Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Newspaper column 27 December 2017 - Looking back at a busy year

I hope you all had a relaxing and happy Christmas. Where has 2017 gone? Certainly for me the past year has flown by and it is time once again to provide an end of year update on some of the work I have been doing for you in Mid-Cornwall.

Clearly the biggest news of the year from the snap General Election in June. I was honoured to be re-elected as your MP after only 2 years with both an increased share of the vote and bigger majority. Thank you once again to everyone who voted for me and to those who helped in my campaign.

Brexit still dominates the scene nationally. The Prime Minister has now achieved an agreement with the EU to move negotiations on to the second phase. This is significant progress and means we can now move on to negotiations over our future trading relationship with the EU. Despite those who are seeking to disrupt and dilute the process I am pleased that the PM remains totally committed to the UK leaving the EU and regaining control over our laws, borders and money.  

Locally, a real highlight of the year has been the recent approval by the Chancellor for £79m to fund a dedicated A30 link road to St Austell. This is a crucial piece of infrastructure and the largest single piece of transport infrastructure investment in this area. It was one of my priorities since running for election in 2015 and something people have talked about for years. I am pleased that in just over two years as your MP and under a Conservative Government, we have delivered on this. I will now be working with all involved to ensure this road is built as soon as possible.

I am pleased to have worked with Cornwall Airport Newquay, Cornwall Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership to drive forward and champion the bid for our airport to become Britain’s first commercial spaceport. Many thought this was a pipe dream when I was first elected, but we have now have a serious bid submitted and are seen by many to be a frontrunner. I am hopeful for a positive announcement in the spring of next year and if so, this will bring levels of investment and skilled jobs into Mid-Cornwall that have been previously unheard of.

In Parliament I now sit on the Transport Select Committee and am a strong voice for investment in transport infrastructure in Cornwall. I still sit on the European Scrutiny Committee, to allow me to continue to look at European legislation and how it affects us. I am also now the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Visitor Economy group to help champion the tourism and hospitality industries that are such a major part of our economy.

I am still Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Protect Our Waves group which works with the Cornish based charity Surfers Against Sewage and am delighted at the progress the Government has made in working towards combatting the marine pollution threats posed by the increasing amount of plastic that ends up on our beaches and in our seas. I have been able to champion the cause in Parliament for a deposit scheme for single use plastic bottles, and am pleased to have been recognised by the Secretary of State for the Environment for this, with the Government now moving forward on a formal industry consultation.

Along with my team I am pleased to have assisted nearly 4,000 individual constituents with their concerns since I was elected and I have written to over 10,000 people who have contacted me about policy matters. In Parliament in the last year I have spoken in the main Chamber 58 times and voted in 92% of all votes, both above average for MPs. Here in Mid-Cornwall I have attended over 450 local events, been on more than 30 school visits and welcomed many Government Ministers, including the Prime Minister and several members of her Cabinet, to the area so they can see first-hand the issues we face. I would like to thank my excellent staff for all the hard work they put in on what has been an incredibly busy year!

May I also take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support of our growing constituency association over what has been an eventful year.

I wish you a healthy and happy 2018.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Newspaper column 20 December 2017 - Changes to Cornwall's NHS

Parliament will soon be rising for the Christmas Recess and I am looking forward to spending time at home with my family and friends.
There has been quite a lot of coverage recently about the proposals brought forward to change the way in which NHS services are run in Cornwall, with the setting up of an Accountable Care Organisation (ACO), introducing stakeholders such as Cornwall Council to the NHS management system.
Certain political parties have been quick to jump on the ‘this is privatisation’ bandwagon – once again turning our NHS into a political football. It is sad that the Labour Party in particular want to play politics with the NHS rather than work constructively to improve it. Instead they criticise the way the NHS is run now, as well as all new ideas put forward to help make it sustainable in the future.   
I should clarify that the ACO that is proposed is not a wholesale takeover by Cornwall Council of the NHS in Cornwall. It will create a management board with council involvement, as well as other stakeholders similar to the former Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Health Authority which ran from 1974-2002. People have been talking about the need to integrate health and social care in Cornwall for a long time and this is one possible way to achieve this.
It is certainly right and proper that the proposals to create an ACO are scrutinised by Cornwall Council and I support their setting up of a cross-party Inquiry Panel to do this.
I will continue to work with all involved to safeguard the future of community hospitals in Mid-Cornwall, continuing on from the submission I made to the STP on their importance to our communities.
It is important to remember that the ACO proposed for Cornwall is not unprecedented. For example there is already one further along the process in Greater Manchester that is being led by the Labour Council that sits there.
My commitment remains for an NHS that is free at the point of use. What matters the most apart from this is that the service available is fit for purpose and works well for the people who have to use it, as well as being good value for the public purse. How this is delivered would be down to the NHS, stakeholders such as Cornwall Council, and those who deliver the services.
May I take this opportunity to wish all readers a very Happy Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year.

