ParliNet – useful bookmarks


ParliNet users will have noticed that there is no longer an A-Z index on the site, and so w4mp is going to list some of the more common pages here. Some of the links take you to the public Parliament website as these pages are no longer on the intranet.

Please note that some of these may be subject to change as pages are moved around ParliNet. We will do our best to keep up with them, but please do let us know if you spot any broken links by emailing us at

All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs)

Calendar/What’s on in Parliament

Caseworker Hub (part of MST) – includes hotlines and useful booklets

Digital Service

Dods People

Facilities (Westminster estate only)

Find Your MP


Guide to Procedure

House of Commons Library (public site, where the casework guides are kept)

House of Commons ParliNet Site

House of Commons Library – Specialist Researcher Directory

House of Commons Online Resources (databases, etc.)

Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS)

Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) public website

Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) Unit 4 ERP

Job vacancies at Parliament


Members’ HR Advice

Members’ HR Best Practice Guides

Members’ Security Support Service

Members’ Services Team

Nexis News Database

Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

ParliNet homepage

Registers of Interest

Registers of Interest – MP registration forms

Restaurants, cafes and bars (access and menus)

Security Vetting Portal

Speaker’s Office

Table Office


Training for Members’ Staff

Visitor Access

Visual Identity

Vote Office

Wellbeing Hub

Interpreters and Translation Services


Members of Parliament serve constituents who speak many different languages and sometimes it is necessary to engage the services of an interpreter or a translation service.

The House of Commons does not provide interpretation and translation services, but the cost of engaging such services can be covered by IPSA under ‘translation services. ‘

The services below are ones which have been suggested by MPs’ staff. You could also search for translators and interpreters local to you on

The Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office can help you to find an interpreter abroad. See this website: Find a translator or interpreter abroad

Please note that reference to a site or service here should not imply an endorsement and we cannot be responsible for anything on third party sites.

Live Services


LanguageLine offers live interpreting services in over 240 spoken languages, face-to-face, online, via telephone or via a mobile app. They also provide interpreters for British Sign Language (BSL), either face-to-face or online via video.

LanguageLine also offers translation services such as document translation and website translation in over 190 languages.

Interpreting Line

Interpreting line offers face-to-face, video and telephone translation services for over 250 spoken languages and also British Sign Language (BSL.) They also offer document translation services.

Internet/Mobile Apps

Internet/mobile apps can be useful for quick translations where you need the gist of something quickly, rather than a definitive translation.

Say Hi is a mobile app which requires an Internet connection:

Siri is built into Apple IOS devices and you can ask it simple questions such as “How do I say in French…”

Google Translate is an online text translator: and there is also a mobile app.

Dissolution Guidance

A view of Parliament from Gt Peter St

Dissolution is the official term for the end of a Parliament before a general election. When Parliament is dissolved every seat in the House of Commons becomes vacant. MPs immediately revert to being members of the general public and those who wish to become MPs again must stand for election as candidates.

Within Parliament a dedicated General Election Planning Group is leading work to ensure Parliament is fully prepared for a general election to take place by January 2025.

The House has now published its revised dissolution guidance, which aims to help Members and Members’ staff understand the rules in place and the support available to them before, during and after the next election, including what to expect during the dissolution period.

You can find  the guidance on the new parliamentary intranet, ParliNet.

There are separate areas for members who are standing again and those who are not standing.

The full guidance is available as a PDF on Sharepoint

The checklists on ParliNet include useful material on each MP’s duties as an employer and how to prepare casework, with particular concern for data protection issues. Many things are time-critical, as staff passes are suspended five days after dissolution.

Handling personal data is a key aspect, and the Guidance for the use of personal data by elected representatives in carrying out constituency casework from the Information Commissioner’s Office will be invaluable.

There is also a lot of guidance on the IPSA website, but this is likely to be updated in advance of the election.

Please note that the guides etc may be updated before the election and so you should refer to ParliNet and not any stored web pages or PDFs for the latest guidance.

Dissolution Guidance Published

A view of Parliament from Gt Peter St

Dissolution is the official term for the end of a Parliament before a general election. When Parliament is dissolved every seat in the House of Commons becomes vacant. MPs immediately revert to being members of the general public and those who wish to become MPs again must stand for election as candidates.

