This week I was delighted that 30 members of the Bexhill Health Walk Group visited Parliament.
For those of you who are not familiar with this group, it arranges weekly walks along the seafront for those who want to do some exercise, meet new friends or generally take in the sea breeze.
Having joined the group for its walks, I invited the walkers up to Westminster to see if they fancied swapping the English Channel for the River Thames for a day.
There were two impediments to my own involvement in this visit. Firstly, it was half-term week, not only for schools but also for Parliament, and, secondly, I am still walking on crutches for another week. Nonetheless, I elected to take the train up from East Sussex and we all had a brilliant day in Parliament.
For those who are in organisations, schools, clubs or those who just want to get together as a group of friends or family, here’s how it works. By contacting my office, we will book you on a tour of Parliament. This lasts approximately 90 minutes and you get to step inside the state rooms and chamber in the House of Lords before going downmarket, and swapping gold for wood, in the House of Commons section and chamber. Your tour takes you through the voting lobbies, above the cellar where Guy Fawkes attempted to blow the palace up and on the spot where monarchs have lay in state.
At the end of your tour, I attempt to meet up and spend time answering questions. For schools, there is a specialist education centre where I can come and speak with your class, as I did when Bexhill College came to visit. If your tour is taking place at a time of the day when the chamber is sitting then you get to watch the debates in the gallery instead of touring the chamber.
The role of an MP is really two distinct jobs. The first part, my role in the constituency, is easier to describe. The second role, in Parliament, takes many forms: from speaking and debating in the chamber; scrutinising Government performance and legislation via select committees and Bill committees; chairing cross-Parliamentary groups; meeting with national charities, business and public sector organisations whose services impact the constituency as well as researching and answering your constituency casework. It is only when constituents visit that they get a true feel for what I do and how it all fits together. It is for this reason that I am keen for as many of my constituents to come and visit me over my term in Parliament. I do hope you will come up and see me and feel that Parliament is as much a place for you to visit and enjoy as it is a place of work.