June 2018 Newsletter from John Howell MP for Henley
Over the last few months I have written on different aspects of the workings of Parliament and of the work of an MP. There is perhaps one more facet I would like to cover to round this off for the moment. This is on the mix of topics and issues before the House and before individual MPs.
If you are guided by the media you might think that MPs have talked of nothing other than Brexit for some while now. This is far from the truth. From time to time there are big debates on specific aspects of Brexit but, on the whole, it has not dominated the parliamentary agenda. Of course, there are important negotiations going on and these are being done by the team designated to do this. As with any negotiation these are not done in the public eye; no good negotiator would show their hand in such a way. When a key debate on this does come before the House I tend to receive deeply passionate pleas for me to vote in a certain way. The problem is that I receive deeply passionate pleas from both sides of any argument. It is inevitable that I am going to disappoint some.
However aside from Brexit the agenda before the House has been full of other importance issues among which I would list Yemen, counter terrorism, abortion in Northern Ireland, Heathrow, refugees, issues around international trade, NHS issues, persecution in Nigeria – to mention but a few. I have spoken in debates on many of these issues. I know that sometimes specific issues can be very detailed and can seem remote to some people but in the wider view each debate is important.
In addition to debates in the House there are issues to lobby on, and support to give to constituents on specific matters dear to their hearts and often unknown to many. Sometimes I may just get a handful of people raise an issue, on others a campaign team has managed to rouse wider support. Such issues include problems with surgical mesh, puppy farming, HPV vaccination for boys, issues around specific medical conditions and treatments, around flooding, and welfare support. As I mentioned in a previous article, it is often the personal stories that give the detail and depth of understand on an issue that can be most helpful in directing action on behalf of others.
Given the wide range of issues raised with MPs offices it will be no surprise when I say that when the phone rings we have no idea what the call will bring. I have a small team of staff to help me and they will always listen and help as best they are able. Many of the calls and emails I receive are about issues that I am unable to directly help with, these may be commercial matters or more frequently issues that come under the devolved responsibility of the County or District Council. In such circumstances we may direct a caller to their local councillor as the elected representative on the respective council. As members of the councils they will have much more ready access to information and officers on local issues and be able to get a quicker response. I appreciate that it is sometimes difficult to know just who is responsible for what so we are very happy to advise.
If you would like to know more about my work in Westminster, on behalf of the Government and the Constituency please do look at my website which is regularly updated. The address is www.johnhowellmp.com. Further details of the work of Parliament is available on the parliament website at www.parliament.uk.
As always, I am interested to hear constituent’s views on the proposals before the House. If you would like to share your thoughts on an issue you can email me at email@example.com or write to me at the House of Commons or my constituency office.
If you would like to receive my periodic electronic newsletters and briefings on specific issues please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org asking to be subscribed. You can also follow me on Facebook www.facebook.com/JohnHowellOxfordshire or on twitter @JHowellUK