There has been much comment in the media about Christians and public life. The most recent debate is about whether council meetings and the business of the House of Commons should start with prayers.
I try and go to Prayers in the House of Commons each day, not only to reserve my seat for the day but to take a few minutes of calm reflection upon the great privilege and responsibility of my position as MP.
As prayers are not televised and the public aren’t allowed into the gallery while we pray I wonder how many people who sent me to Westminster know what I say. So here it is in a nutshell: we ask God for guidance, “to never lead the nation wrongly through love of power, desire to please, or unworthy ideals but laying aside all private interests and prejudices, keep in their mind our responsibility to seek to improve the condition of all mankind;”
I find it hard to believe that many of my constituents would object to the values or aims expressed in the prayer.
Parliamentary colleagues of different faiths tell me that it was the Christian values of this country, values of freedom and tolerance hard won by our ancestors, that have enabled them and their families to live their faith in this country. They do not object to the Prayers as it is optional and a part of our national heritage since the reign of Charles II.
As a Conservative I belief that change is inevitable and often desirable but has to be thought through very carefully so that in the process we dont loose more than we are seeking to gain.
It is very much with the later thoughts in mind that I am approaching the NHS and Social Care Bill. The legislation is with the House of Lords now and should be back to the Commons fairly soon. There has been a great deal of confusion around what the proposed changes are all about so I hope that if any constituents have any questions that they will not hesitate in contacting me.
Finally, during last week’s debate on Somalia I was pleased to be able to promote the work of Shelterbox in providing not only shelter for thousands of families but their classrooms in a box. Their impressive hospital and medical facilities are providing a safe place for women to give birth.
I also urged the Government to take more action to win public support for taxpayers money being sent overseas in aid. This is probably the most controversial issue with my constituents. For some human compassion is enough of a good reason but others they need to understand that it is in our national interest. During these hard times, all will want to know that tax payers money is being spent properly. The Government has promised to publish information on how our money is spent and to justify where and I will continue to press them to do this.