I congratulate Dr. Kumar on securing this important debate. For me, the importance of local media is about scrutinising Back Benchers and ensuring that we are accountable to our constituents. As the debate was starting, I received a text message from somebody in my constituency to say that there is now a campaign among the local media to find out how Shropshire MPs will be voting on the issue of MPs' expenses. Constituents are being asked not to vote for MPs who vote to withhold that information. I love that sort of scrutiny. It is essential to have a mechanism for local people to challenge their MPs and for the newspapers to do that vital job.
In Shrewsbury we have two excellent newspapers, the Shropshire Star and the Shrewsbury Chronicle. In the Lobby, there is a correspondent, Mr. John Hipwood, who works for the Shropshire Star and other newspapers. He is always in the Members' Lobby on Wednesday before Prime Minister's Question Time, asking us what we have done during the week, probing and scrutinising. I always look forward to my interactions with Mr. Hipwood in the Lobby, and it is important to have somebody in the House of Commons who scrutinises what we do and reports back to our constituents in an impartial way. We need more than MPs' propaganda through their newsletters to constituents.
I depend on my local newspapers, the Shrewsbury Chronicle and the Shropshire Star, for highlighting the outrageous way in which the Labour Government are treating Shropshire. They help me to raise issues that are pivotal to the people of Shrewsbury, such as the fact that every child in Shrewsbury receives £3,300 per annum for their education. In other parts of the country, particularly in Labour seats, that figure is £9,000 or £10,000—three times what my children in Shrewsbury get. As a result, village schools are under threat from closure.