This week Members of Parliament debated the use of armed forces chapels for same-sex marriage ceremonies. On Tuesday 25 February, defence junior minister Anna Soubry MP presented a draft order-in-council allowing for same-sex marriage ceremonies to take place in certain armed forces chapels. Sir Gerald Howarth MP (Con.-Aldershot) and Sir Edward Leigh MP (Con.-Gainsborough) raised concerns over the freedom of church bodies to refuse to perform or host same-sex ceremonies.
“I have in mind not only the interest of the Royal Garrison church in Aldershot,” Sir Gerald told the Committee, “but the Roman Catholic cathedral in Aldershot and the Church of Scotland church in Aldershot—three military churches. I want her to make it crystal clear that none of those are affected by the proposals and that they do not fall within the definition of ‘chapels’.”
Sir Gerald, an Anglican, was joined in raising his concerns by Sir Edward Leigh MP, a Catholic: “We do take such matters seriously because we are talking about what are for us holy places. People who attach enormous importance to their religious beliefs—whether they are Roman Catholic or anything else—use the chapels as holy places. […] Does the Minister understand that we are worried about that issue, which is important to us?”
Defence minister Anna Soubry MP dismissed the MPs’ worries as “the stuff of fantasy”. She did, however, clarify that military personnel would not be forced into any action: “I am pleased to be able to make it absolutely clear that nobody will ever be forced to do anything that is against their conscience.” Read the rest of this entry »
Edward Leigh, the Member of Parliament for Gainsborough, condemned the proposal to start military action against Syria. Speaking on Thursday (29 August) in the House of Commons, Mr Leigh told the Commons, “I will not vote for war. I would never vote for war against Syria.”
“MPs are doing their job and listening to what the public want, and the voice of the public is completely clear: they do not want war,” Sir Edward continued. “They are scarred by what went on in Iraq. We were lied to in Parliament and we are not going to go down that route again. I voted against the Iraq war and I will vote against this one.”
Sir Edward also pointed out that military action could help the Islamic fundamentalists amongst the Syrian rebels, thus endangering the two million Christians as well as numerous members of Syria’s twenty-two other religious minorities.
Edward Leigh offered his condolences to the family and relatives of the RAF pilot killed in the Red Arrows during Prime Minister’s Questions today (9 November 2011). “In joining me in giving our condolences to the relatives of the Red Arrows pilot killed at RAF Scampton yesterday,” Edward Leigh, whose constituency includes RAF Scampton, asked, “will the Prime Minister acknowledge the overriding need for safety, and that our campaign to save RAF Scampton from closure is not just based on sentiment for the historic home of the Dambusters but on the overriding need for the kind of safe, uncluttered skies above north Lincolnshire which the Red Arrows need to practice safely.”
“I’m sure the hearts of everyone in this House go out to the family of the pilot who was killed in this terrible accident,” David Cameron responded. “It comes on top of a second accident that happened in the Red Arrows and this has obviously been a very tragic time for something the whole country reveres and loves.” Read the rest of this entry »
The case for retaining the RAF base at Scampton received a boost this week when Edward Leigh, the Member of Parliament for the Gainsborough constituency (in which the base is located) wrote again to the MOD ministerial team seeking a firm commitment on the base’s future. The MP has pressed hard in recent weeks, meeting with relevant ministers and corresponding with them on the retention of RAF Scampton. Read the rest of this entry »
Gainsborough MP, Edward Leigh, is calling for a medal to be awarded in recognition of the airmen’s bravery, reports the BBC.
He said he had pressed successive defence ministers on the issue throughout his 28 years in parliament.
Bomber Command had many crew based at Lincolnshire’s RAF stations whose role was to fly long range bombing missions.
Read more at BBC News Online.
Edward Leigh, the Member of Parliament for Gainsborough in Lincolnshire, has voiced his concerns over the prolonged British military intervention in Libya. Addressing questions in debate to the Prime Minister and then to the Foreign Secretary, Mr Leigh sought reassurance that the aim of the operation remained, as originally stated, the return of peace and not an overthrow of the pre-existing Libyan regime.
Speaking to the Prime Minister in the Commons, Mr Leigh said:
Of course we reject the al-Qaeda characterisation of western policy as an attempt to impose our views on the Muslim world, but in order to win hearts and minds—particularly in the Arab world—will my right hon. Friend make it clear that it is no part of our long-term policy to impose or get rid of a particular regime in Libya, and that our aim is to secure a ceasefire, a settlement and, ultimately, peace, even at the cost of a divided country? I suspect that what most Libyans want is peace.
Later, in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office oral questions in the Commons, Mr Leigh asked the Home Secretary:
Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the best first step towards the reconstruction of the country would be peace and a ceasefire? Will he therefore assure the House that all his efforts are pointed in that direction rather than just at regime change?
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 »
The Ministry of Defence has replied to my letter regarding the future of RAF Scampton, saying that “decisions have not been made on which sites, other than RAF Kinloss, will cease to be RAF bases.”
However, they added that vacated RAF estate will likely be used by units returning from Germany.
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 »
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 »
I fear that the British death toll in Afghanistan, which as of Sunday stands at 296, is very soon to cross the sombre 300 milestone.
The Royal Anglian Regiment, which serves our County, has taken some of the heaviest casualties throughout the campaign, with death rates reaching the same levels suffered by American soldiers during the Vietnam War. This is not 1970 and we are not up against a modern army. Read the rest of this entry »