OFFICIAL statistics from an independent body have revealed how often local MPs take part in debates in the Commons.

Hansard reports from the TheyWorkForYou website reveal that since January 2011, New Forest East Conservative MP Dr Julian Lewis has spoken 87 times and has received answers to 39 written questions.

The website, which monitors MPs and peers, says the number speeches and questions from Mr Lewis are both “well above average”.

Already this year, Mr Lewis has spoken in the Holocaust Memorial Day and Nuclear Deterrent debates in the House of Commons.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Julian Lewis has a formidable reputation in the field of defence and disarmament”

In contrast, North Dorset Conservative MP Bob Walter, who covers Verwood and Alderholt, has spoken in five debates and has not received any answers to written questions.

His most recent debates last year in the Commons include community hospitals and the House of Lords reform bill. According to the same website, Mr Walter is “well below average” among MPs.

But Mr Walter is described as an “excellent constituency MP” and much of his work is done through private letters.

New Forest West Conservative MP Desmond Swayne spoke in two debates and received answers to two written questions last year – a performance described as “well below average” among MPs.

However, in September 2012, Prime Minister David Cameron appointed Mr Swayne as a Government whip (senior lord commissioner of HM Treasury).

And whips in the House of Commons do not speak in debates.

Mr Swayne said: “Whips do not speak or ask questions. They are ministers whose job it is to deiver the goverment's business.

“This involves work in the chamber and in the standing committees for long hours. Whips arrive first, stay throughout, and leave last.

“In addition i carry the constituency responsibilities and duties of any other member: correspondence; visits; surgeries etc.”

A statement on the TheyWorkForYou reads: “We realise that data such as the number of debates spoken in means little in terms of an MP’s actual performance.

“When you're judging your MP, read some of their speeches, check out their website, even go to a local meeting and ask them a question.”