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In the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the European mainland, continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotlan ...
, a member of Parliament (MP) is an individual elected to serve in the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house of the bicameral parliaments of the United Kingdom and Canada. In both of these countries, the Commons holds much more legislative power than the nominally upper house of parliament. T ...
of the
Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It meets at the Palace of Westminster, London. It alone possesses legislative suprema ...
.


Electoral system

All 650 members of the UK House of Commons are elected using the
first-past-the-post voting In a first-past-the-post electoral system (FPTP or FPP), formally called single-member plurality voting (SMP) when used in single-member districts or informally choose-one voting in contrast to ranked voting, or score voting, voters cast thei ...
system in single member
constituencies An electoral district, also known as an election district, legislative district, voting district, constituency, riding, ward, division, or (election) precinct is a subdivision of a larger state (a country, administrative region, or other polity ...
across the whole of the United Kingdom, where each constituency has its own single representative.


Elections

All MP positions become simultaneously vacant for
election An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has opera ...
s held on a five-year cycle, or when a
snap election A snap election is an election that is called earlier than the one that has been scheduled. Generally, a snap election in a parliamentary system (the dissolution of parliament) is called to capitalize on an unusual electoral opportunity or to ...
is called. The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 set out that ordinary general elections are held on the first Thursday in May, every five years. The Act was repealed in 2022. With approval from Parliament, both the
2017 File:2017 Events Collage V2.png, From top left, clockwise: The War Against ISIS at the Battle of Mosul (2016-2017); aftermath of the Manchester Arena bombing; The Solar eclipse of August 21, 2017 ("Great American Eclipse"); North Korea tests a s ...
and
2019 File:2019 collage v1.png, From top left, clockwise: Hong Kong protests turn to widespread riots and civil disobedience; House of Representatives votes to adopt articles of impeachment against Donald Trump; CRISPR gene editing first used to experim ...
general elections were held earlier than the schedule set by the Act. If a vacancy arises at another time, due to death or
resignation Resignation is the formal act of leaving or quitting one's office or position. A resignation can occur when a person holding a position gained by election or appointment steps down, but leaving a position upon the expiration of a term, or choos ...
, then a constituency vacancy may be filled by a by-election. Under the
Representation of the People Act 1981 The Representation of the People Act 1981 (c. 34) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It creates the provision for the automatic disqualification of an MP if they are imprisoned for over a year, leading to a by-election being hel ...
any MP sentenced to over a year in jail automatically vacates their seat. For certain types of lesser acts of wrongdoing, the
Recall of MPs Act 2015 The Recall of MPs Act 2015 (c. 25) is an act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that makes provision for constituents to be able to recall their Member of Parliament (MP) and call a by-election. It received royal assent on 26 March 2015 ...
mandates that a recall petition be opened; if signed by more than 10% of registered voters within the constituency, the seat is vacated.


Eligibility

In the past, only male adult property-owners could stand for Parliament. In 1918 women acquired the right to stand for Parliament, and to vote. To be eligible to stand as an MP, a person must be at least 18 years old and be a citizen of the UK, a Commonwealth nation, or
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, √Čire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean, in Northwestern Europe, north-western Europe. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Grea ...
. A person is not required to be registered to vote, nor are there any restrictions regarding where a candidate is resident. The House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 outlaws the holders of various positions from being MPs. These include civil servants, police officers, members of the armed forces, and judges. Members of the
House of Lords The House of Lords, also known as the House of Peers, is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Membership is by appointment, heredity or official function. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminste ...
are not permitted to hold Commons seats. Members of legislatures outside of the Commonwealth are excluded, with the exemption of the Irish legislature. Additionally, members of the Senedd (Welsh Parliament) or the Northern Ireland Assembly are also ineligible for the Commons according to the
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, the Celtic Sea to the south west and the Bristol Channel to the south. It had a population in ...
and Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Acts respectively, passed in 2014. People who are
bankrupt Bankruptcy is a legal process through which people or other entities who cannot repay debts to creditors may seek relief from some or all of their debts. In most jurisdictions, bankruptcy is imposed by a court order, often initiated by the debtor ...
cannot stand to be MPs. The Representation of the People Act 1981 excludes persons who are currently serving a prison sentence of a year or more. People in respect of whom a bankruptcy restrictions order has effect are disqualified from (existing) membership of the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house of the bicameral parliaments of the United Kingdom and Canada. In both of these countries, the Commons holds much more legislative power than the nominally upper house of parliament. T ...
(details differ slightly in different countries). Members are not permitted to resign their seats. In practice, however, they always can. Should a member wish to resign from the Commons, they may request appointment to one of two ceremonial Crown offices: that of
Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds Appointment to the position of Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds is a procedural device to allow Members of Parliament to resign from the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. Since MPs are technically unable to resign, reso ...
, or that of
Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead Northstead is an area on the North Bay of Scarborough in North Yorkshire, England. The area near Newlands and Barrowcliff includes Peasholm Park and Scarborough Open Air Theatre. In 2011, the namesake ward had a population of 4,038, since 20 ...
. These offices are
sinecures A sinecure ( or ; from the Latin , 'without', and , 'care') is an office, carrying a salary or otherwise generating income, that requires or involves little or no responsibility, labour, or active service. The term originated in the medieval chu ...
(that is, they involve no actual duties); they exist solely to permit the "resignation" of members of the House of Commons. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is responsible for making the appointment, and, by convention, never refuses to do so when asked by a member who desires to leave the House of Commons.


Title

Members of Parliament are entitled to use the post-nominal initials MP. MPs are only referred to as "honourable" as a courtesy during debates in the House of Commons (e.g., "the honourable member for ..."), or if they are the children of peers below the rank of marquess ("the honourable irst name urname). Those who are members of the Privy Council use the form ''The Right Honourable'' (''The Rt Hon.'') Name MP.


Responsibilities

Theoretically, contemporary MPs are considered to have two duties, or three if they belong to a political party. Their primary responsibility is to act in the national interest. They must also act in the interests of their constituents, where this does not override their primary responsibility. Finally, if they belong to a political party, they may act in the interests of that party, subordinate to the other two responsibilities.


See also

* List of MPs elected in the 2019 United Kingdom general election *
United Kingdom Parliament constituencies The Parliament of the United Kingdom currently has 650 parliamentary constituencies across the constituent countries (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), each electing a single member of parliament (MP) to the House of Commons by th ...
* Member of the Scottish Parliament * Member of the Senedd * Member of the Legislative Assembly (Northern Ireland)


References

{{UnitedKingdomMPs Members of Parliament