Latest index reveals how busy your local MPs really are

A colour photograph of the House of Commons lit up at night

The House of Commons

 Constituency activity within Yorkshire and Humber shows if your MP is worth the vote.

Reported by Jennifer Tierney, Georgia Ellis, Jack Church, Sal Wilcox.

The busy life of a zero-hour contract care worker must be the perfect preparation for life of a constituency MP. Rachel Maskell, who worked in the NHS for 20 years and now represents the constituents of York Central, is the hardest working constituency MP in Yorkshire and Humber for the second year running — according to exclusive research conducted by #LeedsHacks.

Barry Sheerman, the veteran MP for Huddersfield, takes second place, while Philip Davies, MP for Shipley, is the hardest working Tory. Political heavy weights such as former Labour leader Ed Miliband, tory-chief whip Julian Smith and the minister in charge of Brexit, David Davis, all languish in the lower ranking positions —  for a second year. Indicating that the more high profile your MP, the less likely they are to represent the people they are paid to represent.

This contrasts with the work of Maskell. She told #LeedsHacks that she endeavours to prioritise her constituency. “I am fully committed to my role as the community always comes first.” She added that it’s her job to get “every individual voice heard to [get] the best policies possible to aid everyone.”

This commitment to constituency affairs is reflected by other high-ranking MPs. Diana Johnson MP for Hull North said “I’ve made it my aim to always stand up and be heard,” which resulted in them being higher ranked than power hungry MPs within political parties who aren’t in tune with their constituency.

Our exlusive investigation pulled data from a number of publicly-available websites, including the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), Hansard, Public Whip and the MPs own websites. All these websites are conducted from parliamentary working records from the official Hansard for 2017-2018.

We gathered the data and organised it into five categories:

 

  • Written Q&A’s; the official letters MPs use to hold government ministers to account;
  • The number of times the MPs have spoken in parliamentary debates;
  • The amount of times MPs have voted in Parliament
  • The rebelliousness of MPs, reasoning that the more an MP defies the party whip, the better they are likely to represent their constituents.
  • And — crucially — an exact record of how many times Yorkshire and Humber MPs bothered to mention the place they represent.

 

The MPs were then ranked according to the above activity and placed in a league table, with the most active at the top and the lesser active at the bottom. Other activity, such a surgery hours, was not quantified, owing to the lack of publicly available data.

 

Most active MPs in Yorkshire and Humber 

 

MP Ranking Role in Parliament Age Voting Record Questions Answered Number of Debates Constituency Mentions
1. Rachael Maskell
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Member of Parliament for York Central, Shadow Minister (Transport) 45 Has voted in 90.70% of votes in this parliament Received answers to 218 written questions this year Has spoken in 106 debates Mentioned their constituency 137 times
2. Barry Sheerman
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Member of Parliament for Huddersfield 77 Has voted in 89.50% of votes in this parliament Received answers to 158 written questions this year Has spoken in 132 debates Mentioned their constituency 29 times
3. Philip Davies
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Member of Parliament for Shipley 46 Has voted in 94.19% of votes in this parliament Received answers to 242 written questions this year Has spoken in 92 debates Mentioned their constituency 11 times
4. Paul Blomfield
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Member of Parliament for Sheffield Central, Shadow Minister (exiting the European Union) 64 Has voted in 91.86% of votes in this parliament Received answers to 290 written questions this year Has spoken in 46 debates Mentioned their constituency 21 times
5. Tracy Brabin
Member of Parliament for Batley and Spen, Shadow Minister (Education) 56 Has voted in 88.37% of votes in this parliament Received answers to 295 written questions this year Has spoken in 61 debates Mentioned their constituency 31 times
6. Louise Haigh
Member of Parliament for Sheffield Heeley, Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Policing) 30 Has voted in 86.00% of votes in this parliament Received answers to 403 written questions this year Has spoken in 60 debates Mentioned their constituency 31 times
7. Diana R.Johnson
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Member of Parliament for Hull North 51 Has voted in 77.90% of votes in this parliament Received answers to 373 written questions this year Has spoken in 109 debates Mentioned their constituency 76 times
8. Martin Vickers
Member of Parliament for Cleethorpes 67 Has voted in 93.02% of votes in this parliament Received answers to 12 written questions this year Has spoken in 79 debates Mentioned their constituency 30 times
9. Imran Hussain
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Member of Parliament for Bradford East, Shadow Minister (Justice) 39 Has voted in 88.40% of votes in this parliament Received answers to 131 written questions this year Has spoken in 36 debates Mentioned their constituency 22 times
10. Melanie Onn
Member of Parliament for Great Grimsby, Shadow Minister (Housing) 38 Has voted in 87.21% of votes in this parliament Received answers to 114 written questions this year Has spoken in 51 debates Mentioned their constituency 22 times

To see the full index, click here.