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:

Friday, 15 December 2017

The Blue Belt initiative

I fully support this proposal and I am delighted the government are committing £20 million over the next few years to support the delivery of protecting four million square kilometres of marine environment. This money will help us improve our scientific understand of the oceans, develop and implement evidence based marine management strategies, and ensure the management of such a programme is sustainable for the long term.

A couple of months ago the government published its strategy for the British Overseas Territories, you can read in more detail what we are doing here:  

At a local level, I am chairman of the APPG for Protect Our Waves who work with the charity Surfers Against Sewerage. Together we have pressured the government to introduce the ban on microbeads, hold a consultation on the best way to introduce a Bottle Return Deposit scheme and pressure water companies to improve water quality around our beaches and shorelines.

A few weeks ago the Environment Minister, Therese Coffey announced a newly classified marine Special Protection Area which will come into force along a 24 mile stretch of coast from Falmouth to St Austell Bay. You can read more here: 

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Nurses Pay - December 2017

I recognise the huge contribution made by the millions of people who work in our NHS and social services. Inflation is above the rate of annual pay increases, so I appreciate that this creates a gap between earnings and outgoings, and that's why the Government continues to cut taxes for working people and introduce other measures like doubling the amount of free childcare which saves families considerable amounts of money.

Each area of the public sector has a pay review board which makes recommendations to the Government about pay increases. Just recently the police pay review board recommended a rise of 1 per cent on top of the capped 1 per cent. This alone will cost an extra £50 million over 12 months, which illustrates how much it costs to award pay rises in parts of the public sector which employ a lot of people. The Treasury has a very challenging job of making sure the books are balanced, and even now we are still borrowing £50 billion per year to bridge the gap.

In the recent Autumn Budget, the Chancellor said that the Government will look at pay awards for NHS staff on the Agenda for Change contract, including nurses, midwives and paramedics. This does not prejudge the role of the independent NHS Pay Review Body in recommending the level of pay award that staff should receive, and given the recent decision by the Government to accept the extra pay increase for the police, this shows that it is listening to concerns about public sector pay.

Further to this, the Chancellor announced £6.3 billion of extra funding for the NHS on top of already planned increases. This includes £2.8 billion of additional resource funding to help the NHS meet A&E waiting time targets as well as for those who are referred for treatment. £335 million of this will be provided before the end of the year to help the NHS meet increased winter demand.

The NHS in England will also get another £3.5 billion of capital funding on top of the £425 million announced in the Spring Budget. This includes £2.6 billion for Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) who are currently working on plans to improve local health services and £700 million will be provided for NHS trusts which require extra help in meeting targets.

I absolutely want to see nurses getting an annual pay rise of more than 1 per cent, provided it is properly funded, I recognise the extra demand on the NHS due to an increasing and ageing population, and that it is working hard to ensure that patients get faster and more effective treatment.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Newspaper column 13 December 2017 - On to the next stage of Brexit negotiations!

At the end of last week we heard the welcome news that the Prime Minister had reached an agreement on the first phase of negotiations for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.

On Friday the UK and EU negotiating teams issued a joint report on the progress they have made on the three areas covered in the first phase of negotiations.  The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has agreed that this report represents sufficient progress and that we should now move on to the talks about our future partnership.

As a result, Donald Tusk, the President of the EU Council, has recommended that the December Council allows the next stage of negotiations to proceed and that there should be quick progress on agreeing an implementation period.

The agreement on Phase One of the negotiations secures the rights of the three million EU citizens living here and the million British citizens living in the EU, represents a fair settlement of the accounts and maintains the Common Travel Area with Ireland, which has operated since the 1920s, and sets out both sides’ determination to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, while respecting the integrity of the UK Single Market.

The round of negotiations that has just finished has also given us a number of concessions where the EU has backed down on positions they previously held at the beginning of the talks.

For example, the EU have accepted that we will carry out systematic criminality checks and will ask individuals to disclose previous criminality when they apply for visa documentation. Any EU nationals that commit crime after we leave will be subject to UK laws.

The EU have also  accepted that future spouses  from the EU will be subject to the UK immigration law provisions that apply to non-EU spouses currently.

In terms of monetary obligations, we have also reached an agreement that the UK will honour our commitments to the end of the budget period, but have crucially secured the rebate on these payments as well as other adjustments that will minimise our bill. We expect the settlement to come in significantly below many of the EU’s initial estimates. This will be paid as and when the commitments are due and are dependent on a broader agreement on our future partnership, and is a significant change to the EU’s previous position, which was that the UK should pay in full the obligations resulting from the whole period of its membership; they estimated this at 75b Euro.

I have always thought moving to the second phase of negotiations was of crucial importance, as his contains the real ‘meat’ of the deal allowing us to look at the implementation period and final trading agreements.

