Thursday, 28 February 2019

Campaign response – Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill


Constituents concerned about reports that peers will be tabling amendments to the Civil Partnerships Bill to compel churches to carry out same sex weddings have got in touch to ask if I would voice my opposition against these proposals.

An attempt to remove the exemption of the Church of England from same-sex marriage in churches was made in the House of Lords earlier this month.

Lord Faulkner, a Labour peer, attempted to remove the exemption for members of the clergy to solemnise the marriage of a same-sex couple

However, following an indication from the Government that it will not support the amendment, Lord Faulkner withdrew his amendment.

Baroness Williams, Minister for Equalities, said that it was “not for the Government to mandate this through regulations”.

The Government rightly recognises that a wider debate about the nature of marriage is going on right across society and indeed within the Church.

The bill is due to receive its report stage in the House of Lords in March and I am aware that Lord Faulkner has said that he will table his amendment again then.

While as an Member of Parliament who sit in the Commons I cannot influence the proceedings in the other chamber, I will be monitoring the bill’s progress closely and will not hold back on making my views known whenever it is necessary to do so.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Campaign reply - “Now is the time to enact what the country called for in the largest democratic vote taken by the people,”



Following a campaign email entitled “Now is the time to enact what the country called for in the largest democratic vote taken by the people,” I take this opportunity to again reiterate my abiding focus on honouring the result of the referendum with a meaningful Brexit.

Article 50 clearly sets out that in the event of no deal being reached then we leave on WTO terms. Whilst that option will present challenges in the short term I firmly believe that it is a viable and appropriate way forward.

An examination of my voting record will amply demonstrate my commitment to honouring the result of the referendum.

In the PM’s recent statement in the House she set out a timetable of votes. There is now the very real and looming prospect of seeing the no deal scenario voted down. This is a disastrous in my view and I will never support a vote to take if off the table.
An extension to leaving has also now emerged and again I will not support such a move unless it is specifically to allow for the implementation of a likely deal. Never for more negotiations.   If an amended deal emerges that gets us out with us then free to negotiate further once gone, then it will need consideration in view of the options on offer..

Thank you also to the countless thousands who have written to me, telephoned or stopped me in the constituency urging me on to do my part in seeing us successfully leave the EU. You have been heard and I am on the case.

Campaign reply Tuesday 26 February - Please call for an end to the 5 week wait for Universal Credit


A number of constituents have contacted as me as part of a campaign asking me to attend the estimates debate on 26 February and call for an end to the 5 week wait for Universal Credit.

I was unable to attend this debate on 26 February due to prior commitments elsewhere in Parliament.

In terms of Universal Credit, I did support calls for changes to the advance payment system when you first make a claim. I was pleased to see the Government subsequently change the benefit to allow claimants who need it claim a 100% advance payment.

I believe this was a good step in making claiming this benefit easier to claim, and also one that negates the five week wait when used. As such I do not support calls to remove the waiting period for this benefit.

I continue to feedback concerns raised with me by constituents and take feedback from local DWP staff which I raise with Ministerial colleagues where appropriate.

Newspaper column 27 February 2019 - My visit to the Falklands


Last week I had the huge privilege of visiting the Falkland Islands to visit our armed forces there.

My visit was as part of a cross-party delegation of MPs from the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme (AFPS). The visit was planned many months ago and I was pleased to be able to still go despite the Parliamentary recess being cancelled.

The Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme is a programme to give Members of Parliament and peers in the United Kingdom experience of the armed forces. Its aim is to improve the quality of debate on military issues, and it does this by exposing its members to first-hand experience of the services.
This was an amazing experience. The Falkland Islands are so remote yet so beautiful and remain one of the most unspoilt places in the world. The Falkland Islands have a population of just over 3,000 and the main industries include fishing, tourism and farming, so in some respects, there are familiarities with Cornwall.

Life on the Falklands is a challenge but it is equally an amazing place to be. It was also very moving to learn more about the 1982 war and retrace the steps of some of our troops. The stories of courage and commitment are truly inspiring.

We continue to maintain a military presence in and around the Falklands and as such there is a significant amount of defence funding in this area. I was pleased to meet with a number of personnel from around the various military installations for an update on their important work safeguarding our territory and the people who live and work there. Additionally our presence is of wider strategic significance as the islands form the Atlantic gateway to Antarctica. 

One thing that was a real surprise was finding people from Cornwall, seemingly everywhere I went. It’s been said in the past that you can look down a hole anywhere in the world and find a Cornishman there, and this theory seems to have been updated to include finding fellow Cornishmen and women on these small and remote islands too.

