Thursday, 31 October 2019

Campaign reply: Pledge to contact the Prime Minister and ask him to adequately fund nursery schools

I have recently been contacted by a number of residents as part of a campaign asking me to contact the Prime Minister and ask him to adequately fund nursery schools.

I recognise the concerns raised about funding for nursery schools. I have met with local nursery schools about this in recent months and raised it personally with the Secretary of State for Education during his recent visit to Cornwall.

I welcomed the commitment from the Government of £14 billion for our schools and was pleased to see that schools in Cornwall which have traditionally been underfunded by successive governments of all political parties have received funding boosts.

The Government confirmed schools in Cornwall will receive 4.48% more funding per pupil next year as part of the recent multi-billion investment in primary and secondary education.

This fulfils the commitment made by the Prime Minister this year that every secondary school pupil will receive a minimum of £5,000 next year and every primary school pupil will receive a minimum of £4,000 by 2021- 22.

This funding follows the Prime Minister’s announcement in August that the budget for schools and high needs would be increased by a total of over £14 billion over three years, rising to £52.2 billion by 2022-23.

The Chancellor Sajid Javid also announced that providers of 16-19 education such as further education and sixth form colleges will receive £400 million additional funding to train and teach our young people the skills they need for well-paid jobs in the modern economy, the Chancellor has announced. The boost is the single biggest annual increase for the sector since 2010. I have already held a debate in Parliament arguing that some of this money to used for further education in Mid-Cornwall.

Rest assured that if I am returned as MP following the upcoming General Election I will continue to do all I can to champion and highlight the cause of fair funding for education at all stages in Cornwall.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Newspaper column 30 October 2019 - Good news for mobile phone signal 'not spots!'

The deadline for this week’s column falls in between two important votes in Parliament. In both the Prime Minister is calling for a General Election, in order to break the deadlock of this Parliament doing everything it can to stop Brexit, and in the process losing the respect of the general public.

Monday night’s vote under the Fixed Term Parliament Vote saw the same sorry situation where the Leader of the Opposition continues to call for a General Election and then he and his MPs don’t vote for it. The Government did not secure the required two thirds of MPs voting for an election, which is required, after the Labour MPs refused to vote at all, abstaining.

Tuesday’s vote won’t happen until later today and so I can’t really comment on it, other than that I will be voting with the Government to unblock this Brexit delay and hold a General Election as soon as possible.

Away from Brexit, in other news, last week saw a great announcement for Cornwall as the Government announced a £1 billion deal with the mobile phone industry to banish rural not-spots.
Areas of poor or no mobile phone signal, the so-call ‘not-spots’ are an annoying feature that plagues rural areas. While phone signal has improved throughout Cornwall in recent years, there are still plenty of these places where you simply cannot get a signal on any network in Mid-Cornwall, from Pentewan to Charlestown to Polmassick, or Crantock and St Mawgan to name but a few. This can be annoying for day to day life but particularly important in instances where emergency services or first responders are urgently needed, or for businesses that need reliable mobile connections.

This announcement will see high-quality 4G coverage given to 95 per cent of the UK by 2025, meaning consumers will get good 4G signal on the go wherever they live, work or travel.  Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan has said this deal will provide additional coverage to 280,000 homes and businesses and 16,000km of roads.

The plans include all operators sharing phone masts is a world first. A £530 million proposal from the UK’s mobile network operators for a Shared Rural Network with the potential for it to be matched by £500 million investment from the Government.

Government-owned mobile infrastructure built as part of the Emergency Services Network will also be made available to all four operators, taking full advantage of government assets. This is expected to contribute to the coverage target by delivering up to an additional 2% of geographic coverage per operator, in some of the most remote, rural locations.

Improved connectivity for Cornwall in this digital age is something I have long called for. Better 4G connectivity will make flexible working easier, boost regional economic growth and close the digital divide that exists across the country. I am pleased to see this announcement and will continue to work to ensure Cornwall is better connected in all areas.

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:

Monday, 28 October 2019

Campaign reply - " Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill."

A number of constituents have sent me a campaign email entitled, " Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill."

I have previously commented on this but set out my view afresh in view of the recent Queens Speech where new legislation is referenced.

As an animal lover myself and with a family who have always owned dogs and also horses at one point, it remains a mystery to me why anyone should mistreat animals. Those that do should be brought to justice and dealt with accordingly.

The government's plans to introduce tougher prison sentences has not been forgotten and recent legislation was passed regarding circus performing animals. Progress is being made.

Because so many of you have expressed concern and in line with my own views on these matters I will make a point of raising these issues with Ministers again.

Campaign reply - Brexit vote

A number of constituents have written to me with a campaign email which asks me to vote against the PM's deal, unless the bill can be amended to include a public vote.

 The best way to see democracy work is to honour the result of the referendum where the majority voted to leave.

The rewards of creating a sound economy are now emerging. What is long forgotten is the crisis the country faced when the coalition government came to office 2010. Borrowing was out of control, the economy and employment in dire straits. It has taken years to put things right. In a crisis drastic action is required which includes stopping spending money we don’t have, attract as much growth and investment as possible and make the UK an attractive place to work and invest. The result? Near full employment, a new higher minimum wage, rising wages, more of the low paid than ever removed from paying any income tax at all, a healthy economy, record investment, the highest ever recorded tax receipts to the treasury and a transformation in our prospects. Now we can invest huge extra funding into the NHS – the highest ever cash injection – and so on but it only comes from taking tough decisions. I am bewildered why there is distain for the fire brigade and not the arsonists.

If MPs will not respect the result of the 2016 referendum why would anyone trust them to respect the outcome of a second one? The Liberal Democrats  have already made clear if the result of another referendum is again to leave they will still campaign to remain!

There is no mandate for another referendum. The 2016 referendum came about because David Cameron put it in the Conservative manifesto in 2015. We won a majority and implemented our manifesto commitment. In 2017 both the main parties pledged to respect the referendum result. The Liberal Democrats campaigned for a 2nd referendum and won a total of 12 seats. If Labour or any other party now want another referendum they should put it in their manifesto, have a general election and let the country decide.

The interpretation of the PMs intentions for the UK post Brexit is not one I share and his future vision for the UK is the reverse of what is set out. He has my full support.

 However people voted in the referendum or at the last election I genuinely seek to reach out to all constituents and assist them in any way I can but that does not include undoing what the majority voted for and still want.

Campaign reply - “It's Time To Back A Compromise - A Public Vote.”

A number of constituents have written to me with an email entitled “It's Time To Back A Compromise - A Public Vote.”

The promise made during the referendum was that voters would decide if we left or remained in the EU. Both sides put forward their best arguments. The vote was to leave. It is imperative that vote is honoured. Many MPs who at the last election said they would honour the referendum result have done all they can to thwart the process.

I will never support a second referendum. If MPs will not respect the result of the 2016 referendum why would anyone trust them to respect the outcome of a second one? The Liberal Democrats  have already made clear if the result of another referendum is again to leave they will still campaign to remain!

There is no mandate for another referendum. The 2016 referendum came about because David Cameron put it in the Conservative manifesto in 2015. We won a majority and implemented our manifesto commitment. In 2017 both the main parties pledged to respect the referendum result. The Liberal Democrats campaigned for a 2nd referendum and won a total of 12 seats. If Labour or any other party now want another referendum they should put it in their manifesto, have a general election and let the country decide.

Article 50 sets out we will seek a deal with the EU and now against all odds and in record time the PM has achieved what his detractors said would be impossible; a revised deal that has been approved by the House. A momentous achievement. If there is concern over a no deal scenario then the obvious solution is to allow the progress of the PMs deal.

The deal that has been negotiated will create a clear path for the UK to be free from all its currents ties to the EU and work for a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, whilst enabling us to develop trading arrangements with other countries. Importantly this deal will also maintain the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom, with all four corners of the UK remaining within our customs union when we depart from the EU.

What will serve our children and future generations best is for them to see the democratic process in action, with everyone accepting the result of a ballot – even when they disagree. Further I firmly believe the best future for all of us lies with the UK becoming a sovereign nation again free to trade across the world – and with our friends and neighbours in Europe.

Campaign response: Steve Double please help end delayed diagnosis of blood cancer

Thank you to constituents who have emailed me about th impact that delays to diagnosis of blood cancer has had on patients across the UK.

I am as pleased as they are that the Government has pledged to improve diagnosis rates for all cancers, and I agree that more can be done to improve the speed and accuracy of diagnosis for blood cancer.

Next Tuesday in the Commons MPs will have a chance to ask questions to ministers at the DHSC, and I am pleased that a number of colleagues have put on the record their intentions to ask a question about the use of the latest NICE guidance to help GPs better spot blood cancer symptoms. I look forward to a positive response from ministers on this issue, and a renewed commitment to develop a course of action to tackle this issue.

As the new Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Department for Health and Social Care, I am keen to use my position to ensure that important issues like the diagnosis of blood cancer are given time for debate and are adequately dealt with.

Campaign response – 5000% increase in aid funding for abortion provider - please sign motion

Recently some constituents have written to me to ask if I would sign an Early Day Motion (EDM) that has been tabled calling on the Government to cut international development funding provided to abortion provider Marie Stopes International (MSI).

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.

However as a pro-life MP I am concerned about the reports that have been brought to my attention about taxpayer’s money being channelled into supporting an abortion provider.

I am pleased that my colleague and friend Lord Alton has recently raised this issue in the House of Lords, saying: “Marie Stopes has been prevented by some Governments from functioning after performing illegal abortions in their countries. It has also been investigated by the Care Quality Commission, who said it had endangered the safety of women in the UK, and that one woman bled to death after having an abortion in one of their clinics in London.”

I will be seeking to bring this matter and the points constituents made to the attention of the International Development Secretary when I next see him, and to seek a full response from his department.

Campaign response – The Home Secretary must urgently review flawed consultation on abortion clinic buffer zones

Campaign response – The Home Secretary must urgently review flawed consultation on abortion clinic buffer zones

In recent weeks some constituents have contacted me to ask if I would write to Home Secretary about the issue of buffer zones around abortion clinics.

This follows reports in the media that a number of medical bodies and charities have appealed to the Home Office to review its decision last year to not install buffer zones.

Constituents have expressed concerns that the introduction of buffer zones around abortion clinics could lead to an infringement on the rights to free speech and to protest.

I am sure all constituents will agree with me that this is a highly sensitive and complex issue but one that the government must get right.

I have therefore written to the Home Secretary to seek a meeting with her to discuss the issue further, and will be updating constituents on the progress and outcome of the meeting.

Campaign response: End Our Pain "URGENT: Queen's Speech NHS Debate - medical cannabis"

Thank you to constituents who have written to me about patients who have not been able to access medical cannabis despite the government's decision to legalise it last year.

I fully understand the strength of feeling expressed on this matter and how keen many are to improve access to medical cannabis.

When I spoke about this issue in Parliament last December, one of the points I made was that much more needs to be done to ensure that cannabis for medicinal use gets to the people who really need it, and more needs to be done to get medical professionals on board and adjusted to the new regime.

A number scientific studies have documented the benefits of prescription cannabis and cannabis-based products in certain medical treatments. Indeed, much progress has been made recently on allowing the medicinal use of cannabis products.

I am pleased to learn from constituents that in March, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, met face to face with many of the families that the campaign group End Our Pain are supporting.

This shows that the Secretary of State and his department are serious about improving access to medical cannabis for those who genuinely need it.

I will continue to monitor this issue closely and speak up for constituents who wants to see this form of prescription effectively dispensed to patients who need it.

At the same time there needs to the right safeguards in place to ensure that the system is not subject to abuse. Recreational cannabis ruins lives and I have seen this happen first hand.

As I am now Private Parliamentary Secretary to the Department for Health and Social Care I regret to inform constituents that I am not in a position to speak during the Queen's Speech debate on the NHS. Constituents will also be aware that this has now been delayed due to the passage of the Withdrawal Agreement bill in the Commons. However they can have my assurance that I understand the point they are making and agree with them that more needs to be done.

Campaign reply - NHS Trade deal

I have been contacted by a number of constituents asking me to sign a petition or a pledge that the NHS should be kept outside of any future trade deals with the US.

As a member of the Parliamentary Petitions Committee I cannot sign petitions.

However, I am reassured by both our Government and the US Government who have repeatedly said, at every level, that the NHS will not be a part of any future trade deal.

I support this position and would oppose any change to it, unless there was hard evidence that any deals would mean better value for the public purse on essential services such as drug supplies or similar.

I hope this clarifies my stance on this matter.

Campaign reply - Fossil Fuel Pensions

A number of constituents have written to me regarding the recent campaign asking MPs to divest their pension of fossil fuel industries.

I completely understand what an important issue climate change is to many in St Austell and Newquay and indeed, many around the world.

I have long since been a supporter of various environmental groups including Green Peace, Surfers Against Sewerage and other Ocean conservation organisations. I welcome further interest and support from constituents.

I was delighted to be able to join my colleagues in signing the pledge.

Even though many positive steps have been taken by this Government I realise there is much more to do and I will continue to work hard on this important issue.

Campaign reply - Please help to prevent race horses from dying

A number of you have written to me regarding ongoing concerns over horse welfare and racing.

This industry is already one of the most heavily scrutinised in the world. Further, whilst any injury (or worse) to a horse is a tragedy for all concerned, the percentage of such are a tiny fraction of the numbers of horses involved and thus it could be argued that with such low numbers, attempts to introduce ever more draconian  regulation is really a disguised attempt at a ban on horse racing. As a Conservative, I do not believe in banning things in general.

I copy below  for ease of reference some of the blog I posted last year on this subject:

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

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

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

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Campaign reply - HS2 and the climate crisis

I have received a campaign email entitled HS2 and the climate crisis.

Just a few weeks ago I responded to a similar campaign and posted a blog response which I copy below for ease of reference.

This latest campaign fails to take into account the governments world leading pledge to deliver a net zero economy by 2050 nor that banning things works far less well than innovation. The greening of our transport system is going very well and the progress on our rail systems is underway. The same will apply to HS2 should it be built.

The earlier blog is here:

Monday, 9 September 2019

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, 10 October 2019

Campaign response: Please help end victim journalism

Thank you to constituents who have written to me about their concerns over the treatment of public figures such as Ben Stokes, Gareth Thomas and the Duchess of Sussex.

At the heart of the issue two fundamental tenets of democracy are in question: The right to privacy and the freedom of the press, both of which are guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Every individual has a right to respect for their private life, their family and their home. At the same time, it is in everyone’s interest to have a free and functioning press that is not subjected to arbitrary interreference from any public body or anyone.

Following multiple allegations of illegal and improper press intrusion on a number of individuals, the Leveson Inquiry was set up in 2012 to thoroughly examined the culture, practices and ethics of our press.

The inquiry and investigations were comprehensive, and since it was set up, there have been extensive reforms to policing practices and significant changes to press self-regulation.

Two regulators have been created since then: IMPRESS and IPSO. The majority of IMPRESS’ members are local publishers but IPSO regulates 95% of national newspapers in terms of their circulation. In 2016, Sir Joseph Pilling concluded that IPSO largely complied with Leveson’s recommendations in his review of its independence.

In 2017, meanwhile, IPSO dealt with over 20,000 complaints and enquiries in 2017, and has ordered multiple front page corrections or clarifications. And since then it has taken significant steps to demonstrate its independence as a regulator with further improvements. It has announced that it is creating a compulsory version of its low-cost arbitration scheme, which national newspapers have now signed up to. This means that someone who has a genuine claim against a newspaper who could have gone to court can now demand arbitration of their claim and the newspaper cannot refuse. This includes a higher level of damages and includes cases of invasion of privacy or harassment which either of the cases you mentioned could have fallen under.

I’m also glad to see that most newspapers have also made improvements to their governance frameworks to improve their internal controls, standards and compliance.

Finally, regarding the government’s proposals to regulate social media, these were published in our Online Harms White Paper in April of this year. I am assured that my ministerial colleagues in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will continue to look at ways to better regulate our media whilst ensuring that it can continue to hold the powerful to account.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Newspaper column 9 October 2019 - Brexit update

Another week and another significant time for the Brexit process.

Last Wednesday the Prime Minister presented his proposals to unlock the Brexit stalemate with the EU. These included workable and pragmatic plans to address the issue with the Irish border.

