Tuesday morning saw me speaking in a debate at the House of Commons on "Community TV and Radio". This was a backbench MPs debate, which had been held at the suggestion of the Labour MP Ian Stewart (MP for Eccles, in Greater Manchester). There's a ballot of MPs to decide who gets these debates (I had one a few weeks ago, see this blog), and I thought this would be a subject which would interest a lot of MPs, as there's been a big growth in community radio in particular over the last few years (due to changes in the regulations and funding made possible by the Labour government, I'm pleased to say!). Somewhat to my surprise, apart from Ian Stewart himself the only two back bench MPs who made full speeches were myself and my neighbour MP from Edinburgh West, although a number of other MPs did join in the discussions for a while.
Anyway, we were both able to use the opportunity to say something about the positive experience of community radio in our own area, in my case Leith FM. I was also able to make the case for local, community TV, something which hasn't really taken off in the UK. One of the key people behind the campaign for local TV is Dave Rushton who runs the Institute for Local Television from his office in my constituency, and he'd given me a very helpful briefing beforehand. You can read my speech here. (My speech starts towards the end of the page).
After that, it was another session of the Environmental Audit Committee's latest enquiry, where we had evidence from the Energy Saving Trust, WWF, and RSPB. In fact, Climate Change was on my agenda a lot this week, as we had the first meeting of the Joint House of Commons and House of Lords committee looking at the new Draft Climate Change Bill. It was a good meeting, and my view that we ought to involve the public as widely as possible in our work of considering the Bill seemed to be shared by the rest of the Committee, not least its chairperson, Lord Puttnam, who has been a leading advocate of making Parliament more accessible to the public.
On that theme, I went to the opening in Parliament of an exhibition about the newly expanded Parliamentary education service, which now has a lot of good material for schools and teachers about the way Parliament works. I've encouraged the unit to try and make sure that as far as possible it ensures that its work is accessible to schools throughout the UK (not just those from London and nearby) - I'm pleased to say that they are making real efforts to do this.