LETTER: Real work done in smoke filled rooms

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I READ with surprise the “As I see it” article in last week’s advertiser from the chairman of CRAG, who was the UKIP parliamentary candidate.

The views expressed show a naivete about how Parliament works and will be interpreted as an attempt to belittle the extensive campaign involving Nigel Evans MP and councillors throughout the Ribble Valley, to bring to the attention of government the problems faced by Citheroe and the rest of the borough over the excessive number of planning applications to build houses.

Your elected representatives are working hard with MPs, the Local Government Association and other rural councils to draw the coalition government’s attention to this problem and seeking changes to the approach of the government planning inspectorate, in planning and housing policies.

As a former MP myself, who served in Margaret Thatcher’s and John Major’s governments, I saw at first hand how policy at government level is influence, which is by lobbying and meetings often out of the public gaze.

Unjust criticism has been levelled at Nigel Evans who, as Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, holds a unique position in Parliament as a referee of parliamentary debates, to whom all Ministers have to come, to discuss procedure in order that government gets its business through the House of Commons.

His influence behind the scenes is far in excess of an ordinary back bencher and his unlimited access to all Ministers works to the advantage of his constituents. Due to his everyday contact with MPs throughout the Commons he is also aware of the feelings of MPs of all parties and their views, being so close to the heartbeat of the legistlative process.

The absence of speeches from the back benches is not a disadvantage to the people of the Ribble Valley, far more is done in what we in the past described as “smoked filled rooms”.

You do not read about what Nigel says from the back benches because he is in the centre of power working as hard as ever with all parties for his constituents.

He has arranged most of the meetings between Ribble Valley representatives and Government Ministers, enabling a small rural community to get its voice heard by government and punch above its weight.

The difference between Nigel and his critics in the political football match is that he is not standing on the touchline minding the coats, he is on the field, playing hard to win for his constituents.


RVBC councillor for Dilworth