Education secretary hails “hugely popular” church schools

The Education Secretary, Justine Greening MP, has hailed England’s church schools as “hugely popular”. In a letter to Sir Edward Leigh MP, Ms. Greening noted that church schools are “significantly more likely than other schools to be rated by Ofsted as good or outstanding.”

Regarding the Government’s recently announced end to the 50 per cent cap on faith-based admissions, Ms Greening hoped it “will give more organisations the opportunity to establish new faith schools.”

“I see Church and faith schools playing a strong role alongside other types of school, as part of a diverse system that gives parents greater choice and drives up standards,” the Education Secretary added.

Sir Edward Leigh, the Conservative MP for Gainsborough and President of the Catholic Union of Great Britain, wrote to Justine Greening on behalf of the Catholic community thanking her for removing the faith admission cap which prevented the Catholic Church from taking advantage of the free schools programme.

“Many parts of the country face a shortage of school places that needs addressing,” Sir Edward said. “The Catholic Church has been an education provider in this country for centuries, establishing its oldest universities, and now teaching many of the poorest and most disadvantaged.”

“I hope Catholics, our other fellow Christians, and the members of other faith communities in Britain take up the free schools with gusto. They can deliver a great education in a caring environment with a more holistic sense of what learning truly is.”

Posted by Edward Leigh's Office | November 23rd, 2016


No Need for a Greater Lincs Mayor

It was an immense relief to see Lincolnshire County Council vote down the proposal to create a mayor for Greater Lincolnshire. This plan is poorly thought out and would add another expensive and complex layer of local government that is totally unnecessary and, I would argue, counterproductive. Our district councillors and county councillors work hard to represent their neighbours and during a time when the budget belts have been tightened they have been forced to make very difficult decisions about services.

I am a firm believer in localism and subsidiarity. This means that decisions should be made closest to the people who will be most affected by them. In our part of the world, that means the district councils. But the creation of a mayor for Greater Lincolnshire would set an obvious trajectory which I fear would lead to the abolition of our district councils and the transfer of their powers elsewhere. I would oppose that development strenuously just as I oppose this proposal.

Even the title of mayor is totally inappropriate. Mayors are for towns and cities, whereas Lincolnshire is a largely rural county which is one of the great agricultural powerhouses of Great Britain. But it is headline grabbing as plans for the consolidation of local government in various cities in the north of England is considered and progresses. We simply can’t take a model that works for Manchester and arbitrarily apply it to Greater Lincolnshire.

The creation of another layer of local government is meant to be sweetened by the promise of extra funding to be distributed through the mayor’s office. But this will be partly negated by the fact that local authorities will be expected to make a contribution from their already straitened budgets towards the budget of the mayor’s office. This is far from a model of sleek efficiency in delivering services.

As central government’s funding of local authorities has understandably declined, any further funds for our communities are of course welcome. If the civil service mandarins in Whitehall would like to distribute this on a Greater Lincolnshire basis, rather than divvying it up amongst the various councils of the area, there are far better ways of going about it.

My proposal was that we set up a board composed of delegated members of each local authority who meet under the chairmanship of an independent non-politician, perhaps a local businessman or some such figure. They can then determine amongst themselves how this extra funding should be divided up amongst the local authorities, based on the priorities of Greater Lincolnshire as a whole.

As the County Council has rejected the mayor idea, I was hoping this proposal would be dead in the water. But it doesn’t want to die a natural death, and some are still trying to see it is enacted in the hope that those local authorities who are against it now can be brought along to support it later on. On this, as on so many issues, the fight is not yet over.

Posted by Edward Leigh's Office | November 1st, 2016


MP: Moving Parliament will be years late & massively overbudget

Sir Edward Leigh, the former head of Parliament’s spending watchdog, has condemned plans to close the Palace of Westminster for several years and move Parliament off site during the renovation period.

“A complete move-out will end up years overdue and massively overbudget,” the former chairman of the Public Accounts Committee said. “There is plenty of space on site – either in Westminster Hall or in Victoria Tower Gardens – for a temporary debating chamber to be erected, keeping Parliament in this historic place where it has met for 469 years.”

“A top-to-bottom renovation may provide too many spending temptations for unaccountable experts, while a rolling programme of shutting down, renovating, and reopening whole sections of the Palace would in my opinion be more feasible and more cost-effective.”

“If we abolish the useless two-week September sitting that would also give a full two and a half months every year to do rolling repairs. This would greatly aid the preservation and renovation of this historic shrine to parliamentary democracy.”

Posted by Edward Leigh's Office | September 8th, 2016


Sir Ed ‘wary’ of Riseholme plans

Sir Edward Leigh, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Gainsborough, has expressed caution upon hearing the University of Lincoln’s new plans for the site of the agricultural college at Riseholme.

