First things you need to know

A Working for an MP Guide
First things you need to know
First Published 20th August 2006 w4mp
Last Updated 30 January 2012 w4mp
Last Reviewed 30 January 2012 w4mp
Last Updated 14 April 2016 w4mp
Unamended version copied from old site. Written by Melissa Crawshay-Williams

You’ve just started working for an MP and are delighted to be in the job, but:

  • nobody is telling you where anything is
  • constituents are asking you impossible questions and you haven’t a clue where to find the answers
  • constituency casework is a nightmare
  • you are concerned about security in the office
  • you have not been to Westminster and don’t know your way around
  • you have heard the Library is brilliant, but how exactly can it help you?
  • the Working for an MP Website is all very useful, but there’s nothing like seeing the real thing.

The Induction Day seminars for new staff are just the solution to these and other concerns many new starters have about working for an MP and Parliament as an organisation.

The day includes talks about the following:

  • Your salary, pension, allowances
  • Security, IT support, e-mail and Internet access
  • What the House of Commons Library can do for you
  • Accommodation in Westminster, free postage and other facilities
  • Grand tour of the Palace of Westminster

You will also be able to meet experienced staff who have worked for MPs for several years.

The seminar is totally free  and you can claim travel costs (standard class) or use one of the office travel warrants if you are coming in from the constituency.


1. How do I book rooms in the Palace of Westminster?

For Committee Room bookings in the main building and in Portcullis House 3090; for interview rooms off Westminster Hall 3762; for rooms in outbuildings ring your local Attendant at reception; for ballots for the large rooms where catering is permitted (ie Macmillan Room, Attlee Suite, Jubilee Room) 3090. There is also a self-booking system available on the intranet here.

2. How do I arrange tours?

For a full tour Monday is the only safe day. Large groups must be booked months in advance. Ring 3003 and send in a completed tour form to confirm (by email is easiest). To view tour times on the intranet click here.

3. Where do I get help for research?

Derby Gate Library for researchers and secretaries 3666 (previously 3636)

4. How do I book gallery tickets?

For the House of Commons 3700 and the House of Lords 3100

5. What sort of filing system do you have and how do you cope with so much mail?

My filing system is very simple yet very effective. It is essential to file all constituents’ letters in alphabetical order. To keep the turnover flowing efficiently you will need an expanding folder holding all pending letters awaiting replies. All letters must be kept for a year for data protection purposes. I also keep numerous topics files and parliamentary business files. Above all relax: whether you feel the work pattern is tense or whether you are feeling the strain of dealing with testing and difficult cases, the Palace of Westminster is fun and you should ensure you enjoy your time here!

6. How many guests can I bring to the main estate/palace?


7. What sorts of issues are escalated to the Unions about the MPs?

Usually things like contracts not issued in relevant timescales, over-working staff or giving staff higher level work to do but only paying them for a lower level role.

8. Can you still pay (AVCs) Additional Voluntary Contributions into your pension fund?

Yes, but via the pension provider direct, not via Dept of Finance & Admin.

9. How can you get information on rules, regulations and guidelines?

Via the SAA section on the Intranet site.

10. Why should you open letters with a PLASTIC letter-opener and not a metal one?

If it contains a device which has batteries with loose wires, a metal opener can short-circuit the terminal and set it off!

11. Can you retain membership of an existing union as well as joining the TGWU?

Yes, provided you are happy to pay two lots of membership subscriptions.


This guide is provided by Working for an MP (w4mp). Most of the material in Guides is subject to Crown copyright protection. Unless otherwise indicated material may be reproduced free of charge in any format or media without specific permission. This is subject to the material being reproduced accurately and not being used in a derogatory manner or in a misleading context. For more details see our Copyright page