For those of us who spend a good proportion of our daily lives sifting through dozens of PQs (Parliamentary Questions – by which MPs probe Ministers) the hunt for an interesting answer keeps us from slipping into insanity.
Many of the questions are left unanswered on the grounds of cost or the amount of work it would take civil servants to find the answer – or simply because the government department in question doesn’t know the answer!
But sometimes, once in a blue moon, a PQ reveals a devastating truth that has real political consequences, or provides a really useful nugget of information. Today as I was doing my daily sift and search I found out that MPs are calling their designated hotline to the Borders and Immigration Agency at the Home Office (which handles asylum claims and immigration matters) on average 126 times a day over a four year period.
MPs often intervene in the cases of constituents where it is clear that they have not been treated properly by the Home Office. MPs have also been at the forefront of campaigns to halt deportations of those who have put down roots in their communities or would face danger in their country of origin, and sometimes manage to whisk them off planes in the nick of time.
If you do the maths, over four years MPs (or more often their staff) have called the hotline a staggering 183,390 times! I’m willing to be corrected on the sums (never was my strong point), but it’s still a lot.
If you think you need the support of an MP for your case or the case of a friend, you can find their contact details by entering your postcode on the House of Commons website, or look out for information about their surgeries in your local press.
If you want more of an insight into the weird, wonderful and essential-for-the-health-of-our-democracy world of PQs then you can search through them all here. That site is also useful for keeping tabs on your favourite MP.