Week beginning 5 January: My political year starts on Friday 2 January with a meeting with the officers of the Strand, Aldwych and Trafalgar Square Association over lunch in the very congenial surroundings of Simpsons. The House of Commons returns after Christmas recess on Monday 5 January and immediately I am in the chamber carrying out my duty as an Opposition Whip in a debate. On Tuesday I speak to the London Western Conservative Future group on my role as Shadow Minister for London and Wednesday I enjoy lunch with the senior partner of accountants KPMG to discuss economic and strategic matters in London. On Thursday I attend the City Corporation of London Government Dinner at Mansion House and on Friday I go to see Superintendent Sue Weatherburn at Charing Cross Police Station regarding policing in Covent Garden. To my surprise I learn that Sue is shortly to move on. It is good news for her as she has been selected for fast track promotion training. Luckily for me her replacement Superintendent Peter Terry is already well known to me as he heads the Belgravia Station.
Week beginning 12 January: My first meeting of the week is with Carole Richardson of the UK Breast Cancer Coalition before a full day spent mainly in the House with the Housing Bill. On Wednesday I attend the Westminster City Council group meeting which allows me to keep in touch with the wide range of city council matters. On Thursday I am a guest at the Smithfield Consultants’ lunch in the Savoy then in the evening a guest at the Armourers’ & Brasiers’ Court Dinner at their splendid City home, Armourers’ Hall. Friday is the launch of the London Olympics Bid at the Royal Opera House where the enthusiasm of everyone is almost tangible though I have my doubts whether the global politics of the Olympic movement will see Britain gain the opportunity of hosting the event. Politics continues through the weekend with my attending the London Campaign Working Group and on Sunday I have a very enjoyable day going to Harrow East as a guest speaker at a well attended constituency lunch which, to my surprise and delight, includes amongst the audience a very sprightly 91-year-old Hilda Howard, the mother of our Party’s leader, Michael.
Week beginning 19 January: My first task on the Monday is a meeting with Commander Christopher Allison at the Territorial Policing HQ on Victoria Embankment which is a prelude to a week of my spending many hours each day on the Standing Committee examining the important Housing Bill. On Tuesday I attend a dinner for Conservative MPs at the US Embassy and on the following day I go to the London First event at the Foreign Office. On Thursday I am the guest speaker at the international law firm, Taylor Wessing, taking about private equity and venture capital to an audience which doubtlessly knows far more about this than me! Friday sees me visiting the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority. Sunday is the annual delight of being a guest at the Chinese New Year of the Monkey celebrations in Soho. My involvement includes speaking alongside Mayor Livingstone on stage in Trafalgar Square and then onto the dinner with the Chinese Chamber of Commerce at the Phoenix Palace Restaurant in Glentworth Street.
Week beginning 26 January: The Housing Bill Standing Committee continues this week so I am tied to the House much of the time. On Tuesday I am guest of honour at the Worshipful Company of Glovers lunch in Drapers Hall and on Wednesday I attend the Inter Faith Reception for the Renewal of St Martin-in-the-Fields in Cholmondeley. On Thursday I speak at the Thorney Island Society event in the Basil Street Hotel and there are two further speaking engagements on Friday to end my month – lunch with property company, King Sturge, whilst in the evening I am in South London to speak at the Camberwell & Peckham Conservatives Supper Club. I reckon February must start with a diet!