James GRAY   Conservative MP for North Wiltshire

Parliament’s back – and we are off to a racing start.

I am always amused by the very regular enquiry: “Do you have to spend much time in London?” Er, yes- 18 hours a day Monday/Thursday, since that is where Parliament is.

Four Government statements (PM on the EU Council, Liz Truss on flooding, Home Secretary on Jihadi John’s brutal replacement, and a Foreign Office Minister on relations with Saudi Arabia) on the  first day back, for example,  took 5 hours or so, and delayed the regular business - detailed consideration of the Housing Bill – so that the House sat until 2.30 AM. Up and ‘at ‘em first thing on Wednesday to secure a seat for PMQs (which entails slotting a ‘Prayer Card’ into the chosen seat at around 8AM.) PMQs (and most of the week) is dominated by the botched Labour ‘Reshuffle’. Mr Corbyn’s efforts to stuff his Shadow Cabinet with old-style hard lefties seems to have been stymied – for now. Odd, nonetheless to see a classic CND unilateral disarmer becoming Defence Secretary, and claiming as her only credentials, “that [my] brother-in-law is a General.” Hope he is as pleased about that as she is!

Speak in a debate (on the Armed Forces Covenant) in Westminster Hall on Thursday afternoon, which prevents my attendance at the Gazette and Herald’s 200th Anniversary Party. Never mind – I will come to 210, 220 and 230 instead. I promise.

Friday and Saturday spent on Constituency matters – an interesting meeting with the proprietors of the extremely pleasant park homes in Bradenstoke, a couple of hours dealing with a complex  constituency case near Chippenham, Surgeries in Calne and Royal Wootton Bassett and a dinner near Pewsey amongst a myriad emails, letters, phone calls and meetings.

I find that it’s a good balance – Monday/Thursday in London full on, writing, speaking, meetings, rushing around, Friday and Saturday catching up on constituency matters, by which, apart from anything else, I like to think I get a good flavour of how opinion is moving locally on a wide variety of subjects. It’s always a difficult balance between local and national issues and activities. The MP is torn a thousand ways, and probably never gets it quite right. But is stimulating and fun; and I hope helps make the world a slightly better place in a host of small ways.

I would not change it for anything.