The House has now published its revised dissolution guidance, which aims to help Members and Members’ staff understand the rules in place and the support available to them before, during and after the next election, including what to expect during the dissolution period.

You can find  the guidance on the new parliamentary intranet, ParliNet, and we have published our own page on w4mp to track the guidance.

Please note that the guides etc may be updated before the election and so you should refer to ParliNet and not any stored web pages or PDFs for the latest guidance.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman


The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman is a free, independent service which can investigate individual complaints about councils, all adult social care providers (including care homes and home care agencies) and some other public service organisations. If they decide to investigate, they look at whether organisations have made decisions the right way.

Before making a complaint to the LGSCO, the constituent must first complain to the organisation involved to give them a chance to resolve the issue. They must go through all of the stages of that organisation’s complaints process, and the LGSCO’s website lists some tips for making a complaint. If, after the organisation’s complaint process has been completed, and the constituent is still not satisfied, then they can complain to the LGSCO – but only if it is a matter which they are able to investigate. The LGSCO will not investigate unless the organisation’s complaint process has been completed.

The types of issue the LGSCO can investigate include

  • Adult social care
  • Children’s Services
  • Education
  • Housing
  • Benefits and tax
  • Planning and building control
  • Environment, regulation and waste services
  • Transport and highways
  • Leisure and culture
  • Corporate services, elected members and personnel

You should check on the LGSCO website to make sure that the matter you wish to raise is one that they cover.

The best way to make a complaint to the LGSCO is for the constituent to fill in the complaint form on their website: It is better that the constituent does this themselves, if possible – it’s quite simple and does not need to be an essay, just a paragraph will do. It is preferable to use the online system, so that it keeps the telephone line free for those who are not able to go online.

Those who are not able to use the online system may telephone 0300 061 0614 to speak to an adviser.

The telephone line is open:

Mondays 10am till 1pm
Tuesdays 10am till 1pm
Wednesdays 1pm till 4pm
Thursdays 10am till 1pm
Fridays 10am till 1pm

Migrant Help


Migrant Help exists to protect people affected by displacement and exploitation, helping them thrive as individuals and recover from their trauma. They support those most in need and least likely to find support elsewhere, whilst aiming to bridge community gaps and bring services and support together.

You can read more about Migrant Help here:

Whilst there is no MP hotline for Migrant Help, they have provided some information on how to help your constituents:

A guide to reporting issues via their website:

Accessing Migrant Help’s Service User Portal and webchat:

Your Computer is More Than a Typewriter (part 2)


Document formatting with Styles

In Your computer is more than a typewriter, I wrote about how you can improve the appearance and legibility of documents by fine tuning  spacing between  lines of type, between paragraphs, and around headings. Perhaps I made it sound like hard work. Now I’ll explain how to make life easier with the use of Styles.

If you look at professionally designed publications, you will notice a regular and repeated pattern to the design of text, headings, captions, etc. So it was in 1984 when my wife Noi and I became the design and production team for a small serious magazine, Inside Asia. The editors wanted to follow the pattern of other serious news and analysis magazines, particularly Time, and Far Eastern Economic Review. I promised our typesetters that we would communicate our requirements as clearly as possible.

In those days that involved working with typescripts, prepared with a large left margin; taking a fine red pen; and writing typographic instruction and British Standard marks (BS 5261 – 1976) to comprehensively ‘mark up’ the copy. Our repertoire included standard text paragraphs in Times New Roman, justified, with an indented first line; block quotes indented left and right with space above and below; subheadings in Helvetica Bold;  headlines in Franklin Gothic bold; an enlarged ‘standfirst’ paragraph; and photo captions.

Marking up copy for a 48-page magazine could get pretty boring. Then we had a bright idea. On our next trip to Bangkok, we took artwork for a set of 20 rubber stanps, and got two sets made. The face of each stamp had comprehensive typesetting instructions, and to the wooden handles we added a more generic name such as ‘Subhead’. Even our editors could understand those! And so we accelerated the mark-up of copy.

Type stamps developed by Conrad and Noi

Setting up and using paragraph styles today

In word processors like Microsoft Word or OpenOffice, and in more capable publishing software such as Adobe InDesign, FrameMaker or Affinity Publisher, you can set up your own ‘box of rubber stamps’. Most programs come with a ready-to-use set, but you can add to them and redefine them.

