Thursday, 29 March 2018

New Passports

Thank you for your recent email regarding the announcement over the company that will be .

While I understand that on the surface the decision to grant the tender to produce British passports in the future to a French/Dutch company may seem odd, there are in fact, a number of reasons why I am not objecting to this move.

Firstly, the company in question has factories in Britain, and I understand the passports will be manufactured in the UK, thus safeguarding and creating jobs.

Secondly, the money spent on the manufacture of passports is taxpayer money and we have a duty to be diligent with its use and provide best value for the taxpayer. I understand the winning company in the tender saved £120m on the next best bid, and this is money that can be used to provide essential services elsewhere.

Finally, once Brexit happens, we need to be an outward looking, international trading nation, and as such we need to be prepared to import and export services both to and from other countries, both the EU and beyond. We can’t make exceptions on this and I would rather see a confident global Britain operating on the world stage than one this purely insular and inward looking.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Newspaper column 28 March - More good news for our NHS

The NHS is one of our nation’s greatest assets and so it was good to hear a number of really positive announcements over the last week.

Firstly, on Wednesday the Secretary of State announced that more than one million NHS staff, including nurses, porters and paramedics, are being offered pay increases of at least 6.5% - with some getting as much as 29% over the next three years.

Following years of a 1% cap on pay rises for the public sector I am pleased that as promised the cap has now been lifted to enable these rises to be offered. The deal has been formally agreed by union leaders and ministers last Wednesday and staff will now be asked to vote on the deal, with rises backdated to April if they agree by the summer.

The deal is tiered with the lowest-paid in each job receiving the biggest rise and covers all staff on NHS’s Agenda for Change contract - about 1.3m across the UK, with over half receiving more than a 9% increase.

The lowest full-time salary - paid to cleaners, porters and catering staff - will rise by 15% to more. These groups will get an immediate £2,000 rise this year increasing the basic minimum starting salary.

I am delighted that these substantial rises are able to be offered to our hard working and dedicated NHS staff and especially that the lowest paid will be receiving the greatest increases.

As well as this announcement, last week the Government set out full details of 1,500 new medical school places and the creation of five brand new medical schools to help train the next generation of NHS staff.

The expansion of medical training places is just one aspect of the Government’s commitment to the expansion and retention of our NHS workforce, having also announced 5,000 additional nurse training places every year from September 2018 and a new debt-free apprenticeship route into nursing.

Meanwhile, this weekend, the Government announced that three thousand extra midwives are to be trained over the next four years in the largest-ever increase of maternity staff in England.

These plans will include the introduction of a "continuity of carer" model, which will see expectant mothers treated by the same midwives throughout their pregnancy, and will start with a target of one in five women benefitting from the model by March next year.

The Government’s goal is for the NHS to be the safest, highest quality healthcare system in the world that continues to be delivered free for all at the point of need. This latest step forward demonstrates the Government’s continuing commitment to the NHS, ensuring it has the workforce to continue to deliver safe, compassionate care for all our citizens.

These investments in our NHS are only able to be made due to the careful management of our public spending and economy. Without a strong and growing economy we would not be able to generate the income that enables the Government to make these commitments for our 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 Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at:

Monday, 26 March 2018

Newspaper column 21 March 2018 - Free School Meals and more!

Over the last weekend I had a busy and varied constituency advice surgery in Newquay, where it was good to discuss a varied range of issues with constituents who came to see me.

In the afternoon on Saturday, I also organised and ran a community litter pick in St Austell, where a great group of people came together, braving the snow and collected a mountain of rubbish from the Gover area. This was part of Keep Britain Tidy’s Great British Spring Clean, and I hope to organise similar events in Mid-Cornwall in the future.

One thing that was prominent last week was the spreading of incorrect facts for political means by the Labour Party, regarding the vote on Universal Credit that took place. 

Unscrupulous Labour politicians chose to put out messages that were simply incorrect, which were then picked up and spread as fact on social media. Another example of what is commonly known as ‘fake news’. These lies, which said that 1,000,000 children would lose entitlement to free school meals, are simply wrong.

The changes to the entitlement to free school meals that were voted on in Parliament were necessary to bring the system up to date and accommodate the switch to Universal Credit. 
Once these changes come into effect from 1st April:
All children in reception, year 1 and year 2 will continue to get free school meals, thanks to this Government.
No existing recipients of free school meals will lose them. Every children who current receives free school meals will continue to qualify.
As these changes come in 50,000 extra children will get free school meals than under the previous system.
Instead of basing the eligibility on the number of hours adults in a household are working, the government is introducing a means test so that if you are receiving Universal Credit and you're earning less than £7,400 from work, your children will be entitled to school meals if they're in Year 3 or above. As I stated previously, children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 will continue to be entitled to free school meals regardless of their parent's income.
Whilst the figure of £7,400 may sound low, once income-related benefits are taken into account these households would have a total annual income of between £18,000 and £24,000 depending on their exact circumstances. It is also important to note that under the previous system, the threshold for eligibility was £6,240 and therefore families will be better off under Universal Credit.
After these changes there will still be families with household incomes of £24,000 that will qualify for free school meals.
Last week’s  vote in reality was about using taxpayers’ money most wisely, focussing it on the families and children who need the most help, and those seeking to gain political capital by scaring people into believing they will no longer be entitled to something because of it should be ashamed of themselves.
Another thing that this issue highlighted and brought out in droves, were keyboard warriors, who seized upon the opportunity to attack MPs who voted for the changes, with foul and abusive personal attacks on social media.
In an age where the leader of the opposition advocates ‘kinder, gentler politics’, it is a shame that many of those who purport to support him seem to think that this kind of behaviour is acceptable. It sadly seems to be the norm now, particularly on social media, that if people, particularly those identifying themselves as supporting the Labour Party, do not agree with someone’s political views, they see it as perfectly fine to launch into these sort of attacks. I have always thought that if people resort to this sort of vitriol, particularly without bothering to check the facts first, then they have lost the real argument.
After several years now in politics I have come to accept that this sort of thing goes on. I am very grateful to those locally who have been in touch expressing their support for me and disgust at the things they have seen posted. However, please be assured these type of attacks really have no effect. I will continue to do all I can to represent everyone who lives in our constituency, regardless of your political views.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Newspaper column 14 March 2018 - St Piran's Day, Lusty Glaze and Brexit

At the beginning of last week, St Piran’s Day, for the first time since I became MP, fell on a day when Parliament was sitting.

To mark the occasion, I was pleased, along with the Cornish MPs to host an event in Parliament, welcoming some of our best food and drink producers to Westminster to showcase some of the finest ales, wines, chocolate, cheeses, creams, biscuits and teas that can be found in the UK. The event was a real success and was brilliant in highlighting some of the great exports that Cornwall has on offer, both to the UK but also internationally.

I also spoke in Parliament on a number of occasions, raising concerns over planning policy for cliff-top developments following the recent landslide at Lusty Glaze beach, as well as asking what could be done to ensure the record levels of NHS funding are spent appropriately by NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups. I also highlighted with the DEFRA Minister the great job we in Cornwall our doing leading the way in movement towards more sustainable lifestyles with the #plasticfree initiative, which is being brought forward in Newquay and other towns across our county.

Over the weekend I was shocked to hear frankly outrageous comments by the Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable, who at a Lib Dem event said the 2016 Brexit vote was driven by a nostalgia for a time "when faces were white".

This sort of comment shows just how out of touch the Lib Dems continue to be with why people voted to leave. It certainly wasn’t the reason I voted for Brexit, and I see our future as a global outward reaching power on the international instead of one shackled to the failed institution of the EU. Perhaps Sir Vince (74)’s sanctimonious comments were driven by nostalgia for a time when his views were relevant, and his Party polled more than 7% nationally.

Regardless, we all now need to move on and stop re-running the referendum debate. This happened, nearly two years ago – we need to respect this democratic result and work together to deliver the best outcome for our country, something myself and my colleagues will continue to do all we can to achieve.

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:

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Newspaper column - 7 March 2018 - More chaos at County Hall

It’s a week since Cornwall was hit by Storm Emma, with Mid-Cornwall seeing a lot of snow as well as dangerous conditions on the coast with flooding and extremely high winds.

I’d like to pay tribute to the hard work of the emergency services, Cormac, the Environment Agency and numerous volunteers who came together to keep our communities safe and running during this time, as well as already doing a great job with the clean-up in the aftermath.

In the midst of the blizzard conditions on Thursday night Cornwall Council sent out a bizarre email to councillors and stakeholders declaring that it had decided not to proceed with an Accountable Care System model as part of its work with Cornwall’s NHS, and apparently decided to do nothing instead.
This is a crucial decision about the future of Health and Social Care in Cornwall and the pressing need to integrate the services in order to provide a better coordinated and more efficient approach to meeting the ever-growing needs of the people of Cornwall.

This email was odd because Cornwall Council this year has dedicated considerable time and taxpayer money on holding an inquiry on whether it should proceed with a model like this, among several options, and Cornwall Council’s Liberal Democrat-led Cabinet had been due to meet on 28 March to consider a formal decision on the outcome and recommendations of the Inquiry. To make a rushed decision like this was both against the council’s own procedures, as the Cabinet had not actually met and voted one way or another, but also, to do nothing, which is what it appeared was what the council was deciding to do, was against the recommendations of both the NHS, Cornwall Council’s own Health Scrutiny Committee and the Inquiry Panel.

This was bad enough, but on Friday, the Cabinet member responsible, Cllr Rotchell sent out another press release apologising for the content and timing of the previous one, but still talking about ‘the Cabinet’s position’, this despite the Cabinet not having met yet to decide anything. A lot of people went into the weekend very confused about what Cornwall Council’s position on all of this was. Clearly ruling by press release does not seem to be working very well for the Cabinet, and events also seem to bring up the old question about who really runs Cornwall Council, the officers or the councillors.

The Conservative Group on Cornwall Council, whose Health Spokesperson, Fowey’s Andy Virr, is also the Chair of the ACS Inquiry Panel and a senior A&E Consultant at Treliske, was quick to flag up these apparent errors in procedure and put out his own firm statement against this chaotic cabinet on Friday afternoon. Cornwall Council’s Lib Dem Leader, Adam Paynter, wrote to Andy Virr on Monday saying the first press release had been ‘misinterpreted’ and that the Cabinet still did want to integrate health and social care services. Again, it is unclear how this decision has been made as the Cabinet has still yet to meet.

So, after a busy end to last week and weekend where many of us have been clearing up after the snow and storms, the situation regarding Cornwall Council and its position on health and social care integration appears to be as clear as mud. One thing is clear though, and that is that no matter how bad the weather gets, that’s nothing compared to the unique brand of chaos that seems to be the rule at County Hall right now!

If this matter was not so serious we could laugh this off as the Cornwall Council Cabinet having a bad week. However, this is one of the most important decisions facing Cornwall right now that will determine how our health and care services are run in the future. Doing nothing is not an option, however neither is making knee jerk reaction decisions or playing politics with our health and care provision. I hope now that the Cabinet at Cornwall Council will work with the NHS and other agencies to make a fully informed and carefully considered decision that is in the best interest of the people they are elected to serve.