When this Government was elected, the Secretary of State for Works & Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, launched a massive overhaul of the way benefits are distributed in this country. Right now, a claimant receives each benefit through different agencies depending on the nature of the benefit. This results in waste and inefficiency on the part of the departments involved. Through the Universal Credit, claimants will receive a single payment from the government for whichever benefits they are entitled to.
Furthermore, benefits will be reformed to ensure that every able-bodied claimant who can work is always financially better off working instead of on benefits. Over the long term, we hope this will change the entire culture of benefits in this country, so that taxpayers here in Lincolnshire know that we are concentrating on spending their money on those who need it most.
This week will also see the year’s budget unveiled in the House of Commons. I have been pressuring the Government to ensure the Treasury focuses on providing immediate relief for hard-working families, but we also can’t abandon dealing with the massive deficit inherited from the previous government.
You may have seen on Look North this week on the floor of the Commons I invited Ed Davey, the climate change secretary, to come to Lincolnshire to admire our glorious views from the edge of the Wolds and show him how they would be ruined by enormous wind farms. I’m not holding my breath to see if he’ll come.
With a new pope in Rome, it’s worth pointing out that Britain currently enjoys very good relations with the Holy See (as the Vatican is known in diplomatic affairs). Many often assume that this is not very important, and that we should focus on other matters in our international relations. But we should remember that the Vatican represents 1.2 billion people worldwide. To put that in perspective, China has 1.4 billion and India has 1.2 billion as well.
The Vatican isn’t a trading partner but I’m sure you’ll agree we shouldn’t lose sight of the important moral aspects which the churches are here to remind us of. This is also true of the Church of England, and last week in the Commons I spoke up in defence of the independence of the Church of England from government interference.
However, this Government is doing an excellent job at promoting British trade relations abroad. The Prime Minister has completed a whirlwind tour of the Middle East and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has also been to India to promote British trade and industry as well as higher education. But Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is completely right to tighten up the process to get visas to study in the UK, as she has recently done. We must ensure the best and brightest are free to come to England, but that doesn’t mean letting colleges act as conduits for immigration through the back door. Slowly but surely, we are making progress.
Many readers will have been affected by the recent rush of wind farm planning applications, such as those at Hemswell Cliff and Corringham near Gainsborough. I have been heartened by the recent rejection of the application for the Normanby by Spital proposal. The latest application is in Osgodby parish, within the bounds of the thousand-year-old Kingerby estate, flanked by ancient woodland. Here the wind farm industry proposes to build a 67-metre-high turbine – the top just a few feet lower than the Church of All Saints, the famous “Ramblers’ Church”, in Walesby.
Walkers along the Viking Way, in our splendid Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, will be able to look it in the eye as it stands a few miles away, standing hauntingly over the fields like some sort of H.G. Wells alien nightmare. The wind there is particularly fickle and unreliable, far below the norm for an efficient wind turbine, and so a single wind turbine will not be enough to make it feasible for the proposers. Instead, there will be a whole group of 67-metre-high turbines with their blades cutting across the blue sky. The way to Kingerby Church, noted by Simon Jenkins in his England’s Thousand Best Churches, will be overshadowed by these often useless and before long rusting monsters, standing where the heron used to fly. As the visitor to Kingerby church turns back to look towards Lincoln Cathedral, its profile will be marred by their great swinging blades.
This valley is unusually unspoiled. Read the rest of this entry »
Gainsborough MP Edward Leigh has produced a booklet containing his substantive speeches in the House of Commons since the 2010 election.
“I don’t want to be complacent about the fantastic support I receive from the people of Lincolnshire. I want to make sure that everyone I represent knows what I’m doing in their name.
“Although it’s impossible to please everyone, I hope that the speeches I have made since being returned to Parliament in 2010 will meet with general approval.
“However the real aim of this booklet is to connect better with people living in the Gainsborough constituency and to give everyone a chance to have a say on what I’m doing in Parliament. I’m urging everyone to get in contact with me to let me know what they think of the points which I have been making in my speeches since 2010.
“I don’t want anyone who wants to read this to miss out, so I will send a hard copy of this booklet to anyone who requests one.
“I hope that this project will bring Westminster and North Lincolnshire just that bit closer together”
Edward Leigh’s Collected Speeches are now available to download; or you can receive a hard copy, completely free of charge, if you email firstname.lastname@example.org to request one and supply your postal address.
You can download the booklet here: Edward Leigh collected speeches – 2010-2012
Many of us in the countryside have been concerned about the growing threat of wind farms blighting the splendid landscapes we have held dear for so long. I recently joined forced with over one hundred of my parliamentary colleagues in signing a letter to the prime minister, David Cameron, about this all important issue. We have asked that the subsidy for on-shore wind farms be scrapped and that the new National Planning Policy Framework which remains under consideration to be revised to ensure that local views matter when determining planning applications for new on-shore turbines.
Many landowners are aware of the profitability of wind farms, but they might not be aware that most of this comes from the largesse of the public purse: wind farms only make economic sense for country people because of the massive subsidy that comes from our taxes. This subsidy is simply not tenable in times of want when we have to make very difficult decisions about our health system, our schools, and the way our army, navy, and air force are operated.
As someone of a conservative disposition, I am entirely in favour of preserving the sacred inheritance of our countryside and our environment. An ecosystem once ruined can take generations to renew. But I remain unconvinced of the efficacy of subsidising wind farms which, while they do create energy, only do so unreliably and at great cost to the natural beauty of our surroundings. Read the rest of this entry »
The local elections just held in West Lindsey have resulted in the Conservatives retaining our position of overall control, and I thank the voters for exercising their democratic rights and entrusting us with representing them. This year we have seen the novelty of all our West Lindsey local councillors being elected in one swoop. The intention, I believe, was to allow voters to voice their concerns more forcefully through the ballot box in a single go. Returning power to local communities, and even giving them powers they never had, is vital to the task of breathing new life into the political process in Great Britain. We need important decisions to be made as closely as possible to those people who are affected by them, not by aloof bureaucrats in Whitehall departments.
The philosopher and economist E. F. Schumacher wrote a brilliant book called ‘Small is Beautiful’ in which he proposed a more sane way of living that neither worships the invisible hand of the market nor is enslaved by the seemingly almighty power of the state. Read the rest of this entry »
We have been both inspired and a bit worried by populations across North Africa and the Middle East rising up and taking the affairs of government into their own hands. Last week I chaired a meeting between backbench Conservative MPs and the Egyptian ambassador. While he was very frank about the problems his country faces, the Ambassador was still full of hope for the future as the prospects for democracy in his country are on the rise.
My concerns over this government’s military intervention in Libya, which I refused to support with my vote, grow stronger day by day. Read the rest of this entry »
Glastonbury Thorn is a tree down in Somerset surrounded by legend. It’s claimed that Saint Joseph of Arimathea thrust his staff into the ground and it was miraculously transformed into a tree. During the war, Churchill, a lover of all the old English traditions, was so concerned for the thorn’s survival that he had saplings sent to all the corners of Britain so that it would continue even if the Germans managed to attack this ancient symbol of England.
We have many trees of every shape and size in Gainsborough, and many woods and forests, too. Read the rest of this entry »
It is pleasing to see such busy shops during the Christmas sales. Our recovery will be driven by a freer financial environment.
The wealth of virtually every developed society in history has depended on a free interaction between market supply and public demand. It is amazing, therefore, to see this basic balance ignored by educated politicians whose egos and ideology stand in the way of progress. Read the rest of this entry »
A number of constituents have been voicing their concern over the new hike in tuition fees.
I can empathise with students’ worries about shouldering massive debts at the start of their working lives and this issue deserves serious attention. However, assurance is at hand that the government’s new measures won’t ruin young people’s futures. Read the rest of this entry »
Britain has suffered from a high level of state control and surveillance. The burden of the big state is one thing when the economy is growing and the private sector can support the state, but now that we have to tighten our belts, people are rightly seeking information about who is making the cuts and what their motives are. Read the rest of this entry »
I care passionately about waste, which is why I am very alarmed by the influence of the European Union. For sixteen years in a row, the European budget has not been accurately accounted for. This means that part of our contribution to the European Union (which is higher than any member state apart from Germany), is being lost. During these tough times, people are quite rightly concerned that we are raising our contribution to the EU when we are cutting nearly everything else. Read the rest of this entry »
The measures to save the country £81bn over the next four years are generally positive. However, I have been vocal in my opposition to a number of cuts which I fear could pose a threat both to Gainsborough and the rest of the country. Read the rest of this entry »