Calling all MPs! Here’s how you should spend 20% of your 10k

So MPs have voted to raise a bit of cash to explain to constituents what’s going on in Parliament. mySociety partly exists to suggest how such things can be done imaginatively and successfully, and we have had the following thought.

MPs must pool at least a little of the money they’re getting to build shared tools and services, if they’re going to have any chance of using this cash effectively. Single tools that cover whole populations are generally much more effective and much better value for money than 646 duplicate, incompatible, technically inferior attempts.

So our modest proposal is this. We want an MP to use PledgeBank to make the following pledge:

“I will pool £2000 of my £10,000 into a competition pot for tools that will help MPs help constituents understand what’s going on, but only if 100 MPs will do the same.”

If it succeeds, individuals, companies, charities – whoever – could vie for slices of cash to build the sort of 21st civic infrastructure that we deserve, and a panel of MPs and advisors could pick the winners. It could be quick, effective and outside the deadening hand of official parliamentary processes.


  1. A very sound call to action. Although a free market approach might dictate that companies should produce a tool they think most MP would buy into the cost of selling to 646 offices is prohibitive. Let’s hope it gets started soon.

  2. In response to my suggestion that he take a look at this prosposal, my own MP very politely noted:

    “I have to admit that I am not entirely sure how doing this will help let my constituents know more about what I am doing on their behalf in Parliament nor whether the House of Commons authorities would allow it. Unless somebody could persuade me of this I will not be taking up your suggestion I am afraid; I intend to use my allowance to produce leaflets to explain to … what I have been doing as their MP.”

    Is he correct?

  3. According the Member’s Estimate Committee minutes

    “Scope of the allowance

    9. The Communications Allowance (CA) should be available to meet the cost of Members engaging proactively with their constituents through a variety of media. It could be used for the production of unsolicited communications within the parameters set out in the rules which will be issued. We are clear that this new allowance—like others—should be for parliamentary and not party political or personal business.

    10. The Communications Allowance may only be used to help Members inform their constituents about what they have been doing and to consult them on key issues, especially of a local nature. It cannot be used to meet personal costs, or the costs of party political activities or campaigning.”

    So, yes I think he is entitled to do as he proposes. So get ready for more oversized newsletters with pictures of your grinning MP and delightful constituents. I shall go ask mine now what he intends doing.

  4. I am opposed to the funding in the first place.

    But if they must have it, could they spend it in diverse ways rather than all getting some bog-standard solution(s).

  5. How can MPs bring the uninitiated / bored / disinterested into the dialog and make them feel involved? Its going to change from area to area, what’s right for one MP may be wrong for another.

  6. A glossy, full colour, 8 side A4 annual report appeared in the mail this week from our MP.

    Blue is very prominent as the main colour, though no direct mention of the Party (other than in the selective quotes from the press) that I could see, but plenty of references to Shadow jobs.

    There are 21 photos featuring the MP.

    It basically showcases what the MP has done, been involved in – not just in the Commons – foreign visits, areas of interest etc., views on the Olympics etc., and an adjournment debate that he secured.

    Does it engage local people? I’d say not, at least not in key issues and policies.

    There’s much more emphasis on more ‘normal’ constituency surgery and individual matters – and feedback and thoughts on how helful he has been in getting some sort of solution.

    Suggesting some novel ways that MPs could engage ‘proactively with their constituents ….. on parliamentary ….. business.
    …… and help ….. inform their constituents about what they have been doing and to consult them on key issues, especially of a local nature.’ surely should be welcomed – and no area or means, whether it be pooling of resources or using different media, should be ruled out.

    I’ll follow up with our MP on the suggestion. He and his office have been responsive on a variety of issues, as well as with individual problems, so I expect that they would be open to practical suggestions.


  7. If MPs use this money to publicise themselves then why is it “not party political” I wonder. I keep a bin near to front door for instances such as useless ads, 600k plus wasted again.

    Obviously MySociety’s suggestion is millions of times better then grubby glossys.

    To be a bit more charitable to MPs, if by any chance any of you read this, how do you know people don’t know what you do, I assume my MP is busy solving detailed individual constituency cases and that I can get help from my MP if ever I needed to ask, no need to persuade me of the need for an MP. I might vote for the oppostion party to my sitting MP but that would be about party politics wouldn’t it? Suggest I am not alone.

  8. It sounds too abstract, the thing about “tools”. Should they buy proprietary software or install some devices which makes it easier for them to transfer in an electronical way what they do.
    I seriously don’t understand what the pledge means in practical reality. Maybe someone would like to help me (I have a learning difficulty) understand, or help with comments on what the pledge is about, it would be welcome.