Get involved: send your pictures, video, news & views by texting Harrow Times to 80360, or email us
Juggling local and Government duties
One of the most intriguing poltical questions, amongst many at the moment, is when a Government minister is allowed to also be a local MP? I have had the great pleasure and privilege of being the MP for Harrow East for nearly 11 years and have been a Government whip for almost eight of those 11 years.
Does this pose a challenge? Yes it does. But I have always been clear that there must be space and room for the two roles to be complimentary - not contradictory. Any challenge to Government policy will always be written up as hypocrisy by political foes - but I don't this is always fair. Let me give some examples.
I know and understand, I think everyone does, that for the post office network to survive and flourish, there has to be a rationalisation of the number of branches. But this has to be done within set criteria, including social need.
I happen to think that closing the branch in my constituency in the parade of shops by Buckingham Road in Edgware fails to meet the criteria and should remain open - so I am fighting for it to stay open - as any good local MP should. Am I wrong to do so?
I am in total agreement with the Government's policy on building schools for the future, but I happen to believe that the Department for Children, Schools and Families is wrong to leave Harrow until about 2011-2012. I think that the sooner Harrow has the ability to change the age of transfer to high school to 11 rather than 12 the better and that this can only be achieved by bringing forward our building schools for the future slot forward to as soon as possible.
To acheive this I am working and campaigning with both the Conservative and Labour groups on the council - putting the education system in Harrow above party politics - am I wrong to do so?
The list goes on - supporting the retention of the Harrow and Wealdstone to Gatwick line, working with the council to get the Government to recognise Harrow's funding needs, campaigning locally for a new police station fit for the 21st Century and for more police and PCSOs in Harrow, working to secure the future of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore and Northwick Park Hospital - to name a few of the ongoing campaigns and activities I am involved in.
I will work as tirelessly as I can to ensure that Harrow's needs and Harrow's voice is represented anywhere and everywhere it needs to be - and if my opponents think that this is in anyway hypercritical then so be it - I think that ultimately that says more about them than it does about me.