MP WRITES: Parliament is central to much of our lives

I WROTE in my Hartlepool Mail column last week about Remembrance Sunday, and how this event is hugely important to me as the town’s Member of Parliament.

It is clear that the town, in its support for Remembrance Sunday, remembers the sacrifices that ordinary men and women made to ensure that British values and the British way of life could continue.

An essential part of that British way of life is parliamentary democracy. It is often knocked and derided. and the House of Commons seen as remote or irrelevant to people’s lives.

People’s view of the House of Commons – if they think of it at all – is either shaped by the rowdy scenes of Prime Minister’s Questions, in which they might think that us MPs act worse than loud and badly-behaved kids or an empty chamber, with only one or two MPs in attendance, reiterating a view that we must be all greedy, lazy MPs.

Of course, it is much more than this – it is a vital part of British life and something which affects everyone, and so I would encourage everybody to engage.

I’d like to see the House of Commons as the centrepiece of British national life.

Winston Churchill said it best when he mentioned, in a memorable speech: “Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe.

“No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

It is therefore important to me as Hartlepool’s MP that people don’t feel remote or removed from what happens in the House of Commons.

That is why this Parliament Week, which is happening this week, is an important initiative. Parliament Week 2013 will run from November 15-21.

Parliament Week is a UK-wide programme of events and activities that has the aim to inspire, engage and connect people with parliamentary democracy.

This year’s Parliament Week has a particular focus on women in democracy, which seems appropriate given that it is the centenary of when Emily Davison, from the North-East and a suffragette campaigning for women to have the right to vote, died during the June 1913 Derby by being trampled on by the king’s horse as she was protesting.

Women in democracy aims to inspire women to play a greater role in UK democratic life and increase public awareness of the ways in which women (and men) can get involved in parliamentary democracy and democratic life like local government more generally.

It is important to me as Hartlepool’s MP that people in the town are kept informed of developments in the House of Commons, as this will affect their lives and those of their families in so many ways.

When a Bill passes through Parliament as part of its way to becoming the law of the land, I make it a priority to keep constituents who have written to me about the issue informed about developments.

It’s also a great pleasure for me to meet with school parties from Hartlepool on visits to Parliament, to make sure that the next generation is not only aware of the history, tradition, but also the ongoing relevance of Parliament.

Parliament may seem remote and removed, but it is very relevant.

I want people to feel engaged with Parliament, and Parliament Week is a way of doing this.

I hope you will have a look at events that are taken place at