Parliament is the supreme law-making body for the United Kingdom. The monarch, the Lords and the Commons have to agree, but no monarch has refused to sign a Bill in recent history and the Lords can only delay Finance Bills for one month and non-Finance Bills for one year. So the elected House of Commons is the most important part of Parliament.
* Define the criminal law and your rights, within the bounds of the European Convention of Human Rights. This includes policy on policing (such as stop and search), your right to a jury trial and sentencing.
* Raise and spend taxes. You already pay value-added tax on goods you buy and will pay income tax and National Insurance when youstart work.
* Set the age limit for all kinds of activities, such as drinking, driving and sexual intercourse.
* Decide policy and finance for public services. It can define such things as what you learn at school and the priorities for hospital waiting lists. It can limit local council spending on services like education, housing, roads and rubbish collection.
* Declare war and conscript you into the armed forces.
So find out what policies the candidates support - and decide whom you would vote for
* Get information from newspapers, television and radio.
* Check out election literature, broadcasts and party websites.
* Find out if the candidates are holding meetings locally. Go and listen, ask questions and tell them what you think.