Nearly two weeks since I last blogged! Thought I'd get time to catch up over half-term recess, but as busy as ever. Apologies also to people who are waiting for me to reply to correspondence, especially on two big issues at the moment, Digital Economy Bill and Libel Reform. It's not that I'm ignoring you, it's that I want to do justice to the issues, which are complex, and not just fob you off with a rushed response. Also, with the DE Bill in particular, it's a moveable feast, as it's going through the Lords... Anyway, now that the Children Schools and Families Bill has got through its Third Reading in the Commons, life should be a little less hectic and give me the chance to deal with the mountains of paperwork. Yesterday, as the CSF departmental whip, I spent 11 hours on the Bill, and another couple doing other things like urgent emails and stuff relating to my constituent who's recently been arrested in India for plane-spotting. I hesitate to say today will be quiet, but it will at least mean I get to spend some time in my office rather than the Whips Office ... I hope.
Business in the Commons today is the remaining stages of the Energy Bill, after David Drew has presented his Public Bodies (Procurement of Seafood) Ten Minute Rule Bill, which sounds intriguing to say the least. It'll be a running whip on the Energy Bill, with votes possible throughout the day.
- Meeting with Jim Knight, the Minister for the South West, mostly to talk about regional economic issues, (good news yesterday, by the way, about the Bristol Science Park getting the go-ahead)
- Popping into the launch of the Robin Hood tax campaign (something I intend to blog about at some length, seeing as I do actually know a leetle bit about the financial markets - broadly supportive but don't think it's as easy to implement as people are suggesting.)
- Seeing a constituent who's here on a lobby of Parliament in support of homeopathy. Bristol is one of four cities which has an NHS-funded homeopathic hospital, and there's clear support for it from patients, but the Science and Technology Committee has said it's a waste of public money.
- Doing a little bit of whips' stuff - already had a breakfast meeting today, and Wednesdays are the day we sort out who is 'slipped' from the whip next week, which involves contacting all my Ministers (DCSF, DFID and NI) and South West backbenchers to see what their plans are.
And of course it's PMQs... more on that in a moment.