I CAN'T think of a time when the stock of politicians has fallen so low in this country. Of course, the newspapers are feasting on the question of MPs expenses and I both understand that and fully support the need for much greater transparency and accountability for how public money is spent. I am confident that we are now on a journey that will get our house in order.

However I am very concerned about a more substantial trend which is dangerous for our democracy. Quite simply people are fed up with not getting their voice heard, and are turning away from the traditional political process.

I see this in the context of the expansion of Heathrow with the Government apparently deaf to the growing voice across London that says we must think again in the interests of the environment and our quality of life.

And people know that the decision to expand Heathrow is built on a lie, namely that Terminal 5 was to be the end. Last week at a packed rally in Westminster, 3,000 people turned up to vent their anger. In dismissing the roof top protesters, the Prime Minister said that decisions should be taken in the chamber of the House of Commons not on the roof. But that is not where decisions are taken these days. They are taken in Government and Brussels and we feel increasingly powerless to influence those decisions, whether it be Heathrow; the closure of post offices; a new planning development or a new piece of regulation.

That is why I am so pleased that my Private Members Bill, the Sustainable Communities Act, is now law. It is certainly not the catch-all cure for this problem but it is a start that is rooted in the right thought which is that local communities know what is right for them and should have more influence over the key decisions. For example, a community should not have to accept the closure of post offices - it should be free to argue for funds to be reallocated from other less important programmes.

Only by giving people a real sense that getting involved is worthwhile because you can change something, will we stop this disturbing drift away from engagement with politics.