Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Newspaper column 28 November 2018 - More good news for Cornwall Airport Newquay

The past week has seen some really good progress for Cornwall Airport Newquay with some exciting news for next year and some big steps forward with other long term goals for this vital piece of transport infrastructure in Mid-Cornwall.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of the airport and the links it provides for business and tourist to the Cornish economy.

On 16 November I welcomed Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg to the airport to discuss a number of matters relating to the future growth and expansion of the airport.

With the airport celebrating its busiest year so far, with 460,000 passengers using it, I was also pleased to get that the minister restated the Government’s support for the Newquay-London route via the recently announced continuation of the Public Service Obligation.

At the same time I took the opportunity to continue to lobby for the Heathrow route that people have been asking for, for years.

While the route to Gatwick has been a massive part of the business for our airport, with 40% of passengers currently using the London route, a regular link to Heathrow would provide even bigger and better opportunities through a direct link to world markets. Heathrow offers great connectivity to around 85 different countries including some of the faster global economies.

In Parliament earlier this week I continued to lobby the Secretary of State for Transport to win his support when he attended another event I hosted to promote the bid for Spaceport Cornwall.

I was delighted then, when on Thursday the Secretary of State announced the Governments support for a Heathrow connection.

The route will be run by Flybe, with the support of the Government and Cornwall Council via the Public Service Obligation and will replace the Newquay to Gatwick link. Flights will start in April 2019, increasing from three to four a day, seven days a week.

The service to Heathrow, which is the world's second busiest airport for international travel, will help businesses in Cornwall to compete nationally and internationally, attracting inward investment and boosting tourism.

It will also provide much-improved access to Central London via the sixteen minute Heathrow Express service to Paddington, Piccadilly Line and eventually the new Crossrail service.

This route will also open up possibilities for the export of Cornish goods through Heathrow which is the UK’s biggest port by value of the goods handled.

This is something I have worked hard with Ministerial colleagues to bring to reality and I would also like to thank the Transport team at Cornwall Council and management of Newquay airport for their work in securing this.

I believe this new route will not only help the airport to continue to grow but will also have a very positive impact on our local economy. It can also only help our bid for the Spaceport which I continue to work for.

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:

Campaign reply - Palestine Solidarity Campaign Lobbying Day

I have recently received a number of emails from constituents regarding the  in Parliament today.

In their emails they touched on a number of complex issues and there are several points I wish to raise in response.

The situation in Gaza is far from simple and the conditions are not simply the result of a siege but of the more than a decade long rule of Hamas.

Under their rule the humanitarian situation has dramatically worsened as funds have been consistently diverted to fund Hamas’s ever grander military ambitions. 

I am sure you will share my concern about Hamas’s ongoing presence in Gaza, and particularly its orchestration of the recent ‘March of Return’ campaign which has endangered the lives of both innocent Palestinians and Israelis alike.

Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade of the Gaza Strip due to the presence of Hamas, an internationally recognised terror group. For its part, Israel’s blockade has been in place since 2007 when Hamas violently ousted any Fatah presence in the territory and began firing thousands of rockets into Israel. Hamas has continued this violence, most recently seen in its launching of over 460 rockets indiscriminately into Israel.

Despite this threat, Israel continues to facilitate the delivery of legitimate humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza with thousands of tonnes of food, fuel, and medical supplies delivered every day.  The blockade has been eased in recent years with Israel permitting the delivery of construction materials with UN oversight, but I am in full agreement that more needs to be done to alleviate the suffering of ordinary Gazans.

With regards to the case of Ahed Tamimi, I welcome her release by the Israeli authorities in June this year, but have seen no evidence that she was mistreated by Israeli authorities.

According to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the interrogation of minors is always carried out in Arabic. All minors brought before the court – during the investigation or thereafter – are represented by lawyers of their choice or lawyers provided for them by the Palestinian Authority. I have also been assured that isolation or solitary confinement is not used as an interrogation technique, and only in exceptional cases may a minor be held alone as a disciplinary measure following a disciplinary procedure.

On the subject of child detention and use of military courts, it is my understanding that if Israel were to use civil courts instead of military courts to try Palestinian youth, it would be accused of annexing the West Bank. Israel says that its justice system in the West Bank operates in accordance with the Geneva Conventions (as per Article 66 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that an Occupying Power can use military courts).

It is tragic that so many Palestinian youths have felt the need to turn to violence. What is clear, above all, is that the need for a renewed peace process is more urgent than ever. Our Government remains committed to a two-state solution through direct negotiations, and all parties involved as well as the international community must step up efforts without delay.  

I trust this adequately answers some of the issues raised and I always happy to meet with my constituents to discuss any matter of concern to them. I will be sure to continue monitoring developments in Israel.

Campaign reply - Race Horse welfare

A number of constituents have written to me regarding Race horse welfare:

 As many of you will know there was a debate in Parliament on 15 October following a  successful application to the Petition Committee. The petition, had over 105,000 signatures. The Government statement on this said it “does not consider that it is necessary to create a new body to protect racehorse welfare,” and outlines that “the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) is responsible for the safety of jockeys and horses at races in this country.” The debate gave opportunity to challenge and question a Minister.

As a family we have been horse owners and lovers and so the debate was of interest however  I was unable to attend due to other pressing Parliamentary business. The Minister did take note of many of the points raised. It is also worth noting that the debate itself is an invaluable tool in raising awareness amongst MPs and the public around these issues. That has the effect of  influencing decision-making in Government and Parliament.

