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

January 21, 2013 1:15 PM

Published in the East Anglian Daily Times for Saturday 19th January 2013.

One of the great joys of being a Member of Parliament is the wide range of events which the job encompasses.

On Friday evening last week my wife and I were guests at the Annual Dinner of Colchester (308 Squadron) Air Cadets of which I am President. On Saturday we were guests of 1st Colchester Scouts (founded 1908) for their annual Twelfth Night Supper. Our two eldest grandsons are members.

My first appointment on Monday was with two Colchester businessmen to discuss a problem which needs the attention of Ministers to help resolve. I then caught the train to London for a meeting with other Essex MPs to discuss the future of the Essex Cancer Network, only to discover on arrival at the House of Commons that it had been postponed at very short notice.

At lunchtime I attended a reception to highlight Chinese brands. This was followed by Defence Questions. I criticised the scrapping of the Ministry of Defence Police from Colchester Garrison, describing it as a "betrayal" of The Armed Forces Covenant.

Afterwards I attended a reception organised by The Exclusive Brethren, a Christian non-conformist denomination, who are campaigning against the Charity Commission's decision that they should no longer have charitable status.

In the evening I had a private meeting with the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (Ed Davey) to discuss a matter which I feel could be beneficial to residential consumers. Main business of the day was the Second Reading of the Crime and Courts Bill. There were no votes.

In my office at the Commons on Tuesday morning I did a live breakfast interview on Colchester Garrison Radio as a follow-up to what I had said the previous day in Defence Questions.

Next came a breakfast meeting, organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Media Group, with those engaged in local television stations. None is currently proposed for our part of the country. I then attended a private briefing, with other MPs and Peers, given by Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt during which I asked him a question about Israel/Palestine. This was followed by a meeting with a representative of a buying group which assists charities through bulk purchasing deals.

Last events of the morning were (a) with The Friends of the Earth to support their campaign for the protection of bees; and (b) signing a declaration with other MPs commemorating the liberation of Nazi concentration camps.

In the afternoon I attended the weekly meeting of the Liberal Democrat Whips; the first meeting of 2013 of The Speaker's Committee on the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (I represent the Lib-Dems); and later the weekly meeting of Lib-Dem MPs. I Tabled a Motion congratulating the RSPCA for a successful prosecution it had taken under The Hunting Act. Main business was on Constitutional Law, dealing with the possible independence of Scotland. There were no votes.

I was at the Commons early on Wednesday morning to book my usual seat for Prime Minister's Questions, with my first diary appointment a telephone discussion with the BBC Radio 4 programme "You and Yours" about a future broadcast based on a debate I had last month on "green waste contamination". This was followed with a meeting with two senior Officers from the Metropolitan Police dealing with fraud directed by unscrupulous operators at elderly and confused people. I shall be pursuing this issue at Parliamentary level.

I spent most of the afternoon dealing with casework correspondence with a break to attend a reception organised by The Communication Trust, a group of 40 voluntary sector organisations who help children with speech problems. In the evening I was one of 13 East of England MPs who attended a dinner hosted by Network Rail to discuss "The future of railways in East Anglia" - I pressed for increased capacity on the Colchester to London route. Main business of the day was Labour Opposition Debates on (a) Examination Reform, and (b) Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency.

Transport Questions were on Thursday morning. I had a question and called for investment to increase the capacity of the railway between Colchester and London. Later, during Business Questions, I called for action to protect consumers who had been left with worthless gift vouchers following the collapse of major retailers.

Also in the morning I had a meeting with a pharmaceutical company involved in rare conditions; and had an interview with a university student doing a thesis into the Armed Forces.

In the afternoon I did a radio interview with British Forces Broadcasting Service about Education Inquiries (one for Military personnel, the other for Service children) being undertaken by the Defence Select Committee on which I serve. Next I attended a service to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of former Liberal Prime Minister David Lloyd George, held in the historic chapel off Westminster Hall. Last event was the recording of Anglia TV's "Late Edition" political programme which was broadcast last thing Thursday night.

Greater Anglia's locomotive "Colchester Castle" powered the train for the journey home!

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