We calculated the amount of times Yorkshire and Humber MPs mentioned their constituency in parliament and we’ve also recorded how many times they spoke in debates in the last year.

The exclusive data provides an insight on the performance of Yorkshire and Humber MPs, and whether they are voicing the opinions of the people who voted for them. These MPs have reached success through “hard work and dedication,” as said by Martin Vickers, MP for Cleethorpes, rated 8th out of 54 MPs.

 

A graph to show the number of debates MPs spoke in

Number of debates spoken in

A graph to show the number of times the MPs mentioned their constituencies

Number of constituency mentions

 

 

House work

Second on our list is the veteran MP for Huddersfield Barry Sheerman (up from eighth in 2017). He said he’s always on visits to his area to see what he can do to help. He believes his “job is to represent the people and make their voice heard,“ proving that most high ranking MPs share the same constituency values.

Former chief executive of the British Youth Council (CEO) and expert in Political Public Attitudes and Engagement, said a good constituency MP is “Someone who cares,” and will “stand up to power.” This is exemplified in our research by Philip Davies, MP for Shipley, the most rebellious MP in Yorkshire and Humber and third most active overall.  

Davies told #LeedsHacks, as the reason he has been successful is because he has “no ambition” to become a minister. “Even if I was offered a promotion I would never take it, I would always opt to take a backseat from success to help my constituency. Most MPs speak for a promotion I speak to help the people.”

Scoring seven out of 56 MPs, Diana Johnson is passionate about her constituency of Hull North, but she believes that Hull is often overlooked, making it “important that there is a strong representation of Hull in the House of Commons.” As that the city is “important and needs to be heard.”

Martin Vickers, MP for Cleethorpes, rated eighth, was a local councilor for 20 years and has always wanted to serve the people, so “becoming an MP was his way to speak for the people and he hasn’t taken that lightly,” said his Head of Office. Vickers added that to make a good local MP, you always have to work for the people that voted for him and the “constituencies worries and concerns.”

One criteria of our investigation measured how often our MPs took the trouble to travel to Westminter and speak on our behalf. Sheerman — second overall — spoke most often, spoke in 132 debates; Diana Johnson — seventh overall. spoke 109 times. Other MPs were better at paperwork.  

Jon Trickett, MP for Hemsworth, asked a whopping 1,755 written questions despite being ranked 40th overall. This figure was five times greater than that of Louise Haigh, who ranked second in that category. Trickett commented: “Parliamentary questions are a key to holding the government to account. Due to the chaotic state of the Tories, it’s necessary to answer many questions to ensure the government is as effective as possible.”

 

 

Least active MPs in Yorkshire and Humber

 

 

