Sir Edward Leigh, Conservative MP for Gainsborough and a member of the International Trade Select Committee, has welcomed the committee’s new report on UK trade options beyond 2019.
“This is a well-balanced report that shows we have a number of opportunities at hand for international trade after Brexit,” the MP of over thirty years’ service in the Commons said. “From the many viewpoints we heard and the evidence we looked at, it’s clear that the Government are laying strong foundations for our future trading arrangements both with the EU and with the rest of the world. I particularly welcome the call for a Government White Paper on UK membership of EFTA.”
“This report makes very clear that the EU and the UK have a mutual interest in agreeing a trade deal before Brexit day comes,” Sir Edward continued. “With issues like financial passporting, the imbalance is in our favour. Right now our strongest trade links with EU states are with Germany and the Netherlands. These are two core EU countries who will be leading the drive for an agreement.”
“The government has sound plans but we do seek greater clarity on what our customs arrangement with the EU will be. The Prime Minister has made clear we are leaving the Single Market, we will be outside the jurisdiction of the ECJ, and our continued membership of the WTO is a good basis for concluding Free Trade Agreements with the rest of the world.”
Sir Edward Leigh MP recently visited David Ward at East Barkwith Post Office to promote the services offered by local post offices.
“What we are trying to advertise today is the fact that we’ve had these bank closures which have generated some bad publicity for the banks, two banks closing in Market Rasen and one in Caistor.
“We have made a tremendous row and fuss about it because it’s very unfair, particularly on older people who don’t want to do online banking.
“What we are trying to emphasise is that as the banks are closing in rural areas, the Post Offices are ready and willing to step up to the mark to provide all the everyday banking services you would normally need from a bank.
“You normally go into your bank to deposit or withdraw money, and that’s what you can do very easily with a Post Office. We’re trying to launch a national campaign – use your Post Office as a bank.”
I’m pleased the Skills Funding Agency has launched upon the unprecedented step of taking the University of Lincoln to court in order to safeguard the land-based agricultural facilities at Riseholme here in the constituency. Unfortunately, without regard to the educational needs of the county or for the quite reasonable concerns of local residents in Riseholme, the University is looking to build a residential development on the site. The superb staff at Bishop Burton College (who run Riseholme College) are organising a site visit for the SFA next month which I plan on attending.
Meanwhile, in London the process of withdrawing the UK from the EU is continuing at speed. The House of Lords is a vital part of our parliamentary democracy and plays an essential role in scrutinising our laws. But it would be wrong for unelected peers to try to overrule the will of the British people expressed in a referendum. I’m confident, however, that the peers will be mindful of their role in our unwritten constitution and will not obstruct the path of Brexit.
The Holocaust was a crime of global significance which must never be forgotten. Remembering the horror of this event is incredibly difficult to put into words, let alone to try and represent in physical form. Not long ago I visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and was left deeply impressed by the experience. This museum does a very good job of educating visitors about the Holocaust as well as trying to place it in a historical context. To emphasise the individuality of the victims, every visitor is handed a little card with the name and story of someone who suffered in the concentration camps – whether they were killed or whether they survived.
Teaching future generations about the Holocaust is vital, and I am glad that groups of schoolchildren from Lincolnshire have had the privilege of visiting Auschwitz in what is now Poland and witnessing this place first hand. But we can do more to facilitate educating about the Holocaust here in Great Britain.
Recently I organised a Commons debate about the proposed national Holocaust memorial in Victoria Tower Gardens next to Parliament. Unfortunately, due to the various requirements of this site the organisers have had to scale down their original proposals to include an educational experience like at the Museum in Washington. I think this is a mistake.
Less than half a mile from Parliament, the Imperial War Museum is investing millions in renovating the galleries it devotes to the Holocaust. The Museum has previously expressed an interest in having its permanent exhibition integrated into a Holocaust memorial, and there is sufficient space to do this at the Museum’s site in Lambeth, unlike in Victoria Tower Gardens.
A National Holocaust Memorial will, I hope, become a required site for school visits to London and so the organisers ought to adapt their plans so that here in Britain we can replicate the tremendous success of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.
Sir Edward Leigh, the Conservative MP for Gainsborough, has written to the Health Secretary asking him to prioritise the lack of GPs in Gainsborough as “urgent”. The MP of over thirty years’ service in the House of Commons said the crisis required “immediate attention”.
“We already face a shortage of 80 GPs in Lincolnshire,” the MP wrote to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. “Only 6 out of 30 vacant places in the Lincolnshire GP Vocational Training Scheme were filled in 2015/16. The inability to fill these roles will have a deleterious knock-on effect with each passing year – all at a time when GPs are retiring at an alarming rate.”
“The lack of access to General Practitioners, aside from the real irritations it will cause, will lead to poorer health outcomes across the board,” Sir Edward continued, “as well as putting A&E departments under further strain.”
The Gainsborough, Caistor, and Market Rasen MP then called on the Health Secretary to give “urgent priority” to finding a solution.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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
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 »
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.