Friday, 21 June 2019

Campaign reply – ‘Valuing Audiology: NHS Hearing Aid Services in England’



A number of constituents have asked me to attend a drop in session with Action on Hearing Loss about their new report ‘Valuing Audiology: NHS Hearing Aid Services in England’. The report includes statistics about how audiology services are being commissioned.

I am unable to attend a drop in session on 26 June as I am required to be in Strasbourg on that day in my role as a member of the Council of Europe.

However I am sympathetic to the aims of this campaign, specifically calling on the Department of Health and Social Care to require CCGs to collect uniform data on audiology departments in England, and will raise this with Ministerial colleagues in the Department of Health at the next available opportunity.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Campaign reply - 'Cancer - A Costly Diagnosis? Stories of the Financial Impact of Cancer'


I have had a number of emails from constituents as part of a campaign asking Members of Parliament to attend two events coming up in Parliament on Macmillan Cancer Support’s new report, 'Cancer - A Costly Diagnosis? Stories of the Financial Impact of Cancer'

I fully appreciate these concerns and would certainly be interested in going along if I can in order to better inform my thinking in this area. I will endeavour to attend the event on 9 July, Parliamentary business allowing.

Newspaper column 19 June 2019 - Mevagissey Surgery and the NHS People Plan


Last week was another varied one in Parliament with lots going on. I spoke in the Chamber about the Government’s support for the Cornish Protected National Minority Status.

I also hosted an event in Parliament to promote the extraordinary work of the Cornwall Air Ambulance, as well as launching a campaign, in the run up to Fathers’ Day, to encourage dads to read to their children, which not only benefits children in encouraging them to read but strengthens the father/child relationship which can come under so much pressure.

At the beginning of last week I was delighted to see the successful outcome of the campaign to keep Mevagissey Surgery open, when a new partner was found to help run the surgery from Veor Practice in Camborne.

This was a true example of everyone in Mevagissey and the surrounding communities pulling together to run a positive campaign, highlight their situation, which they managed to get international attention for, and work with local NHS decision-makers for the right outcome.

I was pleased to play my part too in raising awareness of the campaign, supporting the community in their immediate aims of highlighting the issue, and stressing how important the surgery is, having visited the sessions held in the surgery by the NHS and met with staff and campaigners. I was able to raise this issue twice in Parliament at the highest levels, secured the support of the Prime Minister and Health Minister, and also, along with the local Cornwall Councillor responding in detail to the NHS consultation on the future of the surgery.

It was a great outcome and a result of the very positive and constructive approach of the campaigners which was in sharp contrast to others who simply chose to snipe negatively from the side lines and accept defeat without even putting up a fight. People came together at every level, concentrated on what they could achieve, and secured the right outcome, something the community of Mevagissey and all concerned can rightly be very proud of.

Something that this situation highlighted was the real challenge we face in many coastal and rural communities in attracting and retaining the NHS staff we need.

With this in mind I was pleased to get confirmation from the Health Minister as a result of my raising this issue in Parliament that the new NHS People Plan released this month contains measures to improve this situation.

Part of the NHS Long Term Plan which was announced in January, the People Plan, sets out a new service model to take more action on prevention and health inequalities, improve quality of care and health outcomes across all major health conditions, harnesses technology to transform services, as well as getting the most out of taxpayer investment. Along with ensuring NHS staff get the backing they need to deliver these outcomes. In particular it includes measures to attract more GPs to coastal and rural areas and steps to ensure we are able to maintain our local health services.

The NHS is a vast organisation and it is vital it is run properly and as efficiently as possible, with the best interests of its patients, staff and the taxpayer at heart. With the NHS People Plan and Long Term Plan things are moving in the right direction and I will continue to ensure the interests and unique challenges of places like Cornwall are recognised when it comes to this 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 office@stevedouble.org.uk. Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at: www.stevedouble.org.uk/events



Campaign reply - 'British jobs'


A number of constituents have written to me with a campaign email entitled “ British jobs”

It expresses concern thus: “Research shows that a no-deal Brexit would be bad for the economy…” but fails to then quote from or name the   report so it is impossible to comment further other than to recognise that every forecast that has been produced indicating that leaving the EU would be bad for the UK economy has been wrong. Or wildly wrong.

I seek to reflect the views of the majority of constituents who voted to leave the EU. My postbag leaves me in no doubt that whilst most are ready to see a us leave with a deal if one can been successfully negotiated they are insistent that if such is not settled then we leave with no deal or more accurately on WTO terms. I agree.

It is a farcical negotiating position to take no deal off the table as a default position as it hands all advantage to the EU during talks. So it has to stay if only for that reason. We may well have to accept that outcome if the EU will not agree acceptable terms.

Monday, 17 June 2019

Campaign response - Take back responsibility


Thank you to constituents who have recently emailed me with their concerns about the BBC's decision to scrap free TV licences for the over-75s.

I fully understand the strength of feeling expressed by many constituents on this issue.

The former Chancellor first announced in the 2015 summer budget that the Department for Work and pensions will cease to fund free TV licences for those aged 75 and over from 2019/20, and that the BBC will instead absorb the cost of this and take responsibility for the policy.

At the time, the government agreed to boost the BBC’s income by increasing licence fee each year in line with inflation and requiring iPlayer users to have a TV licence.

This shift of financial burden from taxpayers to the BBC to fund free TV licences is based on an intention to deliver sound public finances and is one that I support.

The BBC is operationally independent from the Government, so the announcement is very much its own decision.

In 2017-18, the BBC received over £3.8 billion in licence fee income—more than ever before. The BBC is also making over £1 billion a year from commercial work, such as selling content abroad, which can be reinvested.

Taxpayers clearly want to see the BBC use its substantial financial income appropriately and ensure that it delivers for UK audiences.

I am therefore very much disappointed by the BBC’s decision to no longer provide free TV licences for over-75s, despite reviewing over 190,000 submissions in the public consultation exercise it ran.

With several proposals on the table, the BBC has taken the most narrowly defined reform option that will have the biggest impact on older people.

