D&S column: small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy

Before I became an MP I worked with businesses and my job was to help them grow.

Often these were small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In many cases they were little more than a good idea which just needed the right conditions to become something great.

D&S column: engineering excellence in North Yorkshire

BEFORE entering Parliament I was lucky enough to spend time studying in California’s Silicon Valley and then running an investment business. 

Home to some of the world's most advanced and valuable companies, it is an incredible place to work.

D&S column: tackling the scourge of loneliness

FOR many of us, a busy life at work, a growing family and good friends mean that loneliness is not something we are familiar with.  

Indeed, after a particularly hectic time the idea of a bit of loneliness – getting away from it all – might seem very attractive.  

D&S column: the important role of local councillors

AS the Minister for Local Government, my responsibilities cover the work of councils large and small. 

That includes of the Mayor of London and the London Assembly with a multi-billion-pound budget and the smallest parish council spending just a few hundred pounds a year.