Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Every Saturday the “East Anglian Daily Times” publishes “Sir Bob’s Diary” of his events of the previous week. Here is the Diary published on 12th January 2013.

January 15, 2013 10:31 AM

Each Saturday, Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell gives an insight into the working week of a local MP.

Defence has been the main feature of this week starting on Monday with a meeting in Colchester about a possible housing scheme for former soldiers, meetings of the Defence Select Committee on Tuesday and Wednesday, Tabling Parliamentary Questions about the Military Corrective Training Centre which is in Colchester, having a meeting about the future of Colchester Garrison Radio, and on Thursday going with the Defence Committee for a full-day's visit to defence company Rolls-Royce at Derby.

On Friday last week I had a morning appointment with a constituent, followed by dealing with casework correspondence from the previous day's Advice Bureau. In the afternoon I had appointments with (a) Anglian Community Enterprise, which covers various aspects of social and healthcare provision for residents; and (b) a local company with a fascinating proposal to create industrial apprenticeships for 40 young people each year, something which I shall now pursue. In the evening I attended a reception at Colchester Castle in advance of a major refurbishment in the coming months.

The weekend was set aside for two party political events, a day of campaigning (delivering leaflets and knocking on doors) on the Saturday and Colchester Liberal Democrats' monthly fund-raising lunch on Sunday at the Party's headquarters at Magdalen Hall, Wimpole Road. I also caught up on correspondence.

Monday morning started with a meeting with Officers at Colchester Borough Council to discuss a specific project I had put to them on behalf of a national organisation to help provide housing for former soldiers who, having left the Army, find themselves with nowhere to live. This will now be investigated further. Back at my constituency office I had a meeting with a representative of Age UK Colchester about funding issues. I then travelled by train to London for the first session of the House of Commons of 2013, Home Office questions, and I was fortunate to be called by The Speaker to ask about whether there are any restrictions on who can be appointed as Assistants to the newly-elected Police and Crime Commissioners, to which the Minister answered that there are none.

The business for the rest of the day were the Report Stage and Third Reading of the Trusts (Capital and Income) Bill, two debates on European Union Documents, and finally a debate on Corporate Tax Avoidance. There were no votes. I spent time dealing with a backlog of correspondence, and left the House of Commons shortly after 10pm. I was back at my desk by 7am on Tuesday morning.

First appointment was with the British Forces Broadcasting Service to discuss Garrison Radio in Colchester (and five other Army locations around the UK) which has a new future from April as a result of changes by the Ministry of Defence. My next meeting was with a charity called Alpha-1 Alliance who represent several hundred people across the UK suffering from this ultra-rare disease. At lunch-time I went to the opening of a display in a public area of the Commons organised by the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums. One of the panels featured research work by Colchester Zoo, in association with others including the Essex Wildlife Trust, into the "Fisher's Estuarine Moth", a rare species whose main habitat is in the Walton Backwaters.

This was followed in the afternoon by the weekly meeting of the Liberal Democrat Whips and then the first of this week's meetings of the Defence Select Committee. At tea-time I attended the weekly meeting of Lib-Dem MPs, with my final diary event of the day a presentation by the Association of Residential Letting Agents and the Chartered Institute of Housing to promote regulation to safeguard tenants and genuine landlords.

Main business of the day was the Second Reading of the Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill, which I voted in support. Earlier in the day Coventry Labour MP Mr Jim Cunningham proposed a Bill on "Regulation of Bailiffs"; I am one of the Bill's sponsors. I left the Commons a little before 10pm, and was back at my desk the next morning shortly before 7am.

My first appointment on Wednesday was about the work of the major charity Cancer Research UK, then an interview with BBC TV East who were following up my Home Office question from Monday, and then I had a briefing session with East of England representatives of the Heritage Lottery Fund where I raised several matters relating to funding of heritage projects in Colchester. Later came Prime Minister's Questions, and then in the afternoon was the second of this week's meetings of the Defence Select Committee. Main business centred around a Labour Opposition Day with two debates; one about a Statutory Code of Practice for Pub Companies, and the other about the Rising Cost of Transport. I continued working in the Commons until 10.30pm catching up on casework correspondence on behalf of constituents.

On Thursday members of the Defence Select Committee travelled to Derby, leaving St Pancras station at 8.55am, for a day's visit to defence company Rolls-Royce where we toured the plant involved with our nation's submarines. I was back at the House of Commons at 6.30pm and, after checking urgent e-mails, left for Colchester where I got home at 9pm. Yesterday morning (Friday) I held an Advice Bureau for residents.

Liberal Democrat Sir Bob Russell is the only non-Conservative MP in Essex and Suffolk.