Ever wondered what an MP does all week? Here’s a flavour for you:
19/10. Train to London in time to meet Hullavington constituents for a private tour of the Palace. Feel uninspired at Defence Questions, so fail to ask anything, heading off instead for a tour of the Commons kitchens, which are run by the Administration Committee on which I serve. Very impressive operation. Chair a Statutory Instrument Committee, go to listen to the Chancellor’s plans for the Spending Review, interview a couple of people as potential secretaries; supper in Members’ Dining Room and a couple of votes around midnight.
20/10. Breakfast with Raytheon, then Defence Committee discussion over the threats we face in the world. Up to the House of Lords to watch a pretty uninspiring talk by President Xi of China; drop into the British Veterinary Association (of which I am a Patron) for a cup of tea. Then at 6 welcome the Brigade of Gurkhas into Parliament, and escort them to the magnificent Speaker’s House for a reception (interrupted by a couple of votes.) Then in a very rare occasion, the Gurkha massed Pipes and Drums beat the Retreat in the Speaker’s Court. What a magnificent sight and sound! Baroness Betty Boothroyd and I jointly take the salute arm-in-arm. Dinner afterwards for some of the guests.
21/10. Long meeting to plan my Polar interests in Parliament (I have recently been elected chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Polar Regions), then another rather dull PMQs. Mr Corbyn is worthy, but hardly inspiring! A series of minor meetings and events (8 all told) fill up the afternoon; then have a very jolly private dinner with an old friend.
22/10. Tour the Northern Parliamentary Estate with the Administration Committee again to try to work out what to do about the crumbling Palace; into the Chamber for the debate about English Laws on English Matters, which is rather a weak compromise but better than nothing, I suppose. Speak to a group of Mongolians (I’m in the process of re-establishing the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Mongolia), followed by votes at 7 and the late evening train home to Wiltshire.
23/10. Pick up George Potter, a Hardenhuish student who is to shadow me for the day; do a couple of errands in Royal Wootton Bassett High Street, then volunteer for an hour or so in the Marie Curie shop; up to Cricklade for a radio interview about the First World War, then a couple of hours with GP Dr da Silva to see the work of a GP and the NHS first hand. Off to Bristol to record the Politics Show for Sunday; home via Calne to drop off George, and then speak at a business dinner in Castle Combe in the evening.
24/10. 11 cases at surgeries in Cricklade and Malmesbury; an afternoon at my desk, and a hugely enjoyable dinner with private friends in Brinkworth. Home at 2 am, but the hour change gives us longer in bed!
25/10. Take my horse for a little hack in the morning, off to the Royal Wootton Bassett Civic Service in the afternoon, and then dinner in Pewsey.
26/10. Early train to London and the merry-go-round starts over again.