Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Newspaper column 25 January - The objectives of Brexit

Last week I welcomed the Prime Minister’s speech where she set out the Government’s negotiating objectives for Brexit, which aims to get the right deal abroad while ensuring a better deal for ordinary working people here at home.
It is clear from my conversations with people who voted both remain and leave that the vast majority of people just want the Government to get on with it and make Brexit happen. This is certainly the case in Mid-Cornwall, where the highest number of people in any constituency in Cornwall voted to leave.
The referendum vote in 2016 was about something more than simply leaving the European Union. It was a vote for change: to make Britain stronger and fairer – restoring national self-determination while becoming even more global and international in action and spirit.  And while it was a vote to leave the EU, it was not a vote to leave Europe – we want to continue to be reliable partners, willing allies, close friends and trading partners with European countries. 

The question on the ballot paper in June was clear – should we remain or leave. The British people voted to leave.  So in that spirit, the Government is not seeking partial membership of the EU, associate membership, or anything that leaves us half-in, half-out. We do not seek to adopt a model already enjoyed by other countries or hold on to bits of membership as we leave.

We seek a new and equal partnership – between an independent, self-governing, outward looking Global Britain and our friends and allies in the EU.

As the Government negotiates that partnership, it will be driven by some simple principles: we will provide as much certainty and clarity as we can at every stage. And we will take this opportunity to make Britain stronger, to make Britain fairer, and to build a more Global Britain too.

Some of the objectives announced for Brexit last week, include:

Certainty: whenever we can, we will provide it. The Government will put the final deal that is agreed between the UK and EU to a vote in both Houses of Parliament.

Control of our own laws: we will bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in Britain.

Strengthen the Union: we must strengthen the precious Union between the four nations of the United Kingdom.

Control of immigration: Brexit must mean control of the number of people who come to Britain from Europe and that we can manage immigration in our national interest not based on some EU ideal.

Guaranteeing Rights for EU nationals in Britain, and British nationals in the EU: we want to guarantee these rights as early as we can. Protect workers’ rights: as we translate the body of European law into our domestic regulations, we will ensure that workers’ rights are fully protected and maintained.

Free trade with European markets: as a priority we will pursue a bold and ambitious Free Trade Agreement with the European Union.  

New trade agreements with other countries: it is time for Britain to become a global trading nation, striking trade agreements around the world.

I am with the majority of people in St Austell and Newquay in that I want to see a Britain outside of the European Union, outwardly looking with a positive outlook on what life post Brexit will bring. I will continue to do all I can to make this a reality.

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 Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at:


Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Newspaper column 18 January 2017 - Funding our NHS

Last week the NHS dominated national news with concerns that it is in ‘crisis’.

Some were quick to point the finger at the Government, claiming that the challenges it faces are as a result of Government cuts to funding.

However, this is inaccurate and categorically incorrect. In order to see for myself the position with regards to health funding in Cornwall I asked for a breakdown of funding the NHS in Cornwall has received in recent years.

I was pleased to see that since NHS Cornwall, or the Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group’s creation in 2013, the Government has steadily increased its funding year on year, above the annual rate of inflation. This means that far from being cut, NHS services in Cornwall have received both a cash and a real terms increase – that is to say above the rate of inflation.  I was also pleased to see the predicted figures show proposed increases of funding for NHS services in Cornwall until at least 2021 too.

If you are a regular reader of my column, you will know that I don’t think that just throwing money at a problem will make it go away.

Nor do I think turning this great institution of our country into a political football, as all political parties are prone to doing at times, achieves anything.

Our NHS is facing significant pressures, that much is true. I regularly meet with constituents who use its services and have both good and bad experiences, the vast majority of which are in fact very good. I also hold regular meetings with NHS management to discuss their concerns and raise them at all levels of Government as appropriate.

Much of the pressure the NHS faces is as a direct result of the ever-increasing demand it is facing. A growing and ageing population along with ever more complex and expensive treatments results in the expectations we place on the NHS becoming unsustainable.

I will continue to fight for more money for our NHS in Cornwall, as I have done for our local schools, Police and local government. But it is clear to me that the answer is not simply just more and more money. It also has to be about making sure our health care services are run as efficiently as possible and adapt to meet the needs of a changing population. We also need greater integration between our health and care services.

It is well publicised that the NHS in Cornwall has overspent its budget and is projecting a large deficit this year and in the years to come. This is why it is needing to find savings of more than £200 million in the coming years. The Sustainability and Transformation Plan is looking at the future of health and care services in Cornwall and the NHS are seeking the views of the public. You can find details of the plan here and I would encourage everyone who cares about the way our health service is run to take a look and have your say -

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 Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at:

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Newspaper column 11 January 2017 - My priorities for 2017

This week we return to Parliament after the Christmas Recess. It has been great to spend a few weeks at home in the constituency. While Parliament has not been sitting it has given me a chance to think about what my priorities for this coming year will be.

The big issue, not just in Cornwall but across the whole country continues to be Brexit and how it will impact on our way of life. I recently joined the European Scrutiny Committee, which assesses the legal and/or political importance of draft EU legislation deposited in Parliament by the Government and also has the power to recommend documents for debate, question Ministers in person and conduct general inquiries into legal, procedural or institutional developments in the EU.
With this role I will make sure concerns of local key sectors in Mid-Cornwall – including tourism, agriculture and fishing are heard at this high level, and that the feedback that I continue to get from meetings with those of you who work in these important areas is noted and acted upon as we move towards a formal Brexit when Article 50 is triggered.

Alongside this I will continue to work for investment in economic growth, jobs and better wages across Mid-Cornwall. I will continue to work with businesses both locally and nationally to drive our economy towards not just having more jobs, but creating demand here for jobs that are high skilled and well paid.

Towards the end of last year I was pleased to report successes in some of my long-term lobbying of the Government, with funding provided to upgrade the dangerous stretch of the A3058 between St Austell and Newquay, as well as moving forward with the incredibly important plans for the A30-A391 link road to St Austell and the surrounding area which will do so much for the economy of the area when built. These are both good starts but there is more to do and I will continue to lobby for more investment on our infrastructure and services as we move forward into 2017.

Another area in which I will continue to watch closely and press the case for change is to do with residential care. We were all shocked by the terrible scenes exposed in Clinton House in St Austell by BBC’s Panorama documentary in November.  There is always a concern that once these stories are no longer in the media that the issues get forgotten. I am determined not to allow that to happen but to make sure lessons are learnt. Over the coming weeks and months I will be working with stakeholders to look at what needs to be done to ensure things change for the better.

Finally, it was great to see yet more routes to and from Cornwall Airport Newquay open up over the Christmas break. The airport’s consistent positive growth is brilliant for Newquay and St Austell and the whole of Cornwall, and I will continue to work with the excellent management team there to do all I can to promote it as a premier destination. Not to mention the plans to possibly make the airport the UK’s first Spaceport, which I continue to champion and do all I can to make a reality.

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 Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at:

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Newspaper column 4 January 2017 - Money for affordable housing in Cornwall

I hope that, like me, you have had an enjoyable Christmas and New Year. It was great to be able to spend time at home and catch up with family and friends.

I want to start by wishing everyone in Mid-Cornwall a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2017.
Just before Christmas the Government made an important announcement confirming that money will be made available to specifically address the challenges Cornwall faces in providing housing that is affordable to local people.

Over many years now we have watched as house prices in Cornwall have risen and are now beyond the reach of most local people on average incomes. Much of this rise locally has been fuelled by people buying up our local housing stock for holiday homes or investment properties. Many people have been calling for some action for a long time but it is good to at last see that this Government is acting to address this issue.

In the 2015 Autumn Statement the then Chancellor, George Osborne, announced a new stamp duty levy on properties bought that were not for the purchaser’s main residence. This includes all types of 2nd homes – holiday homes, investment and buy to let properties. An additional 3% has been charged on the purchase of all such properties since April last year. When it was announced, the Chancellor stated that this money would be specifically ring fenced to help to provide affordable housing in places such as Cornwall.

It was pleasing therefore to have confirmation last month that the first tranche of money will now be made available with Cornwall being allocated just over £5 million in the first round.

This money will be made available through Cornwall Council to local schemes that seek to provide housing for local people at below market values through schemes such as Community Land Trusts.

Some have argued that £5 million will not go very far. But it has to be acknowledged that this is the first time any Government has taken direct action to specifically address the housing challenges we face here in Cornwall. After many years of talking I am delighted to be part of the Government that is at last acting.

It is also important to recognise that this is a substantial part of the total national pot of £60 million and is way beyond what we would have normally expected to receive as a share of a national scheme but is clearly a sign that the challenges we face here in Cornwall are recognised.

This is the first round of funding and there will be much more to come in the years ahead. What is important now is that we spend this money wisely and use it in conjunction with private sector funding to provide as many homes for local people as possible.

Future funding will partly depend on how well this first tranche of money is spent and so I will be doing all I can to make sure the Council use it well. I will also be keen to work with any local people who wish to develop Community Land Trust housing in mid-Cornwall.