EU vote doesn't stop normal business

Whilst constituents may be given the impression that the forthcoming EU referendum dominates everything in Parliament, I can reassure you that I have been finding plenty of time to campaign on the domestic issues which impact our ability to enjoy good health and get from home to work or study.

Debating the Queen's Speech

Last week, the Queen performed the State Opening of Parliament. This event is a wonderful display of pomp and ceremony which reflects on the traditions and history of our Parliament. One of these traditions is the Queen’s Speech during which Her Majesty outlines the Government's plans for legislation for the year.

I'm part of a listening Government - Academies

Having spoken in the House of Commons about my concerns for proposals to force all schools to become academies, I was delighted that the Government has rethought its policy and will leave outstanding or good schools to make this decision for themselves (assuming that the local education authority is performing).

My role on the Council of Europe

As well as having my seat in the House of Commons, I am one of twenty MPs who have been appointed to the Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. This group meets for four weeks of the year to debate issues impacting human rights, democracy, economic development and foreign affairs across its 47 member countries, which stretch from Iceland to the Ukraine, accounting for 820 million inhabitants. I have been sitting in Strasbourg this last week.

Transported back to the House

After our Easter break, which consisted of time spent on constituency casework and visits and a brief holiday in Hampshire, we are back in the House. For some bizarre reason, the authorities deem it a good idea to hold all statements about the preceding fortnight on the first day back (rather than spreading them over a few days for better consideration).

Making Difficult Decisions - Personal Independence Payments

In my last column, written on the same day the Budget was delivered, I hoped that the annual financial statement would be business-as-usual and not a headline grabber. However, just 48 hours later Ian Duncan-Smith resigned as Secretary of State for Welfare and Pensions. Following his resignation, the Government decided to reverse a reform to benefits and the media had a field-day.

Achilles Heel to Life as an MP (Updated)

In the first 6 months as your MP, I have tried to get across the 200 square miles of our constituency on a regular basis. Every week, and during recess, I visit schools, charities, businesses, councils, public services and constituents in their own homes.

Budget delivers change for our schools

My week in Westminster was dominated by the delivery of the Budget. This occasion is accompanied by its share of ceremony, theatre and leaks to the press (a matter which I find a depressing feature of news management in modern politics).

Noisy PMQs is not the real Commons

Last week, I was pulled out of the ballot to ask a question in Prime Minister’s Questions. For those of you now familiar with the process, MPs ask the PM a question and he gives a response. Readers are probably more familiar with the jousting which takes place between David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn.