Thursday, 23 May 2019

Campaign reply - GcMAF


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

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

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

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


Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Newspaper column 22 May 2019 - Looking at business rates


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

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

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

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 As it stands it is out of date and does not reflect the way business and particularly retail has changed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

My team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and work hard to make a real difference to the lives of everyone needing support. The office is open to the public Monday – Friday 10.00am – 4.00pm (no appointment necessary). If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please, either visit the office or contact me on either 01726 829379 or office@stevedouble.org.uk. Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at: www.stevedouble.org.uk/events

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Newspaper column 15 May 2019 - The EU elections


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and work hard to make a real difference to the lives of everyone needing support. The office is open to the public Monday – Friday 10.00am – 4.00pm (no appointment necessary). If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please, either visit the office or contact me on either 01726 829379 or office@stevedouble.org.uk. Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at: www.stevedouble.org.uk/events

Monday, 13 May 2019

Campaign reply - Trade Bill - Commons consideration of Lords amendments




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

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


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

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Campaign response - Whirlpool Tumble Driers

Several constituents have written to me regarding Whirlpool tumble driers.

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

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

The report went on to say:

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

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

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

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

improve its management of risk;

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

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

Consumer Minister, Kelly Tolhurst, said:

"Our number one priority is to keep consumers safe.

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Newspaper column 8 May 2019 - Education update


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, 3 May 2019

Campaign reply - Close the loophole


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

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

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

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

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

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

Campaign reply - Early Day Motion 2296


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

As a principle I never sign early day motions as they very rarely achieve anything whilst at the same time running up costs to the tax payer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday, 2 May 2019

Campaign response - Climate change emergency


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Newspaper column 1 May 2019 - Climate change


We have seen a great deal of media attention in recent weeks on various protests and campaigns regarding climate change. Whilst this issue is regularly raised in Parliament it is likely that we will be debating it again this week.

Whilst it is clearly positive that more people are becoming aware of and engaged with this issue, that is one of the most important issues of our age, we do also need to ensure that any response is based on facts and not just an emotional reaction.

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

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

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

Nationally, we should all be proud of the UK’s world-leading role in tackling climate change and the transition to Clean Growth. We were the first country to introduce legally binding long-term emissions targets under the landmark Climate Change Act in 2008 where we played an important role in offering committed cross-party support to pass the legislation.   The Act set in place binding carbon budgets that now commit us to a 57 percent reduction in emissions by 2032. Since 1990, we have now cut emissions by 42 per cent while growing the economy by over 72 per cent. This shows that economic growth is not incompatible with cutting carbon emissions. We have cut our emissions per unit of national income on average by 3.7 per cent a year, well ahead of the EU average of 2.3 per cent and the G7 average of 2.2 per cent. The last time the UKs emissions were this low was in 1888!
As well as this we have taken steps to phase out coal use in our electricity generation through a huge shift to renewables and gas, driven by decisive policy action. We have seen coal use on the grid tumble from almost 40 per cent in 2012 to our first “coal free” day last April and the longest coal free stretch ever (90 hrs 45 minutes) over the Easter weekend. By 2025 the UK will have no coal powered electricity generation.

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

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

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

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


Campaign reply - “ Please fight for our nature”.


A number of constituents have written to me with a campaign email “ Please fight for our nature”.


Whilst I am unable to verify the figures quoted, I also know that once we have left the EU we will be free to review all manner of things and legislate accordingly.

I continue to take a keen interest in the bill  mentioned and also seek to see an appropriate and careful approach to nature so that it can flourish whilst bearing in mind the concerns of all stake holders.