Teena Patel, EU Aviation Security Policy Team at the Department for Transport talks about her experience with Kate Hoey MP.
Having signed up to the Industry and Parliament Trust Civil Service Attachment Scheme in summer 2016, my first event involved an eye opening tour of the Houses of Parliament, taking in the unique history and grandeur of one of the oldest democracies in the world. Unexpectedly, I discovered that the House of Commons Chamber is far smaller in reality. I then attended the Understanding Parliament seminar that provided an excellent overview of Parliament and the work of the legislative. This taster certainly helped to improve my knowledge about the parliamentary process and how this impacts on the Civil Service. Next, Baroness Hooper CMG provided a unique insight in a day in the life of a peer which in my opinion, challenged the public view that the House of Lords is “full of aged males sitting around, perhaps sleeping on the benches” (The Times).
The IPT MP Attachment Scheme aimed to match me with a Member of Parliament within the next six months. I was finally given a unique opportunity to shadow Kate Hoey MP for Vauxhall in March. She kindly agreed to let me spend a day with her in both her constituency and in Westminster. At the start of the day, I was asked to observe a Select Committee being chaired by Kate and meet her afterwards. Finding my way to the Committee Room proved to be a little challenging in the labyrinth of the Parliamentary estate.
It was quite interesting to observe the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee and hear about promoting the tourism industry in Northern Ireland through the tax system and the future of the land border with the Republic of Ireland - as well as actually meet a Tourism Northern Ireland Director. Following the meeting I met with Kate before accompanying her on a constituency visit that provided me with an insight into how real issues affect real people. We then returned to her office based in Portcullis House to meet her staff who are responsible for smoothly managing her extremely busy schedule.
Speed is of the essence in an MP’s typical day. I quickly made my way to the House of Commons Chamber to watch the Chancellor of the Exchequer make a statement to confirm the abolition of class 2 National Insurance Contributions paid by the self-employed from April 2018. This was in effect a reversal of a key Budget decision announced less than a week before which inevitably didn’t go down too well with Opposition MPs! Following lunch on the Houses of Parliament terrace, I had the honour of meeting Sir William Cash, prior to an interesting opportunity to observe the usually closed European Scrutiny Committee,(chaired by Sir William), which tied in quite neatly to my EU policy work. I was quite fortunate to sit in on two of three Select Committees chaired by Kate in an entire day!
The day concluded by returning to Portcullis House to find out more about Kate’s team and their responsibilities. I came to understand and appreciate their supreme organisational skills in juggling so many competing demands from people in her constituency and across the UK. These interesting conversations and sight of their correspondence revealed the sheer diversity of Kate’s portfolio covering subjects from Brexit and climate change to pensions and Zimbabwe. This gave me a real flavour of key issues and concerns from constituents and various institutions seeking Kate’s involvement and endorsement..
Many thanks to the Industry and Parliament Trust Training Team and Kate Hoey MP and her staff for their valuable insight and time.