A week in the life of Dartford MP Gareth Johnson
PUBLISHED: 08:44 20 December 2012
Ever wondered what your MP gets up to? Dartford's Conservative MP Gareth Johnson shared his week's diary with the Reporter...
Monday, December 3
A quick email check (I receive about 200 a day) followed by a daily strategy meeting with my Parliamentary researcher. I hosted a 10am conference with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority today to discuss recent IVF developments with industry specialists. The conference helps to ensure fertility issues gain a higher profile at Westminster. Next it was off to the Speaker’s house for a Christmas reception with the disability charity Scope to discuss localising services for disabled children. This was followed by an interview with BBC South East on changes to the A&E department at Darent Valley Hospital. I grabbed some time to read through constituency letters and drafted responses before heading to the chamber to the debate on the Leveson inquiry. Mondays are always long days with voting normally between 10pm and 11pm.
Tuesday, December 4
Spent the morning voting in the chamber and working in the house library researching a Bill I will be presenting next year. The Bill allows prosecutors to appeal against unduly lenient sentences. Later I met with Kent MPs for our regular monthly meeting on Kentish issues, then voted unsuccessfully in the chamber to abolish the Human Rights Act. I think the Human Rights Act has been bad for Britain and should be replaced with our own Bill of Rights. The rest of the evening was spent between my office and the chamber before leaving at about 9pm to catch the train home to Longfield.
Wednesday, December 5
Back at the station for the rush-hour commute, there was a light dusting of snow which I optimistically hoped Southeastern would be able to cope with. I was wrong! No train and no information about when one will arrive. Eventually a short train arrived and I got to Westminster. Some Kent commuters faced waits of up to 80 minutes. I took part in interviews with Radio Kent and BBC South East on the issue of rail services, or rather the lack of them, and I then headed to the chamber to ask the Northern Ireland Minister a question on the decision to remove the Union flag from Belfast City Hall. It’s not right to prevent our flag being flown anywhere in the United Kingdom. I remained in the chamber for Prime Minister’s Questions and George Osborne’s Autumn Budget statement. The evening was spent reading the letters I receive (about 100 a day) and signing responses before taking the train back to Dartford…this time without major delays.
Thursday, December 6
Thursdays are mainly spent in Westminster but today I was in the constituency office in Dartford. It gives me a chance to catch up on the growing pile of constituency work and to call various people who have contacted me and meet with organisations whose work affects Dartford. Every MP receives a wide range of correspondence, which varies according to the prevailing issues at the time. I read every letter and email I receive and my small team and I try to respond swiftly to each one.
Friday, December 7
Spent the early part of the morning in my constituency office before attending a meeting with a local headteacher. I then had a meeting with the Campaign to Protect Rural England to discuss the Thames Estuary Airport plan and the effect this would have on rural Kent. I spent my evening at a meeting of the local Conservative Party.
Saturday and Sunday, December 8-9.
For MPs weekends can get busy because it’s the best chance to meet people and go to events in the area. So on Saturday I did some local campaigning. I think it’s important to get out and talk to people on the ground. I represent about 100,000 people so I can’t get to talk to everyone by I try to get around as much as I can. On Sunday, I was delighted to attend the Arrow Riding Centre’s Christmas carol concert in Darenth. The centre does some incredibly valuable work with disabled children and was a really great way to end the week before spending the rest of Sunday with my family.
To contact Gareth Johnson, email firstname.lastname@example.org, write to Gareth Johnson MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA or telephone 020 7219 7047.