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Do your MPs speak up for you?

PUBLISHED: 13:07 03 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:34 07 September 2010

POLITICIANS have spoken out following the publication of figures revealing how regularly they feature in Parliament. An examination of the official document detailing parliamentary proceedings, Hansard, by the Liberal Democrats for Hampstead a

Tan Parsons

POLITICIANS have spoken out following the publication of figures revealing how regularly they feature in Parliament.

An examination of the official document detailing parliamentary proceedings, Hansard, by the Liberal Democrats for Hampstead and Kilburn has revealed the average number of times a London MP's name has been recorded - indicating they have spoken or been mentioned in the chamber - is 1,822 over the last four years.

Labour MP for Regent's Park and Kensington North, Karen Buck, was about on the mark with a figure of 1,814, while her colleague Mark Field, the Conserva-tive MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, featured 981 times.

Meanwhile Labour MP for Hampstead and Highgate - which becomes Hampstead and Kilburn at the next election - Glenda Jackson, featured just 40 times in the same period, and Rudi Vis, the Labour MP for Finchley and Golders Green, spoke 219 times.

Mr Field warned that such figures can be misleading because interjecting briefly in a debate counts just the same as giving a long speech and that it was unfortunate some MPs focus so much on such 'league tables'.

"I'm appalled to be lower than average," he said. "But I'd like to think I focus more on quality than quantity. This morning I spoke for 15 minutes about the future of higher education. But that would be recorded as once speech in Hansard, just as it would if someone said a single line during a debate."

He thinks it is important to contribute but it makes sense to do so in areas where you have an interest - just as he has spoken increasingly in the chamber over the last couple of years with debates focused increasingly on the economy.

He said: "We are all very busy with constituency work and that can mean you are busy on the phone instead of speaking on the floor - a lot of work is done outside the chamber but it's important that you make a contribution and get stuck in as far as you can."

There is a famous old joke, he said, that if you want to keep something secret you should bring it up in the House of Commons because no one is listening.

"I think that view is overly cynical - the floor is an important opportunity to get your voice heard," he said.

Sometimes after making a speech that does not raise that much of a reaction in the chamber, he often gets three or four letters from across the country - a good reminder that people really are always listening.

However, both Mr Field and Ms Buck have some way to go before either of them can be considered on a par with the Labour MP for Harrow East Tony McNulty, who was recorded almost 7,000 times over the last four years.

Meanwhile the contest in Hampstead and Kilburn threatened to turn into a mud-slinging contest with Liberal Democrat candidate Ed Fordham branding Glenda Jackson the laziest MP in London.

Ms Jackson defended her record in Parliament, saying she prefers to raise questions on behalf of her constituents either directly with ministers or by letter.

"I'm at my desk from 9.30am until Parliament completes sitting every day," she said.


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