John Penrose MP...

PUBLISHED: 09:59 31 July 2006 | UPDATED: 09:40 24 May 2010

John Penrose

John Penrose

Of all the odd traditions and habits I've come across in Parliament, the long summer break is the silliest. The House of Commons stopped work on Tuesday this week, and won't start again until October 9. That's almost 11 weeks off

Of all the odd traditions and habits I've come across in Parliament, the long summer break is the silliest.The House of Commons stopped work on Tuesday this week, and won't start again until October 9. That's almost 11 weeks off. If politicians want to stay in touch with the real world, and to earn voters' respect, taking a break that's twice as long as most people's entire annual holiday allowance is the wrong way to do it. When the proposal came up last week, I voted against it.To be fair, of course, many MPs will be working hard in their constituencies for most of the break. Lots of them will take two weeks of summer holiday and then go straight back to work, holding surgeries and dealing with problems. That's what I'm going to do too. I hold a surgery each week, and I'll keep going throughout the summer. People's problems don't vanish in August or September, so nor should I. But I reckon the summer break is a chance to get out of the Westminster goldfish bowl and stay in touch with local opinion as well. Too many people only expect to see politicians at election time, when they want your vote. I think that's the wrong way for any MP or councillor to behave, so I'm going to be spending as much time as possible over the summer knocking on doors and listening to what people have to say. Of course, you can't speak to everybody. There are about 35,000 households and almost 100,000 people in an average constituency, so no MP can expect to meet everyone. But the chances are I'll be in a road near you sometime over the next few months. I'm looking forward to hearing what you've got to say.

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