Wednesday 6 December 2023

Newspaper column 6 December 2023 - My debate on housing in tourist destinations

One of the things I have been looking forward to since I returned to the backbenches in Parliament is being able to apply for a lead debates on issues important to our constituency. Last week I was pleased to secure and lead a debate in Parliament on housing provision in tourist destinations.

Housing issues in general are one of things raised most often to me by local people, and these issues are particularly keenly felt in tourist areas, such as Newquay, Fowey and Mevagissey, predominantly coastal communities that are particularly attractive places to live in and visit.

In the debate I made it clear that while tourism and hospitality are vital parts of our economy in Mid-Cornwall, both for those who work in tourism and hospitality businesses, and also those who supply them, there has to be a balance to this, and in recent years in some communities this has tipped too far in favour of second homes and short term holiday let accommodation, meaning local people who would otherwise live and work in these towns and villages all year round are finding it increasingly difficult to do so.

In the debate I highlighted examples of this, instances of local businesses and public services—ranging from hotels to our schools and hospitals—being unable to recruit key staff, with the lack of available housing given as the main reason why they cannot recruit or why people cannot move to start work.

I also highlighted the percentage of second homes and holiday lets in these communities, in comparison, to the significant numbers of people we currently have on the housing register in Cornwall, and the numbers of short-term holiday let accommodation listings on Airbnb and the like (18,989) compared to long term rent listings on Rightmove (895).

With that being said, the Government has taken more steps to address the situation than any other Government, and I highlighted some of these in my debate.  The Government has closed the business rate loophole, which allowed second homeowners to claim that their properties were holiday lets and therefore qualify for small business rate relief, paying neither council tax nor business rates and contributing nothing to local services.

The Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023, which became law earlier this year makes provision for local authorities like Cornwall Council to charge double council tax on second homes. People who own second homes and do not rent them out to local people should rightly pay more to make up for the fact that those properties have been removed from primary occupancy. That was the right thing to do, and the Government did it. Cornwall Council is keen to apply the provision as soon as possible because it will bring in an anticipated extra £20 million income a year, which can go back into the provision of services for taxpayers in our Duchy.  

It will also allow Cornwall Council the power to compile a full register of holiday lets for the first time, which will give them a full and accurate picture of exactly how many properties in the communities they serve are being used as holiday lets. Knowing how many holiday lets there are is the first step towards being able to better manage their number in our communities

The Government have consulted on giving powers to local councils to require a change of planning permission when homes are taken out of residential use and converted to holiday lets. If planning permission was granted to build a house to be somebody’s home and the new owner wishes to change its use to a holiday let, which is essentially a business use, a change of use should be required. We insist on that for all sorts of other businesses, and I believe the same should apply to holiday lets.

These measures will improve the situation significantly. In the debate I asked that the Minister ensure that these consultations are replied to as soon as possible, to allow local authorities to register of holiday lets and the planning change of use requirements to be implemented.

We need to work together to ensure that it improves as soon as possible and I will continue working in Parliament and in Cornwall to make this happen.

As ever, my office is available for any constituents needing help, advice or guidance. Please do get in touch if I can help – tel. 01726 829379, email –

Wednesday 29 November 2023

Newspaper column 29 November 2023 - Looking back at the Autumn Statement


Last week the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced his Autumn Statement with a range of measures to reward hard work and grow the economy while reducing debt and inflation.

We have faced extremely difficult times with the cost of living and energy crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine, so I was pleased to see the Chancellor’s statement include many positive announcements for people in Mid-Cornwall.

One of the announcements I was glad to see was the commitment from government to honour the Triple Lock. As you will know, I have continually made it very clear to the government that we should honour our promise to keep the Triple Lock as it has been a lifeline for many pensioners.

From April next year, the government will be increasing the basic and new State Pensions by 8.5%, which is one of the biggest cash increases in the State Pension ever. This now means millions of pensioners will now see an up to £900 rise in their state pension payments and are guaranteed a rise every year. This government will always back our pensioners.

