News

Community Payback

Let me tell you a story of our times. Ken Clarke, the Justice Secretary, has acted to toughen up the community sentences that some people get when they are convicted for minor offences and the courts don't believe they deserve a prison sentence.

Science

Did you know that, if you hold a bicycle wheel up in front of you and spin it clockwise, while sitting on a swivel chair, you will spin anti-clockwise? Did you know that the reason that an ice skater spins faster when she straightens her legs and bring her arms in close to her body is because of the principle of conservation of angular momentum? Boys and girls revising for this summer's physics exams will probably groan with weary familiarity at these hoary old chestnuts. But they came as a complete revelation to me when I attended this week's launch of the programme for the Gravity Fields festival which will take place in and around Grantham from 21-28 September.

Diamond Jubilee

As Lincolnshire's Red Arrows brought the celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee to a close, their red, white and blue plumes merged into the slate grey cloud over Buckingham Palace and gave us all an abiding image of Britishness - equal parts patriotism and rain. The abiding image from Sunday's pageant of boats was similar: half a dozen singers, soaked to the skin, standing on top of a boat and singing Land of Hope and Glory and the National Anthem as if their lives depended on it.

NFU Grantham

Of all the constituency meetings that I have as the local MP, there is none that I look forward to more than my regular meeting with the Grantham branch of the National Farmers Union. And it's not just because of the home-made cakes – though they are a powerful incentive. In our focus on getting the British economy growing again and making sure that future growth is broadly based and not all dependent on financial services, it is easy to overlook the contribution that farmers and growers make to our prosperity.

Future of Grantham Hospital

There is nothing more important to the people of Grantham and the surrounding area than the future of Grantham Hospital. Given the way that past decisions about the hospital have been handled, I fully understand why local people become nervous whenever there is any rumour of units closing or services being withdrawn. And I applaud the Grantham Journal for keeping a beady eye on everything that happens in the Hospital and for holding the trust that controls it to account for every decision that they make.

Afghanistan

It has been a terrible fortnight in Afghanistan. Last week, six British soldiers lost their lives to one of the Taliban's bombs. And, this week, an American soldier left his base and killed 16 innocent Afghan civilians in their beds, including several women and children. In Prime Minister's Questions last week, I asked David Cameron to use this week's meetings with President Obama to coordinate the transfer of responsibility for security to Afghan forces, so that British and American combat troops can come home by the end of 2014.

Will Pike

This week, after a long campaign led by Lincolnshire resident Trevor Lakin, the Government finally did the right thing for the British victims of the terrorist attacks abroad and announced that they will soon receive compensation, despite the fact that injuries sustained overseas were not covered by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. This is a good result for the people injured in these attacks.

Dementia

Nothing has surprised me more, since becoming an MP, than the extent to which dementia is a part of so many families' lives today. My family has been lucky in this respect. None of my parents, grandparents or aunts and uncles has suffered from it. Many of them have died of cancer and I have had it too. But we have avoided that gradual fading of the light that afflicts so many people in Britain and causes such heartache to so many families.

The Economy

In May 1940, Winston Churchill said that his aim was "victory at all costs" but told the British people "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat." Last week George Osborne delivered a similarly stern message. The government's aim is growth but the combination of rapidly rising commodity prices and the problems in the eurozone have had a chilling effect on Britain's economic recovery so all we can offer is a long, hard slog. As many of our problems are a result of the government spending and borrowing too much, there is a limit to what government can do to help individuals, families and businesses weather the storm.

Autumn Statement

Next week, the Chancellor will make his Autumn Statement and is expected to acknowledge that cutting the deficit is proving harder than anyone expected. On the same day, the independent Office for Budget Responsibility will cut its forecasts for economic growth. Yet, the following day, on 30th November, most public sector unions are going on strike over the Government's plans to reform public sector pensions.