What does Johns work at Westminster involve?
I spend about half of my time in my constituency and the other half at Westminster. This normally involves flying down to London early in the week and flying home on a Thursday night. I have a small office in London with one member of staff and keep in touch with my Edinburgh constituency office every day.
The average day consists of a mix of attending debates, meetings, committees and dealing with correspondence from constituents and other groups or organisations who have contacted me. Parliament is lobbied by groups wishing to express their views and I meet with some of these occasionally. Constituents also visit on a fairly regular basis and I try to meet with them.
In addition to the normal House business I am currently Lib Dem Spokesman for Disability and was recently named a Spokesman on International Development which gives me the unique opportunity to work for change in these areas. Along with the Royal National Institute for the Blind I recently lobbied successfully for the Government to raise the level of mobility allowance available for the blind – this is something I am particularly proud to have worked on. In the near future I will be sitting on the committee for the upcoming Equality Bill where I will be working to keep the Government in check in my capacity as an opposition Spokesman. If you would like to know more about what goes on at Westminster you can visit the Westminster web site.
Many people ask why the debating chamber at Westminster is relatively empty except at Prime Ministers Question Time. One reason is that MPs can follow the debates on a monitor in their office and get on with their work at the same time, rather than just sitting listening to other speakers. I have found that this is a much more productive way to spend my time.
On most days the Commons Chamber does not start business until 2.30pm, but there is other work going on in committee, at meetings or in Westminster Hall debates. Time has also to be found to read the volume of post, emails and fax messages that arrive on a daily basis. In an average week I receive over 1,000 correspondences in the form of letters and email at my Westminster office on top of what arrives at my constituency office. Often the day at Westminster starts at 9.30am and can regularly end after 10.30pm.