Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Newspaper column 11 July 18 - Brexit proposals


So far this week in Westminster has been dominated by the follow-up from the Prime Minister’s proposals for continuing our negotiations towards Brexit, which the Cabinet endorsed over the weekend at Chequers.

The proposals have caused a great deal of debate, both in Parliament and across the country.

The proposals include the ending of free movement and taking back control of our borders, no more sending vast sums of our money each year to the EU, and a new business friendly customs model with freedom to strike new trade deals around the world.

They also reiterate that we are leaving the Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy, as well as no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, or Ireland and Great Britain.

However the proposals have had to compromise on other areas. This is reflective of the Parliamentary position, with no overall Parliamentary majority, as well as the closeness of the EU Referendum result across the whole country.As such, some people may not have seen the hard Brexit outcomes that they wanted in these proposals.

I have some reservations about these proposals and have already questioned the Prime Minister about them in Parliament on Monday.

I asked if the Prime Minister was aware that these proposals go further than many of us, and indeed many voters, would like to see us go and are at the absolute limit of what many of us feel able to agree to. 

As such, for now I am not opposing these proposals but will continue to watch keenly as the negotiations continue in order to ensure that the deal reached does not step away from the Brexit the country and Cornwall voted for.

Of course, the option of ‘no deal’ still remains on the table and must be one which the Prime Minister will seriously consider as we move closer to Brexit. 

The Brexit Bill now has Royal Assent so come what may, we will be leaving the EU on 29 March 2019. Myself and my Cornish MP colleagues will continue to do what we can to ensure Cornwall’s voice is heard during Brexit and beyond. 

As always, my team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and work hard to make a real difference to the lives of everyone needing support. If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please contact me on either 01726 829379 or office@stevedouble.org.uk. Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at: www.stevedouble.org.uk/events


Rohingya children

Thank you for writing to me about the plight of Rohingya children and the importance of holding perpetrators of crimes against children to account.

I have been appalled by the reports of the atrocities committed by Burmese military and Buddhist extremists against the Rohingya people. As the Prime Minister and other world leaders have clearly stated, what took place in Rakhine State appears to be a textbook case of ethnic cleansing.

I am proud of the compassionate leadership the UK Government has shown by being the largest bilateral donor of humanitarian aid to relief work in Rakhine.

The Department for International Development is helping to provide crucial services including psycho-social counselling, reproductive health services, child-friendly spaces, safe shelters and legal advice to women and girls who are vulnerable to domestic violence, sexual harassment and exploitation in the refugee camps. In addition, the Government is also supporting further UNICEF initiatives to protect children in Rakhine State.

The UK has also been leading international community's political and diplomatic response to the Rakhine crisis.

The UN Security Council adopted a presidential statement on Burma proposed by the UK and France in November 2017, demanding an immediate end to the use of excessive military force in Rakhine, greater access for the provision of humanitarian aid, and safe passage for Rohingya refugees to return home.

In December 2017, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution co-sponsored by the UK which set up a UN Fact Finding Mission (FFM) on human rights abuses in Burma, and subsequent resolutions that gave it the mandate and resources to collect, preserve and share evidence. Following the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations, the Government is now discussing with international partners how to support evidence-collecting efforts, especially in relation to sexual violence.

The UK Government is clear that the responsibility of these atrocities lies squarely with the Burmese military. Karen Pierce, British Ambassador to the UN, called for a "proper investigation" to be launched into alleged crimes committed by the Burmese military against the Rohingya people, during a UN Security Council (UNSC) envoy visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh in March this year. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has repeatedly urged the Burmese Government to heed the Security Council's calls and cooperate with the UN Human Rights Council's Fact Finding Mission.

I would like to see the perpetrators of these heinous crimes against children brought to justice, and will continue to support the Government's work in achieving this and speak up for this cause in Parliament.

The level of UK defence spendin


I wholeheartedly agree with you that the defence of the realm, our overseas territories and our interests around the globe, is the first priority of any government. As a leading global power, the UK has a responsibility to sustain our armed forces so that they can carry out this vital task.

I was re-elected in 2017 to represent the people of St Austell and Newquay on a manifesto that binds the Government to not only meet the NATO commitment to spend at least 2 per cent of GDP on defence, but also increase the defence budget by at least 0.5 per cent above inflation in every year of the 2017-19 Parliament.

We currently have the biggest annual defence budget in Europe, the second largest in NATO, and the fifth largest in the world.

Between 2016 and 2026, the Ministry of Defence has been allocated £178 billion to planned expenditure on equipment and support, including £44 billion on submarines and trident missiles, £24.6 billion on combat and support aircrafts, £19 billion on ships and £13.5 billion on weapons. New equipment to cope with 21st century threats include nuclear Dreadnought submarines to maintain continuous at sea patrols, digital armoured vehicles, and two new aircraft carriers - the most powerful ships ever built in Britain – with 5th generation F-35s to fly from them.

