How Parliament uses research
MPs, Members of the House of Lords, and Parliamentary staff use research as part of their work. Find out how different people in Parliament use research in different ways and watch our introductory video.
Video introduction to research in Parliament
MPs and Peers
Research can help MPs and Members of the House of Lords (Peers) to scrutinise Government policy, debate pressing issues of the day, and pass laws.
Many MPs and some Peers have staff working for them, helping them access research and information. Research helps the MPs and their staff to answer queries from constituents or address issues in their local area.
Most political parties have their own research units:
- Conservative Parliamentary Research Unit (PRU)
- Labour’s Parliamentary Research Service (PRS)
- Research Service of the SNP Westminster Group
- Parliamentary Correspondence and Support Team (PCST) for the Liberal Democrats
Each unit provides research for all MPs in their respective political parties.
They employ researchers to complete research projects and prepare briefings for party members.
Both Houses have Select Committees that are cross-party groups of MPs and Peers that scrutinise different areas of Government.
Select Committees use research to carry out inquiries on different topics, write reports and make recommendations to the Government.
Researchers help identify topics for future inquiries and help Select Committees identify specific experts to act as witnesses or specialist advisers.
Specialist advisers can help Committee members and staff to understand complex or technical issues, support scrutiny of witnesses called to give oral evidence, and help interpret information.
Public Bill Committees
These Committees are established to consider specific bills, which are proposed changes to the law.
Research can support the scrutiny of a bill by increasing MPs' knowledge and understanding of the bill, or highlighting key issues raised by the bill and the likely implications and outcomes.
Both Houses have research services within their libraries, drawing on academic research to produce briefings and debate packs.
Libraries also offer a confidential and impartial enquiry service for MPs, Peers and their staff.
Library specialists draw on research when writing briefings, blogs, and to stay up to date with evidence and policy.
Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST)
POST serves both Houses and produces short impartial briefings on topics in science, technology and the social sciences.
The office draws on research to summarise existing evidence on policy, and also identifies topics likely to be of future interest to Parliament.
In addition, POST hosts events designed to bring MPs, Peers and parliamentary staff together with relevant experts, and also hosts academic fellowships.
All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs)
APPGs are cross-party groups of MPs and Lords who share a common interest and wish to exchange information or inform debate around that topic. They do not have an official status within Parliament.
They host talks and also hold inquiries, both of which may be informed by research.
The Curator's office works to preserve the historical assets and works of art on the Parliamentary estate.
The office engages with researchers and experts to help tell the story behind Parliament's buildings, artefacts, exhibitions and events.
The Archives, across both Houses, provides access to records relating to Parliament and a records management service.
They use research in all areas of their activities, including:
- collection care
- digital preservation
- information and records management
- outreach and engagement work
The Archives is keen to use research to explore its holding. It encourages academic use of its collections through research projects and programmes of study.
Restoration and Renewal Programme
The Palace of Westminster Restoration and Renewal Programme is keen to use research to inform their work. This is needed to protect and preserve the heritage of the Palace of Westminster to ensure it can continue to serve as home to the UK Parliament in the 21st century.