Another month’s fall in jobless numbers welcomed by MP

Sir Edward Leigh, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Gainsborough, has welcomed a further drop in the unemployment figures for his constituency. The Office of National Statistics revealed 437 fewer people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance than this time last year, while the East Midlands as a whole has seen the claimant count fall by 28,094 people.

“Today’s statistics show a further drop in unemployment in our part of Lincolnshire,” Sir Edward said. “These figures are more proof that our long-term economic plan is working.”

“Across the region, over 28,000 people are back in work – well over 100,000 more than at the end of the last Labour government,” he continued.

“We’ve delivered this much while stuck in coalition with the Lib Dems. When voters give us a Conservative majority at the general election, we will be free to go further and deliver more savings for taxpayers and greater prosperity for the country.”

Posted by Edward Leigh's Office | October 15th, 2014

Debate on Recongising Palestinian Statehood

13 October 2014 – Backbench Business: Palestine and Israel

Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): We are going to be told when we vote tonight that we are being naive and indulging in gestures, but sometimes one has to be naive in expressing one’s hopes for a better world and to be prepared to make gestures, even if our power is very limited. I suppose that an Israeli living near Gaza will think that we are naive when missiles are raining down on them from Hamas. I have nothing but contempt for Hamas, which I view as a kind of Nazi organisation. I have nothing but respect and support for the state of Israel. I think that all of us are very philo-Semitic. We understand the horrors that the Jewish people have undergone and their desire for security and peace.

However, my viewpoint—my strong support for Israel—started to change when I talked to Abba Eban, a former Israeli Foreign Minister and a very fine gentleman. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Edward Leigh's Office | October 15th, 2014

Edward Leigh hails sharp drop in Gainsborough unemployment

117,000 more people in work across East Midlands since 2010

Sir Edward Leigh MP has welcomed new figures showing that 360 fewer people are claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in the Gainsborough constituency since 2010, a twenty per cent drop. Across the East Midlands, 117,000 more people were in work compared to the end of the last Labour government.

“These numbers aren’t just statistics, they’re human lives and it shows that our long-term economic plan is working,” the former minister in Trade & Industry said.

“People here in Lincolnshire can look forward to a brighter, safer future both for themselves and for their families. We need to keep going so that more families here in Lincolnshire enjoy the security of a real job and regular pay.”

Throughout Britain the number of people relying on Jobseeker’s Allowance has fallen below one million for the first time since 2008.

Posted by Edward Leigh's Office | September 18th, 2014

Removing the Spare Room Subsidy

On the 'Affordable Homes Bill'

Britain is facing a housing shortage and the removal of the spare room subsidy was a necessary change in order to get the housing benefit bill under control, return fairness to the system, and make better use of social housing stock.

The Affordable Homes Bill aims to reverse this important change, when there are nearly two million households on social housing waiting lists in England alone and 360,000 families living in over-crowded accommodation. Estimates suggest that the Affordable Homes Bill would cost about £1 billion of public expenditure. At a time when many families are having to make cut backs, this would not be an appropriate use of public money.

Provisions are in place to protect the disabled, foster carers, and the armed forces and £165 million of funding has been made available for local councils to support vulnerable claimants in 2014/15. However, I continue to believe that it cannot be right to subsidise families to live in houses too big for their needs.

For these reasons, I cannot support the Affordable Homes Bill.

Posted by Edward Leigh | September 16th, 2014

MP says hotel ‘vital’ for Gainsborough growth

Edward Leigh, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Gainsborough, has called for the application to build a new hotel on the town’s Market Street to be approved. In a letter to Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, Sir Edward said that the proposal was “absolutely vital to economic growth in Gainsborough.”

“The world-class businesses located here have clients who visit from across the country and beyond,” the MP continued. “This hotel would be an important component in increasing the viability of expanding businesses in the area as well as providing a strong support for those seeking to locate businesses here.”

“With Marshalls Yard and the new apartments, this part of Gainsborough has experienced a significant upturn in investment in the past few years, and it would be a great shame if we missed an opportunity to continue this trend and bring yet another high-quality development to the town.”

“It is precisely projects like these throughout Britain that we must support in order to make sure the economic recovery is broad and widely spread around the country,” he concluded. “The importance of this hotel and the opportunities it will bring to Gainsborough cannot be understated.”

Posted by Edward Leigh's Office | September 8th, 2014

Sir Edward’s Contribution Tops Local Representative League Table

Sir Edward Leigh MP, who represents the Gainsborough Constituency, has been identified as the most active parliamentarian in Westminster from our area.

The Conservative Member of Parliament, who represents the towns of Gainsborough, Caistor, Market Rasen and Wragby, together with numerous villages across the West Lindsey district, came out on top when compared with local representatives in the House of Commons in terms of parliamentary contributions – not far behind Prime Minister David Cameron.

Sir Edward, who has over thirty years of parliamentary experience, ranks thirty-fifth when compared to his six hundred and forty-four colleagues (a further eight failed to make the table, as they have not spoken in the Commons).

Analysis of the number of times MPs have spoken in Commons debates since the 2010 general election reveals Sir Edward is the most prolific local speaker, having spoken 599 times in 246 debates, with a total of 105,576 words under his belt.

Posted by Edward Leigh's Office | August 18th, 2014

Edward Leigh objects to Burton solar plant

Edward Leigh, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Gainsborough, has objected to the proposed solar plant at Burton-by-Lincoln.

“These proposals would have a negative impact on the surrounding area, not to mention taking prime agricultural land out of use,” Sir Edward said. “The visual impact would ruin views towards Lincoln Cathedral, and would undermine the Outstanding Landscape Value of this area.”

“I’ve written to West Lindsey District Council expressing my objections as well as relaying those of constituents, and I would encourage all others opposed to these scheme to do likewise.”

Posted by Edward Leigh's Office | July 29th, 2014

Edward Leigh: another win in fight against Hemswell Cliff wind farm

Secretary of State calls in application for his determination

Edward Leigh, the Member of Parliament for Gainsborough, has congratulated campaigners on their latest victory in the fight against the Hemswell Cliff wind farm.

“I have had a letter from Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, letting me know that he has called in the Hemswell Cliff wind farm for his determination,” Sir Edward said. “This means that, just as with Kingerby, Eric will make the final call rather than the bureaucrats at the Planning Inspectorate.”

“With the decision in Eric’s hands, I am very confident we will have a result which reflects the very strong opposition this proposal has faced,” Sir Edward continued. “I have visited the site, spoken to local parish councillors, and read the letters in my in box. Local residents and other concerned parties are almost entirely against it.”

“While a rejection isn’t in the bag yet, it’s testament to the hard work put in by Villages of the Cliff Against Turbines and others to make sure this devastating proposal doesn’t go through. West Lindsey was completely right in refusing the application, and Eric Pickles has been vocal in backing up local decision-making.”

Posted by Edward Leigh's Office | July 22nd, 2014

Protecting Children in Conflict

A speech given in the House of Commons, 3 July 2014

Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): The whole House will be grateful to the hon. Member for East Lothian (Fiona O’Donnell) for initiating this debate on protecting children in conflict. She was right to deal with the Palestinian situation, but I will not follow her example in any detail as I do not want to get involved in the debate about the rights and wrongs of the Palestinian issue, except for noting the suffering of both the Palestinian people and the Israeli people in a very difficult conflict.

I want to make some general remarks about how the British Government could try to improve the protection of children in conflict areas, particularly when it comes to education. Education is the subject on which I want to focus and I would be grateful if the Minister could deal with that problem when he replies.

I should perhaps declare a family interest. I am speaking today because both my elder daughters work for charities in Africa and have worked in Kenya, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic. They keep me informed of their work and what is going on and, a few years ago, I visited the Congo with War Child to look at the appalling privations that children faced, particularly because of the conflict and the use of child soldiers. My visit had a deep impact on me and I am sure that, even despite all the excellent work of my hon. Friend the Minister and other Ministers in the FCO and DFID, there is still more that we can do.

As I say, I want to concentrate on education, but why are children particularly vulnerable? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Edward Leigh's Office | July 3rd, 2014

Hawthorn Road sparks MP letter to Minister

Edward Leigh, the Member of Parliament for Gainsborough, has written to the Transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin MP, regarding the closure of the Hawthorn Road with the building of the Eastern Bypass.

In his letter, Sir Edward pointed out that the construction of the Bypass was very welcome, but that building a straight-over road bridge was “the most obvious and logical solution”.

“Arbitrarily, transport officials decided against a road bridge, preferring a smaller bridge for pedestrian and equestrian non-vehicular traffic,” Sir Edward wrote. “This would bifurcate the Hawthorn Road and eliminate an extremely useful and valuable road transport link, while wasting money on a replacement bridge that is wholly inadequate.”

Transport officials have claimed the replacement bridge will cost £250,000 but Sir Edward, a former Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee investigating government waste in spending, doubted the figures would prove accurate in the end.

“The simplest and most cost-effective possible solution is for a straight-over bridge maintaining the current status and usage of Hawthorn Road.” The current plans for a non-vehicular bridge are, the MP asserted, “overly complicated” and face “very vocal opposition from local residents and those who use the road regularly.”

“The current plan must be scrapped before it wastes any more public money, and plans for a straight-over bridge should be drawn up immediately,” Sir Edward concluded.

Posted by Edward Leigh's Office | June 26th, 2014

MP hails latest victory in fight against Kingerby wind farm

Secretary of State will make final decision in planning appeal

Edward Leigh, the Member of Parliament for Gainsborough, has heralded a major victory in the fight against the proposed wind farm at Kingerby. “The Planning Inspectorate has informed me that the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, has directed he will determine the outcome of this appeal rather than an Inspector,” Edward Leigh said. “I believe we have a much stronger chance of burying the Kingerby wind farm proposal once and for all now that the matter is in the hands of Eric Pickles.”

“I lobbied hard that the Secretary of State make the decision and not the Inspectorate, and this has been the result of a long effort on my part and that of others,” Mr Leigh continued. “The planning committee at West Lindsey District Council made a very sensible decision in turning down the application, and they were reflecting the strongly felt desires of local residents. Eric Pickles has many times emphasised the importance of local democracy so I am optimistic that he will uphold West Lindsey’s decision. I am also hoping we will soon receive a similar letter regarding the Hemswell Cliff proposal.”

Posted by Edward Leigh's Office | June 9th, 2014

How Conservatives can win

After these elections, we must not be complacent. A worryingly large proportion of those who voted UKIP in the European Elections tell pollsters that they will do so again in the General Election. The ComRes poll last Sunday claimed that 37 per cent of UKIP voters were certain to support that party at the General Election and a further 49 per cent said they were likely to do so. If even half these people stick to this plan we are in deep doo-doo.

Nothing infuriates people more than politicians who say “We are listening,” then carry on much as before as if the drubbing they have received is a temporary inconvenience. If the Conservatives are to win the next election we need a profound rethink.

There are four things we must do.
– We must break the Coalition which is strangling the Liberals to death and eroding our base.
– We must take decisive action to convince people we will have an early referendum on Europe and be prepared to leave if we do not get back control of our borders
– Stick to Conservative things like cutting the deficit or capping benefits: this is when we do well. But when we indulge in modernising gimmicks we just drive our supporters away, so stick with the economy.
– We must come to an electoral understanding with UKIP.

Centre-right voters need to be reassured that we have taken on board their concerns. We should make clear our immediate intention this Parliament to repeal the Human Rights Act, so that we can maintain the Common Law protecting our civil liberties while also being able to deport those who threaten our freedom or break our laws.

We need to legislate – in Government time – for an in/out referendum within a year of the General Election. We need to establish the supremacy of Parliament over EU law. We must stop paying benefits to immigrants for the first five years of their stay until they have made a significant contribution to National Insurance.

