Between delivering his Maiden Speech on 17th June 2010 and being appointed to the Government Whips Office on 15th June 2017 Andrew made 687 contributions to Parliamentary debates, making him one of the most vocal MP’s in the House of Commons. However, his current role within Government, as an Assistant Whip, means that Andrew no longer speaks in the chamber.
Explaining this in August 2017, Andrew wrote on his Facebook page; “It was an honour to be invited to serve in Government following the General Election. Whilst I previously served as a Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party (2010-2013) and have been a Ministerial Aid (PPS) to four different Ministers this is my first role in government, after seven years on the backbenches.
All the main political parties have Whips in the House of Commons. As an Assistant Government Whip, it is my job to help ensure the smooth passage of government business through the House of Commons, ensuring that Conservative MPs views and concerns are heard and that MPs will be present when votes take place. Whips also play a pastoral role helping with other MPs professional and even personal problems.
However, the position does require certain restrictions. As a Minister, I am not permitted to serve on All-Party Parliamentary Groups, or sign Early Day Motions. For me, the biggest restriction is no longer being able to speak on constituency matters in the Commons Chamber, which is a big change for me having spoken over 680 times in the House of Commons since 2010.
That said, the position gives me unique access to Government Ministers, Departments and therefore other ways to fight for Pendle. For example, it has not stopped me successfully pushing for the extra investment in our local hospitals, or raising concerns about abuse of leaseholds with a Government consultation on much-needed reforms, both announced in July. The fact is that there are many ways an MP can effectively represent their local area.
To take a local example, when Labour was in Government between 1997 and 2010, Pendle was represented by Gordon Prentice, a Labour MP who spent all those 13 years on the backbenches. During the same period Blackburn was represented by Jack Straw, a Labour MP who spent all those years as a Minister, doing four of the most busy and time consuming jobs in Government. I doubt many would say that Jack Straw failed to represent Blackburn during those 13 years, or failed to secure investment for the town. On the contrary, when you look at the amount of investment Blackburn secured and the fact that we even lost Burnley’s A&E Department to Blackburn in 2007, you’d probably argue that Blackburn did an awful lot better than Pendle did.
Therefore I see no conflict between agreeing to serve in Government and also continuing to fight for the best deal for Pendle. Politics is about changing things for the better, it is not about seeking popularity or always being in opposition, it is about taking difficult decisions and doing what is right to shape our country’s future. I am happy to stand on my record of delivering for Pendle and will continue to put our area first, regardless of whether I hold Ministerial office or not.”