Here’s a flavour of my (rather defence-dominated) last week.
27/2. Up to London to escape from a hectic constituency weekend. Meeting with MOD to discuss my Military Assistant, Lieutenant-Colonel Longbottom who has ruptured his spleen on an Armed Forces Parliamentary trip to the Falklands. Survived Afghanistan but now injured by a flying luggage trolley in a helicopter downdraft. How ironic. Chair Westminster Hall debate on NHS as one of Speaker’s Panel of Chairmen. Dinner at my antiquated but much loved club, Pratts.
28/2. Commons Defence Committee for 2 hours grilling Sir John Parker over the RN shipbuilding programme. We have 19 operational warships. Far too few. As Chairman of Parliamentary group for Mongolia meet our Ambassador, then lunch with Raytheon to discuss RN defence matters. Chat to head of Parliamentary Archives about displaying RAF Act to celebrate its 100th anniversary in a splendidly obscure cobweb-ridden eyrie high in Victoria Tower, then an hour discussing EU Army ambitions, and how to thwart them. Appear on BBC West to welcome Dyson’s expansion in Hullavington, drinks with Parliamentary Defence group, which I chair, with an Air Marshal, then dinner with Baroness Scott and other local MPs to hear about plans for the RA Museum on Salisbury Plain.
1/3. Radio Wilts at 8 to discuss Dyson, Chair a Statutory Instrument Committee on fracking, meeting with splendid King Abdullah of Jordan to discuss Syria, a rather lacklustre PMQs, chair a meeting to quiz Scandinavian Ambassadors about Defence in the Arctic, Chat to the RN about how to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the WRENS, then dinner with a couple of constituents.
2/3. See Sir Nicholas Soames about a visit by the Household Cavalry, then a morning at the desk wading through paper. Back to Wiltshire for a relatively peaceful weekend including dentist in Corsham- v relaxing not having to do or decide anything but leave it all to the expert. Trip to Bristol to appear on Sunday’s Politics Show, then speak to the local Tories AGM in Castle Combe; Beaufort Point to Point races at Didmarton and while Philippa is away a great deal of looking after animals and writing and reading in my Constituency office.
6/3. Lunch with Thames Water (I am proud that Ashton Keynes is the first visible, and Cricklade the first navigable part of Thames). Chair a meeting with Norwegian MOD and Ministers to discuss NATO in the Arctic, thence dinner with the speakers.
7/3. Breakfast with BBC West, then chair Committee Stage of a Private Members Bill about registering farriers. 2 hours on Defence Committee to discuss Northern Ireland, and dinner with an Admiral to hear about current RN capabilities- far less than they ought to be.
8/3. The Budget Statement. Take Heads of Malmesbury Schools in to see Minister Nick Gibb to lobby over better funding, cup of tea with Liam Fox over trade matters, chair a meeting about Turkey and dinner in the Cabinet War Rooms. Must do more in the Chamber – these myriad meetings tend to get in the way. A busy- and I hope influential- week.