In the software I’m using to draft this, my redefinition of the style ‘Text body’ specifies the font Georgia, at 11pt size, and colour black; custom linespacing of 3 mm; no indents left or right, or to the first line; with an extra 3 mm space after each paragraph. To apply the style, I place my text cursor anywhere in a paragraph, or select a range of paragraphs; and click ‘Text body’ from a styles menu – and that’s it! Now, all those paragraphs have consistent formatting, done in the twinkling of an eye.

Word for Mac styles pane

It can be time-consuming to set up a customised set of styles, and you wouldn’t bother if ywriting just a letter or a quick memo; but if you are asked to prepare a thirty-page report with three levels of heading, block quotes from other documents, and several ranges of bullet points, you will give yourself a big Thank You for doing so.

Here’s a bonus tip: once you have made that document, you can save it as a Template. Even if you delete all of the contents, the Styles will still ‘haunt’ the template ready for the next report you have to make.

Several times I have been called in by organisations to prepare sets of template documents. I’ve done it in Word, PageMaker, and notably in FrameMaker, a serious software package for creating documentation, books and software manuals.

For example, Incomes Data Services was publishing six regular journals. They wanted to refresh the designs, and give them a more co-ordinated appearance. Their production team knew how to use Paragraph Styles, but they were wary of setting them up. First I analysed the journals and the kinds of content in them, then I took sample copy from old editions, and went through numerous iterations of designing, printing and co-evaluating until everyone was happy.

More elaborate paragraph styles

The definition of a paragraph style can include whether a paragraph is a bullet item, and if so, what symbol to use for the bullet, what colour it should be and with what amount of indenting. Or a heading might be numbered. For my friend’s PhD thesis we had a FrameMaker template with headings numbered to four levels deep (e.g. When her supervisor suggested she move one chapter, the whole lot re-numbered themselves ‘automagically’!

Other useful definitions you can make could include forbidding a multi-line bullet point from breaking over a page boundary, or forcing a heading to stay on the same page as the next three lines of text. In narrow columns where the text is justified left and right, you will probably want to permit hyphenation, and in more sophisticated software you can set rules for how extra space will be distributed between words and characters, and the minimum number of characters before or after the hyphen.

Paragraph styles can be based on previously defined paragraph styles. The Incomes Data Services journals were a case in point. First I set up the style ‘Body para’, with each first line being indented 4 mm. Then I made a derived style called ‘First para’ — exactly the same except with no first-like indent. I then set up ‘Bullet point’ based on ‘First para’, but with the appropriate bullet symbol, a tab, and an indent from the left margin…

Character styles

A character style is usually created as an override to the normal setting for text. I first encountered this when using a specilist document editing programme called FrameMaker to prepare training materials, where I would want a special emphasis on a technical word being defined for the first time. I wanted it formatted as a sans-serif font, bold, and with the size minutely adjusted. I set that up on a menu of character styles and used it as needed. Otherwise, I know I would have gone mad!

Your Computer is More than a Typewriter (part 1)


Everyone working for an MP, in whatever capacity, will find themselves creating documents for a variety of purposes. In this guide Conrad Taylor, who has been  doing this for many years, will look at ways to make the documents you create on computers more attractive, more professional looking and more legible.

As a starting point may I introduce you to Robin Williams – a Californian graphic designer, writer and teacher, whose career has run spookily parallel to my own. We’re even the same age.

In my case, I learned graphic design working on magazines and newsletters, but was drawn to the production of reports, documentation and learning materials. In the early 1980s, I handed copy to professional typesetters, specifying and proofreading phototypeset matter. Then, in 1985, I discovered what was heralded as ‘Desktop Publishing’. Companies were sold the promise that if they bought a DTP system, their staff could produce professional documents in house. What was not mentioned, was that there was more to that than buying a Mac or PC and installing PageMaker. It also required a software upgrade to the ‘meat computer’ running between your ears.

For nearly 20 years, I trained people how to become better document and magazine designers using computers. In parallel, Robin Williams was doing the same. In the early 1990s she wrote a book provocatively titled, ‘The Mac Is Not A Typewriter’. She soon followed that with another, ‘The PC Is Not A Typewriter’. Both are still available via online booksellers. What I’m about to tell you is similarly drawn from my own experience of design and publishing, applied to today’s technology.

