'Such a waste of time' says the Member forced to juggle new technology and archaic procedures

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Indy Politics

It's 10.30am and true to her image as the supreme Blairite technocrat, Anne Campbell MP is in her office reading e-mails on her laptop. The very model of a modern Labour radical has just arrived at her Westminster office ready for what could be another 14-hour day at the coalface of democracy.

As Parliamentary Private Secretary to Patricia Hewitt, the e-commerce minister, Mrs Campbell has to be up to speed with the latest technology. Yet while the technology may be 21st century, the 19th century conditions and practices of the Commons are Mrs Campbell's current bugbear. Today's day in the life of the Cambridge MP appears to back her case.

11am: Stop-off at Department for Trade and Industry to swot up on a speech that Lord Sainsbury of Turville, the Science minister, was to give at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. She is lined up to replace him at the event in the evening.

12.30am: Plans for the event are cancelled when the Government whips' office rings to say that no minister will be allowed the night off while the crucial Freedom of Information Bill vote is on. "All ministers have been recalled," she says.

12.45pm: As she arrives for lunch at the Commons canteen, Mrs Campbell bumps into Clive Soley, the chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party. Her petition has gone down well with the modernisation committee, he confides.

1.15pm: After a quick nosh up in the Commons dining room("I normally grab a sandwich"), she arrives at the PLP Women's Group to tell them of the progress in the fight for family friendly hours. Mrs Campbell was one of several Labour MPs who joined Clare Short in a march on the Commons shooting gallery in 1993. "Unfortunately, there were lots of nooks and crannies where a baby could get lost. It's a question of priorities," she says.

2pm: Time for what Mrs Campbell calls "another bit of archaic nonsense". To allow a work experience student into the Public Gallery for Prime Minister's Question Time, she joins 20 other MPs in a disorderly queue in the chamber. "It's just a ridiculous waste of our time," she says later.

2.45pm: To Millbank for BBC TV's Westminster Live. Mrs Campbell clashes with Julie Kirkbride, a young Tory MP, over the Commons working hours. Mrs Campbell gives as good as she gets, but her legendary cool-headedness is in danger. "She was just talking nonsense," she says.

3pm: Joins the UK Breast Cancer Coalition function in the Commons before rushing into the chamber.

4.30pm: To the Sixth Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation. Pacing the thickly carpeted committee corridor, Mrs Campbell arrives to gopher her way through the business on behalf of Mrs Hewitt.

6.30pm: On standby in the Commons for the Freedom of Information Bill report stage. Three-line whip means she has to stick around for the votes.

11pm: Finally free to go home.