In particular I met a navigator on HMS Clyde who lives in Newquay and the Harbour Master for the military port who comes from Fowey. It was good to catch up with them and have some familiar topics to talk about even that far away from home.

It was also a surprise to find the Cornish Coat of Arms on the wall in the Governor’s House. Apparently there are strong links between Cornwall and the Falklands which I am interested to discover more about. Indeed, in recent years the principal counsel for the Falkland Islands Government has actually come over for a prolonged job swap with an equivalent legal officer from Cornwall Council in 2012, something which I am sure was a real eye opener for both people! I also learned that a former Governor of the islands also lives in our constituency.

One notable thing I discovered about the Falkland Islands is the lack of internet and phone connectivity – things we take for granted in the UK. On my return it has been good to catch up on the interesting developments from last week regarding Brexit and MPs leaving the political parties they were elected under to join the so-called Independent Group. This is something I will probably touch on in a future column but for now I am pleased to back in the UK, recovering from my 19 hour flight and continuing to represent you as your strong Cornish voice in Westminster.

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 response - Don't allow weaker earthquake rules for fracking



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, clean 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.

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.




Campaign response – Brexit Citizens Rights



Recently a number of constituents currently living in Europe have written to me to ask if I would support the 'Costa Amendment' to ring-fence the rights of millions of UK citizens living in the EU.

Many of my parliamentary colleagues will be voting for Alberto Costa MP’s amendment if and when it is put before the House of Commons this week, and I too will be supporting the amendment.

The amendment that I will be supporting will ask the Prime Minister to “seek at the earliest opportunity a joint UK-EU commitment to adopt part two of the withdrawal agreement on citizens rights and ensure its implementation prior to the UK’s exiting the European Union, whatever the outcome of negotiations on other aspects of the withdrawal agreement”.

In Parliament I have consistently spoken up in favour of citizens rights being safeguarded, regardless of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. I have been encouraged by the clear commitment made by the Conservative government to protect the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, even if we leave without a deal.

The UK Government has been clear that it will safeguard rights of over 3 million EU Citizens living in the UK.  Even if there is no deal, changes to the Immigration Rules laid before Parliament in July mean that EU citizens will be able to remain through the Settled Status Scheme.

In light of this offer of goodwill to all EU citizens living in the UK, it is disappointing the EU-27 have yet to publish any concrete plans to retain the rights of British citizens living on the continent post-Brexit. I have asked government ministers to give the public greater clarity on what they are doing to ensure that EU leaders can agree on reciprocal arrangements for UK citizens living in the EU, and will continue to do so.

The existing EU plan for citizens rights under no-deal is unsatisfactory. It relies on the argument that the rights issue falls under immigration policy, which is left at the level of the nation state. So instead of coming up with centralised plans, they'll simply instruct countries to regularise the status of Brits in their territory, with little control over how - or if - that will be pursued.

With little time left until our departure from the EU, should we leave without a deal (which is the current default legal position) officials in Brussels will need to be working on a citizen's rights treaty now, if it has any chance of being ratified and implemented before the end of March.

The Costa amendment, when voted through, will give the Prime Minister a clear mandate to go back to Brussels and ask the EU to seek a new mandate for a bloc-wide deal on citizens rights.

Campaign reply - “Brexit and a people’s vote”.


A number of you have written to me with a campaign email entitled “Brexit and a people’s vote”.

Negotiations with the EU have proven (again) by their intransigence  why it is essential we leave the EU and honour the democratic wishes of the majority and regain control of our own country. It is also important to note that the Conservative party is not “wasting time by asking…” the EU for anything. It is not negotiating with the EU and not understanding this rudimentary point throws doubt over the validity and grasp of all other points raised.

No deal has been agreed and yet the email says it has! Therefore the comments that flow from that are spurious because of the false premise.

The “strong democratic case” we have for leaving the EU was secured when the referendum was held with the overwhelming majority in the constituency voting to leave. Seeking to rerun it because we don’t like the result is directly against the democratic values we should all cherish.

Whilst the Labour Party has now reneged  on its manifesto pledge to honour the result of the referendum with a motion to have a second referendum, the motivation behind this confused and volatile position is all about the internal politics of the Labour parliamentary party – nothing else. It is something I will never countenance should it come to a vote in the house, not least because it is a direct assault on the democratic wishes of the majority.

On the government benches there are Ministers who posture they might resign. Whatever else is in flux I am clear: I made promises during the referendum campaign. I reiterated them during the election campaign and stood on a manifesto that promised to honour the result of the referendum. I will not be diverted.



Campaign reply - ‘Can you help us get faster treatment for pancreatic cancer?’


A number of constituents have contacted me as part of the campaign ‘Can you help us get faster treatment for pancreatic cancer?’

As someone who lost my own mum to cancer I am fully aware of the impact this terrible disease has on millions of people and their families.

I support Pancreatic Cancer UK’s demand for faster treatment, so that by 2024 all pancreatic cancer patients are treated within 20 days of diagnosis.

I will be raising this with Ministerial colleagues in Parliament and asking them to commit to a 20-day treatment goal.


Campaign response – help stop Christophobia



Christians across the world are experiencing increasing levels of persecution and violence. In light of this, a number of concerned constituents have written to me asking me to support Premier Christianity’s Stop Christophobia campaign.

They said in their email: “I ask that as my constituency MP you use your influence in Parliament to feed into the policy review announced by the Foreign Secretary to ensure that the UK Government does all it can to protect, support and advocate for Christians who are suffering for their faith.”

I have long championed the freedom of religion and in particular the rights of Christian minorities across the world.

Ever since becoming your MP in 2015 I have made my views on religious persecution clear – I want to see the Government increase its efforts on tackling this global issue by speaking up and taking action where possible, including sanctions against the persecutors and sanctuary for the persecuted.

I would therefore like to join constituents in welcoming the Foreign Secretary’s announcement of a global review into the persecution of Christians. This unprecedented review will look at the challenges that Christians face and how effectively the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has provided support to persecuted Christians, before make recommendations on the practical steps the government can take to better help those who face persecuted.

I recently had the privilege of attending the launch of the review at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, after which I met with the Bishop of Truro who is leading the review.

In January I was also delighted to be able to host a parliamentary reception for international church leaders ahead of the Open Doors World Watch List 2019.

I will continue to engage with the review where possible and use my influence as an MP to bring about positive changes to Christians who face persecution because of their belief.

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


Many of you have written to me with a campaign email “The British people voted to leave “WITHOUT a deal.”

It sets out succinctly the legal position and one that I am happy to largely endorse.

Looking back at the referendum campaign and the last election, I made  (as did the manifestos of the main political parties)  certain promises: to honour the outcome of the referendum result and to seek an agreement with the EU that honoured that. In the event of such a deal proving elusive then we would leave on WTO terms.

Through all the twists and turns of Brexit my position has been constant. Let’s try to find a deal worthy or Brexit and if not then WTO beckons.



Campaign Reply - “EDM 2069 to stop the HCPC fees hike”



Thank you  to those who wrote to me with a campaign email “EDM 2069 to stop the HCPC fees hike”

There is to be an early day motion regarding this and I have been asked to sign it. As a principle I never sign early day motions as they very rarely achieve anything whilst at the same time running up costs to the tax payer.

The HCPC put out a statement some time ago:

The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) is consulting with registrants including radiographers about proposals to increase the renewal fee from £90 to £106 per year - a rise of almost 18%.
The Council claims that the increase is needed to "support our new strategic focus of promoting professionalism and preventing fitness to practise issues from arising. We also need to continue to invest in the services we offer to registrants. The consultation takes place in the context of keeping pace with the cost of inflation and the impact on our operations and income when social workers in England transfer to Social Work England in 2019."
The HCPC's operating costs are funded by radiographers and the other professionals on the register.
Marc Seale, the HCPC’s chief executive and registrar said, “The consultation sets out where the registrants’ fees are spent and why the increases are needed. It highlights how these increases compare to our existing fees and provides information on our financial performance, including the efficiencies we have already made.
"It also shows how the proposed increases compare with other regulators. If adopted, we would continue to have the lowest renewal fee of all the health and care regulators overseen by the Professional Standards Authority.”


However that is not to say I do not have sympathy with the concerns raised and with that in  mind I will raise the matter with ministers and their officials when I see them.



Campaign reply - Food standards after Brexit.



A number of constituents have written to me concerning Food Standards post Brexit and if I will support Neil Parish’s amendment, NC4.

Whilst I do not share the concerns expressed by some about food standards post Brexit I am ready to support Neil’s amendment, NC4. The clause reads:
To move the following Clause— “Import of agricultural goods (1) Agricultural goods may be imported into the UK only if the standards to which those goods were produced were as high as, or higher than, standards which at the time of import applied under UK law relating to— (a) animal welfare, (b) protection of the environment, and (c) food safety. (2) “Agricultural goods”, for the purposes of this section, means— (a) any livestock within the meaning of section 1(4), (b) any plants or seeds, within the meaning of section 15(6), (c) any product derived from livestock, plants or seeds.”

This is a perfectly reasonable amendment and I am pleased to support it.


Campaign reply - Stop the sell off of RBS


A number of constituents have written to me about the sell off of RBS.

It is important to remember the circumstances of why RBS was bailed out in the first place: The near collapse of the economy in 2008 must be laid at the feet of the then Labour government. Reckless over spending and so-called light touch regulation led directly to the first run on a UK bank (Northern Rock) for 150 years. As we all know the contagion spread. It has taken the nation a decade or more to recover and become a strong and healthy economy that can now afford to increase spending on the services we all use and appreciate.

With the banking crisis dealt with the plan to sell off the shares has commenced. Lloyds Bank  and other share sales have actually been profitable. Philip Hammond did pause the sale of RBS to ensure the best outcome. Looking at the sums and complex instruments used it is not easy to establish costs but it is worth remembering the government applied very substantial fees for giving guarantees to RBS. The bank levy  has  also raised £14.5bn between 2011/12 and 2016/17. It makes for some comfort from a situation that should never have arisen in the first place. There has been another £20bn of extra revenue paid by the banks recently – a further endorsement of the now sound financial state of the UK and so it is that taxpayers money  will be returned to HM Treasury.

A properly regulated banking system operating in a strong and well managed economy are the best ways to ensure a repeat of these events.

High street banking has seen a revolution  in how it operates and how customers interact with their bank. I have taken a keen interest in this and the impact these changes make on our communities. Please be in touch if you have any specific concerns.

Campaign reply - Debate on post-Brexit trade deals


A few constituents have written to me regarding the debate on post-Brexit trade deals that was held on Thursday 21 February.

As many will know the parliamentary recess was scheduled for that week but  then cancelled. I had previously  planned an overseas trip on parliamentary business and having consulted with the whips office it was decided the trip should go ahead.

I regret I was therefore unable to attend the debate.


Monday, 25 February 2019

Campaign Response - Show love for animals - recognise animal sentience in law


I have recently been contacted by a number of constituents as part of the 'Show love for animals - recognise animal sentience in law' campaign.

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs  announced at the Conservative Party conference that the government will legislate to increase the sentencing guidelines for animal cruelty. As a dog owner myself, I think people who abuse animals are abhorrent and welcome this move by the government.

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

I look forward to this law coming to the House and I hope it is implemented as soon as possible.

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 many other issues.

Campaign reply - " please support a better deal for animals"


A number of you have written to me with an email entitled " please support a better deal for animals".

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs recently announced at the Conservative Party conference that the government will legislate to increase the sentencing guidelines for animal cruelty. As a dog owner myself, I think people who abuse animals are abhorrent and welcome this move by the government.

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


I look forward to this law coming to the House and I hope it is implemented as soon as possible.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Babies in neonatal care and changes to parental leave update

I have now received a reply from the Minister in response to my earlier correspondence on neonatal care and parental leave.

I have included it below and will continue to watch the progress of this work with interest:



Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Newspaper column 20 February 2019 - Transport infrastructure investment


This past week in Parliament I was pleased to continue to work on a number of issues important to our constituency. These included my Questions to Ministers which secured continuing Government support for the Newquay-London air route, regardless of which airline operates it. I also called upon the Government to reclassify the launching of balloons as littering, which it clearly is, in Questions to the Leader of the House of Commons.

On Friday I was pleased to hear the announcement by Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling MP that the Government is releasing £80m funds to upgrade resilience of the Dawlish line.

This follows Network Rail submitting their plans for a new sea wall at Dawlish earlier this month. These designs will prevent storm conditions from damaging the railway at Dawlish in Devon. Owing to high waves and strong winds, the tracks and station are regularly being damaged by flooding, as seen in 2014 when the line washed away.

This announcement is part of the £2 billion Investing in the South West, which also includes improvements to road, public transport and cycle connectivity - all part of keeping Cornwall better connected to the rest of the UK.

There is a myth peddled by some with political agendas that this Government is ignoring Cornwall and the south west when it comes to funding and investment. This could not be farther from the truth and in fact this Government continues to deliver for Cornwall – particularly in the area of transport infrastructure, something that we have missed out on under previous governments.

In terms of roads, we have seen the plans continue for the dedicated A30 link road to St Austell and the surrounding area, which Cornwall Council voted to submit the final business case for last week. This involves a £79m investment from the Government, and currently represents the largest ever single piece of transport infrastructure funding in Cornwall. Cornwall-wide we have also seen £76 million investment in dualling the A30 between Temple and Higher Carblake which opened in July 2017 and a planned 8.7 mile dual carriageway on the A30 between Chiverton and Carland Cross.

Regarding rail services, we have seen the new fleet of 29 Hitachi bullet-style trains being introduced to services between London and Cornwall, an investment worth £361m. The Government has also contributed £9m to a package to modernise the Cornish Sleeper trains and move maintenance of the trains from London to a new facility at Penzance Long Rock Depot, creating new local jobs.

Turning to air travel the Government has renewed the Public Service Obligation to support the Newquay-London route, in partnership with Cornwall Council. It has also supported a new direct air route between Newquay and Heathrow Airport from April 2019 which will give passengers a choice of more than 200 destinations across 85 countries, as well as supporting our local economy from having Cornwall connected to this major international air hub.

There is always more to do, but we have much to celebrate at this time as Cornwall in currently in the midst of probably the biggest ever investment in our transport system. But I am also determined, along with my Cornish MP colleagues, to continue to keep up this positive momentum and ensure Cornwall’s transport connectivity continues to attract our fair share of national funds now and 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 response – Please scrap the Minimum Income Requirement and bring families together


Recently a number of constituents have written to me about their concerns for the minimum income requirement British citizens must earn in order to be able to bring their non-EEA spouses to join them in the UK.

Since July 2012 the UK’s Immigration Rules have required non-EEA nationals to satisfy a financial, ‘minimum income’ requirement in order to secure a visa to join a British/settled spouse or partner in the UK.

Though the government at the time contended that financial requirement supports integration and prevents a burden being placed on the taxpayer, since the introduction of the minimum income requirement, there have been several legal proceedings against it.

In 2017 the Supreme Court found that the minimum income requirement is acceptable in principle. It ruled that the government policy strikes a fair balance between the interests of those wishing to sponsor a spouse to settle in the UK and of the community in general. It ensures that taxpayers are not required to support those settling in the UK on Family visas and the policy promotes integration.

However the Court did require the Government to make some changes to the Immigration Rules and associated policy guidance.

Amended Immigration Rules and policy guidance came into effect on 10 August 2017.

Since then, if an application cannot meet the financial requirement through the five sources specified in the Immigration Rules, decision-makers are instructed to consider whether there are “exceptional circumstances” which could or would render a refusal decision a breach of human rights (ECHR Article 8).

If the decision-maker considers that refusal would result in a breach of the Article 8 rights of a relevant party, they must grant the application, even if the financial requirement is not met.

Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes has said in response to Parliamentary Questions on this subject: “We continue to keep the family Immigration Rules under review and make adjustments in light of feedback on their operation and impact.”

I fully understand the strength of feeling in this matter and I have always made the case that at the Home Office needs to take into greater consideration the interest of the family in its immigration decisions.

I will continue to monitor closely the impact the minimum income requirement has on families in the constituency and speak up in support of them where possible.

Campaign reply - End Our Pain "Patients need help: act now to support those denied medical cannabis"


A number of constituents have recently contacted me as part of the campaign 'End Our Pain "Patients need help: act now to support those denied medical cannabis"'

We have seen in recent months that there is a pressing need to allow those who might benefit from cannabis-based products to access them.

You may be interested to know that the Home Secretary last year confirmed that there will be a review on the scheduling of cannabis.

This step is in no way a first step to the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use and the government has absolutely no plans to legalise cannabis and the penalties for unauthorised supply and possession will remain unchanged.

However, if the review identifies that there are significant medical benefits then the Government does intend to reschedule.

You can read the full announcement via the link below:


I will watch this review, and its findings, with interest.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Campaign reply - NSPCC’s Wild West Web campaign



Many constituents have written to me asking me to attend an event held by the NSPCC’s Wild West Web campaign.

The NSPCC has a long history of helping and supporting children. Their efforts to help and protect children from wrong and harmful content on the web is an important and  timely evolvement in their tireless work.

On day of the NSPCC’s event, amongst many other meetings I have a school from the constituency visiting parliament on an educational day. I must be sure to honour my promise to them. However I will do all I can to visit the NSPCC’s event if only briefly.

The event is in my diary and I thank all of you who sent a campaign email.

Monday, 18 February 2019

Campaign response - NHS waiting times


A number of constituents have contacted me as part of the 38 Degree campaign on NHS waiting times.

As set out in the NHS Constitution, patients have the right to a maximum 18 week
waiting time from referral to consultant-led treatment. Patients also have the right to be seen by a cancer specialist within a maximum of two weeks from GP referral for urgent referrals where cancer is suspected. In September 2015, the Government pledged to introduce a new four week waiting time standard for cancer diagnosis by 2020.

The NHS Constitution also provides a series of pledges on maximum waiting times for services such as diagnostic tests, A & E, and treatment for diagnosed cancer.
Many of these expected standards are monitored as a percentage of patients. If the
expected percentage of patients is not seen within the standard, the Government can impose financial sanctions if this is set out in a provider’s contract. However, although since April 2016 many local NHS teams have not met the standards for A&E and elective care, the Government has not imposed sanctions. Instead it has focussed on improving standards, particularly in A&E departments.

Since 2015, the Government has introduced a number of waiting time standards for
talking therapies, treatment for psychosis and children and young people with an eating disorder. The Government is piloting a four-week target for access to specialist children’s mental health services in several areas in England.

The Government and NHS England are also working to improve patient choice within the NHS, which is a legal right as set out in the NHS Constitution.

Patients have a right to choose their provider and consultant-led team when they are
referred for their first outpatient appointment with a service led by a consultant. These rights were for the first time extended to mental health services in April 2014. There are some exceptions to this right, including for people detained under the Mental Health Act 1983.

To further strengthen patient choice, a legal right to have a personal health budget was introduced for adults receiving NHS Continuing Healthcare and children and young people receiving Continuing Care in October 2014. The NHS Mandate 2014-15 also set an objective for the NHS to further roll out personal health budgets to anyone who could benefit, by April 2015.

In 2015, the Government made clear its intention to bring greater choice in palliative care. This included personal health budgets, but also introducing new digital solutions, new care coordinator roles, better training and more public campaigns to promote personalisation of end of life care.

In successive Mandates, the Government has expressed the desire to introduce more choice for maternity services, palliative care and people with long-term conditions by 2020. The Government has consulted on giving more groups the right to have a personal health budget (including those with learning disabilities and wheelchair users) but has not yet published its response to the feedback.
I will certainly bear comments made by constituents in mind when it comes to discussing waiting list changes with Ministerial colleagues in the future.


Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Newspaper column 13 February 2019 - Unauthorised encampments

This past week again saw a lot of varied and interesting opportunities for me in my work as your Member of Parliament. 

In Westminster I met with the Business Minister and the Cornish Lithium company to discuss the future of lithium mining in Cornwall, as well as speaking up for Cornwall in the debate on Economic Growth in the South West.

Meanwhile in Mid-Cornwall I attended the Plastic Free Cornwall event at St Austell to discuss how we can all do more to cut down on single use plastic. I also met with local farmers and Mevagissey fishermen to discuss a variety of concerns. I also made it to St Austell RFC at the weekend to welcome in the new reusable plastic pint cups initiative by Sharps Brewery.

On Wednesday, I was pleased to see the Home Secretary announce plans to give police tough new powers to crackdown on illegal traveller sites.

These sites are sadly a regular feature in Cornwall, particularly during the summer months, and last year I was involved with issues with them that came up in both St Austell and Newquay towns.

The problem as it stands is that while everyone knows that these sites, are by their nature, unauthorised and so should not be there, there is a lengthy process that needs to be followed in order to evict them. The people who create these sites know this and take advantage. In the meantime, while these sites are there they often take up parking or public space and are left in a poor state of repair, costing the taxpayer more to clean up.

The proposals the Home Secretary set out last week look at making it easier for officers to intervene and remove travellers from land they should not be on. He will also consider making it a criminal offence to set up such camps. It is currently defined in law as trespassing, a civil matter.

In addition, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government announced it will provide local authorities with practical and financial support to handle unauthorised encampments.

The move to review making trespassing a criminal offence rather than a civil one is over and above what has previously been considered, and something I have asked for in Parliament previously. This will give the police powers to quickly intervene and move on unauthorised encampments and avoid the issues described above. 

I look forward to these plans progressing and being brought into law 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 response - STAND UP AGAINST 40 YEARS OF OPPRESSION IN IRAN



As we approach the much-anticipated US-Poland summit on Iran, and a number of concerned constituents have copied me into an email they have written to the Foreign Secretary urging his to lead to UK delegation in its efforts to curb Iran’s aggression and oppression.

I have noted the points made in their email. I will continue to speak up against the threat posed by the Iranian regime, not only to the international order but also to our own citizens like Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe who has been unfairly detained and denied access to medical care.

The regime continues to allow the systemic persecution of Christians in its country to go unchecked. Imprisonment of and violence against Christian converts are widespread and those who are found to attend underground churches face long sentences and public humiliation.

I trust that the Foreign Secretary will provide a timely and satisfactory response to important points made by constituents. I will also be seeking to raise these points directly with the Foreign Secretary when the opportunity arises.

Campaign response – We need a People’s vote on Brexit as do not want No Deal



I voted against the Withdrawal Agreement after carefully considering the 585 page Brexit deal proposed by the Prime Minister.

But not because I want a second referendum.

I backed a people’s vote in 2016. The Brexit referendum was the largest exercise in British democracy by turnout percentage in more than a quarter of a century. Our constituency voted by almost 2-1 in favour of leave, the biggest margin in Cornwall.

It is vital for our democracy we respect the decision the British people made in 2016’s referendum and deliver what the people voted for.

Additionally, during the election campaign in 2017 I stood on a very clear message that I would respect the result of the referendum and work to deliver Brexit. I received a clear mandate in that election receiving and biggest vote and biggest majority ever seen in the constituency.

the 2016 vote, which was a people’s vote, it would also undermine the negotiating position. It would also cause further delay and uncertainty.

The vast majority of people tell me they simply want us to get on with things and leave. Businesses in particular want to know, as soon as possible what the future will hold.

It is doubtful there would even be time for another referendum within the time available but even if it could be shoehorned into the schedule, the delay and uncertainty would be the last thing we need.

Of course there is also the question that if we held another referendum, if there were people unhappy with the result of that one, would they then want another one, and so on until they got a result they were happy with? That isn’t how democracy works.

I am a democrat and I believe that in order to safeguard our democracy we need to implement the will of the nation, as expressed in the results of the referendum, by leaving the European Union.

Furthermore, I do share the views of a number of constituents that no deal Brexit would spell the end of the UK economy.

My preferred option is that we leave with a satisfactory deal, but I do not for a second believe in the claims made by scaremongers should we opt for a managed no deal Brexit.

I have expressed, time and again, that no deal is better than a bad deal, and we stand in a strong position to weather the challenges of no deal as one of the world’s largest and most competitive economies.

Our future is bright outside of the European Union and I will continue to work hard to ensure that we have a deal that fully delivers the results of the 2016 referendum and for every one of my constituents.

Campaign response - Help make horse racing more humane


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

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

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

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


Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Newspaper column 6 February 2019 - The Brady Amendment


Last week was another busy and varied week in Parliament.

I spoke in debates, including speaking up for the hospitality and tourism sectors in the Immigration Bill debate, and praising the work of the team behind the Newquay Neighbourhood Plan in fighting inappropriate clifftop development with the Minister for Local Government.

The end of the week saw a surprising heavy snowfall that covered much of Mid-Cornwall, causing disruption. I would like to thank all the members of the emergency services, highways teams, and volunteers who worked throughout the night in very challenging conditions to keep drivers safe and Cornwall running.

At the beginning of the week we saw the latest Brexit votes, with what became known as the Brady Amendment, which calls for the Irish Backstop to be removed from the Withdrawal Agreement, voted through Parliament.  I supported this amendment as a pragmatic way forward and was pleased to see it gain enough support from across the house to be passed. While this was in itself important, we should not under-estimate the significance of the defeat of the other amendments.

There was one overriding message from the outcome of the votes, as all amendments that sought to delay, postpone or thwart the UK leaving the EU on 29th March were clearly defeated. It demonstrates that there is a Commons majority committed to seeing us leave the EU on schedule.  
We have grown used to these Commons Brexit showdowns in recent months, but the rejection of the amendments proposed by Yvette Cooper and Dominic Grieve (which sought to delay leaving the EU and tie the hands of the government)  particularly represents a hugely significant moment for all of us who voted to leave the EU.

It serves as a timely reminder, even though it may not always feel like it, that a majority in support of Brexit has always existed in Parliament, since MPs voted by a majority of 384 to trigger Article 50.
I was also significant and worth noting that those seeking to inflict another referendum on the country withdrew their amendment as it became clear it would have also been resoundingly defeated. I think this shows that despite what some people will try to tell us there is little appetite in either Parliament or the country for another referendum.

Whilst Parliament has also expressed that it wants us to leave with a deal and not a no deal Brexit, last week’s events have not changed the legal position that we leave on the 29th March, with or without a deal.

The votes sent two very clear messages. Firstly, to the EU: If you want a deal, you have to deal with the backstop. As expected, EU leaders have been quick to dismiss the significance of the results. But they know as well as anyone else what is at stake for the economies of the EU and the future of the European project, if they do not return to the negotiating table. 

Secondly, the votes sent a clear message to the Government, that if they want to win votes on Brexit, they need to keep the Eurosceptics on side. Compared to the historic defeat of the Prime Minister’s deal just two weeks ago, the vote for Sir Graham Brady’s amendment was a massive turnaround for the Government. This was only achieved with the support of Eurosceptic MPs, mainly from the Conservative party but also crucially the DUP and a contingent of Labour MPs.

It will be abundantly clear to the Prime Minister that if she is to get a deal through Parliament, this is where the majority lies. These are the people she needs to work with.

I hope the votes will strengthen the Prime Minister’s hand. For the first time, it feels like we are in a position to really negotiate head-to-head with the EU. I hope she will return to Brussels, take up the mantle of courageous leadership we need, with a robust message: if you want a deal, you have to deal with the backstop.

There are still plenty of hurdles to overcome before Brexit day, but last week’s vote was a significant step forward.



Campaign reply - Protecting the International Aid Budget


A number of constituents have written to me regarding UK aid.
I was delighted to open the Westminster hall debate on this and give my full support for the continuation of the UK’s aid budget that does so much good across the globe.
Below is a statement from Department for International Development following the debate and also a link to the debate itself:
The UK’s commitments on overseas aid were part of the 2015 manifesto on which the government was elected. The government is keeping its promise to the electorate, tackling global challenges in the national interest.
Britain faces a simple choice: either we wait for the problems of the world to arrive on our doorstep, or we take action to tackle them at source.
UK aid, whether it is helping to prevent deadly diseases like Ebola from coming to the UK from West Africa, or enabling Syrian refugees and other would-be migrants to stay in their home region, is about creating a more stable and secure world.
Over the last five years, UK aid has been life-saving and life-changing for millions of the poorest people around the world. We have supported 11 million children through school. We have helped more than 60 million people get access to clean water, better sanitation and improved hygiene conditions. We are leading the global effort to save millions of girls from child marriage and Female Genital Mutilation.
UK aid is spent where it is most needed and is subject to rigorous internal and external checks and scrutiny at all stages. The UK’s aid programmes are scrutinised by the Independent Commission for Aid Impact, the International Development Select Committee and Public Accounts Committee in Parliament, and the National Audit Office. This is in addition to internal monitoring and evaluation to ensure projects stay on track and deliver value for taxpayers’ money.
The government has realigned the UK’s aid strategy, cutting wasteful programmes and making sure spending is firmly in the UK’s national interest. Alongside an increased defence budget and the UK’s world class diplomatic service, our aid programme is helping to create a more prosperous and stable world in which the UK can stand tall and flourish.
Britain’s aid strategy recognises that tackling poverty overseas means tackling the root causes of global problems that affect all of us, such as disease, migration, and terrorism. The Department for International Development is the UK’s primary channel for aid, but to respond to the changing world, more aid will be administered by other government departments, such as the Home Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department of Health, and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, drawing on their complementary skills.
The government will invest more through its aid programme to tackle the causes of instability, insecurity and conflict, and to tackle crime and corruption. DFID is already working with the Metropolitan Police, National Crime Agency, and HMRC to recover funds stolen from developing countries, and help countries build proper tax systems and robust institutions so they can stand on their own two feet.
This is an approach that works; as well as delivering humanitarian aid to crisis zones and targeting the root causes of the migration crisis, it is increasing economic prospects in fragile states to help counter extremism, and helping build our future trading partners”.

You can watch the debate here:


Monday, 4 February 2019

Campaign reply - 'Please support families of babies receiving neonatal care’.


A number of constituents have contacted me as part of the campaign ‘Please support families of babies receiving neonatal care’.

I am grateful to my constituents for taking the time to raise the issue of parental leave for parents whose babies are born prematurely and spend long periods of time in neonatal care.

This is something I am happy to raise with Ministerial colleagues in order to learn more about both the current situation and also about what more can be done to assist parents who find themselves in this satiation in the future.

I have now written to the Minister about this issue and will provide a copy of the reply once I have it.

Campaign response: Please speak up on Thursday to Save Our Pubs!


Recently I have received a number of correspondence from constituents asking if I could speak in support of British pubs in Parliament at a Backbench Business debate on beer taxation and pubs on Thursday 7 February.

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

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

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

But I also agree that the current businesses rates system is out of date and is particularly unfair to pub. I have been pressing the Government to reform business rates since I was elected in 2015.

On this occasion, as much as I would like to represent the views of constituents at the debate on Thursday, I regret to inform them that due to other parliamentary commitments on the day I will not be able to be able to do so.