I firmly believe these debates makes all interested parties take note and the BHA will no doubt review all its' procedures if only to ward off possible punitive legislation. My own view is that I am generally against banning things and over legislating. However this is a matter I can raise with Ministers when I see them.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Campaign response - Will you support a Secondary Support Package for incurable breast cancer?

I have recently been contacted by constituents regarding secondary breast cancer care and treatment.
I am more than happy to support this cause
Having lost my own Mum to secondary breast cancer 11 years ago I have been pleased to have met with Support Breast Cancer Now in Parliament recently to learn more about the incredible work they are doing to help achieve their vision that by 2050 every woman with breast cancer will live.

Campaign response - Let’s tell consumers what they’re buying

A number of constituents have written to me over the issue of food labelling.

The early day motion mentioned is not something I will sign – not because I particularly disagree with it but because they rarely achieve anything whilst at the same cost the tax payer significant sums of money.

It is important that any food on sale is clearly labelled. The consumer can then choose. I have raised the matter with Ministers and I hope we will see action on this in due course.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Newspaper column 21 November 2018 - The EU Draft Withdrawal Agreement

Dominating the national news over the past week has been the draft Withdrawal Agreement between the Prime Minister and the EU for our leaving the European Union next March.

I have read and considered the 585 page Brexit deal proposed by the Prime Minister and on Friday came to the conclusion, as have many MPs across the political spectrum that this is not something I can support.

Deciding to oppose a key policy of your party leadership and government is not something I do lightly. However, there are times when as an MP who have to make a stand for what you believe. Since making my statement public on Friday I have been overwhelmed by the number of emails and comments on social media supporting my view. It is clear that a majority of local people, certainly those who have been in touch with me, agree with me.

Of course, I respect those who hold a different view. It is an unfortunate fact that this issue continues to deeply divide our country with strong and sincerely held views on all sides.

I have been honoured to twice be elected to represent the people of St Austell and Newquay. On both occasions, firstly when I asked you to put your trust in me to become your MP in 2015, and then when I stood for re-election last year, the promise of a delivery of a Referendum on our Membership of the EU and then the delivery of the decision of the British people was at the heart of the manifesto I stood on.

The UK, Cornwall and our constituency in particular, with the St Austell and Newquay Parliamentary constituency returning the strongest Leave vote in Cornwall, voted to leave the EU in 2016.
I am sorry to say that the Prime Minister’s deal does not deliver on our promise of the Referendum, which was to leave the EU and regain our sovereignty as an independent nation state.

My fundamental objection to the proposed deal is that it puts us in a worse position than we are currently. It neither delivers the commitments made by the Prime Minister to the British people, commitments made time and time again in speeches and at the dispatch box. Nor does it allow us to take advantage of the opportunities Brexit will present as an outward looking global nation.

For the first time in our history we will be in a position where we will be locked into a union that we will not be free to leave without the agreement of the other party. This most clearly is not taking back control and is unacceptable to me.

More so, it keeps us in a Customs Union, expressly against the Conservative 2017 Manifesto and commitments made numerous times by the Prime Minister. Whilst the deal presents this as a transitional arrangement, the fact is that we would not be able to level without the agreement of the EU. 

Further I believe the fishing community has been let down by this deal and left in a position where the future control of our waters and therefore the future of this industry is very much in question. This is not what we were promised when the Prime Minister visited Mevagissey in 2017.

I have always said I am a Cornishman first and a Conservative second. This deal, as I see it, is not in the best interests of Cornwall or our country.

My hope is that the Government will understand that this proposed deal is not acceptable to a majority of MPs, nor I believe the British people and go back to the EU to renegotiate a better deal that does deliver a true Brexit. Sadly, there is currently no sign that they are prepared to do this.

As such, if and when this deal, as it currently stands, is put before Parliament, I will vote against it. 

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:

Campaign reply - British people voted to leave “WITHOUT a deal."

A number of constituents have written with an email entitled “British people voted to leave “WITHOUT a deal.”

I have delayed coming to a decision with regards to the Brexit deal until I had time to read it. I wanted to make up my own mind and not just form on an opinion based on the spin being put out by others. Additionally I wanted to take soundings from local people to ensure I was also reflecting their views.

The full draft agreement was only released to MPs late on Wednesday evening. It is a 585 page document that would take some time to even scan through let alone read fully. I was therefore somewhat surprised at those who were express strong views, on both sides of the debate, within minutes of its publication.

I had a full diary on Thursday and was only able to give time to consider the agreement properly on the train journey home on Thursday evening. Even then I must admit I was not able to read every word. But having scanned the document and read what I consider the key parts I did form a view that this was not something I could support.

Having also now had time to consider all of the feedback from local people, online, from the hundreds of emails I have received and also talking to my key staff and local party members it is clear that the vast majority of people agree with my view.

I issued a statement on Friday and posted it here –

confirming I will not be voting for this deal. My reasoning is as follows:

It does not fully  deliver on the promises made in our manifesto. That is reason enough. Further,  it locks us into a customs union we cannot leave without EU permission – I can never support that as it makes us a hostage to fortune and judging by the way the EU has behaved thus far it makes the notion untenable.

It risks the integrity of the United Kingdom – both politically and geographically.

We risk becoming a satellite state of the EU where we become rule takers yet have no influence over rule making.