The EU had stipulated that we could not move on to phase two of negotiations until we had made progress on the citizenship status of current EU citizens living in the UK, the ‘divorce bill’ and the Irish Border, which we have now done. I believe our current situation is a reasonable compromise that will now allow us to get on the really important stuff in phase two. The EU has said previously that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed and this certainly continues to be the spirit of the negotiations!

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:

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Note regarding the recent Brexit negotiations.

Note regarding the recent Brexit negotiations.

Firstly, it is important to note that what has been agreed so far is not set in stone and was only put down as a point so we can advance to the next stage of the negotiation.

Despite what has been written in the press, the EU has conceded several major positions so far. The first one is regarding citizens’ rights. The EU wanted its laws preserved in the UK in perpetuity and its direct enforcement should be by the EU. Instead, once we leave we will be free to change or amend any EU law as we see fit and for a limited time, our courts will be able to ask the ECJ for a legal view on the law but our courts have the final say.

Another concession we have with the EU, they didn’t want us to be able to conduct criminality checks on EU nationals who commit crimes after we leave, and they would not be subject to EU laws. Instead The EU have accepted that we will carry out systematic criminality checks and will ask individuals to disclose any records when they apply for documentation and EU citizens will be subject to UK laws.   

The EU wanted us to pay up to €100 billion. Instead we will pay far less than that as we said we would when the Prime Minister said we will honour our financial commitments in good faith. This will be paid dependent on a broader agreement on our future partnership, simple put if they reneged on any deal, they don’t get any money. 

Finally it is important to note nothing has been agreed yet and any deal is at least a year off when it comes to any conclusion. I am pleased that the Prime Minister has confirmed several times that we will leave the Single Market, Customs Union and have control over immigration. To not do so would leave us in the worst of both worlds and therefore I back the statement, a no deal is better than a bad deal. 

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Update on Bass

I have received the below response from Fishing Minister George Eustice to my correspondence on behalf of the many people who contacted me about the proposed new EU bass fishing rules.

I will continue to raise this on behalf of both commercial and leisure anglers to ensure your voices are loudly heard.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Newspaper column 6 December 2017 - my shift with the South Western Ambulance Service

As we head into December, last week was another varied one, with lots going on both in Westminster and in Mid-Cornwall.

In Parliament I was pleased to speak in a number of debates, including questioning the Secretary of State for Transport on regional transport infrastructure investment following the recent announcement of the A30 link road to St Austell, and voicing what I am sure is the opinion of the vast majority of residents of Mid-Cornwall in criticising the reckless and ill-informed tweets made by President Trump promoting right wing hate groups in the UK.

Meanwhile in Mid-Cornwall I attended a great business breakfast event at the Eden Project on Friday, followed by supporting the excellent work carried out by the local foodbank and Tesco, a visit to the B4 Project to discuss their work protecting our bees and a busy constituency advice surgery in St Austell on Saturday.

I was also delighted to attend and give a speech at a charity dinner at The Bristol Hotel in Newquay on Sunday where we raised thousands of pounds for local charities.

The highlight of my week last week was when I joined the night shift with the local Southwestern Ambulance Service crew as an observer.

Since my election I have made time to visit our emergency services to be able to obverse first hand how things operate on the front line and therefore better understand the challenges and pressures they face.

We all know the pressures the NHS as an organisation faces and I am pleased to see the Government has recognised this with a real terms year on year increase of funding for NHS Cornwall since its creation.

I am also aware of the financial constraint ambulance services such as the South Western Ambulance Service face. The South Western Ambulance Services was the first ambulance service in the country to be registered to operate as an NHS Foundation Trust in its own right and as such has different funding arrangements to the other NHS organisations in Cornwall. This means they have a greater freedom to determine their own future and more flexibility to tailor services to the particular needs of the communities they serve – an important distinction that defines it from other services in Cornwall such as the Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group and Treliske.

One thing that struck me was how busy the shift was. As soon as one case was finished another was assigned within seconds – a constant workload but one that the dedicated and professional staff remained on top of at all times.

One thing the crew did raise with me was the status of the public sector pay cap. I am pleased that the Secretary of State for Health announced in October that the cap is to be lifted, which will benefit the 1.4 million NHS staff who have been affected by the cap and should mean decent pay rises going forward.

One thing that the crew did press upon me was that people need to value this service as a precious but limited resource.  For example, they dealt with 6,159 incidents in the last weekend of November, a 12% rise compared to 2016. The advice given is to only call 999 if the casualty is suffering from severe bleeding, breathing difficulties, chest pains or loss of consciousness, essentially an emergency for serious or life threatening situations.

All in all I had a very interesting time during my observation of the shift. I learned a lot and have nothing but admiration for our paramedics.

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: