Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Newspaper column 27th September 2017 - The Prime Minister's speech on Brexit

Last week was another positive week in the constituency, and I was pleased to get out and about across Mid-Cornwall, meeting with residents and businesses from Newquay to Mevagissey, going to see pupils at schools in St Stephen and St Austell, meeting with Primary School Head Teachers, Cornwall College, the Federation of Small Businesses, Cornwall Housing and Cornwall Partners in Care, as well as dropping in to the G.P. surgery in Fowey.

At the end of the week, the Prime Minister gave her speech on Brexit in Florence. I welcome the points raised in the speech and think this gives a clear update on how negotiations are going, the timescales involved and what the end result will be in terms of our leaving the European Union.
I have had feedback on a variety of things contained in the Prime Minister’s speech and was keen to raise these issues on behalf of the residents of Mid-Cornwall with the Prime Minister when I met with her over the weekend. I thought it would be helpful in this column to address the issue of the implementation period, which is the one that has been most raised with me.

Firstly in terms of the timescale for leaving. I am pleased that in her speech the Prime Minister reiterated and confirmed that:

“The United Kingdom will cease to be a member of the European Union on 29th March 2019.”
“We will no longer sit at the European Council table or in the Council of Ministers, and we will no longer have Members of the European Parliament.”

It is good that the Prime has re-affirmed her commitment to this timetable for us to leave. The announcement of an implementation period of around two years from March 2019 has caused some controversy. In reality, as the Prime Minister said,

“ …the fact is that, by March 2019, neither the UK - nor the EU and its Members States - will be in a position to implement smoothly many of the detailed arrangements that will underpin this new relationship we seek.”

“Neither is the European Union legally able to conclude an agreement with the UK as an external partner while it is itself still part of the European Union.”

The UK’s exiting of the European Union is one of the biggest pieces of legislative change to come along in generations. The changes that need to be made to legally ensure that we are no longer a member are not ones that can be made overnight, both in terms of making the legal changes but also in physically implementing them, both here and in the EU. We need to keep in mind that it had taken more than 40 years for us to reach the point we have in regards to our relationship with the EU and it is simply unrealistic to expect this to be undone in a matter of a few months.

In my conversation with the Prime Minister I was particularly keen to seek reassurances on the implementation period where it comes to immigration. As I said earlier, it will take time to put in place the new laws, particularly the system required to re-take control of the UK’s borders. The Prime Minister reassured me that although, during the implementation period, people will continue to be able to come and live and work in the UK, there will be a registration system – an essential preparation for the new regime. She also confirmed that anyone who comes to live and work here from within the EU after March 2019 will not have the same rights to remain here as those EU citizens who are already here. This is good news and I look forward to seeing this implemented as the negotiations progress.

As always. the devil will be in the detail. While the progression made in the negotiations so far, as outlined by the Prime Minister is encouraging, there is still much more work to do, and I look forward to working with colleagues to scrutinise and challenge if necessary, the plans as they proceed towards us leaving the EU.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Newspaper column 20 September 2017 - Funding for our schools

After a really busy two weeks in Parliament, we are now back in Recess for the Conference season, which will allow me to spend more time out and about visiting local people, businesses and organisations.

During the last two weeks I have spoken in Parliament on a number of issues, handed a petition in to Number Ten on a single use plastic bottle return scheme, and voted through the EU Withdrawal Bill at 2nd reading.

Right at the end of last week I was also really pleased to see the Government come forward with its announcement on fairer funding for schools. In the run up to June’s General Election this was a major issue. Some local candidates sadly used this issue to scare-monger on the supposed cuts that the Government would be making to schools, despite there being a clear manifesto commitment from the Conservative Party that no school would be worse off.

I am pleased to see, a few months down the line, that the Government has delivered on our manifesto commitment and provided increases in funding for schools across the board. Under this new funding formula there will be an increase the basic funding that every pupil in every school will attract; a minimum per pupil funding level so that, under the national funding formula, all secondary schools will attract at least £4,800 per pupil, and all primary schools will attract at least £3,500 by 2019-20; provide for a minimum cash increase in respect of every school of 1% by 2019-20; and provide up to 3% gains per pupil in 2018-19 and a further 3% in 2019-20 for under-funded schools.

This is really good news for schools in our constituency and indeed across Cornwall. The average increase in our constituency will be 2.7% with some of our smallest most rural schools receiving well into double figure increases in their per pupil funding.

This is an issue I have been campaigning on since I was elected. Just last week, I questioned the Secretary of State in the House of Commons on the importance of recognising the rural nature of some of our schools and their communities and that this should be a significant factor in any funding arrangements.

I am therefore pleased to see in this announcement that for the smallest, most remote schools, the Government will distribute a further £26 million in dedicated sparsity funding. It is key that the Government understands the different needs of rural communities to urban communities and considers the costs of delivering services in relation to this. Nowhere is this more important than in the education of our children.

There is still much more to do though, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to deliver better and fairer funding for Mid-Cornwall in key areas such as education, local government and policing in the years to come.

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

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Newspaper column 13 September 2017 - My election to the Transport Select Committee

It has certainly been a busy first week back at Parliament after the Summer Recess.

I spoke in the Chamber of the House of Commons every day, on subjects from the Shared Prosperity Fund that will replace the EU structural funding after Brexit, to the all-important European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, asking questions of the Government on your behalf.