It makes the proposals as they stand something I cannot vote for.

I trust you will understand and respect that I have taken an appropriate amount of time to consider what is after all a very important decision before coming to a firm view.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Campaign response - Invitation to launch of the 2019 World Watch List report

Thank you to my constituents who wrote to me recently with an invitation the launch of the 2019 World Watch List report by Open Doors.

I am glad to inform my constituents that I will be attending the launch event in Parliament in January.

I am also honoured to be hosting the Open Doors Afternoon Tea Reception for international church leaders to meet MPs and Peers before the launch event.

The worldwide persecution of Christians is an issue I care deeply about and will continue to raise in Parliament.

Last Monday I helped organise a letter of support for Asia Bibi’s asylum in the UK, which was signed by over 20 MPs and Peers. Asia Bibi’s case is yet another example of the systemic persecution of Christians around the world. This letter has now been sent to the Home Secretary for his response.

Campaign reply - Please sign EDM 1829 to ban trophy hunting imports into the UK

I have received a number of emails on the matter of trophy hunting

There is to be an early day motion and I have been asked to sign it. As a principle I never sign early day motions as they very rarely achieve anything whilst at the same time running up costs to the tax payer. However that is not to say I do not have sympathy with your concerns.

In recent times trophy hunters have come under significant scrutiny in social media and other platforms. There is clearly a growing sense of disquiet of certain aspects of this “sport”.

Whilst I am at heart against the banning of things I believe legislation around trophy hunting and returning to the UK with trophy hunting specimens could be looked at further and whilst there are already import restrictions in place  it might be possible to do more. Of course once we leave the EU we will be free to make our own laws again and that will serve this cause and the nation very well on all manner of matters.

Friday, 16 November 2018

Campaign response - unfreeze frozen pensions for people living overseas

I have been contacted by constituents asking me to support the campaign to end frozen pensions for people living overseas.

The policy on up-rating state pensions overseas is a long-standing one.

It has been the policy of successive post-war governments of all parties for around 70 years - UK state pensions are payable worldwide and are uprated abroad where there is a legal requirement to do so, for example in the European Economic Area (EEA) and in countries with which we have a reciprocal agreement that provides for up-rating.

The Government has no plans to change this policy and I back the Government on this issue.

Campaign reply - post natal health

Further to my earlier correspondence from a number of constituents, I now received a reply the Minister at the Department of Health about postnatal healthcare for mothers.

I have included the reply below:

I hope you will agree the reply is positive in as much as the concerns that you and others have raised are being fed into the ongoing confidential negotiations on the GMC Contract.

I was also pleased to see reaffirmation from the Minister that postnatal health continues to be a priority for this Government, with specific measures being taken to improve it.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Campaign reply - Israel under attack

Following reports of missile attack in Israel yesterday, a number of my constituents have contacted me to ask me to speak up for Israel.

More than 460 rockets have been fired into Israel by Hamas militants since Monday night.

I understand that one person was killed and at least 50 others were wounded in a massive Palestinian missile barrage that targeted southern Israel.

In addition, an anti-tank missile hit an Israeli bus near the Gaza border and seriously wounded an IDF soldier.

Since Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, Hamas has remained committed to its aim of the total destruction of Israel, as outlined in its founding charter. It has tried to achieve this by air with missiles, underground by building a network of cross-border attack tunnels and attempts at mass cross-border infiltrations.

I have been and will continue to be a vocal champion of Israel’s right to defend itself from unlawful aggression, and will be seeking opportunities to speak up for Israel in Parliament.

Campaign response - On the centenary of World War One, support the global abolition of nuclear weapons

I have recently received a number of emails from my constituents asking if I would sign a pledge to urge the Government to sign and ratify Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).  

We live in uncertain times. Despite the end of the Cold War, the world has watched with bated breath as developments in relations with North Korea and Iran have emerged at a breakneck pace.

Continued diplomatic dialogue is a critical avenue for addressing these issues. But given the current threats to international security, and the reality that this will continue for the foreseeable future, our independent nuclear deterrent remains as vital today as ever.

I was elected by my constituents on a manifesto that prioritises the defence of the realm. In spite of the successes of arms control activities in slowing the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the number of states with nuclear capabilities has continued to grow.

There are risks that, over the next 20 to 50 years, a major direct nuclear threat to the UK or our NATO allies might re-emerge.

When the case for the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent was last presented to Parliament, by the Labour government in 2006-07, it was acknowledged that the old certainties of the Cold War were gone but it was recognised that the UK faced a growing number of diverse and complex threats in an unpredictable world

Similar key judgements were made in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review. Many include Parliamentarians from both sides agree that there is a risk that states with nuclear weapons, or those seeking to acquire them, might use their nuclear capabilities to threaten the UK, and attempt to constrain our decision making in a crisis or sponsor nuclear terrorism.

Under the TPNW, signatory states must agree not to develop, test, manufacture or possess nuclear weapons, or threaten to use them, or allow any nuclear arms to be stationed on their territory.

I do not support the TPNW because I want to see the Government deliver on its promise to maintaining the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent to deter the most extreme threats to our national security, now and in the future.

This does not however, mean that I am in favour of the general use and proliferation of nuclear weapons.

We must ensure that nuclear weapons are only used as the last resort and in the very worst case scenario where the a clear and extreme threat to our national security is present.