MP Ranking Role in Parliament Age Voting Record Questions Answered Number of Debates Constituency Mentions
45. Stuart Andrew
Member of Parliament for Pudsey, Assistant Whip 46 Has voted in 96.51% of votes in this parliament Received answers to 4 written questions this year Has spoken in 8 debates Mentioned their constituency 0 times
46. Sarah Champion
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Member of Parliament for Rotheram 48 Has voted in 61.63% of votes in this parliament Received answers to 72 written questions this year Has spoken in 17 debates Mentioned their constituency 5 times
47. Nigel Adams
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Member of Parliament for Selby and Ainsty , Assistant Whip 51 Has voted in 90.70% of votes in this parliament Received answers to 10 written questions this year Has spoken in 10 debates Mentioned their constituency 0 times
48. Kevin Barron
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Member of Parliament for Mother Valley , Chairman of the Committee on Standards & the Committee of Privileges 71 Has voted in 84.90% of votes in this parliament Received answers to 14 written questions this year Has spoken in 18 debates Mentioned their constituency 1 times
49. Jared O’Mara
Member of Parliament for Sheffield Hallam (temporarily suspended) 36 Has voted in 23.30% of votes in this parliament Received answers to 51 written questions this year Has spoken in 0 debates Mentioned their constituency 9 times
50. Graham Stuart
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Member of Parliament for Beverley and Holderness, Chairman of the Education Select Committee, Assistant Whip 55 Has voted in 94.20% of votes in this parliament Received answers to 0 written questions this year Has spoken in 1 debates Mentioned their constituency 0 times
51. Edward Miliband
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Member of Parliament for Doncaster North 48 Has voted in 73.30% of votes in this parliament Received answers to 7 written questions this year Has spoken in 24 debates Mentioned their constituency 4 times
52. Julian Smith
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Member of Parliament for Skipton and Ripon , Chief Whip 46 Has voted in 94.19% of votes in this parliament Received answers to 0 written questions this year Has spoken in 0 debates Mentioned their constituency 0 times
53. David Davis
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Member of Parliament for Haltemprice and Howden, Secretary of State (Exiting the European Union) 69 Has voted in 81.40% of votes in this parliament Received answers to 0 written questions this year Has spoken in 25 debates Mentioned their constituency 0 times
54. Andrea Jenkyns
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Member of Parliament for Morley and Outwood 43 Has voted in 13.95% of votes in this parliament Received answers to 14 written questions this year Has spoken in 5 debates Mentioned their constituency 2 times

(Table Credits: Sophie Atkinson and Holly Webb

Pictures: Simran Kaur and Megan Jeffers.)

Sir Kevin Barron, MP for Rother Valley indicated that he had been occupied with campaigning to vote more regularly in Parliament. Barron cited that he is “running two large campaigns to support constituents who are campaigning against HS2 and Fracking in Rother Valley”, as a counterbalance to his relatively poor record (84%) of voting in parliament.  

Other reasons for a lower score include the duties many MPs undertake for the government or their respective parties. Nigel Adams, MP for Selby and Ainsty, ranked 46 out of 54 MPs, is the Lord Commissioner and a government whip. Adams’s Political Advisor Ellie Vasey-Thompson explained: “You understand the reason [for the relative ranking] that Nigel is a Whip.”

Elsewhere, Sarah Champion, MP for Rotherham, ranked 45th, disputed our findings. “There is not enough data,” she said. “You can’t possibly know the number of constituency visits, casework or interventions I have made”. The reason for this was that we only focused on publically-available data.

Other reasons for low performance are personal. Former retail worker-turned-tory MP for Morely and Outwood, Andrea Jenkyns,  came bottom of the league. However this was a result of Jenkyns being on maternity leave, with the General Election occurring just three months after the birth of her son, Clifford. Jenkyns’s office stated that as well as “increasing her majority five times and she also: individualised 1384 queries from residents, attended 39 surgeries, six ministerial visits, 42 local authority and public services meetings, 47 business engagements, organised 5 constituency wide petitions and hosted 9 work experience students”.

Chief Whip and Conservative MP for Skipton and Ripon, Julian Smith, another party whip, was the third worst performing MP.“In May 2015, I joined the Government as a Minister in the Whips’ Office, and in November this year I was made Government Chief Whip. By long-standing convention, Whips do not submit oral or written questions. This is set out in various widely-used guides to parliamentary procedure, both implicitly and explicitly.”

Graham Stuart, Conservative MP for Beverley and Holderness and secretary of state for the Department for International Trade, was the fourth worst performing MPs.

Stuart was unable to comment on his performance. But his office manager Niki Roberts said she was “sick to the core that Graham is in the bottom five”.

Elsewhere, Mary Creagh, Labour MP for Wakefield, was the 18th highest ranking  MP in our investigation. Creagh  said: “It’s great to see the diligence of my team reflected in this survey. Working for and representing my constituents in Wakefield is my number one priority. We’ll keep up the hard work throughout 2018.”

Leeds North West MP Alex Sobel had a respectable, middle range position said: “My primary role as an MP is to represent the concerns of his constituents and he is elected to do that to the best of his abilities. That said, I was elected to parliament on the back of the Labour manifesto – those that voted or me believed that those policies would be best for them and their families.”

A care worker (Maskell); a teacher (Sheerman) and Asda customer care assistant (Davies) top our list this year. Hands down beat a broadcaster(Milliband); a journalist (Champion) and a managing director (Goodwill ). Our exclusive analysis shows, if you want a hard working constituency MP, move to an area where your representative had an ordinary background.

 

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