I, and the government, are also aware that many households are continuing to struggle with the cost of living pressures and that is why I was pleased to see the Chancellor agree to increase working-age benefits by 6.7% in 2024-25 in line with September’s inflation figure. This will mean an average increase of £470 for 5.5m households next year and vital support to those on the very lowest incomes in St Austell and Newquay.

We will also be supporting families by increasing the Local Housing Allowance, so 1.6 million low-income households will be better off by an average of £800 in 2024-25. This is in addition to the support we are already providing to help with the cost of living with further Cost of Living Payments this year. 

The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement also showed that the government is committed to ensuring work pays and that we reward hard work with the largest ever cut to National Insurance tax from 12% to 10% for 27 million working people from January, ensuring workers in Mid-Cornwall keep more of their earnings.

It is good to see taxes cut and will mean for the average worker in Mid-Cornwall a £350 tax cut, as well as the self-employed who will also save on average £350.

The government is also boosting the National Living Wage by 9.8% from April 2024 to £11.44 with the age threshold lowered from 23 to 21 years old. This record rise represents an increase of over £1,800 of the annual earnings of a full-time worker on the National Living Wage and is expected to benefit over 2.7 million low paid workers.

I was also glad to see the government continuing to support our high streets and pubs by cutting business tax by extending the 75% business rate reduction for another year. This is worth a total of £11 billion and the biggest business tax cut in modern British history, ensuring the most vulnerable businesses continue to be supported. I know it is very welcome by so many hospitality businesses in Cornwall. The government is also backing British pubs, breweries and distillers by freezing alcohol duty to August. 

Earlier this year, the Prime Minister set out five priorities for government, which included halving inflation, growing the economy, and reducing debt. Since then, the economy has recovered more quickly from the pandemic than first thought, and debt is on track to fall.

It is only because of the long-term difficult decisions this government has made following the pandemic and war in Ukraine that we have been able to make these announcements. 

I want to be clear though, this is just a start in reducing tax as we address the impact of the measures brought in to support households and businesses through covid and energy cost rises.  

It is easy to have short memories and forget all the support the government has provided that does have to be paid for. The government’s total commitment to easing cost of living pressures so far is £104 billion, which includes paying around half the cost of the average energy bill since last October and amounts to an average of £3,700 per household.

 As always, political opponents are quick to criticise, but let's remember Labour constantly called for longer lockdowns and even more support, which would have meant a longer recovery and higher taxes to recover.

I now look forward to working with the government to ensure we continue to deliver positive change for the people of Mid-Cornwall.

As ever, my office is available for any constituents needing help, advice or guidance. Please do get in touch if I can help – tel. 01726 829379, email –

Wednesday 22 November 2023

Newspaper column 22 November 2023 - A week is a long time in politics...

The saying goes that a week is a long time in politics and that is certainly true of the last week when we saw the reshuffle of the Prime Minister’s Cabinet and my resignation from government.

Over the summer recess I decided that I was going to be leaving government at the time of the next reshuffle, which the Prime Minister carried out last week. I wanted to ensure that I stepped down at the most appropriate time and so last week I informed the Prime Minister that I would be resigning from my role as lord commissioner of the Treasury in the government’s whips office and returning to the back benches.

As I told the Prime Minister, it has been a huge honour to serve as a member of government under his leadership and previously Boris Johnson’s.  From being the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Health Secretary throughout the COVID pandemic, an Assistant Whip through 2021/22, a Minister in DEFRA and most recently a Lords Commissioner in the Whips Office, I have witnessed, close up, some of the most challenging and turbulent times any government has faced. I have always given my best to be a supportive and constructive part of government and have thoroughly enjoyed the past few years.

This is a personal decision I have made which I know is right for me, my family and constituents and believe now is the right time for me to return to the back benches.

I do want to reassure people though that I remain committed to supporting the Prime Minister and government as we work towards the general election next year and speaking up for and representing the people of Mid-Cornwall, who have always been my priority, from the back benches.

Of course, as with my own circumstances changing, the reshuffle also saw a number of other significant changes within the Prime Minister’s Cabinet.

