fair on three of those days she did speak more than once during the same debates with a total of 11 contributions over those four days. Prior to the 2019 General Election when she was an MP but not a Minister or Whip she spoke 165 times in that year and in 2018 147 times so she is not incapable of speaking and some of these responses were related to her constituency. One of her comments in 2020 referred to Lewes Football club, 14 of her comments in 2019 were reference to Lewes and 18 were in 2018. However since the 2020 reference to Lewes she has not mentioned Lewes.

Now of course the lack of reference to local constituencies is not unique. Mims Davies and Gillian Keegan are both local Ministers and prior to the 15th September Nick Gibb was a local Minister. These three people have all spoken very often for the Government but sadly they do not seem to refer to their constituencies very often when they are Ministers. This raises the question of should MPs remain as MPs when they get selected as Ministers? Anyway here are the cases for those other three MPs.

Mims Davies was an Eastleigh MP prior to 2019 and she did refer to Haywards Heath once in 2016 because of her historic experience as a Councillor in Mid Sussex. However she has not mentioned Mid Sussex, Haywards Heath or any of the other villages or towns in her constituency since she became an MP although she has been an Minister for all of her time in Mid Sussex so it is difficult to know what would be the case if she was not a Minister.

Nick Gibb is the MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton and since he ended as a Minister he has referred to his constituency five times in 3 months which would suggest he could raise the subject about 15 times a year. However as a Minister he referred to his constituency once this year in January and prior to that he did not mention it while he was a Minister. However from September 2012 to July 2014 he was not a Minister and in that time he mentioned his constituency five times in 2012, five times in 2013 and five times in 2014 so perhaps his constituency interest was more modest in the past even when he was not a Minister?

Gillian Keegan referred to Chichester once this year and in 2020 she referred to it once after she became a Minister on 14th February. Prior to that appointment she referred to Chichester five times in about 5 weeks in 2020 and in 2019 she referred to it 36 times and in 2018 36 times.

So the question has to be how well do other MPs refer to their constituencies and more importantly the Ministers? Indeed do we benefit from Ministers if they are so inadequate at referring to our constituencies?

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
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