The Government remains committed to the Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT):

  • we have reduced our own nuclear forces by over half from their Cold War peak in the late 1970s
  • we are the only nuclear weapon State which has reduced its deterrent capability to a single nuclear weapon system; we have dismantled our tactical nuclear capability and the RAF’s WE177 free fall bombs
  • as a result of our reassessment of the minimum necessary requirements for credible deterrence, since 2010 we have:
    • reduced the number of warheads on each submarine from 48 to 40
    • reduced our requirement for operationally available warheads from fewer than 160 to no more than 120
    • reduced the number of operational missiles on each submarine to not more than 8
    • we remain committed to reducing the overall nuclear weapon stockpile to no more than 180 warheads by the mid-2020s.
  • of the recognised ‘Nuclear Weapons States’ (NWS), we possess only approximately 1% of the total global stockpile of nuclear weapons, the smallest of all the NPTnuclear weapon states

Campaign response - Leave means Leave

Some have written to me in conjunction with the group, Leave means Leave.

The detailed points raised in the emails has many valid arguments and themes; many I agree with. Looking at this from a democratic point of view there is overwhelming evidence to support the necessity to honour the result of the referendum, such as:

  • All sides of the argument stated during the referendum campaign that the vote would be binding and was a once in a lifetime decision to remain or leave.
  • I stood at the last election on a leave platform, promising to do what I could to make sure the referendum result is honoured – and received an increased majority.
  • 84% of the votes cast at the last election were for parties who made clear in their manifesto that they would honour the result of the referendum.

It remains my focus and full intention to make sure we leave the EU. Once I have seen the detail of the current proposals, decisions can be made. I will aim to see that we are in a position that honours the spirit of the referendum campaign and of course once we leave we will be free to continue to establish new relationships with not only countries across the world but with the EU too. As ever I am happy to trade and cooperate with the EU but want no part in a United States of Europe.

The prize of Brexit hard fought by some for over 40 years is within sight. I will do my part to help see it to a successful conclusion.

Campaign reply - Asia Bibi

Some of my constituents concerned about the case of Asia Bibi – a Pakistani Christian persecuted for her faith – have recently emailed me to ask for my support in her asylum case.

Earlier this week I helped organise a letter of support for Asia Bibi’s asylum in the UK, which was signed by over 20 MPs and Peers. This letter has now been sent to the Home Secretary for his response.

Asia Bibi’s case is yet another example of the systemic persecution of Christians around the world.

According to Open Doors, an average of 180 Christians around the world are killed each month for their faith.

Britain's commitment to freedom of religious expression is one of our most important values. This is especially valued by minority faiths in our society. Its foundation is respect for the beliefs of others, of all faiths and none.

This country has a long tradition of offering protection to those fleeing persecution.

I want to see the Government make a clear and proactive statement that Britain would welcome a request from Asia Bibi and her family for sanctuary here.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Newspaper column 14 November 2018 - Universal Credit changes

Last week Parliament only sat for a few days so I was able to spend a good deal of time in Mid-Cornwall, out and about meeting residents and businesses.

Among other things it was great to go along to see the team at King’s Service Centre at Quintrell Downs. I first visited the centre in 2015 just after they opened, it was therefore very encouraging to see how they have grown and the new jobs that have been created.

This is the type of business we need to see more of in Cornwall, utilising our excellent superfast fibre connectivity and providing great career opportunities in IT and Communications.

I also visited CHAT near St Columb Major, which does an excellent job with Animal Assisted Therapies working with vulnerable children and adults to improve their lives.

The weekend saw communities come together to remember those who gave their lives to defend our freedom, with the centenary of the end of the Great War. It was a privilege to join people across our constituency in Fowey, Newquay, St Austell and St Columb Major as we honoured the fallen and all those who serve in our armed forces in past and present conflicts.

A huge well done and thank you must go to all those who helped organise and attended all the events, especially the Royal British Legion and Town and Parish Councils.

Last week in Parliament, I was pleased to see the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions announce a range of additional support for claimants as they move onto Universal Credit – a simpler benefit system, providing tailored support to individuals.

The idea behind Universal Credit is sound and anything that stops people needing to fill out a number of different forms to claim separate benefits and simplifies it to just one benefit claim is a good thing.

I have spoken out in Parliament previously about the need to support working families claiming Universal Credit and was pleased to see in the recent Budget, the Chancellor announce the Government is putting an extra £1.7bn a year into work allowances - the amount someone can earn before their benefit payment begins to reduce. This is again a big change from historic benefits where there was a ‘cliff-edge’ effect where it was often sadly more affordable to stay off work than find a job. These reforms will make work pay, and mean that people should not feel penalised for getting their foot on the jobs ladder.

The Secretary of State also announced that to assist those claimants who move onto Universal Credit the DWP install a two-week ‘run on’ for those receiving out-of-work benefits. This means that when people move onto Universal Credit, they will have reduced waiting times and be eased into the new four-weekly payment system.

This is all good news and I will continue to do all I can to make Universal Credit and the overall benefits system one that works for the residents of Mid-Cornwall.

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:

Campaign reply - Please vote against the Immigration Health Surcharge for UK nursing staff, Wednesday 14 November

With the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) set to be increased under government proposals, a number of constituents have contacted me asking me to oppose the measure when MPs are presented with the opportunity to vote on it.

Our NHS is always there whenever we need it, paid for by British taxpayers.

It is right that immigrants are able to access NHS services, but I also believe it is fair for them to contribute towards its long-term sustainability.