“I am very wary of this new proposal,” Sir Edward told the press. “Not only does it continue to completely disregard the disputed claims to the use of the site but the level of residential development is far beyond the needs of the local community in Riseholme. With a neighbourhood plan at an advanced stage, local residents and other stakeholders, like the universities, have had the opportunity to shape local planning policy for decades to come.”

“Overall I am very disappointed with the way the University of Lincoln has behaved throughout this saga. We are very sad to see Riseholme College being forced out of its home of over half a century.”

“I will be consulting with local residents as well as parish and district councillors to discuss these new plans and see what can be done about them.”

Posted by Edward Leigh's Office | September 5th, 2016


Sir Ed proposes free parking compromise for Market Rasen

Sir Edward Leigh, the Conservative MP for Gainsborough, has proposed a compromise to the dispute over the imposition of parking charges in Market Rasen.

The MP of over three decades service in the Commons has written to West Lindsey District Council arguing that charges should only be imposed upon those who use the same spot for over two hours.

“If vehicle owners are given two free hours before charges are imposed,” Sir Edward wrote, “it will continue to allow consumers to patronise local businesses but prevent all the parking places from being taken up by long-term users.”

“We know there are many legitimate concerns regarding access to parking and charges,” Sir Edward told the press, “and I hope West Lindsey will look into this compromise.”

Posted by Edward Leigh's Office | August 22nd, 2016


Sir Ed on Iraq War: ‘Never Again’

Sir Edward Leigh, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Gainsborough, has attacked the rush to invade the Middle Eastern country in 2003.

“Never again must we be led astray along a path towards a dangerous war such as the one that has unleashed untold misery in Iraq,” the MP, who voted against the invasion, told colleagues debating the 6,000-page report of the inquiry chaired by Sir John Chilcot.

“Hundreds of thousands of people have died as a result of decisions taken in this House. I say never again. As ordinary Members of Parliament, if this ever happens again, we must be prepared to question the Executive and, whatever the cost to our career, vote against the Executive and vote down war.”

Sir John Chilcot, chairman of the Iraq Inquiry

Posted by Edward Leigh's Office | July 14th, 2016


Policy Priorities for the Next Premiership

Conservative MPs about to decide on the leadership of the party – and the nation – will consider character, the national interest, electability, and myriad other factors. Putting aside the personalities involved, it’s worth thinking for at least a moment about what policies we want the next premier to promote. I’d like to offer a few suggestions that range from the theoretical to the specific, and from the pragmatic to the principled.

It’s obvious the European Union is the biggest issue that needs tackling – and soon. Simply put, whatever specific set of conditions we manage to negotiate it is obvious that two will meet the bare minimum: ending our formal membership of the European Union and regaining control over the UK’s border. If these two conditions remain unfulfilled it could have a disastrous effect on the legitimacy of our parliamentary system in the eyes of the governed.

Stay calm: a trade deal in goods and services is achievable. Serve your notice, then negotiate. We know that if a deal is not struck tariffs are coming down across the globe anyway and the World Trade Organisation rules are acceptable. Governments and companies act in their own interest. If you have a huge trade deficit with someone — as we do with the EU – it is in their interest to negotiate continuing favourable access. The German automotive industry is already making placating noises – hardly surprising given how many of their cars we buy. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Edward Leigh | June 28th, 2016


On the Referendum Result

I am delighted by the result of the EU referendum and I’m proud that we’ve had such a strong result here in West Lindsey. I have worked for this referendum for twenty years, and more people voted Leave than for anything else in British history. The people have spoken, and the result is final. I’d like to thank the many volunteers from both campaigns who ensured such a vigorous debate and a high turnout.

Parliament now has a lot of work to do in ensuring that we come to an amicable agreement establishing the United Kingdom’s relationship outside the European Union. Already the economic signs are promising and certainly not the disaster that the Remain camp predicted, and I’m glad that many on the continent are calling for Britain to be given a good deal.

For those of us here in Lincolnshire, I want to reassure them that change will be a slow and evolutionary process. We don’t expect to see any drastic differences in our everyday life, but withdrawing the from European Union in a calm and orderly fashion will allow us to preserve the best of what we’ve achieved together while returning the voter to the centre stage of British politics.

I am saddened by the Prime Minister’s decision to resign following the result of the referendum. I wanted him to stay on and continue and he had the support of the party. He has served with dedication and honour. We certainly didn’t agree on everything, but he led the Party back into government and has played a strong role in repairing this country’s fortunes.

I won’t say anything about who should succeed him but like most Conservative MPs I will be following the process closely and thinking about who will be the best person to reunite the country and keep us on the right track.

