Last week I was delighted to see Jon Platt, a father from the Isle of Wight win a High Court battle against the Government over refusing to pay a fine he was ordered to pay for taking his daughter on holiday during term time.
I believe that fining parents for taking their children on holiday during term time is one area in which the Government is wrong. I have consistently spoken out and campaigned against this policy, both before and since my election and led a debate on a petition against the policy in Parliament last year.
I have been contacted by and spoken with hundreds of parents, tourism businesses and organisations, charities and campaign organisations about this issue.
This policy is blatantly unfair to a number of groups of people. It effectively means that people who cannot take holiday during the holiday season due to their work, of which there are a great deal of in Cornwall, cannot have a family holiday.
It is also unfair to those who cannot afford the high prices of holidays during the peak season. Far from helping lower paid families, this policy is actually making the issue worse. It is making taking a holiday during the school holidays even more out of reach for hard working families who have earned the right to be able to take a holiday if they choose.
From another angle. I was also disturbed to learn that no economic impact assessment was made of this policy before it was introduced. The impact of this policy on the Cornish tourist industry has been significant, as I am sure has it been in other areas reliant on tourism elsewhere in the country.
As a matter of principle I simply do not believe it is the role of the state to tell parents when they can take their children on holiday.
Mr Platt’s victory is a real milestone in the fight against this unfair legislation and to me fully establishes the essential right of the parent to have control over when their child takes a holiday.
I have heard that the Government may now look to get the law changed to further enforce the existing legislation. I hope that they take a step back, look at the bigger picture and change the system to one that is fair to all parents and does not effectively discriminate against areas such as Cornwall that are heavily reliant on the tourism industry.
If they do not then I will take this to the highest level and do all that I can to ensure the voices of parents working and the tourist industry are heard and that these changes are made.