The Liberals will then walk away from the Coalition: good. By now Nick Clegg is little more politically than a living corpse – why should we continue to tie ourselves to him? Even much of his own party despise him. They can elect a new leader, who can rebuild the grassroots of their own party. Once free of the Liberals we can start rebuilding our base with our traditional supporters.

We are less than eleven months to a General Election. Harold Wilson ran a minority Government with some success and went on to win a General Election. Of course, when we try and legislate now for a popular agenda on firm conservative principles, Labour and Liberal MPs will combine to defeat us. Good. Every defeat will enthuse our supporters. Suddenly the voluntary party will be refreshed and start to grow again after years of decline. The fresh shoots are there, but they require watering and attention.

The Coalition is like a loveless marriage kept together for the sake of the children, but who are the children in this case? Is it the economy? A minority Government is hardly going to go on a mad spending spree for a few months, nor to do anything to frighten the markets. The essentials of the budget-making process are still in place and will remain so till next May.

In a first past the post system it is madness to allow the Right to be divided. At the next election people who don’t want to see Labour in government need to understand which candidate in their constituency has the best chance of beating Labour – whether it be Con, Lib, or UKIP. This happened to us in reverse with devastating results in 1997. People on the ground are actually very shrewd at working this out.

In the Labour-controlled seats where UKIP has the best chance of beating Labour we should agree only to put up a paper candidate. (The “Coupon Election” nearly a century ago provides a precedent.) There is a handful of seats which we currently hold and where our MP is standing down and which UKIP are going all out anyway to win, where we might be persuaded to relax our effort. In return, they wouldn’t make any effort to destroy us in our key Con/Lab marginals, where they can’t win anyway and would just split the vote, letting in Labour. This is the type of informal relationship that New Labour and the Liberals used so well in 1997. Perhaps we could give them a taste of their own medicine.

The alternative is that we go on as we are. The Liberal vote will collapse to Labour in our marginal seats and Miliband will get in by default. The uniting of the British Left into a single electoral force – even though it would bring more moderate Lib Dems into the Tory fold – has disastrous consequences for Conservative electoral prospects in the future.

Not everyone will agree with me, but I agree that a “sincere apology” is required over the way same-sex civil marriage was implemented. A concerted effort could be made to promote traditional marriage.

There is something more essential that we must do: we must stop apologising for having strong Conservative beliefs. We must cut out the politically correct liberal posturing. We must have confidence that people vote Conservative because we run the economy better. I would argue that this means a commitment to a much flatter tax system and a real commitment to a low taxes and a deregulated economy.

We also have to tackle immigration. This is the main driver behind UKIP. Free movement of people in Western Europe may make sense, but when economies diverge widely, it is a recipe for mass migration and the consequent growth of far-right parties. It is left-wing policies that produce the situations in which the far-right flourishes.

We need to start a proper renegotiation of our EU membership now and control of our borders must be part of this. If Europe wants to stand in the way of their peoples’ wish then we must be prepared to leave and be part of a customs union only.

Years ago we were told the Party had to be detoxified. Are people like me – with a general election majority of 10,000 votes – really toxic? Ours is a gentle patriotism, not nationalism. We may be religious but we value the ethical contribution of all religions. We support strong immigration controls because we want to foster an integrated British culture accepting of different racial backgrounds. And yes, we value overseas aid because both for its moral humanitarianism and its potential to spread British influence, even if we doubt the efficacy of arbitrary targets. We also love and respect our armed forces and don’t want to see any more cuts.

We also love our young people. It grieves us that they are “Generation Rent”. Like Macmillan we would like to pledge to a massive programme to build flats and small houses in our cities. We need to get housing associations involved rather than just cozying up to private developers only.

There is a lot to be proud of in being a Conservative. We just need more self-confidence in our traditional brand.

The first step is to proclaim the supremacy of UK law over the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. Once we do this, all else follows. We can control our own borders and our own destiny. Once more, Parliament will be supreme.

Posted by Edward Leigh | June 7th, 2014

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