Most notably, former Prime Minister, David Cameron, who was in office when I was first elected in 2015, has been appointed as Foreign Secretary. I respected and admired his leadership then and I am pleased to see him make a return to frontline politics in a role well suited to him.

As Prime Minister, he demonstrated good judgement at home and abroad and as we face two of the biggest foreign policy crises, I do believe that the foreign support and respect he has earned from the international community and strong relationships he has forged with world leaders after six years as Prime Minister make him a good fit for the role.

Former Foreign Secretary James Cleverly was also appointed as Home Secretary following the departure of Suella Braverman from the role and he has taken no time at all to assure the public that he hopes to build on the work done by his predecessor to stop the boats, equip the police with proper powers to stop disruptive illegal protests, and to keep people safe. 

He has my full backing in pursuing these policies which will help us deliver on the pledges made by the Prime Minister and in our election manifesto.

While I have now returned to the back benches, I look forward to continuing to represent and work hard for the people of Mid-Cornwall, who will always come first.

I have always said that being the Member of Parliament for my home constituency was the greatest honour and I now look forward to continuing to be the strong Cornish voice in Westminster we need.

As ever, my office is available for any constituents needing help, advice or guidance. Please do get in touch if I can help – tel. 01726 829379, email –


Wednesday 15 November 2023

Newspaper column 15 November 2023- The King's Speech

I want to start this week’s column by thanking everyone who helped to organise this year’s Remembrance Day parades and events in the constituency.

Many local communities marked Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday and I had the honour of joining in with services in St Austell and Newquay and laid a wreath to commemorate those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for King and Country.

I would just like to say that both events were well organised, as always, by the Royal British Legion, who I’d like to thank, and they were also well attended by veterans, service personnel and representatives from many parts of our communities.

I also had the opportunity to honour the fallen in St Blazey for the two minutes silence on Armistice Day and laid a wreath in memory of those who lost their lives.

It is always a privilege to play a small part in these events each year and as those who served in the last world war who are still with us become fewer, I feel it is more important than ever to remember the price that was paid for our freedom.

It was also great to see so many residents come out to watch the parades and events in memory of all those who died in service of our country during times of conflict. We will remember them.

I do also want to touch briefly on the protests we saw in London on Remembrance Day. I was concerned to see people on both sides expressing racist views and attacking the police. Whatever your views are on the situation in Israel and Palestine, I am sure we can all agree that this behaviour is not the way to express them.

People should be able to express their views peacefully, without descending to racial slurs and aggressive language. Some of what was witnessed was clearly illegal and I am pleased to see the police taking action.

Speaking of the law, last week we saw the State Opening of Parliament when King Charles III delivered his first King’s Speech, setting out the Government’s legislative agenda for the coming Parliamentary session.

The King’s Speech outlined the Government’s proposed policies and legislation for the coming parliamentary session. This focused on continuing to take action to bring down inflation to ease the cost of living for households in St Austell and Newquay and help businesses fund new jobs and investment.

The event marks the formal start of the parliamentary session and among the Bills announced for 2023-24 was the Renters Reform Bill. This aims to deliver on the Conservative’s manifesto promise to ban "no-fault" evictions while also providing certainly to landlords, through reforms, that they can regain their properties when needed.

This is something I was very pleased to see as I believe it will address many of the issues and concerns constituents, both renters and landlords, have raised with me.

The government also set out legislation to strengthen the UK’s energy security and reduce reliance on volatile international energy markets. Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine last year has put the need for energy security in stark perspective. That is why I am glad that the government is helping the country to transition to net zero by 2050, while ensuring costs do not increase for households in Mid-Cornwall and also boosting the UK’s economy.

Further bills announced in the King’s Speech included the Tobacco and Vapes Bill which will restrict the sale of tobacco so that children currently aged 14 or younger can never be sold and the Sentencing Bill which is being brought forward to ensure tougher sentences for the most serious offenders. The Criminal Justice Bill will also prevent new or complex crimes, such as digital-enabled crime and child sexual abuse, including grooming.

I am pleased to see such a wide range of new Bills coming forward which address many of the issues constituents have been in touch with me about and show the government is listening.