As your local MP I will continue to support the Government on bills and measures in Parliament that will strengthen our armed forces and defence capabilities, and speak up and vote against any proposals aiming to achieve the opposite.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Early Day Motion (EDM) 66


Thank you for your recent email asking me to sign Early Day Motion (EDM) 66, which calls for a rigorous and fair public scientific debate, between scientists, about best practice in medical research.

As a rule I do not sign Early Day Motions as they have no legislative affect and I believe change can be driven better through the other democratic processes available to us in Parliament.

I will certainly bear your comments during future debates and discussion on this subject in Parliament in the future.

I hope this is helpful and thanks once more for getting in touch.

Third runway at Heathrow


Few matters I can recall have seen greater scrutiny and consideration. The time and effort in reviewing these matters have been exhaustive and whilst strong feelings are held by both sides of the argument the consensus has proven to be in favour by some margin in Parliament and also overwhelmingly in the immediate location of the airport. The vast majority there support it.

I gave the matter careful thought and supported the third runway. People have concerns and it has been right and proper that everyone should have their views aired and considered. Even now the project has to go through the planning process. I remain confident that this will further tighten and enhance the project to ensure the impact it may have will be a measured one whilst  the benefits to the UK are secured.

The new runway  is a once-in-a-generation private infrastructure project. It will bring gains across the UK and more so to The Duchy with flights possible between here and Heathrow itself. It will greatly help business and tourism.

With the advent of rapidly changing technologies seen already with the explosion of ultra clean cars with sales booming – such good news for the environment – we will see equal progress in the air too. We must harness these latest technologies in due course to ensure the future wellbeing of our environment whilst not neglecting to provide the much needed runway at Heathrow.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Campaign - I want a publicly owned NHS, do you?/NHS Birthday present


Thank you for your recent email as part of the campaign ‘I want a publicly owned NHS, do you?’

I want an NHS that delivers for its patients and staff and one that provides good value for money for the taxpayer.

Because of this I was pleased that in June, the Prime Minister announced an extra £20 billion a year in real terms for the National Health Service by 2023/24, ensuring patients receive world-class care, as part of our long-term plan for the NHS.

This funding in their 70th birthday year is part of a five-year budget settlement for the NHS.

Crucially, the extra funding will come in part from the ‘Brexit dividend’ – money we will no longer send to the European Union after we have left – and the country will be asked to contribute a bit more for the NHS in a fair and balanced way.

The Government has increased the NHS budget every year we have been in power. This further historic long term funding boost will secure the future of this vital service for generations to come, meaning patients will benefit from improved cancer survival rates, there will be better mental health care, and more doctors and nurses in our hospitals.

In return, the NHS will produce a new, clinically led, long-term plan – setting out how the money will be used to deliver our vision for the health service and to ensure every penny is well spent.
Of course, in recent years we have already seen increased general funding for the NHS in Cornwall, with a year on year increase since the Government came into power.

We have also recently seen work start on the construction of the long-needed mental health inpatient facility for young people in Cornwall, another £4m investment to Cornwall from the Government.
With my Cornish MP colleagues I lobbied the Government for additional funding for Adult Social Care and was very pleased to see announcement of the Improved Better Care Fund in March 2017.
The Government granted Cornwall Council an additional £24m over the next three years for adult social care to go towards improving social care in Cornwall.

Furthermore, Royal Cornwall Hospital is one of 74 sites from around the country that has been offered £30m as part of the ‘Core 24’ standard for mental health liaison, meaning a fully-staffed team will be operating 24/7 in the hospital, offering a one-hour response to emergency mental health referrals in A&E.

So this is great news for the NHS nationally and locally. I will now be working with the other Cornish MPs and NHS services in Cornwall to ensure that we get the right amount of funds for our county.

I hope this outlines my position on this matter and thanks once more for getting in touch.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Lord’s Amendment 19 to the EU Withdrawal Bill.


Thank you for writing to me regarding my vote on the Lord’s Amendment 19 to the EU Withdrawal Bill.

I voted to leave the European Union in the June 2016 referendum. Since becoming your Member of Parliament in 2015, I have always made my Eurosceptic views clear.

I am of the view that by leaving the European Union, the British people will be taking back control of our own borders, laws, trade policy, and avoid being part of an ever-closing union, which has yield nothing but social and economic disaster for many of its members.

I believe that adding my name to this amendment would have undermined the public’s trust in our nation’s democratic institutions to deliver the referendum results, tie the Prime Minister’s hands in her negotiations with the EU, and add further unwanted uncertainty to an already uncertain situation.
  
The EU Withdrawal Act has now received Royal Assent, requiring the UK to leave the European Union on Friday 29 March 2019.

In the scenario that no deal is reached by 21 January 2019, the Government would have to make a statement to Parliament setting out what its next course of action is, and Parliament will then have an opportunity to vote on those plans, on a motion that would be expressed in either neutral or non-neutral terms, as determined by the Speaker of the House of Commons.

I am afraid this is an issue that we may well have to agree to disagree on. Nonetheless, I would like to thank you for taking the time to write to me.