Wednesday, 28 February 2018
On Monday in my capacity as a member of the Petitions Committee, I led a debate in Parliament on live animal export.
We are a nation of animal lovers and have a proud history of animal welfare.
As an MP one of the issues that I get the most correspondence about is animal issues.
On Monday I was shocked to see that everything we debated was subject to European Union legislation - so any changes arising as a result would have to wait until after we have left the EU.
It is a sad state of affairs that we have found ourselves in for too long now where the regulations we have been forced to apply with regards to animal welfare coming from the EU have not reflected the views and values of the British people.
I believe there are many good reasons for the UK to free itself from the overbearing burden of regulation and bureaucracy from the EU and this area is one of them.
It is worth noting our UK animal welfare standards are amongst the highest in the World. From farm to fork, our farmers care and so do the majority of our nation.
If only the EU could match our welfare standards in terms of the reality of what happens as opposed to what should happen. Too frequently they don’t. Further, once live animals leave our shores we have justifiably grave concerns that the care, devotion and dedication that our farmers employ, is not always reflected on the Continent, as live animals make their onward journey. Nor that transit animals are routinely treated in such a way as to comply with EU regulations – which in themselves often fall short of our own standards. The UK needs rescuing from the mire of this misjudged fudgery – and so do our animals. Brexit beckons and it really cannot come soon enough.
Many people do accept that there is a different between exporting animals for slaughter and other reasons. There may at times be good reasons for exporting animals that are breading stock or other reasons.
However there seems no good reason to export an animal that is simply destined to be slaughters soon after it reaches its destination.
I can find no good or valid reason why this type of export should continue. It seems a reasonable proposition to me that animals should be slaughtered as close to where they were raised as is practicable. The carcasses, can then be exported.
It would be far more efficient, and the UK would benefit from up-selling and exporting the finished product.
On any account, we must not put profit ahead of stopping unnecessary suffering.
The new freedoms afforded by the beckoning Brexit will reinstate our sovereignty. We can once again do what is right and proper by our nations, our people and our animals, another reason to look forward to Brexit and beyond!
Wednesday, 21 February 2018
February Recess is now over and after spending some much-welcomed time with my family in St Austell I am once again in Parliament representing you as your strong Cornish voice in Westminster.
Over the last week I spent a lot of time in my constituency office in St Austell, where I have a team working Monday-Friday on my behalf to assist constituents who bring issues to me.
As an MP, people want to contact you about all sorts of things. People come to me for assistance with problems they have with government departments, such as the Department for Work and Pensions and HMRC, issues with Cornwall Council, and many other things. As well as helping with people’s personal issues, constituents also contact me about government policy, with people lobbying both for and against any particular legislation that is moving through Parliament on the national stage.
Along with my team I am pleased to have assisted around 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.
Apart from written communication and over the phone, there are lots of ways in which I as your Member of Parliament can help with issues that are brought to me. I also try to be as contactable as possible and hold regular events where you can see me by appointment or informally to discuss the things that matter to you.
I hold regular constituency advice surgeries in both Newquay and St Austell where people can book appointments and come and see me in confidence, on a one to one setting, to discuss matters that they need assistance with. I hold at least twice a month. If you want to book an appointment you can get in touch with my office on 01726 829379 or at email@example.com. Details of when the surgeries are, are on my website www.stevedouble.org.uk .These surgeries do get booked up fairly early, so if you do want to see someone without a wait, then you can always pop into my office, which is open to the public 1000-1600 Monday to Friday, in St Austell and see a member of my team.
Another really popular series that I have run has been ‘Meet Your MP’ events. I have held these during Recess, when Parliament is not sitting, since my election in pubs and informal venues across Mid-Cornwall. They are generally evening events and allow you to meet with me in an informal setting to discuss whatever you would like with me. I have held these both in towns and also many of the smaller villages around the constituency and they are an ideal way for you to come and see me to discuss any local or national issues.
I also try to keep people informed of my work on your behalf on social media and have Facebook and Twitter accounts that I update regularly as well as through my website. I regret that due to data protection concerns I am unable to deal with individual casework or issues via these channels so would advise anyone with specific issues or questions to email me.
Finally I am always happy to meet with groups of people with specific interests or concerns and come and listen to them and discuss what I can do to assist their cause. Should you wish to ask me to come along and talk to your group, just get in touch with my office and they will be happy to book something in.
Wednesday, 14 February 2018
Parliament has now risen for February Recess so I am taking the opportunity to spend as much time as possible in Mid-Cornwall, out and about meeting local residents and businesses to hear concerns and feedback on my work for you in Westminster.
Last week I was pleased, along with Cornwall MP colleagues to secure additional funding for Cornwall from the Government.
You may have noticed that the Lib Dems and their friends who run Cornwall Council have recently started campaigning for fairer funding for Cornwall. This seems to have involved putting a press release out announcing their intentions and trying to get a hashtag trending on Twitter, but sadly not a whole lot of actual work.
It is clear that there have been historic funding inequities for Cornwall. For a variety of reasons successive governments of different parties have long failed to address these issues. However since my election in 2015, I have made getting the balance restored one of my key priorities.
I was pleased therefore, last week to meet with Local Government Minister Rishi Sunak and receive his commitment for an additional £1.7m funding for Cornwall’s Adult Social Care services and an extra £1.5m for the Rural Services Delivery Grant.
This goes along with other recent examples in the last year including the £2.3m funding already announced for infrastructure delivery at the West Carclaze Garden Village in Mid-Cornwall, and the £79m the Government has given for the building of the A30 link road to St Austell and the surrounding area.
It is great to see this additional funding from the Government. As well as the direct impact it will have on Cornwall, indirectly it has led to Cornwall Council deciding to tone down its plans for a massive 5.9% council tax rise this year, which will be a real boost for hard-working people who are already squeezed.
There is still more to do though. In Parliament I chair the Rural Fair Share Campaign group, a cross-party group of MPs, who support an impartial, objective, needs-based approach to funding local public services.
The campaign aims to reduce the rural penalty, which sees funding for public services in rural areas receive up to 40% less than in urban areas, whether this is for our schools, local government or Police.
I am pleased that the Government has now agreed to look at the funding formulas used again and conduct a comprehensive review that I believe will show it is simply more expensive to deliver services in rural areas than urban areas. We have already made good progress in establishing the principle that there is an additional cost of providing services in more sparsely populated parts of the country. But we now need to see this turned into more hard extra cash. The additional money secured last week is a good stopgap but I will continue to campaign for permanent change to ensure Cornwall gets the funding we deserve in the future.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at: www.stevedouble.org.uk/events
Wednesday, 7 February 2018
Yesterday, in my capacity of Chairman of the Protect our Waves All Party Parliamentary Group, working with Sky TV, I hosted an event calling on MPs to pledge to cut the amount of plastic used in Parliament with the aim of making the UK the first plastic free Parliament.
In our constituency we have many miles of stunning coastline, beautiful beaches and amazing seascapes. People come from all over the world to enjoy our wonderful natural environment. Interspersed with all of this is all too obvious marine menace – the plastic foe that has invaded our waters.
Since my election in 2015 I have chaired the Protect Our Waves APPG and along with the renowned campaigners at Surfers Against Sewage have worked hard to highlight the problems we are storing up for ours and future generations with our reckless use of single use plastics.
Recently, and in the last year in particular, this Government has taken steps to reduce the amount of plastics we use and waste. There is the plastic bag charge, that was just extended in the recent Budget that has caused nine billion fewer bags to be used since its introduction in 2015, as well as generating more than £66m given by supermarkets to good causes from the income generated by the charge.
The Government has recently brought in the ban on microbeads in cosmetic products that were putting hundreds of thousands of tiny pieces of plastic into our drains every time we showered.
There is also the campaign to bring in a deposit scheme for single use plastic bottles, and the recent announcement by the PM as part of the 25 Year Environment Plan that the Government will be working with retailers to introduce plastic-free supermarket aisles – a great move to cut down on some of the frankly ridiculous amounts of plastic packaging we get on food purchases such as fruit and vegetables.
These are all great initiatives and along with this, public awareness of the plastic waste problem has never been higher. There are plenty of grass-roots movements starting to look at how we as communities can address the problem. Several originate in Cornwall, including the Refill initiative, which sees businesses providing free water to encourage less use of single use plastic bottles, the Final Straw group, which looks at eliminating plastic straws from our hospitality sector, and the Plastic Free town movement, which recently saw Penzance pledge to become the first plastic free town in the country.
Members of Parliament, as community leaders, have our own role to play in raising awareness, taking a lead and setting an example on this important matter. That is why I am pleased to be working with Sky and Surfers Against Sewage to bring forward the Plastic Free Parliament Campaign. Specifically, this campaign is all about getting MPs to practise what many of us preach and sign up to reduce the amount of plastic we use in our offices. I hope this will be another step in the fight against plastic waste.