Keep up the pressure and we can save air base

EDITOR – I think I should begin my column this week by offering my condolences to the family of Flt Lt Sean Cunningham, who tragically died at RAF Scampton recently.

This incident has highlighted the overriding need for safety for the Red Arrows – safety, it seems that only RAF Scampton, which is at risk of closure, can provide.

I recently pressed the Prime Minister on this question, and pointed out that our campaign to save the base 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 practise safely.

This is an important subject for many in the constituency, and I will continue to work hard to keep the base open.

I believe that by keeping pressure on the MoD up, there is a realistic possibility of saving RAF Scampton from closure.

A subject we discussed recently in Parliament which is particularly important to me, and many in the constituency, was fuel prices.

There is a real sense of outrage at the current level of fuel pricing – Britain is currently the second most expensive place in the whole EU to buy diesel, and petrol isn’t far behind.

Across the majority of rural Lincolnshire public transport is not an option. That we are in the situation where many on low incomes are having to pay more than 10 per cent of their income just to fill up the family car is madness.

A car is not a luxury for most of us – that we should be forced to pay through the nose for such a necessity is a disgrace.

I happily signed and supported the motion in Parliament to reduce fuel duty. Currently around 80p, or 62 per cent of the price of fuel at the pumps comes from tax – both duty and then VAT on top.

I have been very vocal in my efforts to reduce this. It strikes me that this is the sort of tax cut which would make its way to ordinary people, rather than just to large companies.

Not only would such a cut reduce the cost of filling up the car, but it could also cut the cost of the supermarket shop.

It is easy to forget that the price of everything that is transported by road is added to by the cost of fuel duty.

I believe that this is exactly the sort of measure which we need in order to get the economy going again – a measure which will reduce costs for ordinary families and small and medium businesses alike.

EDWARD LEIGH

MP for Gainsborough