As the House of Commons continues to debate our path forward on Brexit, Parliament has seldom been so much in the public eye.
Obviously more interest in our national institutions is welcome, but I do think that the set-piece spectacles and big political showdowns can give an unbalanced picture of the work MPs do.
Take this week as an example. Beyond the drama in the Chamber a huge amount of important business was conducted, often without the rancour you sometimes see in the Commons.
For example, on Monday night there was a reception for English Tourism Week. Events like this are a welcome opportunity for MPs to come together to learn more about how various national initiatives can benefit their constituencies and communities.
With our beautiful historic buildings and official motto of ‘Urbs in Rure’ – literally town in country – Solihull provides many visitors with a base from which to explore the nearby countryside, and I’m always keen to help our town put its best foot forward.
So-called ‘Westminster Hall’ debates are another place where important work is conducted a bit further from the public eye. Named after the oldest part of the Palace of Westminster, these provide MPs with the opportunity not only to discuss issues but to receive a response from a member of the Government.
One this week have particularly caught my eye. It concerns the vicious crime of puppy smuggling, and has been put together with support from the Dogs’ Trust. I have already given my strong and public support for more rigorous enforcement and tougher sentencing to stamp out this horrifying practice.
We also come together to celebrate festivals and other events. Tuesday saw the annual reception to celebrate Vaisakhi in the Speaker’s State Rooms.
Vaisakhi is one of the biggest celebrations in the Sikh calendar, and marks amongst other things the start of the new year. Our parliamentary event has been running for many years, and brings together speakers from the main parties and the Sikh community.
This year we will also be launching National Sikh History and Awareness Month – a programme of activities to draw attention to the huge contribution Sikhs have made to the UK.
Originally published in the Solihull Mail, 04/04/19.