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Passport from Pimlico

July 25th 2007

There is no shortage of surprises in parliamentary life.

A phonecall from my neighbouring MP Jessica Morden warned me this afternoon of incoming hostile e-mails. Ten minutes later, two arrived.

They were from constituents urging me to oppose new jobs in Newport. The messages were identical and obviously part of a campaign. For the past month Jessica and I have been fighting a snide London-base campaign to stop the Office of National Statistics building up its Newport workforce.

A Commons committee has been hoodwinked into believing that top people will not come here and that local people cannot do the exacting job as statisticians. All nonsense - as the Chief Statistician has confirmed.

We have been here before. Identical arguments were used about the Patent, Passport and Prison Service jobs before they came here. I spoke in the Commons Chamber today to emphasise our concerns. I told Minister Angela Eagle that her visit to Newport tomorrow would be a joy for her and for the city.

She will meet many of those who have settled very happily here. They are grateful for their passport from Pimlico. What is exasperating and mystifying is how Newportonians can be persuaded to sign up for a campaign that could impoverish the city. Even stranger is their belief that they can persuade  Jess and me to do the same!