Frequently asked questions

How are Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) elected?



Every 5 years each of the 28 EU countries gets to elect MEPs to represent that country in the European Parliament.

Some countries such as the UK or France get to elect more than one depending on how big their population is, the UK elects a total of 73 MEPs compared to Malta’s 6 MEPs.

However this can change, the total number of MEPs as of 2017 is 751. An example of the change is in 2007 the UK could elect 78 MEPs and there was a total of 785 MEPs.

Most elections take place on a national level however for some of the larger countries such as the UK and France they are split into different constituencies. The UK has 12 constituencies and France has 8 constituencies. We live in the North East region and have 3 MEPs. There is no standard voting system to elect MEPs however it must be a form of Proportional Representation under either the party list or single transferable vote system. The UK uses the D’Hondt method to elect its MEPs.

As of 2014 the North East’s Labour MEPs are:

Jude Kirton-Darling

Paul Brannen

They have also a North East Labour EU website where you can find out more about what they do in the North East.


Can my MP organise a parliamentary tour?



Yes, your MP can organise a parliamentary tour.

You can arrange your guided weekday tour through your local MP for free however this excludes Thursdays. You can contact Helen’s constituency office on 01388 603075 or by email at

Helen Goodman said, “It’s a great opportunity to visit a historic building and find out what the Houses of Parliament is all about. It’s always a pleasure to organise tours for local residents, community groups and schools and I would encourage more people to apply if they are visiting London”.

Can I do work experience at Helen's Constituency office?



Yes, Helen's Constituency Office offers work experience.

"My name is Laura, I’m 18 years old from Bishop Auckland and I came to Helen Goodman’s office to do my work experience as I wanted to learn more about what work they did within the office and learn more about what an MP does. During my time here I have undergone tasks such as, creating a data base from a petition, photocopied the petition, researched PIP for Helen’s case worker and created interview questions for Helen. Over the duration of the week I have learnt more about what an MP does and what work they do within an office. Overall I have enjoyed my time here and the staff were very lovely and helpful towards myself.

If you want to learn more about what an MP does and you’re interested in undergoing work experience in her office, I recommend you get in touch. You can email Helen at,"



Should I join a Trade Union?



What are trade unions?

A trade union is a membership based organisation. One of a trade union’s main aims is to protect and advance the interests of its members in the workplace. Most trade unions are independent of any employer and its main aims are to assist with negotiations and issues.

Why should I join?

1. Pay - Unions negotiate your pay, pensions and other terms and conditions like holidays.

2. Legal Advice – Unions can offer legal advice and services. They also offer personal injury schemes and 24 hour legal helplines on non work matters.

3. Personal representation - Help can range from your elected representative providing reassurance or full blown representation if a problem gets serious.

4. Health and safety – local Health and Safety representatives have rights to help protect your health and safety at work. They can deal with issues ranging from stress to mental health to hazardous substances.

5. Equality – Unions lead the fight for equal opportunities in the workplace. They will stand for equal pay and treatment in the workplace and will combat discrimination.


Where can I find information on trade unions? is one of the top websites available to help you decide on whether joining a union is right for you and if so, which one.

It has information on all of the major unions throughout the UK, useful sections on work rights, equality and can provide you with advice on issues you may be having.

Click here to find the right union for you.




How much will it cost me?

Joining a union provides you with many benefits and a membership can start from 50p per week for new members based on your salary. For more information regarding prices and benefits visit the union tool finder.

What have unions done for its members recently?

Unions are regularly fighting for its members to secure rights or to improve working conditions. Recently, Unions have helped its members to:

Agree a deal with Southern rail regarding driver only trains. Read more here.

Resolve issues around their pension after the closure of BHS. Read more here.

For more updates on what unions are doing for its members visit their website here.


How can I contact my Member of Parliament?


You can contact Helen in a number of ways.

Email Helen at

Telephone Helen's Constituency Office on 01388 603075 

Write to Helen at 1 Cockton Hill Road, Bishop Auckland, DL14 6EN


What happens at a Constituency Surgery?


Helen holds surgeries at a number of venues across the constituency. You do not need to make an appointment but if you have any questions please do ring Helen's office on 01388 603075.

