Sir Edward Leigh, the Conservative MP for Gainsborough, has welcomed the Prime Minister’s call for a general election in June and said that he hopes to be the Conservative party’s candidate.
“Voters here in Lincolnshire and across the country are backing Theresa May,” the MP of more than thirty years’ service in the Commons said. “In the months since she entered Number 10, the Prime Minister has shown good judgement and strong character. In the upcoming election I hope to be the Conservative candidate for Gainsborough and continue my service to the people I live amongst.”
“Every vote for the Conservatives will make our country stronger. I look forward to being part of a clear Conservative majority that will deliver free trade and control of our own borders. It would be an honour to stand again for Gainsborough and help the Prime Minister deliver the best Brexit deal possible.”
“Tomorrow in Parliament I will vote enthusiastically in favour of a general election to stop our opponents playing games with the will of the people.”
Sir Edward Leigh recently visited Jordan, where he was able to make a pilgrimage to the site of Jesus’s baptism in the River Jordan.
As a county with such a strong and flourishing agricultural sector, Lincolnshire is one of the breadbaskets of England. The technological advances of the past century have allowed mankind to grow and produce more food than was ever imagined possible. This ‘green revolution’ combined with the widespread expansion of economic freedom has lifted the circumstances of many around the world such that poverty is less frequent now than almost ever before.
Chemicals play an important part in this scientific miracle and glyphosate is one which has proved exceptionally useful to our farmers here in Lincolnshire. British scientists have investigated the effects of its use and their results, alongside the research of colleagues across Europe, show that glyphosate is not a harmful substance. Its approval for use, however, is under the control of the European Union, which has not yet renewed its authorisation beyond the end of this year.
I have written to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, relaying testimony from Lincolnshire farmers as to how necessary glyphosate is and strongly urging her to continue with her efforts to secure its rapid re-authorisation. This is one of many issues which show how much more freedom and ability to adapt to our own circumstances we will have once we leave the European Union within the next two years. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m delighted by the news that before the end of the month the Government will invoke Article 50 seeking our departure from the European Union. As we enter the period of negotiating our future, the Prime Minister has made her priorities very clear.
The most important and basic principle is that the fundamental powers of a sovereign independent country will be returned to the British people as represented in our democratically elected parliament. For too long under the EU, important decisions were made behind closed doors through the Council of Ministers and ratified by a European Parliament that lacks an effective opposition and the ability to initiate its own legislation.
We will regain control over our borders. It will be British ministers, part of an elected government responsible to and replaceable by the voters, who will have the final say on who is let into the country and who is denied access.
The United Kingdom will also have the freedom to pursue deeper trade links with friendly countries overseas. We are unique in Europe in sharing very close ties of language, law, friendship, and family with large, successful, and prosperous countries abroad such as Australia, Canada, and the United States. I support the Government’s plans to strengthen our connections to the many countries of the Commonwealth, whose combined share of the world economy is set to overtake that of the EU member states in the near future.
And we will continue to cooperate very closely with our European neighbours as common sense dictates. Read the rest of this entry »
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.”