The IHS applies to non-EEA nationals subject to immigration control seeking to reside in the UK to work, study, or join family members for more than six months. Those who pay the charge may access the NHS on the same basis as UK residents for the duration of their lawful stay, i.e. they receive NHS care generally free of charge.

The IHS is currently set at £200 per annum for most temporary migrant categories, with a discounted rate of £150 per annum for students and the youth mobility category. These rates have not changed since the IHS was introduced in 2015.

In February, the Government announced that it intends to increase the IHS from £200 to £400.

This followed a review by the Department of Health and Social Care of the evidence regarding the average cost to the NHS of treating surcharge payers.

The review found that the average annual cost of NHS usage by those paying the surcharge is around £470 and that doubling the IHS could generate an additional £220 million a year for the NHS across the UK.

The IHS has already raised over £600m and this extra money could be vital to relieving financial pressures on the NHS.

It is also important to note that the new proposed rate is below average annual cost to the NHS of treating surcharge payers, which the review found to be around £470 per surcharge payer.

This means that the IHS remains a generous offer to non-EEA nationals.

Students, as well as those on the Youth Mobility Scheme, will continue to receive a discounted rate of £300.

Certain vulnerable groups such as asylum seekers and modern slavery victims are exempt from paying the IHS.

I will therefore be voting in favour of the Government’s proposals to increase the IHS because I believe it is a good deal for both the IHS and to those seeking to live in the UK.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Campaign response - 83% want public ownership of water - do you?

Some have written on the subject of Water companies:

From time to time I receive requests to sign early day motions. As a point of principle I have chosen not to sign EDMs. My view is that they achieve very little. There are many far more effective means open to MPs to raise issues with Government Ministers either in meetings or in the chamber.  

In England and Wales, the provision of water and wastewater was taken into the private sector. Historically, water authorities were hampered by limits on public sector borrowing – needed then to contain inflation. There were too often occasions when funding for state owned industries would  be announced only for it to withdrawn a few months later causing chaos and regrettable but understandable lethargy within the sector. The cost of implementing water quality and environmental directives set by the European Union put ever more pressure on the industry and whilst we can all applaud the goal, getting there with totally inadequate funding was impossible. Private companies could and have raised the billions required and we have all seen the incredible improvements made -  albeit there is much more to do. I regularly meet with representatives from the water industry to make the case for specific schemes and progress on local matters.

Polls as ever are an interesting feature of many an argument. For me there is only one type of poll that really counts. Come the election we will all be able to test the incredulous notion that a return to inefficient, under funded state owned monoliths is a good idea.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Campaign response - Ask Penny Mordaunt to invest in children's futures

I recently received a number of emails from constituents who are concerned about the future of our international aid budget and asking me to ensure that it is helping to deliver better healthcare outcomes for children overseas.

I am proud of our commitment to spend 0.7% of our budget in international aid, which is helping to build a safer, healthier, more prosperous world for people in developing countries and in the UK.

British aid goes towards vaccinating children from preventable diseases, enabling them to go to school and helping people work their way out of poverty, as well as providing food, nutrition and medical care.

Our commitment to the international community is enshrined in the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Act which was passed by Parliament in 2015.

Last year, the government hit its 0.7% spending target, contributing a total of £13.9bn to the international aid budget. The UK is world leader in delivering international aid, as the only G7 country to meet the UN recommended 0.7% target.

I would like to see the Government maintain its commitment on international aid and will be speaking up for its ability to transform lives and tackle the root causes of global issues.

With specific regard to the upcoming replenishment of the Global Financing Facility for Every Woman and Child (GFF), the UK Government has already contributed £30 million towards the development of GFF across the world. MPs were recently informed by DFID Ministers that "decisions about any potential future support from the UK will be taken in due course". It is important for UK Aid to help deliver access to healthcare for children in need and I will be closely monitoring future developments regarding DFID's support for GFF

Campaign reply - Fund the NHS by hypothecated taxes!

A number of constituents contacted me regarding funding for the NHS.

The NHS has seen record amounts of additional cash to help it cope with the ever increasing demands on its services.

As we all know the Prime Minister has promised the biggest ever increase in NHS funding - £20.5000,000,000,000 (20 Billion). This week in the Budget the Chancellor confirmed this funding.

The UK does not as a rule use hypothecated taxes and I am dubious about their general introduction. With the economy doing well and tax receipts at record levels we can all be sure that the NHS will continue to get the support it needs.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Campaign response - #FundOurFuture

I have recently been contacted by a number of constituents as part of the #FundOurFuture campaign.

I am very supportive of the NHS and the work that its staff, including nurses do.

I am pleased to see the record levels of funding this Government is giving the NHS, as well as the recent confirmation in the Budget of the additional emphasis on mental health care.

When it comes to current and future nurses, I support the Government’s response to the Health and Social Care Select Committee Second Report of Session 2017-19, ‘The Nursing Workforce’, which was published earlier this year.

I have included a link to the full report below:

Regarding the funding of student nurses, the report says the following:

‘Regarding the funding reforms for healthcare students, the Government has been clear that the bursary funding system was not working for patients, for students, or for the universities that train them. The reforms moved away from centrally imposed number controls and financial limitations, creating a sustainable longterm model for universities and the healthcare workforce supply.’

