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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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‘From HEELEY to the HOUSE’

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

A profile of Meg from the May issue of Active 8 - for further details of this monthly magazine contact them on: 0114 235 9999

“I’M not an accredited guide,” says Meg Munn, MP for Heeley, as she points out a framed facsimile of the Magna Carta. Since being elected three years ago she’s been rather too busy with modern day issues to get too deeply absorbed in the history of her new place of work. “I soon learned that if I was walking on a green carpet I was close to the House of Commons but if I was on a red one I was wandering towards the Lords,” says Meg. We walk past a number of statues of notable Prime Ministers and Meg points out a brass one of Sir Winston Churchill. “You are supposed to touch it for luck before you make your maiden speech,” says Meg. “I forgot!”

Although she might not have an answer for every historical question put to her, Meg can answer some of them with confidence. “A few weeks ago one member of the Brownies I visited in Sheffield asked me if I had been in the House of Commons when Guy Fawkes tried to blow it up,” she says. “I told her I hadn’t been but she then wanted to know if I had noticed if there was still any trace of gunpowder in the cellar.”

Born in the Norfolk Park area of Sheffield, Meg lived just off Derbyshire Lane between the ages of three and 18. Her father Reg was a Labour councillor in Sheffield for 35 years and his work clearly had a big influence on Meg. “I was always very interested in what my dad did and my Uncle Roy also served on the Council,” she says. A pupil of Mundella Primary School and the former Rowlinson Comprehensive School, Meg studied at York and Nottingham universities. A trained social worker, she finished up as Assistant Director for Children’s Services at the City of York Council before becoming an MP. She was also a City Councillor in Nottingham between 1987 and 1991.

One thing that has impressed her since being elected is the way our constituency system works. She says its big strength is that it gives every individual a voice in Parliament. Meg was one of more than 100 new MPs elected to the House of Commons at the last General Election and although it can be a daunting place for any newcomer, Meg was helped in knowing all the other Sheffield MPs and also those representing Nottingham.

As for her maiden speech, that saw Meg introduce herself and her constituency to the House and also pay a tribute to her predecessor, Bill Michie. She then went on to speak on the Adoption Bill, which linked back to her previous job as a social worker. Since then she has gone on to speak on a number of issues. “You can’t be an expert on everything,” she admits. “You try to focus on a number of issues which are of particular interest to yourself and your constituency.”

Meg has spoken recently on issues ranging from vehicle tax-disc dodging to free nursery places, the problems facing small businesses to truancy.... and she even got to meet Victor Meldrew! A member of the Education and Skills Select Committee, she has since last year served as Parliamentary Private Secretary for the Department of Education and Skills.

One major topic taken up by Meg has been a call for stiffer hygiene regulations for those carrying out body piercing. This followed a plea from the mother of a young member of her constituency who tragically died after having his lip pierced. “I put forward an amendment to the Local Government Bill which allows local authorities to regulate body piercing establishments. Now we are looking to see how many local authorities have taken this up.” Meg says this topic clearly indicates how constituents can have an influence on the law of the land. “You never know at what point someone is going to walk through your door with an issue which may involve you becoming heavily involved and may ultimately lead to a change in the law.”

Meg says it a huge privilege to be an MP and she never forgets that it is her job to represent the people of her Heeley constituency. What makes it even more important for her is that she is representing an area where she lived and where her mother still lives. Meg’s job sees her at Westminster from Monday until Thursday and Fridays are spent back in her constituency, where she holds surgeries and gets out and about meeting individuals, businesses, schools and other organisations.

One thing she often stresses to people is that you don’t have to be a different kind of person to become an MP. “They aren’t people who drop from the sky,” she says. “They are ordinary people who are elected to represent you. Parliament needs a real mix of people in order to be able to work effectively.” And if Meg ever does find a trace of that gunpowder the people of Heeley will be the first to know...  


 

 


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