We cannot forget the impact of Covid and the war in Ukraine and the significant long-term challenges they have created for the country. However, the King’s Speech gave reassurances that the government is making the long-term decisions needed to support and benefit future generations as well as tackling inflation to help ease the cost of living for people in the constituency.

I understand there is more to be done and want to assure people that I and the Government will keep taking the long-term action needed so that we can ensure a better future for all households in St Austell and Newquay.

If I can be of any further assistance, my office is available for any constituents needing help, advice or guidance – tel. 01726 829379, email –

Wednesday 8 November 2023

Newspaper column 8 November 2023 - Remembrance Sunday 2023

This week is a time for contemplation and reflection as the country comes together to mark Armistice Day on November 11 and Remembrance Sunday this coming weekend.

Every year in November the nation remembers and honours all of our fallen heroes who sacrificed their lives to protect our freedom.

It was on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 that hostilities ceased, marking the end of the First World War. The Armistice had been signed that morning, and the order went out immediately for all fighting to cease by 11am. One hundred and five years later, we continue to mark that moment.

The first formal Remembrance Day took place in November 1919 years, at the request of King George V. The impact of World War I, the vast conflict that led to these events being marked annually, cannot be under-stated.

The total number of military and civilian casualties in the First World War, was around 40 million. There were 20 million deaths and 21 million wounded. The total number of deaths includes 9.7 million military personnel and about 10 million civilians.

In Mid-Cornwall the impact of the war was felt by all communities as a generation of young men were called away to fight, with many never returning home. The Duke of Cornwall’s light infantry lost 4,510 men alone during the war. Those losses would have been felt heavily in their communities. We must also remember that we lost our own serving Member of Parliament Thomas ‘Tommy’ Agar-Robartes, who along with 23 MP’s died in service during the war. He will be in my thoughts as always at this time of year.

The Great War, as it was known at the time was also called the ‘War to end all wars’. However, this was sadly not the case and in subsequent Remembrance Sundays, we now honour those who have fallen in the Second World War and more recent conflicts.

My grandfather served in Navy in the Second World War and my thoughts will be drawn to him on Remembrance Day as I recall the few occasions he told us about his experiences. This weekend I will also be sure to remember our own unforgettable Harry Billinge MBE, a D-Day Veteran who tirelessly fundraised for the British Normandy Memorial, for everything he has done.

We must also give thanks to the surviving veterans of past conflict, and as the numbers of those who served in the Second World War inevitably fall, it is important that we honour those we have left.

As always, many local communities will be marking Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday and I will be joining in with services in St Austell and Newquay to commemorate those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for King and Country so that we may live.

This year, however, I am disappointed to see reports of planned protests. The Prime Minister has condemned these protests on Armistice Day as ‘provocative and disrespectful’ and I agree. Attempts to disrupt Remembrance Sunday events are totally unacceptable and would be an affront to the British people and the values we stand for. The right to remember, in peace and dignity, those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for those freedoms must be protected.

That is why I am pleased the Prime Minister has confirmed the government will be supporting the police in doing everything necessary to protect the sanctity of Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday.

Whatever your views on the protests currently happening in London and elsewhere, in my view it would be unacceptable for them to in any way disrupt or distract from our nation coming together to honour those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Without that freedom, which was secured at a heavy price, these protests wouldn't even be possible, and I trust all those thinking of protesting will consider this and, at least for this weekend, refrain from taking to the streets. 

This Armistice Day, and on Remembrance Sunday, let us remember the men and women who gave their lives for us in the past and honour those who continue to risk their lives today.

If I can be of assistance with any matter, please get in touch with my office who will be happy to help - email: or call 01726 829379.

Wednesday 1 November 2023

Newspaper column 1 November 2023 - Looking back at the last Parliament

This week I would like to look back at some of the achievements made by this Government following the proroguing of Parliament. Prorogation marks the end of the current parliamentary session immediately before the King’s speech and State Opening of Parliament that begins the next session. 

King Charles will give his first King's Speech, which sets out the government's programme of legislation and priorities for the next session of Parliament, on November 7.


During the last parliamentary session, 67 Acts of Parliament were passed including the Mobile Homes (Pitch Fees) Act, Online Safety Act and Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act and introducing tough Minimum Safety Levels legislation to ensure our public services cannot be ground to a halt by political strike action. I think one of the big ones to highlight, and most relevant to us here in Mid-Cornwall, is the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill.

Housing continues to remain one of the biggest problems that people raise with me and one that I have highlighted to Ministers, so it is reassuring to see the Government listening to those concerns and addressing them with this Bill.

The Bill aims to tackle the oversaturation of holiday lets and Airbnbs by giving communities the power to redress the balance between holiday lets and homes for local people to live in where it is an issue to protect our communities and support the tourism industry to ensure they can both work together. This is being done by bringing forward new powers for a tourist accommodation registration scheme as well as planning to introduce a requirement for change of use planning permissions for short-term lets.

This in addition to the measures being implemented which include closing tax loopholes and permitting councils to apply higher council tax on second homes. Cornwall Council will also have the powers to be able to double council tax on unused second homes to boost funding for local services. This Bill is a significant step towards managing the impact of short-term lets on our local housing market.  

Moving onto another Bill that will also bring about significant reform is the government’s Energy Bill, which addresses energy production and security, and the regulation of the energy market.

As we know, Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine highlighted the need for energy security. While the UK has little direct exposure to Russian gas, we faced significant indirect impacts through our links to European gas networks and global markets, therefore it was crucial to look at the UK’s energy independence and renewable energy sources and move away from any reliance on Russia.

The Prime Minister has tasked the new Department for Energy Security and Net Zero with improving the UK’s energy security, creating greater energy independence consistent with net zero and reducing the risk of higher bills. I am looking forward to working with Ministers as we move towards a future of clean energy, which will cut costs for households in Mid-Cornwall.

I think it’s also important to highlight that over the last year the government has delivered over £40 billion of financial support to households to help with the cost of living, paying half their energy bills and reduced inflation as well as cutting NHS waiting lists.

The Prime Minister has also begun making a series of long-term decisions, rather than short-term political decisions that do not fix the underlying problems, including tackling the costs of Net Zero; reinvesting HS2 funding in local transport projects; and implementing the NHS’s first ever long-term workforce plan.

I know there is more to do but am reassured that this Government will keep taking the long-term action needed so that we can change the country for the better and ensure a better future for all households in St Austell and Newquay. Parliament will recommence on November 7 with the King’s speech, and I look forward to the Government setting out its programme of legislation and priorities for the coming year.

If I can be of assistance, my office is available for any constituents needing help, advice or guidance – tel: 01726 829379 or email:

Wednesday 11 October 2023

Newspaper column 11 October 2023 - Looking back at #CPC23

Last week at the Conservative Party Conference, the Prime Minister gave an excellent speech looking forward to the important work the Government needs to achieve moving forward.

The Prime Minister set out his plan to build a brighter future for our children and fundamentally change our country, focussing on better transport for everyone, building a world-class education system and creating a smokefree generation.

Firstly, I want to talk about the government’s new plans to deliver better transport for all by embarking on a full-scale national reinvestment in the infrastructure people use and want.

The government will be investing every pound that would have been spent on extending HS2, a total of £36 billion, on long-term transport improvements that will deliver better, faster journeys for more people across the country, including more funding for transport projects across the South West.

Living in a rural constituency I know how important it is to create stronger public transport networks and improve existing ones. I believe this will benefit all of us in St Austell and Newquay by redirecting this funding into delivering more buses, reopening railway stations and ensuring major funding for new and improved roads to drive economic growth and provide jobs.

Some of the projects in the South West that will benefit us include funding being set aside to complete the South West Resilience Programme in full, making the vital route between Exeter and Plymouth via Dawlish more resilient in the face of extreme weather.

This vital artery connects communities, businesses and visitors across the South West with the rest of the UK and so it is essential that we improve the resilience of the route to ensure we are no longer cut off from the rest of the country every time there is a storm. 

