Duncan Hames, MP for Chippenham - Your input strengthens our country’s democracy (From This Is Wiltshire)
Duncan Hames, MP for Chippenham - Your input strengthens our country’s democracy
12:00pm Thursday 14th March 2013 in Latest News
In Parliament and Foreign Office questions I chased progress in negotiations for an international arms trade treaty.
It was encouraging to hear that the Foreign Secretary had raised the issue with US Secretary of State John Kerry on his visit here the previous week.
It is said that around the world someone is killed every minute by armed violence. An international arms trade treaty could prevent weapons getting into the hands of those with poor human rights records.
I also asked the Home Secretary for data on the immigration of elderly dependent relatives from outside of Europe, and during an evidence-giving session to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Migration I raised the problems caused for my constituents by new family immigration rules.
I met motoring presenter Quentin Wilson and the Fair Fuel UK campaign group in Parliament to hear their concern that fuel prices will continue to rise. I spoke about the volatility of petrol and diesel prices in Parliament last September, and will press the Treasury about it further.
I missed the chance to return to Wiltshire at the weekend on account of the Liberal Democrat spring conference in Brighton.
I presented a report from the committee I chair, charged with developing distinctive Liberal Democrat policy for the parliament that will follow the next general election, and facilitated an event gathering ideas from our members for our next manifesto. Across the political parties, membership levels are not what they were.
And whilst parties have different methods for engaging their members in policy development like this, our democracy is stronger for the involvement of ordinary citizens in the political process long before marking their ballot papers on election day.
If politics and Parliament interests you enough to read this column most weeks then, whatever party or politician you support, I would encourage you to join them and to start to shape their offer to the public yourself. I’m sure you would be most welcome.
Before leaving Brighton I joined Oxfam and the charity Action Aid for an open discussion meeting about the effect targets for biofuels are having in driving land grabs in Africa and by using food for fuel causing greater hunger and malnutrition.
My next surgery will be tomorrow from 11am to 12.30pm at The Pound Arts Centre in Corsham.