• A Day in the Life

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    27 June 2015

    People often ask me what day to day life is like in the Commons. It varies greatly, of course, but here’s an insight into one day last week. It’s Tuesday morning and today I have a Bill for which I am responsible as the Whip in Charge. This means that, as the member of the whips office responsible for HM Treasury matters I manage the arrangements within the chamber (including liaising with speakers, opposition whips, advice to Ministers etc). I am responsible for working towards the safe passage of the Bill – I must understand all the angles and be alert for problems. I have already been briefed on today’s proposed amendments to the Bill by a team of officials in the Treasury. Top of my watch list is any possibility of a government defeat and the actions we would need to take to avert this. Today feels low risk although it seems likely that the SNP will unite with Labour around one of the amendments. There is also a little caution as the Bill is about Europe or more precisely the mechanisms by which our funding contribution to the EU budget (not the amount paid – this is to remain unchanged) is to be altered. In the office meeting that morning I report on progress and the Bill’s Committee Stage kicks off at 12:30pm as anticipated. I am in the Chamber for most of the time that it is debated. The Committee Stage concludes at around 3:30pm and there is the expected division. I act as a Teller (counting votes) and I announce the result to the House. A government majority of 47. Then it is quickly into the Bill’s Third Reading which is unopposed and goes through on the nod. The Bill is now done in the Commons and will go off to the Lords. My chamber work concluded for the day – I return to the whips office and start work on slipping and pairing. As the Pairing Whip a large part of my role is deciding who to release from having to vote – this may be anyone from a cabinet minister attending an overseas meeting to backbenchers with serious personal requests – leave to attend a funeral, medical appointment or the birth of a child. I work hard with the other parties to secure pairing - whereby agreed absences for ourselves and the opposition parties are matched against each other so neutralising any effect on our effective majority. Later I pull up a chair in the library and go through constituency correspondence. I receive thousands of letters and emails a month and whilst time consuming I work particularly hard on constituency casework – there are often opportunities here to directly help constituents with their problems, one of the most rewarding aspects of the job. The House rises around 7:30pm. In and around the work is the colour of Parliament of course. The stories, the gossip, the indiscretions. But perhaps those should wait for another time…