As such I am supportive of the Government’s current position on this issue, which I trust will be kept under close review to ensure the best outcome for all concerned.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Newspaper column 7 November 2018 - Remembrance Sunday

This weekend we stop for a moment to recall and honour the sacrifice made by so many in conflicts over the years for Remembrance Day.

This year is particularly poignant as it marks the Centenary of the end of the First World War.
Events are being held throughout Mid-Cornwall to mark this solemn occasion and I will be at services at Newquay, St Austell and St Columb Major to pay my respects.

The impact of the First World War cannot be overstated. In the space of just over four years, this first truly global war cost eight and a half million lives and almost 29 million casualties or missing on both sides.

In small rural communities such as we have many of in Mid-Cornwall, the effects of this prolonged conflict were particularly felt, with a generation of young men called away to fight, never to return, leaving small and fragile communities in a perilous state because the manual workers were no longer there to keep business and industry running.

The Duke of Cornwall’s light infantry alone lost 4,510 men during the course of the war, all fathers, brothers and sons whose loss would have been felt keenly in their communities and down through the years.

But this Great War affected every level of society. As I have written in previous years, the Member of Parliament for St Austell, Tommy Agar-Robartes, was killed by a sniper in September 1915 after rescuing a wounded comrade under heavy fire, for which he was recommended for the Victoria Cross. Tommy’s sacrifice is commemorated in Parliament with a plaque in the chamber of the House of Commons and on the war memorial in Westminster Hall. As the Heir to the Agar-Robartes family, Tommy’s death saw the beginning of the decline of Landhydrock, mirrored by the death of so many of the gardeners and workers causing a similar decline at the Heligan estate in Mid-Cornwall.

Taking the time to remember these losses, as well as those in subsequent conflicts, is important for ours and future generations, as well as bringing into perspective the men and women of our armed forces who continue to serve and protect to this very day.

It also brings home to me as MP, the grave responsibility we have in Parliament when it comes to making decisions to deploy our troops in times of conflict.

So this Sunday let us remember the men and women who gave their lives for us in the past and honour those who continue to risk their lives today.

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, 5 November 2018

Campaign reply - Fireworks

Over the weekend I received a number of requests from constituents asking me to sign a petition on banning the public sale of fireworks in shops and supermarkets.

I have a policy of not signing petitions as I am a member of the Commons Petitions Committee, which considers public petitions presented to the Commons and e-petitions submitted through the Parliamentary and Government websites.

However I note the concerns raised by the petition and look forward to taking part in the parliamentary debate on the issues it raises when the petition receives enough signatures.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Campaign response - Funding for schools

Thank you for your recent email about schools funding.

My personal view on this is that I do think we need to put more money into schools.

However, I think the right place for this decision will be in the Comprehensive Spending Review next year. I also should acknowledge that while we have put more money into schools they do face increasing pressure on their cost, particularly for teacher’s pensions

Whilst the recent fair funding review was a big step in the right direction to address the historic under-funding of some schools, particularly small rural schools such as we have many of in Cornwall, it will take time for this to work through.

I will be pressing the Government to increase the schools budget as part of the spending review next year.

Campaign response - Fair funding for mental health

I have recently been contacted by constituents as part of the Fair Funding for Mental Health campaign.

I am proud to be part of the Government that put more money into mental health than ever before – including an additional £2 billion in the most recent Budget.

This has translated into tangible positive changes in Cornwall, with a long-called for mental health inpatient unit for young people currently being built in Bodmin.

While we are increasing funding, both for the NHS in general and for mental health, we cannot take money away from other parts of the NHS which face huge pressures

I will continue to make sure the Government puts as much as possible from the new money the NHS is getting into mental health funding, and that Cornwall gets a fair share of monies allocated nationally.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Campaign reply - Justice for injured workers

Some of my constituents have recently written to me about their concerns about the Civil Liabilities Bill’s provision to double the Small Claims Limit for from £1,000 to £2,000 and the impact this could have on victims of workplace accidents.

After considering carefully the cases put forward by both sides, I decided to vote in favour of the bill as I believe the government has put forward a convincing set of arguments for a fair and proportionate increase in the Small Claims Limit:

-       Insurers have cited disproportionately high costs as proof that the fast track system was not working well for personal injury claims with a value at the lower end of the scale
-       An increase in the limit would lead to a decrease in the amount of money paid out by insurers (as they would not be burdened with paying the claimant’s legal costs) which could in turn lead to a decrease in insurance premiums
-       The small claims track is seen by many as an efficient system which leads to a more predictable process for claimants
-       Lower value claims for personal injury, such as whiplash, are simple and straightforward for a claimant in person to understand
-       Support and assistance is already available to litigants in person
-       Impact of inflation is taken into account

It is also important to note that the main aim of the Civil Liability Bill is to put an end to what the government sees as the high number of “minor, exaggerated and fraudulent claims for compensation resulting from whiplash injuries sustained in road traffic accidents”. The bill is narrowly defined to deal with whiplash injuries and ministers at the Third Reading of the bill were keen to stress that claims related to injuries in the workplace fall outside of the scope of the bill.

I look forward to engaging with the views of other parliamentarians when the bill return to Parliament for further consideration of amendments.

Campaign response - Will you stand up to save pubs from extinction?

Recently I have received a number of correspondence from constituents asking if I would speak in support of British pubs in Parliament.

Specifically, they asked if I would support reforms to the business rates system to address the unfair tax burden on pubs, a preferential rate of duty for draught beer and a review of the Pubs Code.