Away from the Chamber, I was delighted to be elected by my colleagues to one of the four Conservative positions from nine candidates on to the Select Committee for Transport.

The Transport Committee operates in the House of Commons to scrutinise the work of the Department for Transport. Its formal remit is to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Department of Transport and its associated public bodies.

The Committee is made up of eleven Members of Parliament, appointed by the House of Commons and drawn from the three largest political parties.

Despite what some would have you believe, Cornwall is currently in the midst of the biggest transport infrastructure investment ever – new roads, new trains and improvements to the railways, new buses and support and opportunities for our airport.

For our railways, we are seeing investment in the signalling system which will create more capacity on the mainline to London as well as cutting about 15 minutes of the travel time, as well as a £400m investment from Hitachi with new intercity bullet trains with much better onboard facilities.

Air travel-wise I will continue to champion Cornwall Airport Newquay as the best location for the first UK Spaceport. This is an amazing opportunity for the investment and better paid jobs we need in mid-Cornwall. It is clear with our prime location, Aerohub Enterprise Zone, proximity to Goonhilly Earth Station and existing infrastructure that Newquay is the frontrunner.

And for our roads, in July we saw the completion of the dualling of the Temple stretch of the A30, which saw Highways England and the Department for Transport, along with Cornwall Council, invest £59 million into improving this vital stretch of the road. I will be working with all of these stakeholders to get on with dualling the next stretch, as well as the crucial link road from the A30 to St Austell and the surrounding area and Phase 2 of the Newquay Strategic Route.

As a member of the Transport Select Committee, I will be a strong voice for Cornwall and the South West. I will speak up for Cornwall and our transport infrastructure, to ensure we continue to get the investment we need in our road, rail and air networks.

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:

The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill

The Prime Minister has been clear that she wishes to minimise disruption to businesses and individuals as the UK leaves the EU. That is why the Repeal Bill is being introduced and why I support it. This bill will transfer EU law, including the case law of the European Court of Justice, into UK law at the point of the UK's departure from the EU. This will make sure that the UK has a functioning statute book when it leaves the EU and it will provide the maximum amount of certainty, control and continuity.

The Bill will also give ministers in the UK Government and in the devolved administrations a temporary power to make legal corrections to transposed EU legislation. This will be time-limited to two years after exit day. Parliament or the devolved legislatures will also be able to scrutinise any statutory instrument made under this power. I must emphasise that the power could only be used to make corrections to transposed law, for example, by removing references in transposed EU law to the UK as a member state of the EU. The Bill is not a vehicle for major policy changes.

Workers' rights, consumer protection and environmental laws will not change and businesses will benefit from this certainty. Parliament will, of course, be free to keep, amend and repeal laws as it sees fit after this date. There may also be some laws which no longer operate as intended and the bill will provide the power for corrections to be made so that the UK legal system can continue to operate.

The Government also wants to ensure that power is returned as close as possible to communities as laws are returned to the UK. I expect that there will be a significant increase in the decision making powers of the devolved administrations but I want this approach to work coherently for the whole of the UK.

I can also assure you that the UK will leave the EU on 29 March 2019 and that this means leaving the single market and the customs union at that point. The single market and the customs union are the main and essential elements of the EU. To remain in either would mean not really leaving the EU at all. Leaving these will ensure that the referendum result is respected in full and that the UK has more control over the issues you mention.

There will, of course, be an implementation period as we leave the EU. A cliff-edge for business and individuals would not be in anyone's interests. But make no mistake: this will not be of unlimited duration. This would not be good for the UK or the EU.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Newspaper column 6 September 2017 - Continued investment in broadband

This week sees Parliament return after what has been a really busy Summer Recess for me down here in Mid-Cornwall.

I am looking forward to what will no-doubt be a busy schedule in Parliament this Autumn, dominated by Brexit. It was good to see so many local people, businesses and organisations over July and August. It was also great to see continuing investment in Cornwall’s infrastructure, including our broadband network.

The first phase of Cornwall’s Broadband infrastructure programme, Superfast Cornwall, has so far provided an estimated £275 million annual boost to the economy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, creating around 3,000 new jobs and safeguarding 3,400. An estimated 16,150 businesses have connected to high-speed fibre broadband with the technology helping the creation of around 3,300 start-up businesses.

Earlier in August I welcomed the announcement of the third phase of the Superfast Cornwall programme. This £17.6 million deal will see the latest Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) technology – capable of delivering speeds up to one gigabit per second (Gbps) – rolled out to more than 7,000 premises across Cornwall by the end of 2019.

Last week I was pleased to meet with BT and Superfast Cornwall to discuss the programme, including which areas in Mid-Cornwall will be connected in this next phase. We are making good progress and by the end of 2019 almost all premises in Mid-Cornwall will have a broadband connection. This programme will include some of the most remote and challenging areas to connect that I have been pressing BT on for some time. This is real progress and good news for our rural communities.

At the end of this latest stage of the programme, there will still be an estimated 8,000 premises in Cornwall that will have broadband at speeds less than adequate and I look forward to working with Superfast Cornwall and Cornwall Council to ensure these properties do not get left out. These proposals include a grant scheme from Cornwall Council and a subsidised Superfast Satellite Scheme.

It is clear though, that in the increasingly digital age we live in, the importance of having decent broadband connections, both for business and leisure purposes, will only continue to grow. I look forward to continuing to ensure that in Mid-Cornwall we continue to get the best from the broadband infrastructure programmes available.

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: