Telford Journal Column - holding government to account

Lucy's article in this week's Telford Journal:

It’s been an historic week in Parliament as MPs voted on Britain leaving the EU. Although some colleagues had to wrestle with their conscience, for me it was an easy decision. Knowing I was voting in line with the wishes of the majority of my constituents and the British people, I was pleased to support the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill.

Despite these momentous events, behind the scenes, the business of Parliament has carried on as normal. One of the most satisfying aspects of the job of MP is working with colleagues cross party in a collaborative, constructive way. The public only sees set piece debates and Prime Minister’s Questions, which are often accompanied by sound and fury. Out of sight, Members of Parliament are getting business done in a collegiate and friendly fashion.

This is mainly done through the work of Parliament’s Select Committees; I am on the Education Committee and the Women and Equalities Committee.  These committees are made up of MPs of all parties and we constructively hold government to account. This week these committees began an enquiry into fostering, finalised a report into grammar schools and completed an enquiry into disability.

Another tool MPs have for holding government to account is to hold a debate. This week I led a debate on the Government’s anti-radicalisation strategy, known as ‘Prevent,’ which has been causing considerable disquiet in schools. I was able to set out concerns and ask government to listen. I was supported in this debate by MPs from all parties. By working together we are a much stronger voice.

Holding government to account is the job of Parliament and every MP plays their part.

Locally we must also hold local government to account. The controlling party on Telford & Wrekin Council is responsible for delivering quality services to local people and for a budget of hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money; we need to ensure our local leaders deliver.

Those in control of our Council must expect to be challenged by opposition councillors, local people as well as local MPs. All government needs to accept scrutiny. Too often we see our local leaders attacking others, when it is they who should be accountable to us, the people.

We all have a role to play in ensuring those in government act in the best interests of the people they the serve.