As Vice Chair of the Parliamentary Beer Group, I see it as both a duty and a privilege to be able to speak up regularly for pubs and breweries across the UK, including St Austell Brewery, an important local business and jobs creator.

In October I wrote to the Chancellor urging him to announce a review of Small Brewers Relief in the Budget in order to make the system fairer, encourage growth at all stages of a brewer’s business development, boost exports and provide better value for money for the taxpayer while saving the British pint as we know it.

I am glad that the Chancellor announced that he will be freezing beer, cider and spirits duty for another year, supporting patrons of the Great British Pub and saving people 2p on a pint of beer and 30p on a bottle of Scotch or gin.

I agree that the current businesses rates system is out of date and is particularly unfair to pub. I have been pressing the Government to reform business rates since I was elected in 2015. I will continue to do so and work to provide a fair system for pubs.

And I am delighted to inform my constituents that I will continue to champion the Great British pubs in Parliament by seeking to bring the issues they raised to the attention of relevant ministers.

Campaign response - Assisted dying event in December

I have recently been contacted by a number of constituents asking me to attend an APPG on Choice at the End of Life event in December.

I appreciate concerns raised on this very sensitive issue. Coping with terminal illness is distressing and difficult both for the patient and their families. These cases are truly moving and evoke the highest degree of compassion and emotion.

I have a great deal of sympathy for people on both sides of this issue. I have considered my own views very carefully before reaching a conclusion. My personal belief is that I could not support any legislation that would legalise assisted dying. There are many factors that bring me to this view.

The law, which already makes provision for such circumstances, is working, and does not need changing. Assisting or encouraging suicide is a criminal offence under Section 2 of the Suicide Act 1961 for which the maximum penalty is 14 years’ imprisonment. However, the Director of Public Prosecutions (“DPP”) has discretion not to prosecute in certain compassionate cases.  

Guidelines published by the DPP are primarily concerned with advising the Crown Prosecution Service on the factors they need to consider when deciding whether it is in the public interest to prosecute a person for assisting or encouraging another to commit suicide.  The DPP’s policy offers important and sensitive guidance on when to prosecute, but makes clear that assisting a person to die is still illegal and anyone doing this faces the risk of a murder charge if prosecuted.

If, as a society, we made assisted suicide legal, we would in my view, be fundamentally changing the very foundation of our civil society. We would be legitimising the fears and anxieties of so many sick and vulnerable people who worry that they are a burden on those around them and on society more widely. As a compassionate society, our response to suicidal feelings must never be a lethal injection.

For every person that we might consider to have a clear and settled wish to end their lives, there are countless others who are vulnerable, despairing and often lacking in support who may feel under pressure – internal or external – to go through with this decision.

This is the main reason that no major disability group favours a change in the law. This Bill legitimises the idea that suicide is a solution for disability and severe sickness. Where assisted suicide is legal around the world, the data shows that those who choose suicide are almost invariably disabled. They need assistance to live, not assistance to die.

Those who support assisted dying often point to safeguards as the remedy to this problem. But, as years of debate on this issue in the House of Lords has shown, there is no safeguard that would be sufficient to stop a person who feels a burden on their family, friend or caregivers from ending their life; nor can doctors accurately assess this, or worse, pressure or abuse which does regrettably exist, in certain cases.

This is why none of the Royal Medical Colleges support a change in the law. In fact, the British Medical Association, the Royal College of GPs and the Royal College of Physicians, actively oppose such a change for that very reason. Legalising assisting dying would fundamentally change the nature of the doctor/patient relationship. A doctor is not a detective and cannot reasonably be expected to investigate all of the relevant social factors involved in such a grave decision. That would take a close, consistent and long-term relationship which very few doctors have with their patients today. Any suggestion that this fundamental problem can be lessened by the arbitration on by a High Court judge is similarly groundless, as the judge would have even less knowledge and capacity to judge whether pressure, overt or covert, had been placed on the individual.

I am also concerned that, as has been the case in other countries, legalising assisted suicide would lead to demands for legalisation of other forms of euthanasia – for example in Belgium, where in 2002, a euthanasia law was passed for adults, in 2014 – a law was passed enabling children to be euthanized. In Oregon – upon which this assisted suicide law is based - the extension of their assisted suicide law is currently being considered.

In Britain, we lead the world in palliative care. Our response to the physical and emotional pain of terminal illness must be to show compassion by extending and developing this further. Not by letting people die when they most need encouragement and assistance to live.

My view is that if we were to legalise assisted dying we would be crossing a line that would lead to the devaluing of life. This is not something I am prepared to support. Therefore I will not be attending the event in December.

Campaign response - The future of legal aid

A number of constituents have recently contacted me and asked me to attend an upcoming debate in Parliament on “The Future of Legal Aid” on Thursday 1 November.

I fully understand that there are issues related the implementation of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) and the Government has rightly conducted a post-implementation review which is due to be published at the end of this year.

Our legal aid system is an important tenet of our justice system, accounting for more than one fifth of the Ministry of Justice’s budget last year. I want to see our legal aid budget deliver the best value for money for taxpayers by ensuring that legal aid continues to be available for the highest priority cases while discouraging unnecessary and adversarial litigation. Those who rely on legal aid to deal with urgent matters, where life or liberty is at stake, must be able to continue to do so.

