Today I was elected Chairman of the new All Party Parliamentary Group on literacy.
At their best, All Party Groups are one of Parliament’s real strengths. They bring together MPs and Peers of all parties to work together on an issue they are passionate about.
I have always believed that if you want to build a fairer society, the way to do that is not by increasing benefits but by addressing the underlying causes of poverty chief among which is low educational attainment. Basic literacy skills are the key to addressing that - 9% of boys in this country currently leave primary school with a reading age of seven or less. How can they then access the secondary curriculum?
We need to give all our children not just the skills to read but a love of reading - a point powerfully made by the children's author Cressida Cowell at our launch today. We were also joined by Louise Dearman and Rachel Tucker (with whom I am pictured) from the cast of Wicked, who collectively sponsor the excellent Wicked Young Writers Award.
My thanks to the National Literacy Trust for organising today's launch. Now the work begins to raise the profile of this key issue.