In essence it would see Northern Ireland remain in the Single Market for all goods in terms of regulation and movement of goods between the north and the Republic of Ireland, but not be subject to freedom of movement of people. Northern Ireland would be outside of the EU Customs Union, along with the rest of the UK. There would also be a ‘democratic lock’ which would enable the devolved administration in Northern Ireland to review these arrangements every 4 years if a permanent solution has not been found.

Most importantly, in my view, the proposals lay out a clear path for the UK to be free from all its current ties to the EU and work for a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, whilst enabling us to develop trading arrangements with other countries. This is in stark contrast to the previous proposed agreement that had a risk of us being locked into a Customs Union with the EU indefinitely.

I believe these proposals, presented in good faith, are a fair compromise. They show a willingness on behalf of the UK to shift from previous positions and meet the EU half way. What is now required is for the EU to be willing to also compromise a bit and move slightly towards us.

The initial signs were encouraging, that there was broad support from across Parliament for these plans. MPs from different parties and holding different positions on Brexit indicated they could support these plans. However, we then heard that the EU did not see these plans as workable.

It is frustrating that there is a real sense that the EU are now moving the goal posts, having previously indicated an agreement of this nature would work. It is difficult not to come to the conclusion that they are using the issue of the Irish border to back the UK into an untenable position. They appear unwilling to make any compromises in order to find a deal.

Further discussion will be ongoing over this week, with the EU saying they will be coming to a firm position on this by the end of the week.

It is well known that MPs opposed to Brexit rushed a Bill through Parliament last month that seeks to force the Prime Minister to request an extension rather than leave without a deal at the end of this month – the so-called Surrender Bill. It is now blatantly clear that this has undermined our nation’s negotiating position and is actually making getting an acceptable deal harder. Any notion that this Bill was in our national interest is clearly wide of the mark. It has hindered our ability to get a deal, which is I suspect the real intention.

There remain only two ways to prevent a no deal Brexit – either agree a deal or cancel it altogether. The position of the opposition parties is now clear. The Lib Dems want to revoke Article 50 and overturn the biggest democratic vote in our history. The Labour Party refuse to support any deal and simply want to kick the can further down the road and prolong the uncertainty.

There is only one leader of a major party who is committed to deliver on the referendum result. Boris Johnson remains committed to taking us out of the EU on 31st October. Preferably this will be with a deal if the EU are prepared to compromise. But having made a fair and reasonable offer to them, if we cannot agree then we will leave without a deal.

Many will ask how this will be done with the Surrender Bill in place. It is very unclear precisely what the full details of this Bill are. It was rammed through the House of Commons in just four hours without the usual scrutiny and debate. Therefore, it remains to be seen the exact implications of the Bill and whether or not it does leave any holes by which a delay can be avoided.

I have been overwhelmed with the number of people contacting me in recent days. Whether it is by email, phone calls or face to face. There is a very clear message that I am hearing time and time again – Get Brexit Done. No more delays. No more uncertainty. No more talking. We just need to get on and leave. I remain committed to support the Prime Minister in his determination to lead us out of the EU at the end of the month.

Campaign reply -“Stand up for Parliament and Democracy,”

Following a campaign email “Stand up for Parliament and Democracy,” I set will set out again my long held position on the matters raised:

The campaign email ends with these words “…putting the interests of the country first and doing everything in your power to bring this crisis to an end. We are counting on you”.

I can agree with the sentiment expressed but not any of the proposed solutions.

Putting the country first means we must honour the referendum result and leave the EU. Hopefully our European friends will finally settle on a deal but if they will not then as already clearly laid out in Article 50 we will leave without one. Not the preferred option but after years of debate it becomes the appropriate way forward. No doubt if we do leave on WTO terms then the EU in due course will agree a trade deal. There is a mutual benefit in doing so.

Bringing the crisis to end means avoiding any further delay. Far too much time has been spent already debating. The talk must stop and action taken. The PM has shown the leadership we need to achieve just that and you can “count on me” to honour what I said I would do during the referendum campaign which was that I would honour the result and accept the decision of the people to remain or leave. We know the result. I will not waiver from promises made then or at the last election.

What risks destroying democracy and jeopardising our United Kingdom is allowing anyone to usurp the will of the people, who voted by a clear majority to leave the EU.