I believe that the BBC can and ought to do more to support over-75s who have contributed so much to our society.

I will continue to monitor this issue closely and speak up for the interest of constituents when the opportunity arises.


Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Campaign reply - MND events in Parliament in July


I have had a number of emails from constituents as part of a campaign asking Members of Parliament to attend two events coming up in Parliament to show  support for people with motor neurone disease (MND).

I understand that both events, on 3 and 9 July, will focus on the need for the Government to reform the law so that everyone with a terminal illness can access welfare benefits quickly and sensitively.
I appreciate the concerns of people who have contacted me and will endeavour to attend the event on 3 July, Parliamentary business allowing.

Campaign reply - The next Prime Minister


A number of constituents have emailed me with various 38 degree generated campaign emails covering the subject of who will be the next Prime Minister,  leaving the EU and concern expressed over leaving with no deal.

Mrs May has resigned as leader of the Conservative party. She will soon stand down as Prime Minister and a new Prime Minister will be elected. The key issue facing them will be ensuring we leave the EU in line with the will of the majority of voters in the referendum.

Article 50 sets out that we will seek a deal with the EU but in the event that cannot be agreed then we will leave with no deal. Whilst I would prefer to leave with a deal it would be an unwise (if not then something worse) to remove the option of no deal from the table as it hands a huge advantage to the EU negotiators who would have the advantage of being certain  of us accepting any deal they chose to offer. That is the self-inflicted disaster we must avoid.

Thus it is important we continue to prepare for a no deal outcome not only for our own benefit but to leave our continental colleagues in no doubt that we can and we will leave with no deal if necessary. Whilst no deal will present challenges in the short term that should not detract us. It will also lead to a brighter, better future as we make our own way in the world as a free and independent nation again.


Various concerns are raised: for instance suggesting that the NHS might pay more for medication. I have no doubt that in some instances it might, but that will be massively outweighed by the countless other medicines and supplies that we will be free to source at lower prices. Change comes easier to some than others and I accept there are those who fear the change  of leaving the EU. Whilst acknowledging that, it is also fundamental to our democracy that we honour the referendum result and leave the EU and if necessary with no deal.

Monday, 10 June 2019

Newspaper column 12 June 2019 - Spaceport Success


When I first stood for election in 2015 I laid out my priorities which included working to bring inward investment and job creation to Mid-Cornwall. One of the top things I said I would focus on was championing the case for Newquay airport to be the UK’s first horizontal launch Spaceport. Last week this goal took a huge step forward with the announcement of £7.85m funding from the Government for Spaceport Cornwall.

Last week’s announcement is another clear commitment from the Government that they are prepared to invest in Cornwall, in this case backing the superb bid put together by the Spaceport Cornwall team.

When I was first elected it is fair to say that a lot of people saw a bid for Cornwall to get this spaceport as a pipe dream – it is only through the hard work of a great team of people who put together a strong bid, which captured the imagination of people in both the public and private sectors, and win support from the UK Space Agency.

Personally, I have worked hard, both in Parliament and in Cornwall, towards securing this funding, raising it in the House of Commons several times, holding dozens of meetings with government ministers and officials, potential operators and others in the space sector, including recently inviting the Space Minister to the airport so they could see the vision for themselves.

There has been a great team involved including Cornwall Council, the LEP and wider business community, the management team at Cornwall Airport Newquay and Virgin Orbit who have all played their part in making this dream a reality. This really has been a great example of Cornwall pulling together and speaking as one.

Once in operation, the spaceport will be used firstly as a launching point for satellites, from under the wing of a converted Virgin Atlantic jumbo jet. In the future though, other uses, including space tourism are planned. These great developments will bring further investment and create well paid jobs.

Apart from the investment and economic growth, another of my priorities is to create jobs and career opportunities for our young people. The Cornwall Spaceport will not only provide more jobs, but the impact having a world leading space facility on our doorstep will have on our young people will be immeasurable. It will lift the aspirations of generations of Cornish children and inspire them to consider pursuing qualifications and careers in science, technology, electronics and maths.
There is now further work to do before we see the first satellites launched from Cornish soil, but securing this funding is a major step towards this happening.

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 office@stevedouble.org.uk. Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at: www.stevedouble.org.uk/events

Campaign reply - the “GizmosLegacy petition.”


A number of constituents have sent me a campaign email  regarding  the “GizmosLegacy petition.”

I genuinely understand how important a family pet is in the homes of many people and that the loss of one can be traumatic. As a dog owner myself I have considerable sympathy for those who have faced this upset.

Regrettably the Westminster Hall debate on this issue falls on a day already fully committed and I will not be able to attend. However I will endeavour to send along a member of staff so they can follow the debate and report back.

I will also raise this issue with Ministers when I see them as whilst it raises all manner of issues and complications the matter should be carefully considered.


Campaign reply - The NHS and Trump


I have recently had constituents contact me as part of a number of campaigns regarding President Trump, his comments on the NHS during the recent State Visit, and any future trade agreements with the US.

I am pleased to confirm that President Trump retracted his comments regarding the NHS, on national television the day after he said them.

I disagree with a number of things that President Trump stands for, and if he had stuck to his guns regarding a trade deal with the US involving the NHS, this would have been one of them.

I am pleased to see that the NHS is not ‘on the table’ with any future trade deals with the US, and if it was, I would oppose it.

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Campaign reply - The Time is Now


A number of constituents have written to me with a campaign email "The Time Is Now" regarding climate change and an event on 26 June.

Regrettably I am overseas all that week on Parliamentary business and so will not be able to attend.

The issues raised are very serious and I share the sentiment of much that is raised. Having said that it is also appropriate to recognise the work the government has done thus far. Below is an earlier statement I released covering these matters which I copy here for your ease of reference;

In terms of the recent Climate Change Emergency motion, there was no vote on it as it went through unopposed.
Whilst it is clearly positive that more people are becoming aware of and engaged with this issue, that is one of the most important issues of our age, we do also need to ensure that any response is based on facts and not just an emotional reaction.

The threat of global warming has never been more apparent, but alongside this, we are also now witnessing an unstoppable momentum towards a more ambitious global response.

