I was delighted to have the opportunity to address the American academics and scholars of the US-UK Fulbright Commission at the House of Commons. I followed Liam Byrne MP who gave a strong defence of Labour’s economic record.
Some parts of my work in the European Parliament can be difficult to explain. As a London representative with very few farms in my constituency, it is even harder to explain why 40% of the Budget still goes on agriculture. The Common Agricultural Policy still requires reform, and a reduction of the amount of money that is spent on it.
I talked about matters that regular readers of this blog will be familiar with women, culture and also how the European Parliament relates to the European Commission and the Council of Ministers. Somewhat different to the American system the audience were familiar with.
I was followed by Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon. Caroline commented about how Mayor of London Boris Johnson was inattentive at times in Mayor’s Question Time, noting that at over 2 hours long this gave an opportunity for a detailed examination of the work of the Mayor. She detailed the work of her colleagues on transport and how this had helped keep buses going through the recent bad weather.
The group were due to undertake a study visit to Cornwall, so I asked them to look out for Blue Flag beaches to observe an example of European environmental legislation in action. To provide an introduction Conservative Cornish MP for St Austell and Newquay Stephen Gilbert came to address the meeting. He talked about the weather, explaining how important this was to the British people as a conversational topic. He got the groups attention by revealing he had dated a Fulbright scholar.
We received a challenging set of questions about tiers of government, how coalition partners worked at different levels of government and the success of the congestion charge and how this could be applied to American cities.
My thanks to Penny Egan and her team, for all their work in putting the event together.