Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Campaign reply - ‘Scrapping subsidies for burning wood’

A number of constituents have written to me as part of a campaign ‘Scrapping subsidies for burning wood’

There is to be an early day motion regarding this. As a principle I never sign early day motions as they very rarely achieve anything whilst at the same time running up costs to the tax payer.

I have sympathy with the sentiment expressed. For instance in my role on the Transport Committee I pursue greener, cleaner options. One third of all emissions are generated by transport and we have seen real progress in the current and future greening of transport. By 2040 all cars sold in the UK will have to be zero emission. A world leading move and a goal likely to be achieved much sooner.

Power generation has also already gone through a revolution and only last year we saw the first day since the beginning of the Industrial revolution where no power was produced by coal. This year that figure has increased again. The switch to low or zero emission power production is making progress. I have to ask, should Drax power station burn coal or bio mass? In the interim the latter is preferable but ultimately that too will subside. Progress is being made and it is important that is fully recognised as we switch.

The comment made: “The Government has announced new rules which effectively rule out new
subsidies for large-scale biomass electricity under the Contracts for
Difference scheme. This is a very positive development and sends a strong
message that biomass burning is not part of the solution to climate change.”

This recognition of government policy is most welcome and I will convey the sentiment to ministers.

We all want to see continued progress of green energy production and I celebrate along with yourselves in recognising the improvements already achieved. As we continue we must also ensure the complex energy needs of the UK are also met and remain affordable. Current arrangements ensure both and whilst that includes bio mass burn, it has to be seen as part of the diverse energy production in place which is why subsidies applies only to existing plants.

Newspaper column 12 December 2018 - A capital announcement for our NHS in Cornwall!

The news from Parliament this week has again been dominated by Brexit. As I write this the Prime Minister has postponed the Meaningful Vote which was due to take place on 11 December.

However away from Brexit, I continue to work to deliver on the investment we need for Mid-Cornwall. On Friday last week I was therefore delighted to get confirmation from Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock that Cornwall is receiving £40.4m of NHS capital funding.

I have always been clear that ensuring the NHS in Cornwall receives its fair share of the record amount of funding the Government is currently releasing nationally, is a top priority.

The Government is providing funding for the Peripheral Site Optimisation scheme with new investment of up to £9.1million which will deliver improved clinical facilities and eradicate backlog maintenance.

This is part of £1bn extra capital funding being announced across England. It comes on top of the £20.5bn per year extra funding for the NHS over the next five years - the longest and largest funding settlement in the NHS’s history. The investment is part of the wider plan to provide better services for patients, integrate care better and renew aging facilitates.

Friday’s announcement also saw the Oncology & MRI Re-provision scheme with new investment of up to £31.326 million which will deliver improvements to the Oncology/Haematology Ward and the MRI Department at Treliske.

I am delighted to have worked with my Cornish MP colleagues to achieve this outcome. Only at the end of November we met with the Secretary of State to press the issue for this investment to improve services and outcomes for people in Cornwall. I am pleased that he has listened and delivered on these significant investments.

In general terms this announcement follows the Government providing record real-terms funding increases to the NHS across the country, which is reflected in Cornwall, as well as with specific projects such as the soon to be completed Mental Health inpatient unit for young people, and plans for the acute care centres.

The Government has also provided additional funding ring fenced to local authorities, such as Cornwall Council, to assist with adult social care and work with the NHS to relieve bed blocking.
However, as with everything, running the NHS properly is not just about throwing money at it. The NHS itself must also do its bit to ensure it is good value for money for the taxpayer and operates efficiently with the budget it has.

I will continue to do all I can to ensure the funding increases continue and that this continues to translate to tangible improvements in Cornwall’s NHS.

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. The office is open to the public Monday – Friday 10.00am – 4.00pm (no appointment necessary). If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please, either visit the office or contact me on either 01726 829379 or Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at:

Campaign response - Global Compact for Migration

Recently I have been contacted by a number of constituents who have concerns about the UK’s endorsement of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. 

Some of their concerns about the Compact include its potential to open up our borders to further uncontrolled mass immigration, and the impact this would have on public services, wages and housing.

I fully understand the concerns and sentiments expressed. Uncontrolled immigration, largely as a result of the free movement of people between EU countries, have not worked well for Cornwall and the UK. The mass movement of people without any checks or controls erodes public confidence, damages economies, and places those on the move in greater vulnerability.

It is absolutely right that as we leave the EU we do take back control of our borders. We should be able to manage migration in a way that suits our own economic and social needs and concerns whilst having a compassionate approach to those fleeing war, persecution and oppression.

We should also be able to better ensure we have the infrastructure and services to meet any increase in population and protect those communities who have in the past felt overwhelmed by migration.

The Global Compact for Migration is a voluntary, non-binding document that introduces no additional obligations to states. It is a global agreement setting out a common framework, shared principles and best practices on international migration.

My constituents may find it assuring to know that the Compact is an aspirational document setting out steps that states can take to tackle uncontrolled migration in a more co-ordinated manner.

The agreement explicitly reaffirms the right of member states to determine their national migration policy. Unlike EU laws on freedom of movement, there are no formal requirements for states to sign on to the Compact because it’s not an international treaty.

It will not affect our ability to determine and implement our own migration policies, including in areas such as asylum, border controls and returns of illegal migrants.

It also does not establish a ‘human right to migrate’ or create any new legal categories of migrant as some have suggested, but does states that migrants are entitled to the same universal human rights as any human being, which is an important safeguard for many of the refugees and asylum seekers fleeing from war and destruction.

A key objective of the document is to support cooperation on reducing uncontrolled migration – an important task for the government and a point that I can my constituents and I can agree on. It sets out the responsibility of countries of origin to ensure effective control of their borders, and to cooperate in accepting the return of their nationals when they no longer have the right to remain in another country.

Furthermore, it also calls on countries of origin to work with the international community to address the drivers of irregular migration, by creating economic opportunities for populations in source countries, and improving governance and respect for the rule of law.

Building an independent, controlled and fair immigration system is something I am very keen to speak up for as we leave the EU. Some of my constituents are rightly sceptical of international organisations imposing their will on us and our law-making ability. However, the Compact is not legally binding in any way and therefore meets my commitment to return sovereignty to the UK, while allowing us as an independent nation to work with others to make sure immigration is controlled and fair while being humane and giving people the dignity they deserve.

As the government looks to publish the immigration white paper and bill in the next few months, I will continue to make sure that immigration works for everyone, and will not be afraid to speak up for the interests of the Cornwall and the UK in future debates. 

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Campaign response - Please exit Brexit

Some of my constituents have recently written to me to ask me to vote against the Brexit agreement. 

Many of them will be aware that the Prime Minister has announced that the vote on her Brexit deal will be postponed to the new year.

My view is that it was a mistake to postpone the Brexit deal vote, as I believe it would have helped the Prime Minister in her renegotiation if she could have gone to Brussels with a clear message from Parliament that the deal was overwhelming rejected by MPs. The Brexit agreement is one of the most important internationally-binding treaties this country will ever sign. Tinkering with it or changing the non-binding political declaration will not suffice – We need wording in the withdrawal agreement amended. Causing any unnecessary delay will only add further uncertainty to the Brexit process.

Unless the Prime Minister is now able to renegotiate a better deal that actually takes back control of our laws, our trade and our sovereignty, when this deal is put before Parliament, as it currently stands, I will be voting against it.

So I agree with many of my constituents that this deal needs to be voted down.

However, these emails I have received proceed to state that "one thing is clear amidst the widespread uncertainty we face: leaving the EU would considerably disadvantage the U.K., placing us in a precarious and potentially disastrous position for years to come", and suggest that we revoke Article 50 and support a second referendum.

I fundamentally disagree with this assertion that the UK will be weaker outside of the EU.

Nobody has ever said that leaving the EU would be walk in the park. But we were also told by economists and other so-called experts in 2016 that our economy would take a bad hit if the country voted to leave the EU.

It is an understatement to say that these forecasts have proved to be misguided.

We now stand in a strong position to weather the challenges of Brexit as one of the world’s largest and most competitive economies.

Staying in the EU would bound us to continue sending billions of pounds to Brussels and undermine our Parliament's sovereignty to legislate in our country's interest.

Indeed, what we have seen in the negotiations so far is the inflexible, bureaucratic and heavy-handed approach from Brussels that has typified our relationship with them for the past 4 decades.

The EU negotiators have refused to acknowledge the genuine economic interests of the UK and the EU, and have instead become fixated on setting a precedent with Brexit to deter other member states from leaving the EU.

Far from restoring stability to the country, the delay and uncertainty that revoking Article 50 and holding a second referendum would bring is the last thing the economy need.

It is doubtful there would even be time for another referendum within the time available but even if it could be shoehorned into the schedule.

Of course there is also the question that if we held another referendum, if there were people unhappy with the result of that one, would they then want another one, and so on until they got a result they were happy with? That isn’t how democracy works.

Time is running out and the vast majority of people tell me they simply want us to get on with things and leave.

I am committed to delivering the results of the referendum, nationally and locally, by ensuring that we leave the EU on 29 March 2019. It is vital for our democracy we respect the decision the British people made in 2016’s referendum and deliver what the people voted for.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Newspaper column - Climate change

A few of you have written to me regarding Climate change issues.

Whilst the UK has a track record of leading the debate around Climate change there is always more we can do whilst weighing off the practicalities involved. Of course once we leave the EU it will be easier to set our own rules and regulations and as World leaders in so many areas I believe we can show the way on this too.

In talking with Michael Gove  the environment secretary he makes no bones that urgent action is needed to tackle climate change and prepare for future extreme weather.
In a recent speech he said “It is only by heeding scientific warnings more keenly than ever before that we can safeguard our planet and our species’ survival. He went on to say “It is clear that the planet and its weather patterns are changing before our eyes. We know, more than ever before, the urgency of acting. These projections will give us an invaluable tool to assess the nature and scale of the challenge we face and take decisions accordingly.”

I agree. In my role on the Transport Committee, issues around emissions and cleaner transport often arise. This is a key factor in UK emissions as around one third is generated by transport. So cleaner vehicles and trains is a great way to reduce pollution and there have been dramatic reductions in recent years. The advent of the zero emission car on our roads is dawning and will soon be the norm. Train operators are looking at hydrogen powered trains (again zero emissions on the track) and it heartening to see the resounding success of our privately owned railways where passenger numbers have doubled taking thousands of car journeys from our roads.

I recently met with a Bus manufacturer who has in use a fleet of hybrid buses happily running all day using “opportunity charging” (they take a charge automatically when stopping at bespoke bus stops). These innovations can transform pollutions levels.
In the air, the first all-electric prototype aircraft, after years of experimentation has seen a dramatic breakthrough with the prospect we will one day see zero emission flight.

From these early but vital moves the greening of our transport is rapidly developing.

The news that Bristol has declared a Climate Emergency is interesting although my concern remains that the declaration is fruitful in producing a reduction in emissions and is not just hot air.

Caring for our environment is a responsibility of us all and doing something about it is key. My involvement with Surfers against sewerage has seen the whole issue of plastics in our seas and coastline suddenly take on huge interest from  the public at large. Many have cut out single use plastics wherever they can and also join with me and others on beach cleans and the like. The beaches are cleaner but more importantly the whole issue of our environment and the climate has risen up the ladder so that there is greater awareness and action and changing lifestyle choices.

Declarations have their place but action is far more valuable. If anyone would like to join our next beach clean, please subscribe to my newsletter where future dates will be announced. 

Details can be found here:

Campaign reply - 'No support for May’s “Deal”

A number of constituents have written to me with a similar email and hundreds more saying much the same thing - that the current proposal does not deliver the Brexit they voted for. I agree. I have issued a statement on this Setting out why I will be voting against the current proposal. Here is the link:

Whilst these are difficult days I am focused on doing all I can to ensure we have the Brexit we voted for.

Campaign response - 'Brexit shambles'

A number of constituents have written to me using a similar format that has additional paragraphs covering specific issues such as the prospects for future generations, NHS funding, EU funded projects in Cornwall and other matters.

The email typically opens with I am writing to you as a local resident who just wants to see the best for our local community”. Can I say straight away, so do I - which is why during the referendum campaign and at the last election I stood on a Leave supporting platform. That is exactly how we can all have a better future. The UK will be better off leaving the EU to become the free trading nation it once was.

Our children will reap the benefits of those opportunities and whilst I think we all acknowledge there will inevitably be a transitional period following leaving the EU my belief is we will be doing the right thing.

NHS funding only comes from having a prosperous economy and I firmly believe Brexit will deliver the economy we need as we trade freely once again across the world.
On EU funded projects, The EU doesn’t have any money – only the money we (as net contributors) send them. They in turn send some of it back with enormous amounts of red tape and caveats attached. Best cut out the middle man I say. The regional development fund will replace and be far better focused on Cornish needs than anything the EU has done.

I remain committed to serving all constituents regardless of their views on Brexit or politics – I genuinely do and reflect on the feedback I get on Brexit and all other matters. However the overwhelmingly majority of my mailbag is from people asking, pleading and demanding that we get the Brexit they voted for and leave. I agree. The majority view remains that and as such it is impossible to action everyone’s perspective. In a democracy the majority must hold sway.

My position on Brexit has been consistent and is very much a long held view of mine; that we would be much better out of the EU.

I backed a people’s vote in 2016. Our constituency voted by almost 2-1 in favour of leave, the biggest margin in Cornwall.

I voted to leave and I believe my job as a parliamentarian is to get on with delivering the results of the people’s vote.

I am committed to delivering the results of the referendum, nationally and locally, by ensuring that we leave the EU on 29 March 2019. It is vital for our democracy we respect the decision the British people made in 2016’s referendum and deliver what the people voted for.

Additionally, during the election campaign last year I stood on a very clear message that I would respect the result of the referendum and work to deliver Brexit. I received a clear mandate in that election receiving and biggest vote and biggest majority ever seen in the constituency.

I made a short speech in the house on the current proposal which sets out my position and you can watch it here:

The referendum decided the course we should take and whilst and I remain focused on honouring the outcome and doing the right thing by democracy, local people and the UK as a whole.