Wednesday, 25 September 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 19 September 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Campaign response – Save free TV licences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I expressed disappointment with the BBC’s decision to no longer provide free TV licences for over-75s when it was announced earlier this year, despite reviewing over 190,000 submissions in the public consultation exercise it ran.

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 13 September 2019

Campaign reply - The prorogation of Parliament

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

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

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

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Campaign response - Free movement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 9 September 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 5 September 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Campaign reply: Protect the NHS from a US trade deal

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

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

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

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

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

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

Campaign response: Minicab and taxi driver training

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Campaign response: Please support pubs and help cut beer duty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Newspaper column 4 September 2019 - Prorogation of Parliament

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 2 September 2019

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

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

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

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

Campaign response: Please end the badger cull

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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