LATER this month Parliament will be dissolved and the parliamentary side of my work will come to an end. MPs offices in London become out of bounds for staff and all MPs until after the General Election. As I am retiring after 14 years, I am beginning to pack and empty my office but still fully participating in parliamentary processes. This week I asked a further health oral question on the lack of female intensive psychiatric care beds in Dorset, had my own adjournment debate on bullying on school buses and I have attended a number of other debates. I would like to stress that my constituency office will remain open until May 7th and if you need to contact me I will still be available via e mail or telephone 01202 693555.

Currently there is much attention to particular policies being announced in advance of the General Election and some suggestions that some of these are almost bribes for votes! Two former foreign secretaries were entrapped by reporters and appeared very keen to use their contacts to earn additional money. I do firmly believe that MPs should not have second jobs and I agree with the call for all candidates in the forthcoming General Election to make a clear statement on their future intentions. I have retained my partnership with my husband in a small business but since I have been an MP my input has been minimal. I have found that being an MP and working for constituents has meant working long hours but it has been the most amazing privilege. I am saddened that this latest incident has inevitably made people have an even lower opinion of MPs. However, for all their faults, our parliamentary and local government systems do function relatively well although improvements can and should be made. It is so important for electors to use their votes on May 7th to ensure that we have a healthy democracy.