How would you describe your time so far in parliament? Most people outside politics do not like arcane parliamentary traditions like MPs addressing each other as “Honourable” and “Right Honourable” members. Do you think there are any parliamentary traditions that should be scrapped or amended?
Exhilarating but exhausting. I think it’s more important to make the voting system fairer and elect the House of Lords than worry about changing the traditional pomp and ceremony.
In your maiden speech you mentioned that you hoped to open a constituency office in Chippenham town centre. Forgive my cynicism, but will this be an opportunity for you to file expense claims for pieces of furniture or art?
My office is simply there to help me do a good job for my constituents.
You voted for your government’s emergency budget which increased VAT to 20%. Isn’t that an act of betrayal from you as your party released a poster warning against a “Tory VAT tax bombshell”?
Labour left a poisonous legacy in the huge levels of public borrowing. I considered the VAT rise a necessary alternative to even deeper spending cuts.
You believe that national housing targets should be scrapped. At a time when many communities are crying out for new homes, how will this help many youngsters who are moving into their first home?
I believe in local decision-making. Let communities decide for themselves how and where to meet this need.
In 2006, you campaigned against the NHS cuts in Chippenham and Melksham when Conservative councillors did not. Have you had any heated policy disagreements with any Conservative MPs in the chamber?
Yes, I spoke in a debate to challenge a Tory back bencher who wanted to stop the UK Youth Parliament having a debate there when we were away.
You disagree with tuition fees. So do I. I am a working class boy attending university this September. It is ok to disagree with it, but do you have an alternative policy that could replace tuition fees?
In the current circumstances, I’m very sympathetic to a Graduate Tax to replace fees. I’m hopeful Vince Cable will be able to make this happen.
As you are an Oxford University graduate- isn’t it an outrage according to the government’s higher education access watchdog, that only 1% of the poorest university students in England go to Oxford and Cambridge?
Yes. That’s why the Lib Dems have fought for a Pupil Premium to target extra funds in the schools teaching these students so that they can do better at school and more of them can get degrees from top universities.
You have been an advocate for jobs in the green energy sector in your constituency. Can you explain as concisely as possible to my young readers, what is the green energy sector and why it is important for their future?
The green energy sector develops alternative and more sustainable sources of energy, such as wind, wave and solar energy. Traditional non-renewable fuels are increasingly scarce and considered insecure because of trouble in the parts of the world they are often found. Burning fossil fuels to produce power also contributes heavily to the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and therefore to man-made climate change. The recent floods in Pakistan and the drought and recent floods in Niger demonstrate the destruction that climate change can cause to millions of lives. The green energy sector is crucial to ensuring that future generations do not have to pay the price for our current over-consumption of natural resources.
Your main policy areas of interest are education, housing and the environment. Fancy a ministerial job in one of these departments in the future?
As a new MP, there’s a lot to learn. I’m always happy to lend a hand, but I’ve got more than enough to be getting on with.
Many ordinary young people who see the coalition government making unpopular decisions like cutting their public services – may begin to wish that the coalition collapsed. What do you think will hold the coalition government together for five years?
A sense of responsibility to give the country the best government we can. I think people want their politicians to stop squabbling, roll their sleeves up and learn to work together.
One of your hobbies is running. Reckon you could beat the Prime Minister in a 100m sprint?
I’m not sure – I generally train for longer distances.
Some people may perceive politicians to be “political geeks.” Will you be reading any political books, like Peter Mandelson’s “Third Man” this summer?
I won’t be reading about politicians. I will be reading “Prosperity Without Growth” by Tim Jackson which you might find a bit geeky I suppose.
Finally, you are engaged to fellow Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson. Will your impending marriage mean you will sit together in the House of Commons?
You’ll have to wait and see!