Boss your fonts around!

When you look down at your computer keyboard, it does indeed look like a typewriter. But there is more to that keyboard than meets the eye. By pressing key combinations I can invoke the names of footballer João Mário and the ABBA composer Björn Ulvaeus, and the cities of  Køpenhavn, Luleå, Besançon and A Coruña. I can insert the symbols ® and © and of course €, and refer to today’s temperature as 24˚C.


More prosaically, I can improve the typography of my everyday documents by typing the ‘en dash’ (–) and the ‘em dash’ (—), and create a proper ellipsis character… (By the way, ‘en’ and ‘em’ are valid words from the world of typesetting – and you can use them in Scrabble!)

How you actually do this depends on two things: your computer’s operating system, and the ‘character set’ contents of the font you use. When the Macintosh came out, Apple devised a set of easy-to-remember keypress sequences to access the extended characters: thus, [é] is Alt-e immediately followed by e, and ç is simply Alt-c.

On the latest Macs you can hold a key down to see the most common extended characters

For Windows systems it’s a bit more clumsy. It requires you to have a keyboard with a numeric keypad at the side. Hold down the Alt key, and on the numeric keypad, type the three or four digit code for that character, then release the Alt key, and the character will appear at the cursor position. For example, the en dash is invoked with [Alt 0150].

There are several reference pages on the Web to help you with these Windows character codes, for example https://www/

Over time, font standards have changed, some fonts have thousands of available characters, and now there are characters you can’t access with a keyboard shortcut or an [Alt] numeric code. If you need that (e.g. to refer correctly to the Polish city of Łódź), learn how to access the Windows character map utility, or its equivalent for Mac or Linux. Or you might have it built in as a facility in your software. I am writing this in OpenOffice (it’s free!) and under the Insert menu I can invoke a table of the characters in the font I am using, with the menu item [Special Character…].

The importance of controlling space. And spacing

In typography, we can say that type matter consists of ‘Ink’ and ‘Space’. My focus here is the space between lines, and between paragraphs. The appearance and professionalism of your documents will be transformed!

Most office documents are printed to A4 paper, with rather narrow margins; OpenOffice defaults to margins of two centimetres each side. The column of type is therefore wider than you would find printed in a book or magazine. As your eye scans back from the end of one line to the beginning of the next, it is hampered by the need to identify which line to latch onto. Furthermore, as you read each line, the type above and below tends to intrude into your central field of high-resolution vision which is what you need to concentrate on.

Matters can be improved hugely by varying the ratio between the type size and line spacing. I’m writing this draft using a TrueType font called ‘Georgia’, at size 11pt. If I use the normal ‘single linespace’ configuration the channel of space between the lines appears rather squeezed. To compensate, I deliberately use a ‘fixed linespace’ setting of 5mm. Immediately, legibility is improved and the tone of the page is lightened.

And what of the space between paragraphs? I never make inter-paragraph space by pressing the carriage return key twice. Instead, I’ve set up the Body Text style so  each paragraph inserts an extra 2.5mm space after it. As for my subheadings, in Arial 13pt, they get 4mm extra space above, and 2mm space below, bringing them into a better logical relationship with the text that follows.

Isn’t this a lot of work to do? Not really, because I’ve set up formatting stored in a list of Paragraph Styles. With a single click, I can tell a paragraph – ‘you are a Text Body paragraph, so behave according to the formatting definitions I’ve set up for you!’ And it does what it’s told. In my following article I shall describe in detail how you can make use of this powerful feature of just about all modern word processors and publishing software.

There is a comprehensive set of tutorial on aspects of Microsoft Word on the Microsoft Support website at

You can also read the next article looking at ways to improve your efficiency and consistency using Paragraph and Character Styles.

PolicyMogul – a free political monitoring and research platform


PolicyMogul is rolling out a free political monitoring and research platform to all parliamentarians and staff

PolicyMogul is a political monitoring and research platform that helps MPs and their staff stay on top of political developments and avoid missing important information from constituents and others. 

