November is always an extremely busy month in Parliament. It is the end of one parliamentary year and the start of another marked by the Queen’s Speech which was delivered this year by the Queen on November 26. This normal frenetic level of activity was increased for me further by the Conservative Party choosing a new leader, Rt Hon Michael Howard QC MP, and his decision to appoint me as Shadow Minister for London. I am also retaining my job as a member of the Opposition Whips’ office with responsibility for the work of the Local and Devolved Government Affairs team led by David Curry. In the few paragraphs below I have tried to give a brief glimpse into my parliamentary and constituency life during the four weeks of November.
Week beginning 3 November: the week is one of change with my personal duties being altered and Michael Howard confirmed as the leader of the Conservative Party. Despite all the comings and goings the functions of the House have to be looked to and as a member of the Whips’ office I am on duty on the front bench much of the week. I do find time to attend three constituency engagements – the Belgravia Residents Association AGM, The Lancaster Gate Ward event at the Tower of London and the Marylebone High street fashion show but for each one it is a mad dash to get to them. The constituency week ran well into the weekend with my wife Michele and me attending the Lord Mayor’s Show on Saturday and then the Remembrance Day Service at Westminster Abbey in the Sunday.
Week beginning 10 November: three external events brightened the week – the Lord Mayor’s banquet on Monday; Freshfields’ Alumni reception at Tate Modern where I met many people whom I had worked with at the firm many years ago as a junior solicitor. Then on Thursday I went along as a guest of the Regent Street Association to see the Christmas lights being turned on by Daniel Bedingfield. On Friday evening it was down to more political effort with an appearance as a guest speaker at the Eltham Conservative Association dinner.
Week beginning 17 November: It is a massive week of activity with the end of the year’s parliamentary business coming on Thursday. Business goes on very late through Wednesday night into the early hours of Thursday morning and every other evening runs beyond our normal 7pm finishing time as the government tries to get its final Bills through the House of Commons and the House of Lords before Thursday’s deadline.
Week beginning 24 November: For the first two days of the week the House of Commons is in recess so I take the opportunity to attend morning assembly at St Nicholas Preparatory School and talk to the pupils, visit the British Red Cross City Fayre as a guest whilst also enjoying the Westminster Property Owners Luncheon at Le Meridien. Later on Tuesday evening I give a short speech at the AGM of the South East Bayswater Residents Association. After the Queen’s Speech on November 26 much work is carried out in the Commons in response to the Government’s programme for the year ahead until on Friday night we have our important Two Cities Ball at the Dorchester, which proves a great success.