Wednesday, 18 September 2019

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, 13 September 2019

Campaign reply - The prorogation of Parliament



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

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

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


Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Campaign response - Free movement


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, 9 September 2019

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday, 5 September 2019

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Campaign reply: Protect the NHS from a US trade deal


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

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

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

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

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

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

Campaign response: Minicab and taxi driver training



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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Campaign response: Please support pubs and help cut beer duty



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Newspaper column 4 September 2019 - Prorogation of Parliament


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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








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



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

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

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


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

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



Monday, 2 September 2019

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



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

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

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


Campaign response: Please end the badger cull



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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