Monday, 8 March 2010

And then the phones go dead and the emails bounce

Britain's Parliament is steeped in history and tradition. One of the more arcane practices is the Dissolution of Parliament.

Once Parliament is dissolved (that is to say an election is about to called) MPs stop being MPs. And rather quickly too - at 5pm that day. Legally MPs are no longer allowed to represent themselves as MPs. They may not enter the Palace of Westminster or use any of its facilities.

How does this affect us? Well according to the rather strict interpretation of the rules the MPs email addresses, phones and postal addresses cease to function. Any websites they have that represent them as MPs or are paid for by their communications allowance can't be used.

So many of the contact details we have will stop working just when they are needed most. Any email matching '...@parliament.gov.uk', phone matching '020 7219 ...' or postcode 'SW1A 0AA' is parliamentary.

Over the next few weeks we'll be asking the wonderful DemocracyClub volunteers to find alternative contact details. This may involve explaining to current MPs why their current details are not adaquate.

If you want to help please sign up with DC - or make corrections and additions as you find them on the site.


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