Chairing a Select Committee - Worcester News

News is only interesting if it's controversial, so this means that the work of an MP is only reported, even in local papers, if it's ground-breaking, partisan, or indeed scandalous. This means that much of what we do goes unnoticed.

Most people's view of an MP's working day is that we spend all our time debating in the Commons. It's disappointing but not surprising that many people think that spaces on the famous green benches indicate laziness and shockingly poor attendance.

A modern MP can only spend a small part of his or her day in the Chamber. The rest of the time is taken up with meetings, committees and dealing with constituency matters on an individual basis. On average, I receive over 200 letters a week, and well over 1000 emails, almost all of which need a response.

Select Committees have become the most important way in which MPs hold the government to account. They are made up of backbench MPs and they conduct inquiries into government policies, expenditure and administration.

About a third of my time is spent chairing the Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Select Committee. It's a clumsy name, but my committee looks into important issues concerning trade and business, shadowing the work of the government department DBERR. Sometimes our inquiries are national, but often they have a big local dimension too.

When we look at UK energy policy and prices, as we will do next week, we are looking at something that affects every household and business. What constituents have told me about the behaviour of energy companies is really valuable for this work.

We're having two meeting next week because so much is happening - the other one is on the Post office closure programme which reaches Worcestershire in August.

Committees like mine wield significant power and can call on ministers, civil servants, public bodies and individuals to appear before us to give evidence. We publish reports to which the Government must respond within two months.

Apart from energy and post offices, we are currently looking into the construction industry, UK economic relations with Turkey and with India, and how we keep high added value jobs in Britain when the economy is going global. Again, the recent redundancies at Morganite Crucible remind us just how big that challenge is and I'm pleased to be bringing the committee to the county in May as part of this inquiry.


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