A Northumberland peer has been named as the winner of one of the UK’s most prestigious economic awards.
Matt Ridley has been honoured by the Institute of Economic Affairs, one of the UK’s leading economic bodies.
The right-wing think tank handed Viscount Ridley the 2014 Free Enterprise Award at a ceremony on Tuesday night.
The Free Enterprise Award - first presented to Sir Keith Joseph in 1975 - is given to the person judged to have made the greatest contribution to the market economy in the past year – as a businessman, journalist, academic, think tanker or other intellectual. The winner is chosen by a panel of IEA trustees and staff, supporters and journalists.
Its distinguished list of winners includes figures such as Sir Richard Branson and Baroness Thatcher.
Viscount Ridley, who has an estate at Blaydon in Northumberland and is a columnist for The Times, said: “I am deeply honoured and thrilled to receive the free enterprise award in succession to many remarkable people. As a writer I am acutely aware that the evidence of past decades and centuries is that free enterprise not only makes people wealthier, healthier and wiser, but kinder, cleaner and indeed greener as well. I am humbled to know that my work is appreciated in this way.”
Viscount Ridley is a Conservative peer and former chairman of Northern Rock. His book The Rational Optimist has been widely praised.
The decision to present the peer with this year’s award is based upon his writings for The Times and what the IEA was his “insight into critical issues such as the regulation of the UK economy, energy policy and inequality.”
The think tank said the peer should be praised for his unique ability to communicate his message whilst conveying a well-grounded optimism about the future.
Mark Littlewood, director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: “Matt Ridley has made many important interventions to promote free-market policy ideas in areas as wide-ranging as energy, the environment and income distribution. As an author and a columnist, he has dispelled the myth that the future is nothing but bleak and has provided a much needed sense of optimism surrounding the prospects of future generations.”
The award was presented by Kwasi Kwarteng, MP for Spelthorne, at a ceremony held at Metro Bank.