However amidst all the clamour for change, it is important that change when it does happen, is tangible and achievable, and not just signalled as a means for political point-scoring.

For example the Government has already signalled that we want to be more ambitious both in our actions and, crucially, in driving concerted global actions.  There is also less focus on the achievements that we have made to date and this means the tone of the conversation can be fearful not hopeful.

Nationally, we should all be proud of the UK’s world-leading role in tackling climate change and the transition to Clean Growth. We were the first country to introduce legally binding long-term emissions targets under the landmark Climate Change Act in 2008 where we played an important role in offering committed cross-party support to pass the legislation.   The Act set in place binding carbon budgets that now commit us to a 57 percent reduction in emissions by 2032. Since 1990, we have now cut emissions by 42 per cent while growing the economy by over 72 per cent. This shows that economic growth is not incompatible with cutting carbon emissions. We have cut our emissions per unit of national income on average by 3.7 per cent a year, well ahead of the EU average of 2.3 per cent and the G7 average of 2.2 per cent. The last time the UKs emissions were this low was in 1888!

As well as this we have taken steps to phase out coal use in our electricity generation through a huge shift to renewables and gas, driven by decisive policy action. We have seen coal use on the grid tumble from almost 40 per cent in 2012 to our first “coal free” day last April and the longest coal free stretch ever (90 hrs 45 minutes) over the Easter weekend. By 2025 the UK will have no coal powered electricity generation.

Renewable electricity generation has also quadrupled since 2010 and clean electricity now gives us over 50 per cent of our total. Cornwall has been at the forefront of many of the initiatives, with our focus on renewables as well as pioneering the development of deep-geothermal energy, which can provide another source of clean energy for the future.

On top of this the low carbon sector and its supply chain is now providing almost 400,000 green collar jobs in the UK (more than aerospace) and is growing much faster than the main economy – with estimated potential exports of more than £60 billion by 2030.

The government is investing more than £2.5 billion in low carbon technology over this parliament – the largest ever public R&D investment in clean growth.

However, climate change is too broad a challenge for the UK Government to tackle alone. This is a global problem to which the solution will be global commitment and I want to see the UK’s leadership and ambition continue to work with other countries around the world. We played an influential role in delivering the historic Paris Agreement in 2015 and only last year we helped create the first “rulebook” to bring the Paris Agreement to life at the latest round of UN talks in Poland.
Clearly there is much more to do but it is always important to acknowledge the work already taking place. It is simply not true to say this issue is being ignored or nothing is being done. We should be rightly proud of the leading role the UK is taking and will continue to take on this issue.

Renewable electricity generation has also quadrupled since 2010 and clean electricity now gives us over 50 per cent of our total.

On top of this the low carbon sector and its supply chain is now providing almost 400,000 green collar jobs in the UK (more than aerospace) and is growing much faster than the main economy – with estimated potential exports of more than £60 billion by 2030.

The government is investing more than £2.5 billion in low carbon technology over this parliament – the largest ever public R&D investment in clean growth.

However, climate change is too broad a challenge for the UK Government to tackle alone. This is a global problem to which the solution will be global commitment and I want to see the UK’s leadership and ambition continue to work with other countries around the world. We played an influential role in delivering the historic Paris Agreement in 2015 and only last year we helped create the first “rulebook” to bring the Paris Agreement to life at the latest round of UN talks in Poland.

I was also pleased to see yesterday’s announcement from the Committee on Climate Change Committee in their report, that says the UK should lead the global fight against climate change by cutting greenhouse gases to nearly zero by 2050.


he report maintains this can be done at no added cost from previous estimates. Its report says that if other countries follow the UK, there’s a 50-50 chance of staying below the recommended 1.5C temperature rise by 2100.

The CCC - the independent adviser to government on climate change - said it would not be able to hit “net zero“ emissions any sooner, but 2050 was still an extremely significant goal.


Clearly there is much more to do but it is always important to acknowledge the work already taking place. It is simply not true to say this issue is being ignored or nothing is being done. We should be rightly proud of the leading role the UK is taking and will continue to take on this issue.


Campaign reply - "I've left you a message"


A number of constituents have written to me with a campaign email entitled " I’ve left you a message" covering the treatment of  guide dogs and their owners.

The matter  raised is a very serious issue and one that has been brought to my attention before. The campaign email rightly points out that legislation already exists covering this but too often there are cases where it is ignored. It is essential this stops and every effort must be made to educate where appropriate and prosecute for flagrant breaches of the law.

I have put the event in my diary. However it does fall on another very busy day for me although I will endeavour to attend.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Campaign response - Please support Human Rights Defenders in Colombia


A number of constituents have recently written to me to ask if I would sign Early Day Motion 2232 on “Inclusive peace and protection of defenders in Colombia".

It is my policy to never sign EDMs, as apart from costing taxpayers unnecessary amounts of money, they rarely achieve anything.

However, the points my constituents raised are of concern to me.

I am well aware of the issue of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) who are facing repression and abuse as a result of their work to challenge human rights abuses in Colombia and across the world.

I am appalled at reports that in 2017 more than 300 HRDs were killed carrying out their work of defending the fundamental rights of all humans. 

The UK Government has recently updated its Guidelines on Working with HRDs to help British diplomats to better support them, and progress is being made to protect human rights defenders in other countries.

More must be done to ensure that the safety and rights of HRDs around the world, and I have tabled a Written Parliamentary Question to the Foreign Secretary seeking his assurance that the protection of HRDs would be a priority for him and his departmental officials: https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2018-10-30/185635

Monday, 3 June 2019

Campaign reply - EU matters



A few of constituents have been in touch via campaign emails with various titles all of which centre on staying in the EU and calling for a second referendum.

My view remains that having asked the country to vote in a referendum, with the absolute assurance that whatever the verdict their wishes would be actioned, it is now imperative that happens.

The recent EU elections gave the  clearest possible indicator that candidates who support leaving the EU were heavily supported. A majority of people voted for parties committed to respecting the referendum already held and won by those wanting to leave the EU. Whilst there is a divide in the nation between remain and leave supporters, it is critical for democracy that the majority prevail.
 
I have been listening to constituents and the message I receive through thousands of emails, letters, phone calls and the like is this: “ Get us out of the EU, deal or no deal as soon as possible”. This view is of course not held by everyone and whilst I seek to reach out to all constituents it is only right that having stood at the last election promising to honour the referendum result and inline with the wishes of the majority I continue to pursue such.
 
 One of the campaign emails has this line: “DEMOCRACY DEMANDS A SECOND VOTE”?  I disagree and will continue my support of the result of the referendum already held.   


On immigration I am a keen advocate on ensuring the UK economy and our communities  reap the benefit of controlled numbers of foreign workforce continuing to work in the UK  – which is a different approach to the current open borders policy. We have to be in charge of our borders and can achieve an appropriate balance – once we leave the EU.

Concerns over the turmoil in Parliament is not caused by the determination of MPs seeking to leave the EU but rather by those who having stood at the last election promising to honour the result of the referendum have subsequently disrupted proceedings. This is shameful.


My support for the deal in the past has been to avoid a delay in leaving. Now the delay has happened that imperative has fallen away. I will wait and see the revised deal before deciding how to vote. Any diminution from the current deal will see it fail in the House with the default position already established in Article 50 that we leave with no  deal.



Campaign reply - Onshore wind energy.


A number of constituents have written to me about onshore wind energy. Claire Perry Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Ministers has recently published a letter circulated to many MPs  on the government’s plans and progress made on clean energy production which I copy below in part as it points to the huge progress made by the UK in recent times. Whilst I note the concerns raised in the campaign email I am unable to verify all the statistics quoted.

It is worth noting that the UK makes up only 1% of the world’s carbon emissions so whilst I applaud the progress made it must fall on other major polluting nations to act as we have done. I will also raise various concerns with Claire Perry when I next see her:

As we have all seen this week, public concern about climate change is growing to unprecedented levels and regardless of views on the merits of school strikes and city protests, the voices being raised reflect the growing intensity and urgency of public debate on this issue.  

The threat of global warming has never been more apparent, as highlighted by the sobering conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPPC) special report on global warming of 1.5°C.  But, in parallel, we are also now witnessing an unstoppable momentum towards a more ambitious global response, most recently demonstrated by agreement on a ‘rulebook’ for the Paris Agreement at the most recent round of UN talks in Poland last year.

As I said in the House this week, I welcome this transition of the climate debate from niche to mainstream.


We should all be proud of the UK’s world-leading role in tackling climate change and the transition to Clean Growth. We were the first country to introduce legally binding long-term emissions targets under the landmark Climate Change Act in 2008 where we played an important role in offering committed cross-party support to pass the legislation.   The Act set in place binding carbon budgets that now commit us to a 57 percent reduction in emissions by 2032. Since 1990, we have now cut emissions by 42 per cent while growing the economy by over 72 per cent and an independent assessment by PWC shows that the UK has decarbonised its economy at the fastest rate of G20 countries since 2000 – we have cut our emissions per unit of national income on average by 3.7 per cent a year, well ahead of the EU average of 2.3 per cent and the G7 average of 2.2 per cent. The last time the UKs emissions were this low was in 1888! 


Our achievements in cutting emissions from our electricity generation particularly stand out.  More than half of the UK’s electricity was generated from low-carbon sources last year, the highest ever share, while we achieved a record 90 hours of continuous coal-free generation over the Easter weekend – when many of us were elected in 2010, coal based generation was over 30 per cent of the total.   Our renewable capacity has quadrupled since 2010 and the UK has the largest installed offshore wind capacity in the world thanks to our sustained investment in this crucial technology. The new Offshore Wind Sector Deal I launched in March, provides one of many examples of how the Government and industry will work in partnership to put the UK in the forefront of Clean Growth.

However, we recognise the need to go further to meet and exceed our current target of an at least 80 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050.  The Clean Growth Strategy that I published in October 2017 (found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cleangrowth-strategy ) sets out our plans to build on our remarkable progress in the power sector while advancing decarbonisation across the whole of the economy, with ambitious proposals on housing, business, transport, and the natural environment. I believe it is the most comprehensive plan for whole economy decarbonisation published by any Government. 

We have continued to make excellent progress in recent months.  At the Spring Statement, many colleagues joined me in welcoming the Chancellor’s announcement of a Future Homes Standard which by 2025 will see new build homes future-proofed with low carbon heating and world leading levels of energy efficiency, along with new plans to increase the proportion of green gas used in the grid in a bid to drive down the carbon profile of the UK's gas heating network. 

Recognising the huge opportunities for the UK of the global shift to decarbonisation, we have placed Clean Growth at the heart of our Industrial Strategy and emphasised the crucial role of market mechanisms, targeted innovation investment, and industry challenges to drive progress further. Two ‘missions’ have already been announced under the Clean Growth Grand Challenge: to establish the world’s first net-zero carbon industrial cluster in the UK by 2040; and to dramatically improve the energy efficiency of our buildings, each supported by innovation funding under the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The low carbon sector already employs almost 400,000 people (directly and in its supply chains), is growing rapidly, and offers huge export opportunities for goods and services over the next decade. 

But we know, especially after the publication of the IPCC Report last year, that we have to be prepared to do more.  After assessing the sobering conclusions of this report, we were the first major industrialised nation to ask for advice on setting a ‘Net-Zero’ emissions target and our independent advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, will be giving us their view on May 2nd. We will consider their evidence-based advice carefully to determine what actions we need to take. 

However, climate change is too broad a challenge for this Government to tackle alone. This is a global problem to which the solution will be global commitment and I want to use the UK’s leadership and ambition to work with other countries around the world. We played an influential role in delivering the historic Paris Agreement in 2015 and only last year we helped create the first “rulebook” to bring the Paris Agreement to life at the latest round of UN talks in Poland.  We have used our progress in phasing out coal to set up and lead the Powering Past Coal Alliance, which now has over 80 members.  We are providing at least £5.8 billion in international climate finance from 2016 to 2020 to help developing countries to mitigate and adapt to climate change and as you may be aware, the UK has offered to host the 2020 UN climate change conference (COP26) and we are glad that this has received cross-party support.   




Campaign response – Will you help people with arthritis who want to work?



Recently a number of constituents have written to me to ask if I would support and promote the government’s Access to Work scheme which could be providing vital workplace support for people living arthritis and other health conditions: https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work

They inform me that a recent report shows that nearly 70% of people with arthritis have never accessed support from the scheme, with 60% saying they had never even heard of it.

I want to see these scheme being properly promoted and made use of by people who need it, as much as constituents do.

As such I am glad to be informing constituents that I will be contacting Versus Arthritis to express to them my support of their work and campaign on this issue.


Campaign response – About the Spending Review



Thank you to constituents who have emailed me to communicate their concerns about the lack of social housing in Cornwall and across the UK.

Here in Mid-Cornwall there is a shortage of social housing with long waiting lists which means local people often struggle to find affordable accommodation that is right for them.

This is a long-standing problem that needs to be addressed for the future of our young people.

Important progress has been made to tackle this issue. Since 2010, Conservative-led governments have delivered more affordable homes than the previous Labour Government did in their last seven years in office. However, I agree with constituents that more needs to be done.

I will be speaking to the Housing Minister directly about these concerns when I next see him. I will also be seeking to bring to the attention of the Chancellor the importance of investing in building social housing and affordable homes ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review.


Campaign response - I believe in taking junk food ads off our screens, do you?


Some constituents have emailed me recently to ask if I would support Cancer Research UK's campaign to restrict junk food ads on TV before 9pm and similar restrictions.

I am glad that the government is running a public consultation on these proposals which closes on the 10 June: https://consultations.dh.gov.uk/hfss/40bb3b72/

I have always said that childhood obesity poses one of the greater public health challenges of our time and that the government has an important role to play in helping parents and their children make the best choices.

I have previously lobbied Government minister to introduce the sugar levy on sugary drinks which forms part of a wider package of policies the government could introduce to help tackle childhood obesity.

It is important that policy on this area is not only driven by scientific evidence but also the views of parents. I would encourage constituents take part in the public consultation to ensure their views are heard by the government.

I will also be doing my part in Parliament by engaging with minister and speaking in debates on these proposals.

Campaign response – Alabama: Please support urgent abortion reform in the UK



Recently I have been contacted by constituents who would like to see further liberalisation of our abortion laws, and in particular, reforms to abortion reform in Northern Ireland.

I understand what an important issue Abortion is for many people. This is an incredibly delicate area of law and, regardless of the views of individual MPs, one which is treated with the utmost rigour.

While my views as a pro-life MP are well known to constituents, I believe a more important issue to consider when it comes to abortion laws in Northern Ireland is how we respect the devolution settlement in Northern Ireland.

The legislative process in Northern Ireland has been devolved since the creation of the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998 as a result of the Good Friday Agreement. Abortion laws in Northern Ireland is a domestic policy issue that primarily affects the people of Northern Ireland. 

Recent polling shows that two-thirds of women in Northern Ireland (and 70% of 18-34 year olds) believe that the law on this issue should be a decision for the people of Northern Ireland and their elected representatives, and is not for Westminster to decide.

Last month the Women and Equalities Committee released two separate reports following their Inquiry into abortion law in Northern Ireland.

It is important to note that close to 90% of the submissions to the Inquiry did not want Westminster to change the law on abortion in Northern Ireland.

It is also worth noting that the Northern Ireland Assembly has considered the issue of abortion more recently than any other parliament in the United Kingdom. In 2016, a cross-community vote in the Northern Ireland Assembly upheld the law on abortion as it currently stands.

While abortion campaigners have been focussing on changing the law in Northern Ireland, their proposals would also introduce radical changes to abortion legislation in England and Wales, removing most of the current legal safeguards around abortion. This is out of touch with the views of the British public, with polling showing strong support across a number of policy areas for more safeguards around abortion: (https://wheredotheystand.org.uk/press-release-pre-election-poll-shows-7-10-women-support-reducing-abortion-time-limit-20-weeks/).

In my view the UK Government should not undermine Northern Ireland’s devolved status by imposing any change to abortion law in Northern Ireland.

I will continue to oppose any move by Westminster politicians override the devolution settlement in Northern Ireland, but instead encourage the government to focus its efforts on the re-establishment of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Campaign response – Defending our values and standing against torture



A number of constituents have written to me expressing their concerns over the increasingly prevalent use of torture erosion of human rights across the world and the importance of our country to be a safe place for those fleeing torture as well as stand against those who condone it.

I completely agree with these constituents that the UK has a proud tradition of upholding human rights, justice, and offering protection to those fleeing torture and persecution.

As your representative I sit on the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, which played a vital role in the development of the European Convention of Human Rights and continue to monitor the human rights record of member states.

I want to see us being a country that shows compassion to those who are fleeing warfare, persecution and torture and offer sanctuary and shelter to the most vulnerable.

More needs to be done to defend universal values and protect those who have suffered unjustly at the hands of persecutors. I am grateful to constituents who have taken the initiative to bring my attention to this issue and I will be seeking to raise it directly with the Foreign Secretary when I next see him.  


Thursday, 23 May 2019

Campaign reply - GcMAF


A number of Constituents have written to me about a treatment called GcMAF.

Having lost a close family member to cancer I know how devastating this disease can be.

Whilst I am unable to verify the contents of all the links sent I know that science is continuing to make remarkable progress in treating all kinds of cancers. We all welcome this.

With record levels of funding going into the NHS we can all look forward to seeing further developments in the successful treatment of all manner of diseases not least cancer. I am confident that careful consideration regarding the availability of GcMAF will be given by the appropriate body.


Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Newspaper column 22 May 2019 - Looking at business rates


Last week in Parliament was another varied time. Among other things I questioned the Department for Work and Pensions Minister about support available for self-employed people claiming Universal Credit. I also welcomed Cornish apprentices from RNAS Culdrose to Parliament. I also spoke in the Wesmtinster Hall Debate about the future Shared Prosperity Fund which will replace EU funds in places like Cornwall, as well as hosting an event on the persecution of Christians internationally with the Bishop of Truro.

I also chaired a round table discussion in my role at chair of UK Hospitality APPG with leading representatives of the Tourism and Hospitality sector looking at the issue of business rates.

The hospitality sector is incredibly important to the UK’s economy; it is the third largest employer in the UK, with over 3.2million employees. This is 9% of the total jobs in the United Kingdom and the sector is a top 7 employer in every region.  With its importance to the economy of the whole of the UK, we must ensure that the needs and the concerns of the sector are properly considered and addressed.

One thing that is clear is that the current system needs reform. As it stands it is out of date and does not reflect the way business and particularly retail has changed.

It is all very well saying that something needs reform, but the challenge is what should replace it- some suggestions have included introducing new types of tax on business, things like a so-called ‘tourism tax’ or a sales tax.

While I agree that the current business rates system needs to be reformed to more accurately address how businesses operate today I do not agree with introducing new and additional taxes on businesses, which I feel would be counterproductive in terms of our economy, which we need to see continue to grow.

Experience shows that supporting business through lower and more simple tax system is good for the economy. Supporting businesses to grow and invest is what provides the economic environment that produces economic growth and job creation.

Placing greater taxes on businesses will instead stifle the growth and investment we need.
The tourism and hospitality sector is vital to our local economy, accounting for 37,000 jobs in Cornwall and sustaining further jobs in other sectors dependent on hospitality and tourism. Tourism alone brings £1.8bn per year into the Cornish economy.

Increasing the tax burden, by way of a Tourism Tax or something similar, will not be good for Cornish jobs and investment.

So, while we need to reform the way we tax business, it should be towards a more simple system and must not increase the tax burden on them. I will continue to work with the Tourism and Hospitality industry to seek the reforms we need.

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 office@stevedouble.org.uk. Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at: www.stevedouble.org.uk/events

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Newspaper column 15 May 2019 - The EU elections


Next week sees the European Parliamentary elections on Thursday 23 May.

That we have to take part in them, when we should have left the EU on 29 March is a failure of our political establishment to enact the will of the British people, as expressed in the referendum result in 2016.

Not only did we have the referendum result in 2016 but since then Members of Parliament have voted overwhelmingly, in 2017, for us to leave the EU on 29 March.

It remains a huge source of frustration to me that we have not left yet, and this is shared by many of you who I speak to around Mid-Cornwall when I am out and about every week.

The message I hear, is, “Parliament asked us, we gave them our answer. We trusted Parliament to deliver the result of the Referendum – why is this not happening?”

People are rightly upset about this, people who voted leave or remain in 2016, as they respect the democratic vote and expect Parliament to just get on with it and leave. The delay until 31 October that we now have, has done nothing but prolong the uncertainties around what Brexit will look like for another few months, while doing nothing to stop the logjam in Parliament about how we come to a solution.

I of course understand the frustration that many will feel and that they will wish to take this opportunity to make their feeling known on Brexit in the EU election.  I know that many will see this election as a way of re-enforcing the result of the referendum. If the vote is a clear win for parties that are committed to respecting the referendum and leaving the EU and it will kill off any talk of a 2nd Referendum.

However, as always, however you decide to vote I encourage everyone to take part in this election and cast your vote. The right to vote was hard won and we should never take it for granted.

I will of course be voting Conservative in next Thursday’s election as our party remains committed to taking the UK out of the EU. Elected Conservative MEPs will use what little time we have in the EU (the European Parliament does not even sit until July, and has August off), to represent the best interests of Britain and ensure that they do their bit in the EU to vote for us to leave when the time comes.

Regardless of the results of the European Elections, I will be working in Parliament to see us leave the EU as soon as possible, hopefully before 31 October, if not before the MEPs take their seats, and then move on to tackle the other pressing issues this country faces post Brexit.

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 office@stevedouble.org.uk. Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at: www.stevedouble.org.uk/events

Monday, 13 May 2019

Campaign reply - Trade Bill - Commons consideration of Lords amendments




The UK government is one of the most open and transparent in the world – and long may that continue. It is vital that we can all scrutinise the process and decision making of our government. However there are other considerations too: national security; commercially sensitive information; privileged data and so on. These too, for the ultimate good of all should be taken fully into account.

My concern therefore that highly complex trade negotiations some of which will inevitably have commercially sensitive data or involve security issues should be subject to the scrutiny suggested is completely impractical. It would also delay and bog down talks. Further it would likely weaken our hand in our negotiations as competitors would inevitably be privy to matters best kept private during those negotiations.


Our parliamentary system, where the government is routinely held to account for the decisions it makes is in good working order. I see no reason to move away from that.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Campaign response - Whirlpool Tumble Driers

Several constituents have written to me regarding Whirlpool tumble driers.

In a recent report the Office for Product Safety and Standards review of Whirlpool tumble dryer modification found the fire risk was low and that the risk to consumers who have had their Whirlpool tumble dryers modified is low and consumers can continue to use them safely.

Having said that, Whirlpool has been told to improve its risk management and communication with customers.

The report went on to say:

"Those with an unmodified, affected tumble dryer have been urged to unplug them and not use them until they have been modified, free of charge, by Whirlpool.

The review by the government’s Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) found that there is a low risk of harm or injury from lint fires in modified machines.

The review explored whether Whirlpool’s technical modification, designed to further reduce the risk of lint fires arising from its tumble dryers, was effective in both design and installation, while also reviewing whether Whirlpool’s consumer outreach programme was adequate.

OPSS has published specific requirements for Whirlpool to act on and issued a Decision Letter telling Whirlpool that the company must:

improve its management of risk;

set up a more rigorous system of quality assurance to ensure modifications are correctly installed; and reach affected consumers in more creative ways to minimise the risk of faulty machines still being in people’s homes.

While this stage of the review is now complete, OPSS will continue to scrutinise Whirlpool’s actions against these requirements."

Consumer Minister, Kelly Tolhurst, said:

"Our number one priority is to keep consumers safe.

We are taking action now to ensure Whirlpool improves its communication and outreach to those customers it has not yet reached as well as improving its management of risk. We will keep Whirlpool’s actions under review to ensure they respond effectively and consumers are kept safe.

We appreciate the efforts of Which? and other active campaigners to bring this issue to the attention of consumers and are committed to working with them to ensure the safety of products sold in the UK.

We encourage all consumers to register their appliances to ensure they receive updates on product modifications and recalls.

All consumers should always follow manufacturers’ instructions, including thoroughly and regularly clearing out the lint tray of tumble dryers."

Whilst I am reassured by the ministers’ comments and the Office for Product Safety and Standards I will also be raising the matter with Kelly Tolhurst, Consumer Minister when I next see her.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Newspaper column 8 May 2019 - Education update


Education is one of our most important public services and is rightly seen as a priority. It is well established that schools in Cornwall have been less well funded than schools in other parts of the country. This has been the case for many years and is a direct result of the policy of previous governments who prioritise the more densely populated urban areas of the country and gave less money to rural areas such as Cornwall.

Recent changes to the formula used to allocate funding have been a step in the right direction but there is still a great deal of work to be done to close the gap. This is something I remain determined to address and will always speak up for our local schools to attract more money.

More money has been put into education and schools. It is untrue to say that funding has been cut. But it is the case that the additional money the government has allocated to school funding has not kept pace with rising costs, including increases in pensions contributions and things such as the apprenticeship levy. As we have now begun the process of looking at the comprehensive spending review, which will set the programme for government spending for the coming years, I have made clear to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and other Treasury ministers, that education must be one of the areas which gets additional funding and that we must ensure that any extra funds are fairly allocated to rural areas.

I am also aware that there is great pressure on school places in mid-Cornwall – especially at primary schools. As our local population continues to grow, I have been clear that building additional capacity for school places must keep pace and that new school need to be built alongside any new housing.
That is why it is so good that we are seeing new primary schools being built to support the new housing going up in Newquay and the housing planned for the Garden Village on the edge of St Austell.

Making sure we have our fair share of funding and the school places we need is important. But the most important thing is that our local schools are well run and that our children are taught by great teachers. Having spent 19 years as a school governor I know that teachers are the most important asset any school can have and in our constituency we have some great teachers, heads and principles who are dedicated and talented and provide our children with high quality education.

I had a timely reminder of this last week in Parliament when two of our local teachers from Trenance Learning Academy in Newquay came to Parliament. They were there as part of a scheme to promote reading. Trenance Learning Academy was recognised last year for its excellent work in teaching reading and was appointed one of only 32 English Hubs, across the country, as a centre of excellence to promote best practice for teaching reading.

It was good to see teachers from one of our local schools taking a role nationally in this way. As in so many areas, despite the challenges we can face in Cornwall, we often ‘punch above our weight’ and deliver great results. So whilst others will talk down our education in Cornwall and seek to use it as a political football I choose to get on with delivering new schools and more money and supporting our dedicated teachers in every way I can.


Friday, 3 May 2019

Campaign reply - Close the loophole


I have been contacted by a number of constituents as part of the NSPCC’s ‘Close the Loophole’ campaign.

I share the concern about this hugely important issue and I agree that the protection of children and young people must remain a priority. I want to pay tribute to those who have spoken out about child sex abuse.

As I am sure you are aware, sexual activity with a child under the age of 16 is a serious criminal offence, regardless of whether consent is given. It is also the case that any non-consensual sexual activity is a crime. It doesn’t matter the age of the victim or the relationship between the victim and perpetrator. I understand it is also the case that where a manipulative offender grooms a child under the age of consent and then engages in a sexual relationship with them when they are over 16, offences are in place to deal with this such as Section 15A of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

I do welcome the fact that the Sexual Offences Act 2003 also provides increased protection for younger people aged 16 and 17. Offences criminalise those in a position of trust who sexual abuse young people in their care. The offences target relationships where the young person has some dependency on the adult involved and often combined with an element of vulnerability of that young person.

I have been assured that Ministers across Government are keeping this sensitive and important area of the law under review and working together to ensure our young athletes feel safe in their training environment.

I hope this provides reassurances that the Government is committed to doing all it can to protect children and young people.

Campaign reply - Early Day Motion 2296


Some constituents have contacted asking me to support Early Day Motion 2296 about State Pension Age changes.

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.

I have met with many women in mid-Cornwall who were born in the 1950’s and are going to be significantly and unfairly affected by changes to State Pension changes.

Since I was elected, I have raised this issue with the government several times and have been in close correspondence with Pensions Ministers over the options available to best support women who have lost out through these changes.

I appreciate your concerns about the pension age changes. Equalising the State Pension Age was necessary to meet the UK’s obligation under EU Law to eliminate gender inequalities in social security provision. The Pensions Act 1995 legislated for this to be done gradually after 2010. 

Following sharp increases in life expectancy projections, the government had to accelerate this process slightly in the Pensions Act 2011 to secure the sustainability of the system. 

Under the 1995 Act, the women’s State Pension Age was scheduled to increase from 60 to 65 between 2010 and 2020. As a result of the 2011 reforms, it reached 65 in November 2018. The government did listen to concerns raised at the time, and I am pleased that as a result, the maximum increase in the State Pension Age was capped at 18 months relative to the 1995 timetable.

The Department for Work and Pensions is clear all women affected were written to between January 2012 and November 2013. Those affected by the 1995 changes were also contacting between April 2009 and March 2011. Parliament debated the changes at length and approved them in 2011, and whilst I understanding the view that transitional protection should be put in place, pushing back the change for some women would cost taxpayers many billions of pounds and add further complication to the system. The government are not backing down on this issue due to cost.

All those affected will receive the new Single Tier Pension. This pension will be high and fairer to women as it takes into account years taken out of work raising a family. Around 650,000 women will receive an average of £8 more per week in the first ten years as a result.


Thursday, 2 May 2019

Campaign response - Climate change emergency


In terms of the Climate Change Emergency motion from yesterday, there was no vote on it as it went through unopposed.
Whilst it is clearly positive that more people are becoming aware of and engaged with this issue, that is one of the most important issues of our age, we do also need to ensure that any response is based on facts and not just an emotional reaction.

The threat of global warming has never been more apparent, but alongside this, we are also now witnessing an unstoppable momentum towards a more ambitious global response.

However amidst all the clamour for change, it is important that change when it does happen, is tangible and achievable, and not just signalled as a means for political point-scoring.

For example the Government has already signalled that we want to be more ambitious both in our actions and, crucially, in driving concerted global actions.  There is also less focus on the achievements that we have made to date and this means the tone of the conversation can be fearful not hopeful.

Nationally, we should all be proud of the UK’s world-leading role in tackling climate change and the transition to Clean Growth. We were the first country to introduce legally binding long-term emissions targets under the landmark Climate Change Act in 2008 where we played an important role in offering committed cross-party support to pass the legislation.   The Act set in place binding carbon budgets that now commit us to a 57 percent reduction in emissions by 2032. Since 1990, we have now cut emissions by 42 per cent while growing the economy by over 72 per cent. This shows that economic growth is not incompatible with cutting carbon emissions. We have cut our emissions per unit of national income on average by 3.7 per cent a year, well ahead of the EU average of 2.3 per cent and the G7 average of 2.2 per cent. The last time the UKs emissions were this low was in 1888!

As well as this we have taken steps to phase out coal use in our electricity generation through a huge shift to renewables and gas, driven by decisive policy action. We have seen coal use on the grid tumble from almost 40 per cent in 2012 to our first “coal free” day last April and the longest coal free stretch ever (90 hrs 45 minutes) over the Easter weekend. By 2025 the UK will have no coal powered electricity generation.

Renewable electricity generation has also quadrupled since 2010 and clean electricity now gives us over 50 per cent of our total. Cornwall has been at the forefront of many of the initiatives, with our focus on renewables as well as pioneering the development of deep-geothermal energy, which can provide another source of clean energy for the future.

On top of this the low carbon sector and its supply chain is now providing almost 400,000 green collar jobs in the UK (more than aerospace) and is growing much faster than the main economy – with estimated potential exports of more than £60 billion by 2030.

The government is investing more than £2.5 billion in low carbon technology over this parliament – the largest ever public R&D investment in clean growth.

However, climate change is too broad a challenge for the UK Government to tackle alone. This is a global problem to which the solution will be global commitment and I want to see the UK’s leadership and ambition continue to work with other countries around the world. We played an influential role in delivering the historic Paris Agreement in 2015 and only last year we helped create the first “rulebook” to bring the Paris Agreement to life at the latest round of UN talks in Poland.
Clearly there is much more to do but it is always important to acknowledge the work already taking place. It is simply not true to say this issue is being ignored or nothing is being done. We should be rightly proud of the leading role the UK is taking and will continue to take on this issue.

Renewable electricity generation has also quadrupled since 2010 and clean electricity now gives us over 50 per cent of our total.

On top of this the low carbon sector and its supply chain is now providing almost 400,000 green collar jobs in the UK (more than aerospace) and is growing much faster than the main economy – with estimated potential exports of more than £60 billion by 2030.

The government is investing more than £2.5 billion in low carbon technology over this parliament – the largest ever public R&D investment in clean growth.

However, climate change is too broad a challenge for the UK Government to tackle alone. This is a global problem to which the solution will be global commitment and I want to see the UK’s leadership and ambition continue to work with other countries around the world. We played an influential role in delivering the historic Paris Agreement in 2015 and only last year we helped create the first “rulebook” to bring the Paris Agreement to life at the latest round of UN talks in Poland.

I was also pleased to see yesterday’s announcement from the Committee on Climate Change Committee in their report, that says the UK should lead the global fight against climate change by cutting greenhouse gases to nearly zero by 2050.


he report maintains this can be done at no added cost from previous estimates. Its report says that if other countries follow the UK, there’s a 50-50 chance of staying below the recommended 1.5C temperature rise by 2100.

The CCC - the independent adviser to government on climate change - said it would not be able to hit “net zero“ emissions any sooner, but 2050 was still an extremely significant goal.


Clearly there is much more to do but it is always important to acknowledge the work already taking place. It is simply not true to say this issue is being ignored or nothing is being done. We should be rightly proud of the leading role the UK is taking and will continue to take on this issue.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Campaign reply - “Fracking: Debate Thurs 28 March and threat to earthquake regulations.”



I received a number of campaign emails from constituents entitled “Fracking: Debate Thurs 28 March and threat to earthquake regulations.”

I regret due to prior commitments I was unable to attend the debate.

Fracking is relatively new to the UK but around the World there are well over a million fracking operations and to date there has never been a serious accident; so in essence fracking is a safe and clean way to produce energy.

The need for energy is always growing and will continue to do so. Many households are already feeling the pinch with higher energy prices – despite a highly competitive UK market. With the introduction of fracking Countries across the world have seen energy prices fall dramatically with real benefits for consumers and industry alike.

Nowhere in the World will fracking be more heavily regulated and controlled than here in the UK and with the advent of this exciting and safe technology everyone will know and see the benefit. The current regulations are extraordinarily stringent and whilst I will monitor carefully any proposed changes it is also important that effective production is permitted with appropriate safeguards in place.

Fracking is less harmful than some current sources of energy. For instance it will create less CO2 than compressing gas in Qatar and shipping it to Britain. Also being over reliant on supplies of gas from Qatar or Russia is always less than satisfactory.

Huge progress has been made by the government since 2010 in the greening of our  energy supplies with record amounts of our electricity being generated by zero or low carbon options. The switch to an eventual zero carbon method production is well underway. Fracking whilst not carbon free is part of the journey towards reducing and eventually eliminating carbon from our energy base.

National supply and decisions need a UK wide coordinated approach and whilst we will all take an interest in how this new industry and energy supply unfolds I am supportive of the government in its’ actions that will ensure the best possible outcome for everyone.