A free press holds Government to account

EDITOR – Many of us here in Lincolnshire will have recently enjoyed a bit of a summer break, perhaps even having gone away to the seaside or even abroad. A bit of rest and leisure time is not just a well-earned pleasure but actually a proper right for any working individual.

Of course, if like me you’re a parent, the end of summer also means a return to school. At De Aston School in Market Rasen, a record-breaking number of GCSE takers achieved A-to-C grades. Caistor Grammar achieved 100% A-to-C grades this year.

In Gainsborough, Queen Elizabeth High School has been awarded the prestigious Information and Communication Technology Mark (or ICT Mark).

The ICT Mark is a nationally recognised accreditation scheme sponsored by the Department for Education which recognises schools for their achievement in reaching a high standard in their use of technology.

It is trite yet true to say that our ever-globalised world is increasingly dependent upon technology, but I am happy that when it comes to integrating technology into our schools, Gainsborough is at the forefront.

With the News of the World phone hacking scandal again returning to our front pages, I am also reminded how lucky we are in this country to have the press that we do, however imperfect it is. The freedom of the press is one of the most valuable assets our parliamentary democracy has.

The revolutionary innovations in the newspaper industry pioneered by Rupert Murdoch do not excuse the actions of the now-defunct News of the World, nor do they distract from the significant power wielded by News International.

But think how much less honest our government would be if we lacked a free functioning media to at least sometimes hold it to account.

That globalised world mentioned just before also reminds us that prosperity in Lincolnshire is now more intimately linked with events across the world than ever before.

The continued economic turmoil is disconcerting and the rising troubles within the Eurozone countries demonstrate yet again how wise we were to maintain the pound sterling against the ‘conventional wisdom’ that preached its obvious irrelevance.

I have stated again and again that ordinary working families and individuals must be the essential factor as we inch towards recovery.

We put the case to the Coalition government that not only was the planned fuel duty increase a foolish and counter-productive idea harmful to many families and small businesses, but that cutting the fuel duty in these straitened times was actually the correct course of action.

Obviously this is particularly appropriate in such a rural area as north Lincolnshire.

Happily, the front bench heeded the calls from my like-minded colleagues and I, scrapping the increase and announcing an upcoming decrease.

While small, this decrease will provide just that extra bit of help in seeing us through, getting our children to school and ourselves to our workplaces less expensively, and making the vans, trucks, and cars necessary to our numerous small- and medium-sized enterprises in Lincolnshire that extra bit more affordable.

EDWARD LEIGH

MP for Gainsborough