By Joseph Willits
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Jesse Norman MP for Hereford, has produced a twenty page Annual Report, detailing comprehensively and honestly what he has done and why in his first year as an MP. The report also lists costs and expenses and provides a breakdown of constituency cases. Norman's idea is a reassuring and commendable move, intending to go some way in restoring public faith in MPs.
In the report's introduction, Norman writes:
"This Annual Report is a small local step towards that democratic goal. Members of Parliament are public servants, accountable to the people. They are under an obligation to explain what they have been doing, what they stand for, and why. This report tries to do that, for my first year as an MP, May 2010 to May 2011. It is a first shot at something that I hope will grow and improve with time. I plan to do the same thing for every year that I hold elected office."
Aside from the intentions of providing MP accountability, the report taps into the fact that many members of the public are keen and interested to know what their MP does on a day to day basis, and even what interests them. The report itself goes beyond being just a dull set of statistics and blatant politicking. For instance, Norman speaks of his 'first impressions' of being an MP; quoting Mark Twain in an American accent in his maiden speech, and the experience of being "grilled" by Paxman.
Norman lists his highlights of being a constituency MP in Hereford, such as the repeal of the previous Government's Cider Tax, and his involvement in various voluntary and charitable work. The report also contains information on Norman's role in Parliament, "influencing the national agenda" as well as Hereford's. He writes about his position on the Treasury Select Committee, and his launch of a cross-party parliamentary campaign for a rebate to the taxpayer on the Private Finance Initiative (PFI).
The report is due to be launched at Norman's events at the party conference next week. Hopefully more MPs, and 'public servants' will follow his lead and produce something similar.