The View from Westminster
Christopher Fraser, our local MP, provides the first of his reports from Westminster
I am delighted to contribute to this community newsletter. It is a common misconception that MPs are only able to help those who share their political views, but this could not be further from the truth. It is important that I listen to all my constituents. Many people contact me to tell me their views on national and local issues, and I work closely with groups and individuals across the constituency dealing with casework that I have been requested to take up. At no time does one consider the political leanings of the person for whom one is working.
I have been asked what the job of an MP involves, other than Prime Minister's Questions that is familiar from TV coverage. When the House of Commons is sitting, I am there from Monday to Thursday, committed to the legislative process that is the prime purpose of Parliament. In this session, there are some 30 Government Bills. In addition, MPs can instigate or sponsor Private Members Bills which come before the House as time allows. There are also numerous committees on which we are required to serve.
Inevitably, votes are almost always decided along party political lines but MPs have to decide how to vote on contentious issues, because we are representative of our constituents, not delegates. As such, one must reach one's own decisions on proposed legislation and balance four component parts that may come into play; in no particular order - one's constituency, one's country, the political platform on which one was elected, and one's own conscience. There are times in the political cycle when these may pull MPs in different directions.
In addition, we lead debates on issues of local relevance. I have been bringing to the Government's attention the problems of the closure of sub-post offices; fuel poverty, which is particularly worrying for pensioners and others on fixed income; and I have worked to keep our local hospitals open and for a stronger Police presence on our streets. I have long campaigned for dualling of the A11 west from Thetford because we urgently need a better road link between Norfolk and the national road system. I have called on the Government to recognise that we must have our fair share of infrastructure investment for all our trunk roads, many of which are dangerous. We must find a way to keep HGVs out of villages, where roads are too narrow to cope with them. I am working with parish councils on a petition calling for reduced speed limits past schools.
I receive a vast mail bag from people, seeking my help. I do what I can, particularly if Government departments have failed to deliver a proper service. If I can assist you, or if you want to register your views on policy, please get in touch. I can be contacted by post at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA, or you can leave a message for me on 01760 336633.
I hope that I can give you more information about my work as an MP on future occasions. In the meantime, I wish you a happy summer.
CHRISTOPHER FRASER MP
South West Norfolk