Raising constituents’ problems in parliament

WHEN constituents approach me with problems, my first instinct is to seek a swift resolution by making direct representations on their behalf to the companies, organisations or government departments involved.

However, there are times when individual redress is not what is required but, rather, having reached the end of a process, constituents are left with the nagging feeling that their experience is indicative of wider issues with the system.

In those circumstances, there are other means at my disposal to shine a light on their concerns – but none is more visible than asking a question or securing a debate on the floor of the House.

On Monday, I took a case of one of my constituents to the floor of the House, a hormone therapy specialist who was subject to sanctions from the Advertising Standards Agency.

Her case raised significant issues around the transparency of the ASA and whether they make sufficient use of in-depth technical expertise when making judgments. Two other MPs also raised concerns. In this case the Minister responded positively and expressed hope that the ASA would address some of the systemic issues raised.

The Queen’s Speech debate has continued for much of the week and I made my contribution on Monday, demonstrating my support for public services while also reflecting on the need to make space for innovation in the way they are delivered.

It is very common for one individual or family to be accessing multiple services simultaneously. Integrated delivery models have the potential to take greater account of the complexities of people’s lives and avoid wasteful duplication.

For the next couple of weeks, Salisbury is about to become a markedly more colourful place, as the Festival kicks off with an eclectic programme of music, theatre and the visual arts.

I will be taking to the stage myself on Monday – in conversation with veteran Labour MP Frank Field. I will also be toasting Salisbury’s Twinning Association on Friday night, which has maintained strong links to Xanten and Saintes, and will be welcoming fifty guests from Xanten.