A well attended symposium was held at Bethesda Methodist Church on Saturday 14 January to debate the subject of 'Behaviour in Public Life'.
Alex Chalk, Conservative MP for Cheltenham; Max Wilkinson, Liberal Democrats; Mike Farmer, Labour, and Daniel Wilson, Green Party represented the main political parties alongside Reverend Rachel Leather representing Christianity; Alan Silverston representing the Orthodox synagogue, and Hannah Hart from the Humanist Society. John Hellyer, Superintendent of the Gloucestershire Methodist Circuit was chairman.
Each panellist was given five minutes to speak on the subject before questions were taken from the floor. One of the questions raised was 'should MPs be allowed to have second incomes?' Daniel Wilson said definitely not and that their MP's salary should be their only income however Alex Chalk pointed out that some members also held a professional role that meant they were required to continue working to keep up with practice and developments in their field of work.
Alan Silverton spoke on the responsibility of parents to raise their children and to teach them the values of good behaviour. Revd Rachel Leather stated that it was not a matter of casting blame but more to seek to encourage good. She went onto say that the church was not without blame and did not claim that only the Christian view held a monopoly on 'goodness. Both Max Wilkinson and Mike Farmer held similar views, saying that integrity, honesty and respect were vital in public behaviour.
The meeting ended with Revd John Hellyer summing up the discussion and thanking panel members and the audience for their contributions.
The event was considered a success and it is hoped a further symposium will be held in the Gloucester area shortly.