THIS week, Aylesbury MP David Lidington writes exclusively to Bucks Free Press readers:

For many people, the House of Commons means Prime Minister’s Questions. PMQs can make for good theatre: a packed Chamber, high drama, gladiatorial combat between leaders.

Deputising for Theresa May at PMQs was certainly the nearest thing to getting into the boxing ring that I’m ever likely to do in my life!

It has a global audience, with the face and voice of my constituency neighbour John Bercow now recognised around the world.

But PMQs is not representative of what Parliament is really like. Most business in the House of Commons takes place in quieter debates and in Committee sessions away from the Chamber. Select Committees in particular seek to work by consensus between MPs of different political parties.

Each of these Committees shadows a government Department and summons Ministers, senior officials and outside experts to give evidence about important policies. A committee’s report and recommendations are more likely to have an impact if the conclusions are unanimous rather than split on party lines.

That takes discussion and compromise - but usually it’s achieved.

MPs also work closely together on local issues. It’s hardly a secret that among Buckinghamshire’s MPs there are very strong differences of view about Europe. Yet that’s never stopped the five of us from seeking common ground on HS2 or our local NHS.

I loathe the rancorous tone and language which too often infects public debate and especially online exchanges. The bandying about of terms like “traitor” and “betrayal” disgraces our society.

By contrast, one of the secret strengths of the House of Commons is that MPs will disagree, sometimes fiercely and passionately, during debates but afterwards have a perfectly friendly exchange in the tea room or cafe.

Respect for differences of opinion and the integrity of opponents should be at the core of our democratic life.