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Yes, he philosophises in The News of the World. He usually writes about the importance of privatisation in creating jobs and that sort of thing.
It is my belief that the Conservative party has developed a strong showing in my constituency since 1970—the majority when I took over the seat was 17,000; by good fortune, it has now risen to 19,000—not only because the Government's policies have been right at national level but because at district council level the Conservative-controlled council has operated similar policies of tight monetary control and good management, which have kept the local taxes among the lowest in the country. The local services, including housing, refuse collection and job creation through an industrial strategy in the area, are among the best in the country. When our electors determine which way to vote in the next general election and in the local elections next year, I am sure that they will consider the economic progress that has taken place in the constituency and in the east midlands in general.
When we examine the economy in the east midlands, we find a dramatic improvement. There has been a vast increase in confidence in current and expected business conditions: 49 per cent. of businesses in the east midlands expect conditions to improve. Only a small proportion expect them to worsen. That is the most positive outlook for five years. In a recent statement, Leicestershire chamber of commerce said:
We are extremely positive about the way forward for the small to medium sized companies … We would say that the economy is buoyant and a large number of these companies actually have full order books.
If one drives around Dodwells Bridge industrial estate in Hinckley on a Friday afternoon, one can feel the increase in economic activity that has taken place in the past year. In the county, all sizes of businesses have performed well. That is reflected in the fact that 74 per cent. of businesses in Leicestershire have reported an increase in sales. In addition, in the past six months there have been 61 new business start-ups in my constituency alone.
Training is an area close to the heart of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education. It has been an area of growth and excellence in Leicestershire and in my constituency. I can tell my right hon. Friend that this month we held an award ceremony for 12 firms in the Bosworth division. They received the "training for excellence" award in recognition of the contribution that local businesses had made to the improved training and skills development of the working population. That is not to be underestimated. In addition, 11 businesses in the Bosworth constituency are committed to the Department of Employment's "investors in people" initiative. They are currently being guided towards that goal by the South Leicestershire Training Group. On Friday, I saw for myself the way in which its efforts have succeeded. I shall refer to that a little later.
On Europe, I am disappointed by the die-hard attitude of what has become known as the Euro-sceptic minority in our Conservative party. It would be catastrophic for Britain's prospects not to ratify the European Communities (Finance) Bill. I favour speedy action to put the Bill on the statute book. I am sceptical about many things that go on in Europe, but I suggest that the Bill is the wrong ground on which to fight. The right ground is fraud in Europe. Nothing drives my constituents madder than the thought of Euro-fraud. It is a tribute to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister that he was able to have the issue of fraud addressed in the Maastricht treaty.