Who? Duncan Hames, the Lib Dem MP for Chippenham, elected in 2010. Dubbed ‘one to watch’, he was the first Liberal MP in Wiltshire for 86 years. Recently married to Jo Swinson MP, Hames was formerly PPS to children’s minister Sarah Teather, and is now energy secretary Chris Huhne’s PPS.
The restaurant Paramount
A restaurant 385 feet up, at the top of Centre Point. The décor is stylish in this former private members’ club, which boasts 360-degree views over London. Chef Colin Layfield works with seasonal ingredients to create a varied menu full of strong flavours. Try to go on a clear day to get the best views.
Starter Roast pigeon breast with wild mushroom ravioli; pumpkin and cinnamon soup.
Main course Salmon escalope, Vietnamese-style vegetables; roast duck breast with confit leg pudding, caramelised endive and sour cherry sauce.
We drank Still and sparkling water.
Lobbying register Unless a register is comprehensive, it’s pretty meaningless. There are ways of making that happen. The government could refuse to meet with people plying this trade unless they are registered. But I am certainly pressing this point about having a comprehensive register rather than the voluntary regulation that we currently have.
‘One to watch’ I spent a long time seeking election to Parliament and mine’s a marginal seat. I recognise that it’s always been a precarious existence. I’m just going to try and make every day count. That’s why I’m bobbing up and down in the Commons so often. I’m not going to worry about what might happen later.
Boundary review The initial proposal from the Boundary Commission marks quite a substantial change. There are 21 wards in my constituency and, under the current proposal, 10 are left in my constituency and 11 in another.
If that’s where it ends up, I’d lose a lot of my constituents and would have to win the support of many who currently have a different MP. With so many MPs likely to be affected, we’ll have to reach some kind of understanding [on campaigning in each other’s wards].
PPS to Chris Huhne I don’t spend an enormous amount of time with him – he can look after himself. A good parliamentary aide best aids their minister not by accompanying them to lots of meetings, but by spending a lot of time with other MPs, understanding the issues that are coming up in that policy area and the concerns they have, and feeding that back to the department.
Greenest government ever I don’t expect anyone to be able to produce an objective assessment. Environmentalists – and I consider myself one – would always want the government to do more. It’s good to be the greenest government ever, but it might not be good enough. We should be more ambitious.
Rowing As a new MP, I first squatted in Jeremy Brown’s office. He’d just been made a Foreign Office minister. He was being whisked off all over the world and had no use for his office whatsoever – that was brilliant. Then he got evicted and I still didn’t have an office. Don Foster kindly agreed to have me stay in his. I had one of those tiny little desks next to his staff. While I was there, he was trying to recruit the House of Commons VIII for the boat race. So I ended up in the Commons’ boat. I caught an incredible crab. But somehow we won.
When you want to impress. Well-presented food and outstanding views.
Not suitable for
Those afraid of heights, or who need to be able to dash back to Westminster at a moment’s notice. It’s a leisurely dining experience.
A set two-course lunch will come in at £18.50 per person, excluding wine.
To book a table at Paramount, email email@example.com, or call 020 7420 2900. www.paramount.uk.net