Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Campaign reply - HS2 and the climate crisis


I have received a campaign email entitled HS2 and the climate crisis.

Just a few weeks ago I responded to a similar campaign and posted a blog response which I copy below for ease of reference.

This latest campaign fails to take into account the governments world leading pledge to deliver a net zero economy by 2050 nor that banning things works far less well than innovation. The greening of our transport system is going very well and the progress on our rail systems is underway. The same will apply to HS2 should it be built.

The earlier blog is here:

Monday, 9 September 2019

Some constituents have been in touch with a campaign email over concerns regarding HS2 -the high speed rail network.

You may be aware that the government is currently reviewing the scheme and a report is expected later this year.

HS2, a Labour government inspired scheme from 2009 has been controversial on a range of matters and there is growing concern that the overall cost is going to be considerably higher than first thought. This is concerning.

The route for HS2 (should it go ahead) has always been contentious and there are many interested parties that have expressed concerns from inception.

It is worth noting that one of the greenest forms of transport is of course rail, so a balance must be struck with meeting the needs of travel in the UK and the impact it may have following its construction. I am aware that considerable thought and planning has been given to environmental issues but note the concerns raised.

Before commenting further, I will wait to see what is in the government review  and will also take into account the various matters raised.
                


Thursday, 10 October 2019

Campaign response: Please help end victim journalism


Thank you to constituents who have written to me about their concerns over the treatment of public figures such as Ben Stokes, Gareth Thomas and the Duchess of Sussex.

At the heart of the issue two fundamental tenets of democracy are in question: The right to privacy and the freedom of the press, both of which are guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Every individual has a right to respect for their private life, their family and their home. At the same time, it is in everyone’s interest to have a free and functioning press that is not subjected to arbitrary interreference from any public body or anyone.

Following multiple allegations of illegal and improper press intrusion on a number of individuals, the Leveson Inquiry was set up in 2012 to thoroughly examined the culture, practices and ethics of our press.

The inquiry and investigations were comprehensive, and since it was set up, there have been extensive reforms to policing practices and significant changes to press self-regulation.

Two regulators have been created since then: IMPRESS and IPSO. The majority of IMPRESS’ members are local publishers but IPSO regulates 95% of national newspapers in terms of their circulation. In 2016, Sir Joseph Pilling concluded that IPSO largely complied with Leveson’s recommendations in his review of its independence.

In 2017, meanwhile, IPSO dealt with over 20,000 complaints and enquiries in 2017, and has ordered multiple front page corrections or clarifications. And since then it has taken significant steps to demonstrate its independence as a regulator with further improvements. It has announced that it is creating a compulsory version of its low-cost arbitration scheme, which national newspapers have now signed up to. This means that someone who has a genuine claim against a newspaper who could have gone to court can now demand arbitration of their claim and the newspaper cannot refuse. This includes a higher level of damages and includes cases of invasion of privacy or harassment which either of the cases you mentioned could have fallen under.

I’m also glad to see that most newspapers have also made improvements to their governance frameworks to improve their internal controls, standards and compliance.

Finally, regarding the government’s proposals to regulate social media, these were published in our Online Harms White Paper in April of this year. I am assured that my ministerial colleagues in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will continue to look at ways to better regulate our media whilst ensuring that it can continue to hold the powerful to account.


Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Newspaper column 9 October 2019 - Brexit update


Another week and another significant time for the Brexit process.

Last Wednesday the Prime Minister presented his proposals to unlock the Brexit stalemate with the EU. These included workable and pragmatic plans to address the issue with the Irish border.

In essence it would see Northern Ireland remain in the Single Market for all goods in terms of regulation and movement of goods between the north and the Republic of Ireland, but not be subject to freedom of movement of people. Northern Ireland would be outside of the EU Customs Union, along with the rest of the UK. There would also be a ‘democratic lock’ which would enable the devolved administration in Northern Ireland to review these arrangements every 4 years if a permanent solution has not been found.

Most importantly, in my view, the proposals lay out a clear path for the UK to be free from all its current ties to the EU and work for a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, whilst enabling us to develop trading arrangements with other countries. This is in stark contrast to the previous proposed agreement that had a risk of us being locked into a Customs Union with the EU indefinitely.

I believe these proposals, presented in good faith, are a fair compromise. They show a willingness on behalf of the UK to shift from previous positions and meet the EU half way. What is now required is for the EU to be willing to also compromise a bit and move slightly towards us.

The initial signs were encouraging, that there was broad support from across Parliament for these plans. MPs from different parties and holding different positions on Brexit indicated they could support these plans. However, we then heard that the EU did not see these plans as workable.

It is frustrating that there is a real sense that the EU are now moving the goal posts, having previously indicated an agreement of this nature would work. It is difficult not to come to the conclusion that they are using the issue of the Irish border to back the UK into an untenable position. They appear unwilling to make any compromises in order to find a deal.

Further discussion will be ongoing over this week, with the EU saying they will be coming to a firm position on this by the end of the week.

It is well known that MPs opposed to Brexit rushed a Bill through Parliament last month that seeks to force the Prime Minister to request an extension rather than leave without a deal at the end of this month – the so-called Surrender Bill. It is now blatantly clear that this has undermined our nation’s negotiating position and is actually making getting an acceptable deal harder. Any notion that this Bill was in our national interest is clearly wide of the mark. It has hindered our ability to get a deal, which is I suspect the real intention.

There remain only two ways to prevent a no deal Brexit – either agree a deal or cancel it altogether. The position of the opposition parties is now clear. The Lib Dems want to revoke Article 50 and overturn the biggest democratic vote in our history. The Labour Party refuse to support any deal and simply want to kick the can further down the road and prolong the uncertainty.

There is only one leader of a major party who is committed to deliver on the referendum result. Boris Johnson remains committed to taking us out of the EU on 31st October. Preferably this will be with a deal if the EU are prepared to compromise. But having made a fair and reasonable offer to them, if we cannot agree then we will leave without a deal.

Many will ask how this will be done with the Surrender Bill in place. It is very unclear precisely what the full details of this Bill are. It was rammed through the House of Commons in just four hours without the usual scrutiny and debate. Therefore, it remains to be seen the exact implications of the Bill and whether or not it does leave any holes by which a delay can be avoided.

I have been overwhelmed with the number of people contacting me in recent days. Whether it is by email, phone calls or face to face. There is a very clear message that I am hearing time and time again – Get Brexit Done. No more delays. No more uncertainty. No more talking. We just need to get on and leave. I remain committed to support the Prime Minister in his determination to lead us out of the EU at the end of the month.

Campaign reply -“Stand up for Parliament and Democracy,”


Following a campaign email “Stand up for Parliament and Democracy,” I set will set out again my long held position on the matters raised:

The campaign email ends with these words “…putting the interests of the country first and doing everything in your power to bring this crisis to an end. We are counting on you”.

I can agree with the sentiment expressed but not any of the proposed solutions.

Putting the country first means we must honour the referendum result and leave the EU. Hopefully our European friends will finally settle on a deal but if they will not then as already clearly laid out in Article 50 we will leave without one. Not the preferred option but after years of debate it becomes the appropriate way forward. No doubt if we do leave on WTO terms then the EU in due course will agree a trade deal. There is a mutual benefit in doing so.

Bringing the crisis to end means avoiding any further delay. Far too much time has been spent already debating. The talk must stop and action taken. The PM has shown the leadership we need to achieve just that and you can “count on me” to honour what I said I would do during the referendum campaign which was that I would honour the result and accept the decision of the people to remain or leave. We know the result. I will not waiver from promises made then or at the last election.

What risks destroying democracy and jeopardising our United Kingdom is allowing anyone to usurp the will of the people, who voted by a clear majority to leave the EU.

Those who seek a second referendum (something I will never support) do not accept the result of the first! That is wrong and undemocratic.  If a second poll endorsed leaving, there would then undoubtedly be a demand for a third. Democracy does not operate on the basis that we only accept the outcome of a vote when it coincides with our own view.

I sincerely appreciate that leaving the EU has been a contentious issue, but it is critical that the referendum result be honoured for the sake of our democracy and not least because I believe the UK will be better off doing so.



Campaign reply - Brexit


A number of constituents have written to me with a campaign email entitled “Only way to solve abuse Cummings effectively says is Retract Article 50.”


During the referendum campaign both sides put forward their best arguments and there are attempts to discredit the views expressed by both sides. Whilst I firmly believe  we will be better off leaving the EU even if that were not the case there are many who write to me saying that they simply want to see us become a sovereign nation again. It cuts through all other arguments.

What would do irreparable harm to our democracy is to fail to deliver on the result of the referendum. I see it as my duty to ensure we leave. However people voted in the referendum or at the last election I genuinely seek to reach out to all constituents and assist them in any way I can but that does not include undoing what the majority voted for and still want.

Any number of opinion polls are cited but no reference is made to the most important polls which are heavily regulated and where the entire voting populous has opportunity to vote in a secret ballot – those of the referendum and the last election. Both showed clear support for leaving the EU. Further the results of the recent European elections left us all in no doubt that the majority for leaving holds sway.

The campaign ends with this statement:
Democracy is not a one time event it is a continuous process whereby citizens hold their representatives to account. It is a conversation between two parties.
Democracies can only function if citizens have accurate and true information.

I agree and come the next election there will the opportunity for everyone to put forward their view and for the electorate to vote. The sooner that happens the better.



Friday, 4 October 2019

Campaign response - End unlawful arms sales to Saudi Arabia



Recently a number of constituents have written to me about the UK's continued licensing of equipment to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen, in light of a court ruling in June that the  sale of UK-made arms to Saudi forces for use in Yemen was in fact unlawful.

Following the ruling, the UK Government has now said it will now stop granting any new licences for weapons exports to Saudi Arabia or coalition partners involved militarily in Yemen.

The International Trade Secretary has apologised to the Commons in the past week after routine analysis of statistics found a licence for the air cooler for a Renault Sherpa Light Scout vehicle had been issued in the days following the ruling.

An internal inquiry has been launched by the DiT’s permanent secretary to establish whether other licences had been issued against the assurances to the court or Parliament, and to ensure there could be no further breaches.

The Government has repeatedly assured parliamentarians and the public that it is seriously concerned about the humanitarian situation in Yemen. Since the start of the crisis in 2015 our humanitarian commitment to Yemen now stands at £770m.

Ultimately the only lasting solution to peace in Yemen is through a political settlement. The UK Government is actively supporting the UN Special Envoy for Yemen in his efforts to bring the various parties on both sides around the table to find a way forward.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Campaign response – Letter from your constituent



Thank you to constituents who have written to me about the plight of Dennis Hutchings and other veterans who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles who are now facing possible prosecution.

I have nothing but the highest degree of respect for our military personnel and our veterans. These are the people who are willing to put their lives on the line to protect and defend our great nation.

In order to gain a greater appreciation for the work of the men and women in our armed forces who risk everything to defend our great nation, I decided to join the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme last year and committed to regularly visiting military bases and personnel across the country to learn more about and get a taste of their work.

Last year the Government ran a consultation on proposals to find the best way to meet the needs of victims and survivors and to help people address the impact of the Troubles in the areas of information, justice and acknowledgement and help Northern Ireland transition to long term-term peace and stability. The consultation has now closed and the feedback is being analysed.

Many of my parliamentary colleagues including the current and previous Prime Ministers have expressed their concern at the current situation where those who are most prone to being investigated for issues that happened in the past are those in our Armed Forces or those who served in law enforcement in Northern Ireland, while terrorists who ought to be investigated for their crimes are not being subject to the full force of law.

I share their concerns and want to see greater fairness in our justice system.

I also commend many of my colleagues who have pressed the Government to deal with legacy cases by protecting our soldiers and putting them first, while resisting any attempts to establish institutions that would scapegoat our military veterans to pander to Sinn Fein.

I intend on doing everything I can in my capacity as your local MP to support reconciliation and healing in Northern Ireland, while ensuring that nobody, especially our ex-servicemen, are unfairly prosecuted for lawful actions they took.

I will also be seeking to raise this matter directly with the Secretaries of State for Defence and for Northern Ireland and bring to their attention the points which constituents have so convincingly made when I next see them.


Newspaper column 2 October 2019 - A new hospital for Cornwall


Well, after another tumultuous and historic week in politics there are so many things I could write about this week. But amidst all the chaotic scene there was some truly amazingly good news for Cornwall.

On Sunday the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced a new national Health Investment Programme which will see £13 billion invested in our hospitals. The announcement included an allocation for Cornwall of £450 million to improve hospital facilities in the Duchy. In my recent new role as the Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Department for Health and Social Care I was pleased to be able to be at the heart of this announcement.

This represents the biggest single investment ever seen in our local health services. Inevitably the sceptics and naysayers have been out in force talking down this announcement. So, let me lay out precisely what was announced.

The government has committed to fund 40 new hospitals or upgrades of existing facilities over the next 5-10 years. This includes an initial 6 new hospitals where local NHS bodies have plans ready to go. Here in Cornwall we don’t have a ready to go plan for a new hospital, therefore, quite reasonably the government have said they will commit £450 million for Cornwall but it is now down to the local NHS bodies to come forward with a plan for this investment.

The government will immediately provide some ‘seed funding’ to cover the costs of the work that will be required to consider the options, develop and plan and design the work. This in itself is important so that resources do not have to be taken away from providing frontline services to fund this work.  But the Health Secretary has made clear that he is open to all options of how this money could be spend. This could be a brand new acute hospital on a new site, a redevelopment and upgrade of the existing hospital at Treliske or upgrading our community hospitals across the county – or any combination of these.

My own view is that if we can use this opportunity to see another hospital built then we should seriously consider this. People in Cornwall have been saying for several years now that they find our current acute hospital at Treliske increasingly difficult to access. I would love to see a new hospital that could take some of the pressure off of Treliske, built in a more accessible location, possibly on the A30 in mid-Cornwall.

The six Cornish MPs met with the Health Secretary in July when we discussed the various challenges we faced in Cornwall and particularly at Treliske. We stated then that we felt we had reached the point where a new hospital was needed. It is good to see that we clearly got our message across and that the government as accepted this. This announcement shows he was listening.

What needs to happen now is that our local NHS management need to consult as widely as possible with local stakeholders and the people of Cornwall to gather a clear view of what the best proposals for this money would be. I certainly want to play an active part in this process, along with the other Cornish MPs to ensure we get the very best outcome from this.

I appreciate there will be those in other political parties who will try to talk this announcement down and present it as just talk. But this is a commitment from the Department for Health and Social Care to make this significant investment in our NHS which should be enthusiastically welcomed by everyone in Cornwall. Any new hospital is going to take years to design, obtain planning permission and build. Projects of this scale do no not happen overnight. But they all begin with an acknowledgement that there is a need and a commitment from the government to allocate the necessary funding. That is what happened this weekend. It is the first, but vital step in the process.

I will now continue to do what I have always done since I was first elected in 2015. I will use my position as an MP, including in my new role in the Department for Health and Social Care, to champion the case for Cornwall, to ensure we get the support and funding we need, and work tirelessly to see this money is spend in the best way possible and that it results in a major improvement in our health infrastructure and services in Cornwall. I am sure everyone can get behind this.
 

Campaign reply: Time to stop fracking


I have received a further campaign email on concerns over fracking in the UK and whilst I have already made a number of statements on this I thought it worth repeating some of the facts:

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.

Energy prices fall dramatically with real benefits for consumers and industry in those countries that have fracking operations. This is a worthwhile consideration as the economy makes rapid transition towards a carbon free era.

Nowhere in the World is fracking more heavily regulated and controlled than in the UK. 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.


Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Newspaper column 25 September - More good news for Spaceport Cornwall!


While Parliament has not been sitting I have been pleased to have been out and about around Mid-Cornwall speaking to local people and businesses about what matters to you.

Last week it was great to go along to Fowey and join the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Fowey Harbour Commissioners.

I also joined the St Columb Minor Residents Association at the Farmers Arms for a question answer session on all sorts of local and national issues. I have another Meet your MP session coming up tonight (25 September) at the Godolphin Arms in Newquay from 1830, and then another at the Carlyon Arms in St Austell on Wednesday 2 October from 1830. Anyone is welcome to come along and see me and there is no need to book an appointment.

At the weekend I was delighted to join with the Marine Conservation Society and children from Gorran School to carry out a beach clean on Gorran Haven beach as part of the MCS’s Great British Beach Clean Weekend. It was wonderful to see the children so enthusiastic about taking care of where we live.

Meanwhile on Wednesday I welcomed the decision by Cornwall Council’s Cabinet to award £12 million funding for Spaceport Cornwall.

The award brings the project, which will see Cornwall become the base of the country’s first horizontal launch spaceport, move closer to fruition.

I have always been clear that the vision for Spaceport Cornwall, one that was just a pipe dream when I was first elected and one that I have been proud to support and help make reality, is one that could transform Cornwall.

As well as the exciting benefits for Cornwall locally, we should also be mindful of how Spaceport Cornwall fits in the national context of the UK Government’s space ambitions, that would see it becoming the UK centre for the launching of satellites for commercial and government use.

I also see Spaceport Cornwall as a way to restore Cornwall to a leading pioneer in a modern, high tech and growing industry. A place our children will be able to grow up and stay with bright and vibrant careers. At a time when we need to see more of our young people inspired to take up engineering and technology what better than to have a thriving space industry on our doorstep to raise their aspirations.

Having worked to bring the UKs first horizontal launch spaceport to Newquay Airport, since before I was elected in 2015, including securing £7.85 million of Government funding, I am pleased that we remain on track for lift off in 2021.

Thank you and well done to all those at Cornwall Council and the Spaceport Cornwall team for this important step forward.

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

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Campaign response - Please ask International Development Secretary to attend global children's health milestone event



Thank you to constituents who have written to me to to ask to urge the Secretary of State for International Development Alok Sharma MP to attend the first ever UN High Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage in New York on 23 September 2019.

I will be more than happy to pass on this kind invitation and the points constituents made to Alok when I have the opportunity to do so.

DFID has made a very clear statement to Parliament in July that it is fully backing the UN’s Universal Health Coverage report and work to further health coverage throughout the world, and as such there is every intention that the UK will be sending a delegation to the meeting:

“The UK pioneered Universal Health Coverage through the establishment of the National Health Service and we continue to host many of the best medical scientists and practitioners in the world. Good health is a foundation for development; it enables people to go to school, go to work, and contribute to the economy. It is firmly in the UK’s national interest to work with countries to promote good health, to prevent and respond to disease outbreaks, and to contribute to the fight against antimicrobial resistance… The UK will also support the High-Level meeting on Universal Health Coverage at the UN General Assembly in September.”


Campaign reply - You're invited to discuss the new autism strategy



I have recently been contacted by a number of constituents as part of a campaign inviting me to an event hosted by The National Autistic Society where I will have the opportunity to discuss the autism strategy with autistic people, their families and professionals.

I welcome the increased priorities given to helping people on the autism spectrum, which is becoming more understood as we understand the many different ways these conditions can impact on the lives of people who have them.

I would be happy to attend this event, Parliamentary business allowing, and hope to use my experience to inform my  thinking on the autism strategy in the future.

Campaign response – Save free TV licences



Over the past few weeks a group of constituents have got in touch with me to ask me to urge the Prime Minister to save free TV licences for over-75s from being scrapped.

They will be pleased to know that the Prime Minister has now sent a strong and public message to the BBC that they must reconsider their decision to scrap free TV licences and the impact it will have on the elderly and the vulnerable.

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 also agreed at that time that this was a good deal for them.

The BBC is operationally independent from the Government, so the announcement to scrap free TV licences is very much its own decision.

To be clear, neither myself nor anyone in the Government made or supported this decision. I wanted and expected the BBC to take on the provision of free TV licences.

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 expressed disappointment with the BBC’s decision to no longer provide free TV licences for over-75s when it was announced earlier this year, 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.

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

I support the Prime Minister’s call for the BBC to review its decision and will be speaking up for many constituents who want to see free TV licences for the elderly reinstated.

Please rest assured that I know how strongly many constituents feel about this issue. I will continue to urge the Government to make the strongest possible representation to the BBC when Parliament returns in October.


Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Newspaper column 18 September 2019 - No we shouldn't cancel Brexit!


As mentioned last week, I am back in Mid-Cornwall and looking forward to spending the next few weeks talking to as many local people and businesses as possible. I have already had a very positive meeting with local councillors and Cornwall Council for an update on the plans for the £85m St Austell-A30 link road, and will be holding Meet your MP events in Newquay next week on the 25th from 6.30pm at the Godolphin Arms and in St Austell on 2nd October from 6.30pm at the Carlyon Arms in St Austell.

Over the weekend I was a bit taken aback to see the headlines coming out from the Liberal Democrat conference. This was newsworthy for all the wrong reasons. They have finally been honest with the public and admitted that their primary goal is simply to cancel Brexit.

For a party that has the term ‘Democrat’ in its name, making your primary goal to ignore and revoke the result of the biggest ever vote probably isn’t a good idea. I know 17.4 million people, including the tens of thousands of us locally, who aren’t very happy right now, as well as the many more who just want to see the fair democratic result following 2016’s vote to be carried out and for us to move on.

The argument from the Lib Dems is that Brexit is the cause of the current political situation and that the easiest way out of it is to just call the whole thing of and cancel Brexit. Firstly, as far as I can see it isn’t Brexit that is the cause of the current chaos but not delivering Brexit. It is not the fault of the millions who voted to leave, but it is those who have refused to honour the result and have worked in every way they can to undermine and thwart a positive outcome.

Any thought that cancelling Brexit will bring an end to the crisis we find ourselves in is quite simply ridiculous. Trust is already at a low ebb and for many seeing the result of the referendum just cast aside would only further damage their already fragile trust in democracy. It would simply prolong the uncertainty and deepen the divisions. Many people would understandable feel that the political establishment is set against them and their votes count for little.

This was swiftly followed by a car crash of an interview with the Lib Dem candidate for North Devon in which they said, on BBC Radio 4, that support for Brexit in the area was down to the fact that  ‘it’s 98% white’ and ‘they don’t travel a lot’. They went on to say that ‘I do not link all leave voters to hate crime’, and even talked about race as another factor.  This is an appalling attitude to people who voted leave for very genuine reasons and is quite frankly unacceptable.

It is clear that the Lib Dems in the South West view voters with contempt, believing that they simply know best. It is very sad that a party that carries the Liberal tradition of David Penhaligon has come to this.

The only way to bring this situation to some sort of closure is to deliver on the referendum result, leave the EU on 31st October and get back to Parliament being able to focus on the things the country really wants us to address. It is quite clear there is only one leader who is committed to doing that and this is why I am happy to give Boris Johnson my full support.

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


Friday, 13 September 2019

Campaign reply - The prorogation of Parliament



A number of constituents have sent a campaign email regarding the Scottish court ruling on the prorogation of Parliament. What is most telling is that it makes no reference to the English court ruling of opposite finding. Now the matter will go to the Supreme court.
It would be inappropriate  for me to say much more pending that hearing. We must wait and see what the courts rule.

There is though the bigger picture to consider. These are frankly dangerous times for our democracy and the feeling of many is that we are in the midst of an establishment stitch up to stop the democratic will of the people and usurp the referendum result.  Wherever I go in the constituency the clamour is growing ever stronger that we must leave the EU.

As I promised during the referendum campaign and the recent election I will do all I can to ensure we leave.


Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Campaign response - Free movement


Thank you to constituents who have recently got in touch with me about their
concerns about the ending of free movement after Brexit.

I understand how important it is that the government gets it right what our
future immigration system.

We voted to leave the EU and its institutions, but we did not to leave
behind our friends and family from the EU who are already in the UK. I have
been clear that I want to see EU citizens who have contributed so much to
our economy and community remain here after we Brexit, deal or no deal.

In August the Home Office published its latest information on the Settled
Status Scheme, which showed that over 1 million EU citizens have now been
granted settled status - just five months after the Scheme fully opened. The
Scheme is clearly performing better than expected, and will remain a key
part of the government's immigration policy post Brexit, deal or no deal.

I have not been made aware of any refusals/difficult cases in our
constituency. On the contrary a number of people I know from the EU were
granted settled or pre-settled status in a matter of hours after submitting
their information and documents on the smartphone app.

Whether or not we leave with a deal, EU nationals in the UK will have until
at least the end of 2020 to apply. This date is under review and the
government may decide to extend it to allow for more EU nationals to
register within the timeframe.

In addition to a mass communication and marketing campaign across the
country to make EU citizens aware of the scheme, the Government has also
awarded £9 million worth of funding to community organisations to provide
support to vulnerable or hard-to-reach groups to complete their
applications.

This week the Government has also announced plans for a new European
temporary leave to remain scheme for our European friends who wish to move
to the UK to live and work here after a no-deal Brexit and before the new
immigration system is implemented.

We are ending the freedom of movement - a key promise made during the EU
referendum of 2016 - to deliver what the people voted for. Ending the
freedom of movement in its current form is the starting point for our new,
fairer and more effective immigration system.

Further discussions need to be had about what additional arrangements should
look like, but while taking back control is important, nevertheless I want
to see that our immigration system is able to deliver for our economy and
for our businesses, by looking outwards and bringing to the UK the skills
and talent that we desperately need.


Monday, 9 September 2019

Campaign reply - HS2 - Leading Environmental Org's Call For Rethink


Some constituents have been in touch with a campaign email over concerns regarding HS2 -the high speed rail network.

You may be aware that the government is currently reviewing the scheme and a report is expected later this year.

HS2, a Labour government inspired scheme from 2009 has been controversial on a range of matters and there is growing concern that the overall cost is going to be considerably higher than first thought. This is concerning.

The route for HS2 (should it go ahead) has always been contentious and there are many interested parties that have expressed concerns from inception.

It is worth noting that one of the greenest forms of transport is of course rail, so a balance must be struck with meeting the needs of travel in the UK and the impact it may have following its construction. I am aware that considerable thought and planning has been given to environmental issues but note the concerns raised.

Before commenting further, I will wait to see what is in the government review  and will also take into account the various matters raised.
                


Thursday, 5 September 2019

Campaign reply: Act now to make St Austell and Newquay affordable for private renting and prevent homelessness


I have been contacted by constituents as part of the campaign ‘Act now to make St Austell and Newquay affordable for private renting and prevent homelessness’.

While I appreciate the concerns raised, I believe there are other ways to improve living conditions away from increasing benefit payments.

I want more people to be able to own their own home as around 80% of people want to.

This Government is doing lots of help people own their own homes including the Help to Buy Scheme and the Home buyers ISA.

While I agree we need to do all we can to enable people to rent at an affordable price, I also think we need to regulate the private rental sector better to allow these renters to have long term stability in their homes, something which the government is doing.

We are assisting local authorities to build more social and affordable homes both for social rent and the affordable schemes mentioned above.

Campaign reply: Protect the NHS from a US trade deal


I have been contacted by some constituents as part of the campaign ‘Protect the NHS from a US trade deal’

The campaign is against the prorogation of Parliament. I should clarify that under current arrangements we are only losing four days of Parliament time that we would have been sitting.
Proroguing will start a new session and new Queen’s speech, which is the right and correct thing to do for a new government, that will enable us to address the real issues the country needs us to like the NHS.

As it stands, this government is delivering on the NHS –  we have seen funding increases every year I have been MP as well as millions of pounds of investment in Cornwall including the new mental health inpatient facility for young people and the recent announcement of a new children and baby hospital at Treliske, not to mention the substantial increases in social care funding as announced in the Spending Round this week.

I would rather any trade deals be negotiated by the UK rather than be subject to EU negotiations.

Both our Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Donald Trump have also repeatedly said the NHS would not be part of any future trade deal.

The NHS has been in the hands of Conservative governments for the majority of its time That's 44 of its 71 years. and it will always be safe in our hands.

Campaign response: Minicab and taxi driver training



Thank you for constituents who have contacted me in the past few weeks about national minimum standards for drivers and operators of taxis and private hire vehicles.

I am glad that Department for Transport’s recent response to the Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) Working Group rightly recognised that there should be a requirement for all taxi and minicab drivers to undertake disability equality training, in the forthcoming legislation to introduce a minimum standards framework.

I share their disappointment that this legislation, like many other important ones, are not being given time for debate and passage in Parliament. Constituents will of course be aware that recent events in Parliament has prevented the Government from scheduling and moving bills forward for consideration by MPs.

This is most regrettable as it has been more than three years since the vote to leave and yet we are still debating whether or not we should seek an extension.

Once we deliver Brexit on the 31 October it will free up legislative time to consider bills such as this to enable drivers to understand the rights and needs of passengers, especially disabled people.

I am confident that the Government will bring forward a sensible timeframe for the bill in good time once we get through the current Brexit impasse. If that is not the case constituents are more than welcome to write to me again and I will be more than happy to raise this on their behalf.

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Campaign response: Please support pubs and help cut beer duty



Recently I have received a number of emails from constituents asking if I would speak in support of a petition with regards to beer duty.

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.

My campaign work has helped secured a commitment from the Treasury to review the Small Brewers Relief in the 2018 Budget.

This could help cut up to a third off the cost of running a pub.

In addition, I am also glad that the Government announced that beer, cider and spirits duty would be frozen for another year.

This means a pint of beer is now 14p cheaper than it would have otherwise been.

The Government has made clear to MPs that it recognises the important role pubs play in our communities.

In the last decade, the Government’s decisions have saved drinkers £5bn and meant beer duty has fallen by 15% in real terms.

I recognise that the Beer Duty, if not frozen, could have a significant impact on the cost of running local pubs. Therefore I will continue to work with campaign groups like CAMRA in my role with the Parliamentary Beer Group to make sure we have the best arrangements in place for pubs, and will be raising the concerns my constituents have to the Chancellor when I am next able to.


Newspaper column 4 September 2019 - Prorogation of Parliament


Last week was another varied one locally as I continued my busy Summer Recess schedule. I took part in a litter pick on Tuesday after a student from Carclaze School brought a local grot spot to my attention. On Wednesday I spent the day on Ennis Farm near Fraddon seeing first hand what life is like on a busy dairy farm – a really great experience. I visited Treliske Hospital to see some of their new medical equipment, met with local care providers and had another busy MP constituency advice surgery in St Austell. I also paid a visit to the new Primary School at Nansledan in Newquay and attended the turf cutting ceremony for the new community hub at Newquay Orchard.

Summer Recess has been a busy time and I have also enjoyed being able to spend time out and about around Cornwall catching up with friends and family. This week Parliament returns and with our Brexit date of 31 October getting closer things are getting very interesting.

Last week our Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that Parliament would be prorogued ahead of a Queen’s Speech in October.

This predictably led to cries of outrage from those people who are against the government, with all sorts of sensationalistic language being thrown about regarding the so-called suspension of democracy.

This is all nonsense of course. Normally there is a Queen’s Speech every year in order for the Government to outline its legislative programme for the coming months. When a new Government is formed, as Boris Johnson has done since he became Prime Minister, a Queen’s Speech is necessary in order to outline its legislative programme. Boris was elected just before the Summer Recess and now is his first opportunity to do this. The current Parliamentary session, which has lasted since 2017 is also the longest in hundreds of years and it is only right and proper that it end and a new session start with the new Government.

Not only this but the Parliamentary Calendar breaks for Conference Recess, the time when all political parties hold their annual conferences, every year from mid-September. Last year for example Parliament did not sit between the 14 September and the 8 October. But nobody batted an eyelid then.
What Parliament could do in the four days they are now not sitting this year, I am unsure. They have already been debating Brexit for the past three years and we are no further forward. If there is a constitutional outrage, it is by those who are seeking to usurp the government and force through legislation to delay Brexit in less than a week, which goes against long-established Parliamentary procedures that have served our country well for hundreds of years.

It is important to see the real motives of the people currently attacking the Government for what they are. They want to stop Brexit, nothing less. They say they want to avoid a no-deal Brexit, but have consistently voted against a deal when we have voted on one earlier this year. These people, mostly Labour MPs who stood on a platform of delivering Brexit and now have changed their minds, and Liberal Democrats, who have never respected the outcome of the 2016 Referendum, are the real enemies of democracy. They are doing all they can to go against the will of 17.4 million people who voted to leave, and the vast majority of those who voted remain who respect the outcome of the referendum and just want us to get on with it.

As your MP I remain committed to respecting the result of the Referendum, and the will of the people as voted on nationally and particularly in Cornwall and our constituency, before moving on to deliver the many exciting policy announcements Boris’s new government have made over the summer.








Campaign Response - Animal sentience needs to be recognised in UK law.



I have recently been contacted by a number of constituents as part of the " Animal sentience needs to be recognised in UK law - please attend the debate on 9th September."

The government said it would legislate to increase the sentencing guidelines for animal cruelty and I was delighted to see that legislation recently pass into law  As a dog owner myself, I think people who abuse animals are abhorrent and welcome this move by the government. This new legislation with significantly increased penalties for those found guilty.

I hope the new, harsher sentences (up to 5 years) sends a message to people who abuse animals, that it is not acceptable and will be punished severely including having a reasonably long prison sentence.


I have also been concerned over live animal exports and opened the Westminster Hall debate raising awareness of current failings and concerns.

Once we leave the EU we will be free to introduce our own legislation concerning animal welfare and of course other issues.



Monday, 2 September 2019

Campaign response: Please attend: APPG on Choice at the End of Life meeting on Monday 9th September



I fully understand how important end of life issues are to many constituents.

I regret to inform them that on this occasion I am unable to attend the meeting as it clashes with another meeting organised by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Pharmacy, of which I chair.

However I am happy to attend future events on this issue and would encourage constituents with an interest in this issue to contact me again to draw my attention to any future events in Parliament.


Campaign response: Please end the badger cull



Thank you to constituents who have recently emailed me in regards to the government’s policy on badger culling.

The Government’s strategy on dealing with TB is delivering results.

According to reports in 2018, reductions in new outbreaks of bovine TB have been recorded in Gloucestershire and Somerset following the completion of their licensed four-year badger culls. In the Gloucestershire cull area, TB incidence has fallen from 10.4% before culling started in 2013 to 5.6% in year four of the cull (2016). While in Somerset it has reduced from 24% to 12% over the same period.

TB in cattle is costing our local farming community hundreds of thousands of pounds a year. It is also a cause of significant stress and anxiety for farmers waiting for the regular tests and watching animals they have raised be destroyed. In fact this week I spent a day on a dairy farm and heard first hand the devastating impact that TB has on farmers.

In my discussions with local vets, scientists and DEFRA officials who all give me the same message.

I take on board the views of concerned constituents – I do not wish to see our badger population needlessly destroyed. But this is a choice between destroying a proportion of the badger population or continuing to see thousands of cattle needlessly destroyed every year with the knock on economic cost to our local agricultural community and economy. This issue is not just about the welfare of wild animals. It is also about the welfare of our farming community.

DEFRA has already welcomed the publication of the Godfray report and is actively considering its recommendations before publishing a response:

“We welcome this review of the Government’s 25-year Bovine TB strategy and I extend my thanks to Sir Charles Godfray and his team for their hard work in producing the report.

As a Government we are committed to eradicating bTB and have always been clear that there is no single measure for tackling it. That’s why we have pursued a range of interventions, including cattle movement controls, vaccinations and controlled culling in certain areas. I support the governments approach to this issue including the use of culling where appropriate.

Sir Charles’ report is an important contribution that will inform next steps in the strategy to achieve officially TB free status for England by 2038.”

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Newspaper column 21 August 2019 - The Prime Minister's visit to Cornwall


Even though the weather wasn’t the best last week, it was good to be put and about in the constituency for the Summer Recess, meeting with local people on a variety of issues.

I met with Kernow Men’s Society, as well as students working with Young People Cornwall on their National Citizenship Service project in St Austell.

On Wednesday I also held another well attended Meet your MP event at the Sawles Arms in Carthew. We discussed the £79m government funded link road from the A30 to St Austell, as well as a diverse number of local and national issues.

My next Meet your MP event is at the Boscawen Hotel in St Dennis, next Tuesday 27th August from 1800-1930. Please do come along if you would like to meet me in an informal session to discuss any issues you’d like to raise.

On Monday along with some of my Cornish MP colleagues I was delighted to welcome the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson to Cornwall.

The Prime Minister visited Treliske Hospital in a follow up to the recent fantastic announcement of £100million for a new mother, baby and children's hospital, the largest funding amount for any single NHS Trust made in the announcement.

As well as this the Prime Minister also met with myself and the other Cornish MPs, our Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez and local councillors to discuss all things Cornish.

While Brexit was obviously high on the agenda, it was also good to see politicians at every level united in making the case to the Prime Minister for continued investment in Cornwall and for us to increase funding in all sorts of areas, including education, policing, and infrastructure .

Fair funding for rural areas such as Cornwall is something I have long championed. I believe the funding models used by past successive governments simply do not recognise the increased costs to deliver services that rural areas bear compared to urban areas. This is particularly amplified in our police funding, which also does not take into account seasonal population adjustments, with the millions of extra people who holiday in Cornwall every year placing increased demands on our police.

I was pleased to see the Prime Minister listen to our concerns and assured us of his determination to ‘level up’ all areas of the country. He also reaffirmed his priorities -  Brexit with or without a deal on 31 October, more police and better education funding and ensuring the record levels of NHS funding get to the frontline, all underpinned by a strong economy which is required to fund all our public services .

The is no doubt in my mind that Boris Johnson is providing the positive leadership and delivering what 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

Monday, 19 August 2019

Campaign response - Stand by children raised here and help reduce child citizenship fees



Thank you to constituents who have written to me about the rise in citizenship fees for children.

This is one of the many important yet sensitive issues in our immigration system that needs to be resolved as we build a new system that more fit for purpose after we Brexit.

Earlier this week I and a group of cross-party parliamentarians with an interest in immigration released a joint statement in response to media reports about excessive high fees charged by the Home Office for visas and immigration applications:

"The Home Office urgently needs to look at options to reduce high visa fees.”

"All departments are under financial pressure but the answer can't be to jack up fees over and over.”

"Visa fees should reflect the administrative costs of processing applicants and the Home Office should not use these fees to subsidise other services.”

I am glad that the new Home Secretary has now told the campaign group Citizens UK that she has been in contact with her Home Office officials over the issue and understands the “concerns surrounding this sensitive matter”.

I also know that she is on the side of constituents because she was among a group of MPs who wrote to the then Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes on the 10 July to ask why children were being charged excessively high fees to become citizens of the country they were born or had lived in since childhood.

I have every confidence that the Home Secretary will now take this issue seriously, but I am as always happy to speak up for my constituents concerns in Parliament whenever I have the opportunity to.


Campaign response: The unlawful attempt to extradite Lynda Thyer, Bio-Chemist to France, and David Noakes



Thank you to constituents who have recently copied me into an email that they sent to the Home Secretary regarding the cases of Lynda Thyer and David Noakes of Immuno Biotech.

While I am not privy to the details of these cases, I am aware that in November 2018 David Noakes was sentenced after pleading guilty to 4 charges relating to the manufacture and sale and supply of an unlicensed medicine (GcMAF), and one count of money laundering. One report said that his “drug” led to up to 75% of patients of autism, Cancer and HIV suffering side effects, with one of 17 customers wrote she "almost died numerous times". Lynda Thyer, as I understand, was working on Noakes’ team.

I trust that my constituents will receive a full and informative response from the Home Secretary in due course. If they have yet to receive a reply in good time then they are more than welcome to get in touch with me again and I will be happy to chase a response on their behalf.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Campaign response - Uphold the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration



I am grateful to constituents who have written to me recently regarding the situation in Hong Kong and the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

The human rights and democratic situation in Hong Kong is one that I have recently taken a strong interest and have spoken about in the House of Commons. For instance, I have recently presented a petition in Parliament on behalf of over 160,000+ British subjects in Hong Kong, many of whom are seeking British diplomatic assistance and protection in Hong Kong and others are seeking sanctuary in the UK for fear of political persecution: https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1147872/Hong-Kong-protests-news-latest-UK-residents-British-Overseas-video

There is no question that the doctrine of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong have come under attack recently.

It is regrettable that 30 years since the democratic protests in Tiananmen Square were brutally crushed by the Chinese Government, hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong people have to resort to marching on the streets to defend their democracy and basic freedoms such as the freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

These right were supposedly guaranteed to Hong Kong in the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a bilateral political treaty which remains as valid today as when it was signed 35 years ago.

The British Government is a signatory to the Joint Declaration and as a result we have a joint responsibility with the Chinese Government to ensure that the terms and the spirit of the treaty are upheld and protected.

With Brexit, we have a chance to build a more constructive relationship with the Chinese Government as we negotiate a new trade deal with them.

Our relations should not be driven solely by trade. FCO needs a more clearly articulated framework of values when dealing with Chinese counterparts.

Britain has always had a proud tradition of speaking up for democracy, the rule of law and basic human rights around the world. We must not be afraid to challenge the Chinese Government on these matters where we have concerns.

Once Parliament returns in September, I will of course, be more than happy to speak to the new Foreign Secretary on your and many other constituents’ behalf about Hong Kong, and reiterate our need to fulfil the obligations of the Joint Declaration.

As we deliver Brexit we also have a once in a lifetime opportunity to regain control of our borders. With that comes the ability to prevent unwelcomed visitors, including those who have been accused of gross violations of human rights and other basic rights in Hong Kong and elsewhere. I am aware that a number of my parliamentary colleagues on both sides of the House are calling on the UK Government to place sanctions against those individuals who have been identified as being complicit in the latest escalation and undermining the values and institutions that the UK is a guarantor of under the Join Declaration. I will be supporting these efforts in the Commons and elsewhere.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Newspaper column 7 August 2019 - A new hospital for Cornwall


On Sunday the Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a one-off cash boost of £1.8 billion for NHS hospitals in England.

Of this, almost £1 billion will be available immediately to go towards new equipment and upgrades to 20 hospitals.

The money is new money, coming from the Treasury and is not a re-allocation of funds from the Department of Health.

It is on top of an extra £33 billion a year by 2023 announced by former prime minister Theresa May last year.

Late on Sunday evening we learned that the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust will be receiving £99.9 million which will go towards a new Women’s and Children’s Hospital in the centre of the Royal Cornwall Hospital site in Truro. This is the largest share of the £1.8 billion fund going to any Trust around the country.

Back in July, when there were problems at Treliske caused by a virus outbreak, myself and the other Cornish MPs met with Secretary of State Matt Hancock to discuss what could be done to ease the pressure. Obviously, new facilities were at the top of our list. This announcement, just weeks into the new Prime Minister’s tenure, shows the Government has listened and remains committed to the NHS and services in Cornwall.

This Government has already put real terms increases of funding into Cornwall’s NHS and we have seen tangible outcomes from this, including the construction of the inpatient mental health facility for young people which is due to open this year. In December and April we also saw announcements of a combined £44.8 million of NHS Capital funding for Cornwall, which will go straight to improving vital facilities around our county. This along with the Government’s Long Term Plan for the future of the NHS, supported by the new cash funding commitment of £33.9 billion by 2023-24, to make sure the NHS is fit for purpose and always there to serve the people of our country.

It is also worth pointing out that these investments announced so far nationally, are more than the £350 million a week that was on the red Brexit bus.

Of course, improving outcomes for patients is not just about putting more money in, it is important we also spend it in the right way and I welcome the focus of Long Term NHS Plan in helping people to be healthier as well as improving treatments.

As ever I will continue to work with my Cornish MP colleagues to do everything we can to ensure that Cornwall continues to receive a fair share of funding in the years to come.

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