In the Commons: what does your MP do?

As MPs return to the House of Commons – and the headlines – this week, following the Easter recess, we take a look at what contribution Liz Twist makes to the chamber.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. Picture date: Wednesday January 19, 2022.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. Picture date: Wednesday January 19, 2022.

As MPs return to the House of Commons – and the headlines – this week, following the Easter recess, we take a look at what contribution Liz Twist makes to the chamber.

In the first of this series, analysis shows how often the Labour MP for Blaydon has voted, how many debates she has taken part in, and how many parliamentary questions she has asked since the last general election.

The figures, from the House of Commons Library, show the activities of MPs between the state opening of Parliament on December 16 2019 and March 7 this year.

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    Of the 491 votes over this time, Liz Twist, who serves in the official Opposition, recorded 307 ayes or noes, and acted as a teller to count 100 divisions.

    She recorded no vote, or abstained, on 84 occasions – giving the North East representative a participation rate of 83%.

    This was above the average for all UK politicians who have sat in the House of Commons since the election (excluding the Speakers) of 81%.

    Several MPs had participation rates as high as 95%, while Conservative MP Sir Christopher Chope voted in just 36% of divisions.

    The Conservatives had the highest average rate of 86%, while Alba's two Scottish MPs had the lowest – just 51%.

    Meanwhile, Labour had an overall rate of 77%.

    The HoC Library said MPs may not vote because they are carrying out other work related to their parliamentary, government or opposition roles.

    And participation rates may be affected by ‘pairing arrangements’, whereby MPs from different parties who cannot attend a division agree to cancel out one another’s vote.

    Before divisions, debates are held for Members to discuss government policy, new laws and topical issues of the day to help the House reach an informed decision.

    Since the last election, Ms Twist has taken part in 215 debates, speaking a total of 60,034 words.

    By comparison, the average MP has spoken 44,530 words over the same period, Prime Minister Boris Johnson around 394,000 and Democratic Unionist Party MP Jim Shannon a whopping 560,000.

    These include spoken contributions and oral questions in the House of Commons chamber and in Westminster Hall, but not those shorter than four words.

    The figures also show Liz Twist, who was elected to her seat on June 8, 2017, has asked 227 Parliamentary Questions since the last election.

    These are put formally to a government minister about a matter they are responsible for – to seek information or to press for action from the Government.

    This included 68 put to a government minister in person, 142 in writing and 10 topical questions – those asked during the last 15 minutes of most ministerial question sessions.

    And she asked seven during Prime Minister's Questions – the weekly session when the PM faces scrutiny in the House.