The Government have increased the scope of legal aid in a number of areas, such as domestic violence and prison related cases. Significant investment has also been made to help make the courts more accessible. For instance, those making welfare claims can do so online, get updates about those claims online and deal with queries and issues before a hearing by liaising with the judge online.

More needs to be done and I will be following the progress of the post-implementation review closely. I was sadly unable to attend the debate, but I will be seeking to raise the points my constituents raised to the Secretary of State for Justice when I next see him.

Campaign response - Will you stand up for road justice on 20th November?

There has been, as we all know some high profile court cases involving cyclists and serious injury and deaths not just to cyclists themselves but also as a result of collisions with other road users and pedestrians. It has in part led to the government looking afresh at the laws around cycling. Some of our current regulation is very old.

All road users in the UK have to contend with some of the busiest roads in the World. That in itself is a factor in the current debate. Add in the inevitable frustrations over road use and congestion and it can lead to accidents or actions and reactions that are unhelpful at best and downright dangerous. Whilst recognising these and other factors it is also worth noting that we still have one of the best road accident rates in the World. Road deaths have seen a steady decline over many years albeit with some blips. The trend is down and whilst that is to be welcomed we all want to see that figure continue to fall. Cyclists, whilst there has been a huge resurgence in popularity still represent a tiny proportion of traffic on our roads and yet are involved in a disproportionality high number of accidents. This needs addressing as every death or injury is a tragedy.

Part of the process in improving road safety is ensuring that all road users show and have respect for other road users. The more crowded it is the greater the need. There is also the vital role of taking personal responsibility. Drivers using mobile phones are now heavily punished to the extent that those who have passed their driving test within the last two years lose their licence on first offence if caught using a phone. There are seat belt laws too - a factor that has greatly aided safety. Cyclists must be encouraged (I am reticent about legislation on this) to take their own personal safety as a given: high viz clothing, helmets and also adherence to the high way code.

The logic is that whilst  improving provision for cyclists with road design, cycle lanes and priority at traffic lights and more, there must also be a clear recognition that all road users, regardless of their chosen transport method, must take responsibility firstly for themselves and then for others on the road. I believe government plans on legislation will reflect that.

Campaign response - Request for attendance at asylum accommodation debate

Last month a number of my constituents asked if I could attend a Westminster Hall debate on accommodation contracts for asylum seekers.

I regret to inform them that I was unable to attend the debate as I was in Strasbourg for the Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly sitting on the day.

This is an priority for the Immigration Minister who said at the debate that she has engaged in discussions with local authorities and civil society leaders on how best to improve asylum accommodation condition and ensure that new contracts can adequately meet the needs of asylum seekers as well as interests of the communities within which they are housed.

I would like to thank my constituents for bringing this issue to my attention and I look forward to future opportunities to speak on this important issue.

Campaign response - Please act now to save solar

I am grateful to my constituents for drawing my attention to the government’s plans for solar energy and proposals to end export tariff and feed-in tariff subsidies for small scale solar installations.

I fully understand their concerns. Achieving clean growth, while ensuring an affordable energy supply for businesses and consumers, is at the heart of the UK’s Industrial Strategy.

As set out in the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy, that means nurturing low-carbon technologies, processes and systems that protect our businesses and households from high energy costs, and secure an industrial and economic advantage from the global transition to a low-carbon economy.

Our country generates electricity from increasingly low carbon sources and the electricity powering the UK's homes and businesses in 2017 was the greenest ever, with 50% coming from clean sources - up from 19% in 2010.

Alongside the Renewables Obligation and the Contract for Difference regime, the Feed-In Tariffs (FIT) scheme has played a significant part in this effort.

The FIT scheme was introduced to support the widespread adoption of proven small-scale (up to 5MW) low-carbon electricity generating technologies. The scheme was intended to give the wider public a stake in the transition to a low-carbon economy and in turn foster behavioural change that would support the development of local supply chains and reductions in energy costs.

The FIT scheme is funded through levies on suppliers, and ultimately consumers, regardless of whether or not they directly participate in the scheme. That is why controlling costs was paramount in the reviews of the scheme in 2012 and 2015, the latter of which provided consumers and industry with clarity on levels of small-scale renewable electricity support until March 2019 with a fixed budget of £100m.

Since the start of the FIT scheme the cost of small-scale low-carbon electricity generation has reduced significantly.

As costs continue to fall and deployment without direct subsidy becomes increasingly possible for parts of the sector, it is right that government acts to ensure continued value for money for bill payers over the longer term. That is why government took the decision in 2015 to close the export tariff alongside the generation tariff from end of March 2019.

I know that the Government is keen to listen to sector leaders and FIT scheme participants and indeed a consultation on closure of the FITs scheme to new applications after 31 March 2019 ran from 19 July to 13 September this year. A call for evidence on the future for small-scale low-carbon generation also ran from 19 July to 30 August.

Responses to the consultation and call for evidence are now being analysed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, who will be setting out their response in due course.

I will be seeking to engage with the views of other colleagues when Parliament is presented with an opportunity to debate this matter.

On the future of solar power in the UK more broadly, in September 2017 the Government announced a £1 billion programme which will help more than 800,000 low-income UK households access cheap solar electricity in the following five years. The firm providing the panels, Solarplicity, is working with more than 40 social landlords, including local authorities across England and Wales, to roll out installations nationally. Tenants will not pay anything towards the installation of the panels and their energy bills will be reduced by an average of £240 per year.