Nick's week

We've had an interesting week in Parliament.  On Monday we debated and voted on the Bill which ratifies the EU Constitution.  At the election, candidates from all political parties promised a referendum on the Constitution, but Labour and the Liberal Democrats have now reneged, claiming that the Treaty has changed.

This argument was shot to pieces by a report from the cross-party Foreign Affairs Committee, which said that the there is "no material difference" between the foreign affairs provisions in the Lisbon Treaty and the old Constitution.

Over the next few weeks, there will be much Parliamentary debate about the Treaty, which sets up a permanent EU President and sees the loss of our national veto in 55 policy areas.

On Tuesday I met some local farmers who had travelled up from West Sussex to lobby their MPs about agricultural issues.  I also had a fascinating meeting with the Parole Board.

Dealing with the consequences of overcrowded prisons is a familiar concern.  I spent much of the weekend fighting off a plan to site a bail hostel in Arundel.  And on Wednesday I visited a women's prison in Surrey and met with a charity which provides drugs treatment programmes in prisons.

I rushed back for a vote and then had a meeting with Sussex police officers who had come up to London to march against the Government's refusal to honour their pay award.

Today I will be voting against MPs receiving a 2.5 per cent pay increase, and will instead vote for a below-inflation 1.9 per cent rise.   I couldn't possibly take a bigger rise while police officers and others are being forced to accept a staged increased.

I'm speaking in Bexleyheath on Friday evening and on Saturday I will be attending the Amberley business breakfast, which is always a good event, and a Burns Night supper in West Chiltington - but not in a kilt.

Michelle Taylor