At the surgery you will meet privately with Helen to discuss your issue or concern. If you have any paperwork that it would be useful for Helen to see please do bring that along. For benefit, pension, tax credits, HMRC or child maintenance enquiries Helen will need to have your National Insurance number. If your case has a reference number please bring that too.

Helen will advise you on any actions that she will take. Please be aware that it can take 28 days for an MP to receive a response from a council or government body - and longer still to get a response from a Government Minister. You will also receive a letter or email to confirm when those actions have been taken.

If you have any concerns about disability access to a surgery or have any additional requirements please contact Helen's office on 01388 603075.

How can I find out how my MP voted on an issue?


There are a number of ways to check how your MP voted on a particular issue. Many constituents email their MP to ask their views on a range of issues from Cayman Island Turtles to Human Rights.

You can also check your MP's voting record on Hansard. Hansard is a written record of Westminster debates and both written and oral questions to Ministers.

Helen's record in voting is average amongst MPs and her record in speaking in debates and asking Parliamentary Questions is well above average. You can find out more about Helen's voting record here.

What is an Early Day Motion EDM?


Early Day Motions (EDMs) are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons. Realistically very few EDMs are ever debated and are a mechanism for drawing attention to an event or cause. MPs register their support by signing individual motions. Visit the Parliament website to find out more about EDMs or view previous motions.

You can see which EMDs Helen has signed recently here. As a frontbench MP Helen was unable to sign EDMs but since stepping down from the Shadow DWP team Helen has signed a number of EDMs.

How do Select Committees work?


A Select Committee is a group of around eleven MPs from different parties whose job it is to scrutinise the work of a particular department of government.

They examine every aspect of the department's work in order to decide what inquiries to hold and calling for written evidence from the public about various issues the department is in charge of. They then gather evidence from experts in various fields, and use this information to question ministers.

Once they have gathered enough evidence, they will submit a report to the Government, who then have two months to respond. This can start a chain of further examination and debate.

A useful video about select committees is

Helen is a member of the Treasury Select Committee. What does this mean?


Helen Goodman is no longer a member of the Treasury Select Committee.

The Treasury Select Committee scrutinises HM Treasury and associated bodies such as the Bank of England. It is a key part of the process that examines Philip Hammond’s policy decisions, questions policy makers and produces reports on Government economic policy. Visit the Parliament UK website for an overview of the Treasury Committee’s responsibilities and transcripts of Treasury Committee inquiries that Helen has taken part in, in the past.

The Treasury Select Committee is chaired by Conservative MP Nickie Morgan and has cross-bench membership. It is one of 19 Select Committees related to government departments and the government will normally publish responses to Select Committee reports.

Helen has previously taken part in Inquiries holding George Osborne to account over his record on carbon emissions, the government on its record on economic growth and banks on their customer service.

Visit the Parliament UK website for more information on other Select Committees.

What Select Committees are Helen on?


Helen is a member of the Ecclesiastical Committee and the Procedure Committee.

The Ecclesiastical Committee examines reports from the governing body of the Church of England, and researches it before submitting the report to both Houses. This information from the report can play a role in drafting or amending legislature. The Ecclesiastical Committee is a joint committee, which means that it is a committee made up of members from multiple organisations.

The Procedure Committee examines the way in which Parliament conducts public business - examples of this include recent inquiries into term limits for committee chairs and proxy voting. They produce reports which are then examined by Parliament and can be used to amend procedure.

What does Helen do in her role as Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs?


As Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Helen does the same job as most shadow ministers. This means that she is in charge of holding the government to account - to criticise errors that they make and support what they have done well. Helen is in charge of doing this with regards to relations with other countries.

Shadow ministers also examine legislation and help to pass bills about their area of expertise: Helen has to try to foster better relations with other countries as Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs.

How do I contact Helen?


You can Email Helen at to talk about issues you think are important. You can also phone Helen on 01388 603075, or follow her on Twitter (@HelenGoodmanMP), Facebook ( and watch her YouTube channel (Helen Goodman MP).

Her surgery is at 1 Cockton Hill Road, Bishop Auckland (DL14 6EN), on Fridays. This is also the address to send letters to.

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