A NEW ROLE
The Midsomer Norton & Radstock Journal, 1st August 2019
Much has changed since my last article. We have a new Prime Minister and a new Government. Even more importantly, we have a new spirit of optimism. For the last three years, Brexit has been seen as a disaster to be mitigated. Boris Johnson has made it clear that it is now an opportunity to be grasped. Grasp it we must.
In addition, we have a number of exciting new policies that should address some of the concerns my constituents write to me about. Plans are already underway to hire 20,000 new police officers and give them the powers to keep our streets safe. We are making sure that people start seeing the £20 billion promised to the National Health Service in their GP surgeries and local hospitals. We need to fund our schools properly so that every child gets more guaranteed minimum funding, regardless of where they live. We have a new Cabinet, filled with new members tasked with delivering these and many other policies.
As readers may know, last week I had the honour of being appointed Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons. These are two roles that, although unrelated, in recent times have generally held by the same person. This may be because, in simple terms, one is a Government role without a job and the other is a job but not a Government role.
The Lord President of the Council is one of the Great Offices of State. Historically, this was an important role but is now largely ceremonial. The main duty is to preside over meetings of the Privy Council, which generally happen once a month. The Privy Council is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign. The role also comes with a number of responsibilities, such as the Visitor for several universities, including the University of Bristol. To avoid any confusion, it is worth pointing out that, despite my new title, I am not a Lord.
As Leader of the House of Commons, I attend Cabinet meetings but am not a full member of the Cabinet. The Leader of the House is responsible for organising government business and providing time for non-government (backbench) business to be put before the House. The Leader of the House additionally announces the next week's debate schedule in the Business Statement every Thursday when the House is sitting, which is followed by Business Questions to the Leader. The key aim, initially, will be to ensure that Brexit is delivered on 31st October and to counter any moves by those in Parliament who are seeking to stop this.
Lastly, it is important for everyone who lives in North East Somerset to know that, despite my new role, my primary responsibility is still to my constituents. If you have any problems or issues that you would like assistance with, please do not hesitate to get in contact. You can do this by letter or by email, or by booking an appointment at one of my regular surgeries.