Belfast Telegraph

Commons' most prolific contributing MP says he just wants to support colleagues

An MP regarded as the most prolific Commons contributor has described himself as a "workaholic" who wants to support his colleagues.

Jim Shannon, who is well known among Westminster watchers for his frequent interventions, contributed to 213 debates and question sessions in the House of Commons and Westminster Hall between the start of the current Parliament in June and Christmas, official figures show.

In the last six months, the Democratic Unionist MP has spoken at all hours in the parliamentary day in debates ranging from school funding in North Northumberland and Cornwall's dark sky status, to job losses in Cardiff.

Mr Shannon said his interest in such diverse, regional matters stems from issues raised by his Northern Irish constituents, and he wanted to support his colleagues when they bring up similar matters.

The MP for Strangford told the Press Association: "You build up relationships with MPs.

"I try to be friendly with everyone - it's just my nature to be like that - so if I have an MP who I would be supportive of, and some of the things that they're bringing forward, I will go and support them."

Mr Shannon is widely regarded as the MP who contributes the most in Parliament, making around double the number of interventions compared with other talkative politicians.

Analysis of Hansard records by the Press Association detailing the number of spoken contributions by MPs since June 13 - when the House returned after the election - until it rose for Christmas, showed Tory Kevin Foster (Torbay) was recorded as having spoken or seeking to speak in 92 sessions in the two chambers.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Theresa May has spoken in 26 sessions since she was re-elected - with Prime Minister's Questions plus lengthy Brexit statements among the main reasons for her appearances.

"I've a busy nature and probably, in all honesty - and it's not meant as a boast - a workaholic," Mr Shannon explained.

Asked about MPs who do not contribute regularly in Parliament - notably his party's rivals Sinn Fein who do not take their seats in Westminster, he said: "That's really not for me to say - people do things differently. I'm a workaholic, not everybody is.

"I want to represent the people vocally and verbally where the occasion gives me the opportunity. Other people do it a different way and that's entirely up to them.

"Every MP here is inherently a good person who wants to do his best for his constituents, and because we're all different characters and different personalities we'll all do it in different ways."

A backbench colleague from the SNP described Mr Shannon as "well respected" and acknowledged his "hard work", adding: " It wouldn't be possible for everyone to do what he does but everyone knows to expect an intervention from Jim Shannon when they've got an adjournment debate.

"He's a personable guy and he gets on with a lot of folk on a cross-party basis, and he's very supportive of a lot of the all-party groups and so on."

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