Weatherill Papers: constituency papers
These files contain material relating to Weatherill's work as an MP.
Files of correspondence concerning issues raised by constituents of Croydon North East, 1991
Accession code: WEA/PC C
This series of records contains one year's correspondence only, which was selected as a sample of Weatherill's work. The common pattern of these files is an initial letter from the constituent, an acknowledgement by Weatherill, a letter from Weatherill to the appropriate department in central or local government and a copy of their reply being sent onto the constituent with a covering letter from Weatherill. Some files also contain notes about a surgery interview. Letters to Weatherill are answered speedily, usually within the week and roughly half the files cover less than a month. There are only a handful that stretch over the whole year. The first half of the year was much busier than the second half with number of new files created peaking at 130 in March 1991.
Weatherill's own letters to constituents make frequent reference to his position as Speaker of the House of Commons, which demands a degree of political impartiality and consequently he has recourse to writing to colleagues and ministers for the official government line to be put in writing to his constituent. The letters from government offices are often full, giving simple explanations of procedures and listing relevant statistics. They are an indication of attitudes and policies of the government of the day.
The constituency surgeries were held every Friday between 6pm and 8pm, at Acorn House, 74-94 Cherry Orchard Road in Croydon. Generally a member of the Croydon Borough Council also attended to offer advice or take a matter on if it seemed appropriate. Weatherill's constituency agent was Miss Joanne Walters and his constituency secretary Miss Vivian Walker. The surgery interview is logged on forms printed on coloured paper, which has the name and address of the constituent, an indication of the problem to be discussed and Weatherill's notes during and following the interview.
Constituents letters are usually written in a respectful tone. But the desperation of the writer can also be apparent and frequently they claim they are contacting their MP as a last resort. Despite this it is clear that they have not always used the more normal channels for action on their case and some are incorrect in believing Weatherill is their MP. The most common cases deal with issues such as entitlement to benefit, immigration and housing problems and delays in sorting out claims about the poll tax. This last issue gives rise to so many letters that Weatherill himself writes to the local authority to establish the cause of delays.
The files are arranged alphabetically by the name of the name of the constituent. There is a strong link with the engagement file series, reference number WEA/PP E, which cover the same period with many letters being sent from the Speaker's Office in the House of Commons, rather than his constituency office. There are also letters in these files for engagements at Speaker's House that appear to have no connection with the constituency, indicating some pragmatism about the timing of letter writing.
1152 files. Most of the files are no more than half a dozen sheets of paper, both typescript and handwritten and held together with a staple which has been removed.