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ADRIAN SANDERS: The Importance of Being Earnest

By Herald Express  |  Posted: January 17, 2014

Roy Pike

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IT WAS a pleasure to turn out for Roy Earnest Pike, the retiring (sic) head teacher of Torquay Boys' Grammar School at a reception in the Grand Hotel.

I wasn't there just as an MP respecting one of the Bay's key education figures who has built a national reputation leading one of the country's top result state schools, nor just as a former pupil, but because when Mr Pike began his career at the school I was one of his first British constitution O-level, and later government and politics studies A-level students.

He introduced me to different ways countries could govern themselves, elect their representatives and run their economies, further encouraging my interest in politics.

I still disagree with selecting pupils at 11 but that decision nowadays rests with parents rather than politicians, and primary parents in Torbay show no signs of wanting to force a vote on the system.

Whatever your view, you can't take away Roy's achievements and we all wish him well for the future.

WE still have a very long way to go, but the economy is beginning to move in the right direction. We have had three successive quarters of GDP growth and other economic indicators are also positive.

Unemployment continues to fall, faster in Torbay than the rest of Devon, and while some of these jobs are part-time, most are not, and in any event a part-time job is usually better than no job for most people.

Rightly, the government is trying to help young people find work.

Since 2010, more than 1.5million new apprenticeships have been created, at a faster rate in Torbay than elsewhere in the county, and nationally at twice the rate previously managed.

Interest rates remain at historic lows, saving £2,000 per year for a family taking out a South Devon average standard fixed-rate mortgage of £100,000.

Income tax bills have been cut for the lower paid, across Torbay some 6,000 people taken out of income tax altogether with more than 40,000 others enjoying an income tax cut.

Our economy is growing because of the hard work of people and businesses throughout Britain.

Three-and-a-half years in, and the coalition's priorities are still the same: fixing the economy and making it stronger, while building a fairer society.

That task has never been simply about balancing the books, despite George Osborne's protestations. An economy was inherited from previous one-party governments that had become profoundly unbalanced.

Growth was driven almost entirely by one industry: financial services. Almost exclusively from one city: London. And behind the boom was a nation becoming less productive and less competitive. For years governments had simply papered over the cracks.

Unlike some of the Conservatives in the coalition, the Liberal Democrats didn't come into government just to make cuts. For us, this has always been about setting in motion a much more fundamental overhaul of our economy so Britain never finds itself here again.

IT is a disturbing reality that slavery still exists in the world and even in the UK and other parts of the 'developed' world. Slavery has no place in Britain or anywhere else. It is an affront to the dignity and humanity of us all, and it is the responsibility of us all to help stamp it out.

We have even had cases uncovered in Torbay in recent years, so it not an issue of no consequence to our area.

The government has published a draft Bill. It is an important start and recognises the best way to protect and reduce the number of victims is to disrupt and imprison the organised criminal gangs behind much of the modern slave trade.

If we all work to ensure the provisions within it are as focused and targeted as possible, we will have a Modern Slavery Act in this Parliament which can be built on by future governments so that we really do end slavery once and for all.

IT may have passed you by and it may never be of any interest to you at all, but a really important change to the law came into effect on January 1.

The ability of people with means to silence critics will be severely curtailed thanks to reforms I campaigned for and are now on the statute book.

New libel laws aimed at giving better protection to people expressing their opinions have come into force in England and Wales which mean claimants will have to show they have suffered 'serious harm' before suing, under the Defamation Act 2013.

Members of Parliament are covered by insurance and can challenge the big and powerful who wish to silence representatives of the people. Most people are forced into apologising at the drop of a threatening letter for fear of escalating costs beyond their means.

Litigious individuals have been able to use the laws of libel to hide the truth about themselves and how they operate, although those who sue people unable to afford to defend themselves expose more than they realise about themselves.

These long overdue changes give protection to ordinary members of the public.

NEXT surgeries: tomorrow, Preston Baptist Church Hall, Old Torquay Road, Paignton, TQ3 2RB. Friday, January 24, The Precinct Centre, Church Road, St Marychurch, Torquay, TQ1 4QY. Advice line 200036. www.adriansanders.org Also on Facebook and Twitter.

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