First, do you have a specific problem affecting your enterprise, or is the issue of wider concern? Second, have you pursued the appeals procedure open to you, and, if it is a local authority matter, have you approached your councillor?
Third, be very clear what it is that you really want to see happen, whilst remaining realistic. MPs canít work miracles, but they can unblock a foot-dragging Government agency, or ensure that procedures are followed fairly.
Write, ring or email?
Writing to your MP remains the preferred approach. This in part reflects some MPs techno-ignorance, but is actually more a matter of practicality and fairness. Letters can easily be forwarded to Ministers and filed for following up, and whilst emails are responded to, many MPs feel they should not be prioritised over those who don't have access to the Internet.
Be aware that security measures have slowed things up. Scares can hold back letters for days.
Keep it short. Is it a specific problem, or a wider, national issue? What is the nub of the problem, and what help are you seeking? Have you included an evening number, given our working hours often donít end until 10.30pm ?
Don't send glossy brochures. 95% go straight in the bin.
Increasingly popular, but put your address on so we know you are a constituent.
Follow the points above under Mail.
Different MPs act in different ways, and some will write back.
Phone or fax
The fax your MP website is good for general campaigns, but please keep it short. If you are one of twenty faxes, we don't need eight chapters of War & Peace.
Try and avoid the phone as a first point of contact unless its your MP and it's a personal issue. Instead fax a letter if its really urgent. Use the phone as a follow-up, if required.
Whilst MPs can't visit every local firm, most do like to see things for themselves.
Again, aim for one hour as a visit time, and include time for the MP to meet staff.
If there's a complicated concern you wish to raise, then send a summary before the meeting, as you would in business. This will make the meeting much more effective.
A visit can also afford your enterprise a publicity opportunity and, as you know, we MPs aren't publicity-shy!
If you are able to come to the House, you're best at aiming to come Monday to Thursday and again send a briefing on the issue beforehand. If you can tackle the issue in approximately 30 minutes, your MP will be much more appreciative.
Mark Prisk MP