Posted by Edward Leigh | June 27th, 2016


Sir Edward Welcomes Dates for RAF Scampton Air Show

Sir Edward Leigh, the Member of Parliament for the Gainsborough constituency, who represents Scampton, has welcomed news that the first RAF Scampton Air Show will take place between 9th – 10th September 2017. Sir Edward said:

“Lord Howe, at the Ministry of Defence, has written to inform me that the RAF Scampton Air Show, being organised by the RAF Charitable Trust, will take place in early September 2017. I am very pleased that following intense efforts by myself and others we have secured the continuation of an RAF Air Show in Lincolnshire.”

The news came following an earlier letter in February that RAF Scampton would be the new home of the RAF Waddington Air Show, after operational changes meant that the base had become unsuitable as a host location. Writing to Sir Edward Lord Howe said:

“I am pleased that I can now confirm that the RAF Charitable Trust has agreed that the 2017 Scampton Air Show will take place on 9-10 September 2017… I am sure you will agree with me this is good news.”

Posted by Edward Leigh's Office | June 1st, 2016


Outrageous Treasury Figures Won’t be Believed

With the referendum campaign now in full swing, many people all around Lincolnshire and indeed around the country are turning their thoughts to the European Union. I’ve been disappointed to see the Treasury deploying such wildly unbelievable figures in an effort to convince the public that leaving the European Union will result in an economic disaster worse than the Great Depression.

Luckily, I well remember the Chancellor of the Exchequer, while in opposition, attacked Governments of the day for pressuring the Treasury to craft figures that fit a predetermined political narrative. This is why we set up the Office of Budget Responsibility to provide an independent economic forecast as background to the preparation of the UK’s budget. I also recall the Prime Minister’s assurance that he would campaign for leaving the EU if Brussels didn’t give us a proper deal. Surely the Prime Minister wouldn’t have said that if leaving would prove disastrous for the British economy.

So, alas, we must take these prognostications of doom with a grain of salt. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Edward Leigh | May 30th, 2016


A Letter to the Chancellor

I had a light-hearted exchange with the Chancellor of the Exchequer at Treasury questions today:

Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): The Treasury cannot even get its forecast for growth and the deficit correct for next year. Does the Chancellor realise that instructing his officials to produce a speculative report based on thoroughly tendentious figures about what might or might not happen in the event of Brexit simply belittles the reputation of the Treasury for economic competence and forecasting? Instead of relying on fear, why does he not give us his vision, compared with our vision of a free people in a free Parliament, controlling our own borders and leading the world towards free trade?

Mr Osborne: Our positive vision is that by being part of a reformed EU we can raise living standards, create more jobs and make sure that consumers have access to lower prices. We have set out in the Treasury analysis a range of possibilities for the alternatives that might happen if Britain leaves the European Union. All of them would make Britain permanently poorer, but if my hon. Friend and the leave campaign want to produce their own plan and their own analysis, then be my guest.

In response, I have sent him a somewhat cheeky letter asking him to lend me the Treasury to produce a 200-page report outlining the positive case for leaving the European Union.

Dear George,

I enclose the text of my question to you today and your response in which you suggested that I and the Leave campaign produce a report showing the positive case for leaving the European Union.

As you recall, at the beginning of the previous parliament you very kindly appointed me an Independent Advisor to the Treasury and asked me to produce a report on improving budget accountability, and helped by putting Treasury officials at my disposal. The Procedure Committee of the House has taken it up and will report on it further in the hope of enacting some of its proposals.

You know that as a mere backbencher I do not have the resources to produce 200 pages of long economic analysis. You have hundreds of Treasury officials capable of this and, as you have now suggested me producing a report putting the case for ‘Leave’ – as you put it, ‘be my guest!’ – would you be prepared to back up that suggestion by lending me a few Treasury officials to do so?

Yours,
Edward

Posted by Edward Leigh | April 19th, 2016


Sir Ed praises better broadband coverage

Sir Edward Leigh, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Gainsborough, has welcomed news that more homes and business in his constituency now have access to superfast broadband internet.

“We’ve had £16.6 million allocated for the superfast broadband rollout here in Lincolnshire so far,” Sir Edward said, “and more than 3.5 million homes and businesses across the country now have coverage.”

“Between September and December of last year 1,690 premises in the Gainsborough constituency received superfast broadband coverage, which makes over 18,000 premises in total here, and a further 1,790 to be covered by June 2017.”

“There’s still work to be done and I am fighting for many of our small villages and communities to have better, faster internet,” the MP of more than thirty years’ service in the Commons said.

“We still don’t have it in Stainton le Vale, so I sympathise very strongly with others who are still waiting.”

Posted by Edward Leigh's Office | April 19th, 2016





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