This rail investment is on top of the Mid Cornwall Metro project, which aims to create a coast-to-coast through-service connecting Newquay, Par, St Austell, Truro, Penryn and Falmouth allowing residents of those towns, as well those living along the route, to have a direct route to the main line and beyond. Improvements will be made to the county’s tracks and signalling system meaning more regular trains on those branch lines.

There is also funding for the opening of railway lines between Cullompton and Wellington, and Tavistock to Plymouth as well as £140 million to ensure the delivery of 12 road schemes across the South West.

The A39 Camelford bypass has also been included as one of the schemes that will benefit from an uplift in government contribution and this increased funding will help to ensure the delivery of this scheme.

This is a new plan for transport that will provide us with the transport network we really need in the long-term and ensure better connectivity with the rest of the country. 

The Prime Minister also set out the government’s plans to build a world-class education system with new qualifications, more teaching hours and a £600 million investment in teachers and standards, giving every child the best start in life.

It is important that we have an education system that will set our children up for the opportunities of the future and ensure no one is left behind. We must remember that a child starting school today will face a very different labour market to what we know now. They should be able to deliver the green skills, the life sciences advances, or the advanced manufacturing that will help the country to prosper and need STEM skills, as well as literacy.

Since 2010, the government has driven up standards in schools. Education reforms have led to over 88% of schools being good or outstanding, up from just 68% and school funding per pupil in 2024-25 will be the highest ever by any government.

While the results speak for themselves - our 9 and 10 year-olds are now the best in the West at reading, ranking 4th out of 43 countries that assessed children of the same age, ahead of other major developed economies like France, Germany and Spain – I and the government acknowledge that our 16-19 year-olds spend less time in classrooms than their international peers, and study a narrower set of subjects.

To address this, the Prime Minister has announced plans to create a new qualification that places equal value on technical and academic knowledge and skills by harnessing the best parts of both A levels and T levels. Under this qualification, known as the Advanced British Standard, students will be able to take a mix of technical and academic subjects, giving them a greater degree of flexibility over their future career options.

It is important that every young person in Mid-Cornwall is equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to reach their potential and I believe this is a step in the right direction to achieving this.  

Speaking of our children, the Prime Minister also announced plans to create a ‘smokefree generation’ to boost peoples’ health and ease pressure on the NHS.

I am regularly contacted by constituents who are concerned about the pressures facing our local NHS and asking what can be done to ease the demand. I share those concerns and so was pleased to see the government announce it will be tackling the single biggest entirely preventable cause of ill-health, disability, and death: smoking.

Smoking is the number one preventable cause of ill-health, causing 64,000 deaths a year in England and puts a huge burden on the NHS, also costing us £17 billion a year. And we also not forget that the vulnerable suffer most from smoking.

As a parent myself I know that no parent wants their child to smoke and so am pleased to see the government aiming to create the first smokefree generation, meaning children turning 14 this year or younger can never buy cigarettes.

We will also be supporting current smokers to quit by doubling the funding of local ‘stop smoking services’, cracking down on youth vaping, strengthening enforcement activity, through new funding and new powers to fine rogue retailers.

I also want to be clear that the government will not criminalise smoking and nor will anyone who can legally be sold cigarettes today be prevented from doing so in the future. However, if the government does not act now, nearly half a million more people will die from smoking by 2030.

Creating a smoke-free generation will be one of the most significant public health measures in a generation, saving thousands of lives and billions of pounds for our NHS and the economy, as well as levelling up the UK by tackling one of the most important preventable drivers of inequality in health outcomes.

I welcome these measures and am looking forward to working the government as it makes these long-term decisions to ensure a better future for everyone in St Austell and Newquay.

Lastly, I want to say how shocked I was to hear about the attacks in Israel at the weekend and condemn these assaults against Israeli civilians. The conflict between Israel and Palestine is a longstanding and complex issue. I believe all parties need to work towards a lasting peace whereby Jews and Arabs, Israel, and Palestine, along with the other nations in the Middle East, can exist peaceably and respect each other.

Sadly, it often appears to be one step forward, one step back. But we should not give up. We should continue to do all we can to bring about lasting peace.

If I can be of assistance on any matter, my office is available for any constituents needing help, advice or guidance – tel: 01726 829379 or email: