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 Wednesday the 28th 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

Monday, 5 August 2019

Campaign response – 38 Degrees campaign on no deal Brexit



Thank you to constituents who have written to me recently regarding their concerns for a no-deal Brexit.

I understand the natural concerns that many constituents have around the implications of no deal Brexit, and my preferred position remains to be that we leave with a better deal that neither undermines the integrity of the union nor leave us in a position where we are locked in a customs union with the EU indefinitely.

I know that the new Prime Ministers also has his concerns about no deal and that shares my preferred position to leave the EU with a deal on 31 October. 

However I have also been clear that no deal is better than a bad deal. There has been a lot of scaremongering going on by some, but I believe that whatever the outcome the UK will not only cope by thrive outside of the EU. I am pleased to see that the Government is continuously making the public aware of the preparations that have been put in place for a no deal outcome should it be necessary. Indeed, should Parliament continue to fail to agree on a Deal, then No Deal is the default legal position. 

A great deal of work has already taken place to prepare for a no deal Brexit and it would be wrong to present this as some sort of cliff edge we are not prepared for. Only recently Sir Mark Sedwill, the Cabinet Secretary, said that “we have got the government in pretty good shape and public services in pretty good shape for no deal”. The new Prime Minister has also announced that he is instructing Whitehall to ramp up no deal preparations.        

What we need right now, above all, is the political will and courage from both sides of the channel to return to the table and seek a more agreeable deal. Otherwise we must reserve the right to walk away from the table. Taking away the option of leaving without a deal would greatly undermine our ability to drive a hard bargain with our European counterparts.