This week Wycombe MP Steve Baker writes exclusively to Bucks Free Press readers:

This week, two amendments to the Data Protection Bill were stopped in the House of Commons, in a victory for press freedom.

A free press is essential to the open and democratic society which we enjoy and wish to preserve.

It is right that those of us in public life are held to account, even if at times we see our opponents’ spin reported. It’s right that conflicting points of view, evidence and argument are tested in the fires of public debate.

That’s why I was so pleased the Commons rejected calls for a second Leveson Inquiry into press standards, which would have been an unnecessary and disproportionate solution to the challenges we face today.

A second amendment would have required publishers not signed up to a state-approved regulator to pay their opponent’s legal costs even if they won the case. Thankfully, that was quite rightly dropped.

As the Culture Secretary said, this amendment would have made it near impossible for newspapers, especially fine local papers like our own Bucks Free Press, to hold powerful institutions and individuals to account. It is unlikely, for example, that The Times would have been able to uncover the Rotherham child abuse scandal.

This is a victory for a free and fair press. Had these amendments passed, they would have dealt a blow to the press’s ability to hold the powerful to account, weakening our democracy.

Of course we all expect fair play from the press but we cannot allow press freedom to be threatened.

In other news, the Government launched the first round of competitions for technology firms to develop solutions to tackle the Grand Challenges our modern Industrial Strategy identifies.

The competition is designed to incentivise Britain’s tech firms to discover innovative solutions to improve public services – focusing on each of the government’s Grand Challenges: the data economy, clean growth, healthy ageing and the future of mobility.

Winning companies will be awarded up to £50,000 to develop their ideas. This will be funded by the £20 million GovTech fund which was launched last year.

The companies providing the best potential solutions will then be awarded research and development contracts of up to £500,000 to build prototypes.

The first of these competitions opens next Monday, running for six weeks, with the remaining competitions being launched in subsequent months.

The UK is a world leader in digital innovation. This fund will elevate more British companies into a global market, whilst also helping to deliver outstanding public services – improving people’s everyday lives and ensuring that the UK is fit to meet the challenges of the future.