Many MPs and their staff are actively using the free service. Learn more and access your account

This resource will help in the preparation of debates, meetings and constituency work, and includes up-to-the minute developments, tailored to your MP’s interests, such as:

  • Updates from government departments and all official sources
  • Extracts from Hansard
  • Material from the House of Commons Library
  • Consultations from the government and elsewhere
  • Tweets from other parliamentarians and political commentators
  • Policy asks and briefing material from charities and other organisations

Your account has already been prepared based on the known interests of all parliamentarians. By default you will receive a daily summary at 9am of all relevant news. The frequency and subject matter of alerts can be adjusted at any time.

You can access your account here

Afghanistan – information for constituents seeking help


Contacting your MP

MPs’ offices are receiving a large number of requests for assistance from constituents with relatives, friends and colleagues stranded in Afghanistan. Please contact only your own MP. If you copy in other MPs, you will hinder their ability to help their constituents.

In order to help your MP to assist you in the most efficient way, please give them as much information as you possibly can.

About you, the constituent:

  • Full name (not just initials)
  • Full postal address
  • email address
  • telephone number
  • If you are not a British national and are in the UK on a visa, please provide your Home Office reference number.
  • If you are not a British national, have you ever worked for the UK Government, UK Armed Forces or British organisations in Afghanistan?

About the people you are trying to help:

Please supply as much information about each individual in Afghanistan as you possibly can:

  • Full name
  • Date of Birth
  • Nationality
  • Relationship to constituent
  • Passport / travel document / identity card number
  • Individual(s)’ contact details
  • If they are not a British Citizen:
  • Home Office reference number
  • Have they already obtained a visa?
  • Do they have a visa application pending (if so, please provide the reference)
  • Have they ever worked for the UK Government, UK Armed Forces or British organisations in Afghanistan? If so, please give details, e.g.
    • Working for the UK or Consular services
    • Journalist or worked with British News Agencies
    • Current of former Chevening scholar
    • Member of civil society group for women’s rights
    • Afghan Government Official or Judiciary
    • Official working in Counter-terrorism and counter narcotics
    • Employee of a charity, humanitarian organisation or NGO

Your MP will log your case and give you a reference number. Please make sure that you use this reference number in all of your future correspondence with them as it will help them to find your case more quickly.

Who is my Member of Parliament?

You can find details of your MP here: and you can use to contact them by email.

Other useful contacts

Commons Library Briefing Paper

Afghanistan 2021: Key resources for UK nationals and Afghans

This page summarises the schemes in place to assist British nationals and others remaining in Afghanistan. It also signposts key resources and helplines.

Support for British and non-British nationals in Afghanistan

Information from the UK Government:

Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy

24 hour helpline for constituents:

For people who are currently in Afghanistan, they should call the British Embassy Kabul on +93 (0) 700 102 000 or +44 (0)1908 516666 and select the option “Consular services for British nationals” as soon as possible.

Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme

Information for non-British Nationals in Afghanistan, or family members of a non-British National in Afghanistan

If you are a non-British National in Afghanistan, or are the family member of a non-British National in Afghanistan, and in need of assistance, you should call +44 (0)2475 389980. This number is currently staffed from 09:00 to 23:00, but will become 24 hour on Monday 23 August 2021.

New number for people in the ARAP scheme to call: +93 (0) 79 290 7303
This is an Afghan mobile number but is operated by the MOD’s ARAP call centre 24/7 from London for ARAP applicants (not MPs, advocates etc).

Applicants are told to message (not ring) & the team then ring them back.

Foreign & Commonwealth Development Office Information

Online form for UK nationals left in Afghanistan to register their presence:

FCDO Travel Advice on Twitter:

Travel advice from the FCDO

British Embassy in Afghanistan:
The British Embassy in Afghanistan Twitter Feed is no longer active. Please see instead.

Home Office

Home Office Twitter:

Information for Citizens of Other Nations

Please see this tweet from Maisie McCormack which contains contact information for the authorities in numerous countries around the world.

UNHCR website with links to different countries evacuation/support schemes and info on what refugees in third countries should do:

Online safety resources for Afghanistan’s human rights defenders

ARAP, resettlement and family reunion – Factsheets for Afghan citizens seeking asylum in UK

Factsheets from Garden Court Chambers