Those who seek a second referendum (something I will never support) do not accept the result of the first! That is wrong and undemocratic.  If a second poll endorsed leaving, there would then undoubtedly be a demand for a third. Democracy does not operate on the basis that we only accept the outcome of a vote when it coincides with our own view.

I sincerely appreciate that leaving the EU has been a contentious issue, but it is critical that the referendum result be honoured for the sake of our democracy and not least because I believe the UK will be better off doing so.

Campaign reply - Brexit

A number of constituents have written to me with a campaign email entitled “Only way to solve abuse Cummings effectively says is Retract Article 50.”

During the referendum campaign both sides put forward their best arguments and there are attempts to discredit the views expressed by both sides. Whilst I firmly believe  we will be better off leaving the EU even if that were not the case there are many who write to me saying that they simply want to see us become a sovereign nation again. It cuts through all other arguments.

What would do irreparable harm to our democracy is to fail to deliver on the result of the referendum. I see it as my duty to ensure we leave. However people voted in the referendum or at the last election I genuinely seek to reach out to all constituents and assist them in any way I can but that does not include undoing what the majority voted for and still want.

Any number of opinion polls are cited but no reference is made to the most important polls which are heavily regulated and where the entire voting populous has opportunity to vote in a secret ballot – those of the referendum and the last election. Both showed clear support for leaving the EU. Further the results of the recent European elections left us all in no doubt that the majority for leaving holds sway.

The campaign ends with this statement:
Democracy is not a one time event it is a continuous process whereby citizens hold their representatives to account. It is a conversation between two parties.
Democracies can only function if citizens have accurate and true information.

I agree and come the next election there will the opportunity for everyone to put forward their view and for the electorate to vote. The sooner that happens the better.

Friday, 4 October 2019

Campaign response - End unlawful arms sales to Saudi Arabia

Recently a number of constituents have written to me about the UK's continued licensing of equipment to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen, in light of a court ruling in June that the  sale of UK-made arms to Saudi forces for use in Yemen was in fact unlawful.

Following the ruling, the UK Government has now said it will now stop granting any new licences for weapons exports to Saudi Arabia or coalition partners involved militarily in Yemen.

The International Trade Secretary has apologised to the Commons in the past week after routine analysis of statistics found a licence for the air cooler for a Renault Sherpa Light Scout vehicle had been issued in the days following the ruling.

An internal inquiry has been launched by the DiT’s permanent secretary to establish whether other licences had been issued against the assurances to the court or Parliament, and to ensure there could be no further breaches.

The Government has repeatedly assured parliamentarians and the public that it is seriously concerned about the humanitarian situation in Yemen. Since the start of the crisis in 2015 our humanitarian commitment to Yemen now stands at £770m.

Ultimately the only lasting solution to peace in Yemen is through a political settlement. The UK Government is actively supporting the UN Special Envoy for Yemen in his efforts to bring the various parties on both sides around the table to find a way forward.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Campaign response – Letter from your constituent

Thank you to constituents who have written to me about the plight of Dennis Hutchings and other veterans who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles who are now facing possible prosecution.

I have nothing but the highest degree of respect for our military personnel and our veterans. These are the people who are willing to put their lives on the line to protect and defend our great nation.

In order to gain a greater appreciation for the work of the men and women in our armed forces who risk everything to defend our great nation, I decided to join the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme last year and committed to regularly visiting military bases and personnel across the country to learn more about and get a taste of their work.

Last year the Government ran a consultation on proposals to find the best way to meet the needs of victims and survivors and to help people address the impact of the Troubles in the areas of information, justice and acknowledgement and help Northern Ireland transition to long term-term peace and stability. The consultation has now closed and the feedback is being analysed.

Many of my parliamentary colleagues including the current and previous Prime Ministers have expressed their concern at the current situation where those who are most prone to being investigated for issues that happened in the past are those in our Armed Forces or those who served in law enforcement in Northern Ireland, while terrorists who ought to be investigated for their crimes are not being subject to the full force of law.

I share their concerns and want to see greater fairness in our justice system.

I also commend many of my colleagues who have pressed the Government to deal with legacy cases by protecting our soldiers and putting them first, while resisting any attempts to establish institutions that would scapegoat our military veterans to pander to Sinn Fein.

I intend on doing everything I can in my capacity as your local MP to support reconciliation and healing in Northern Ireland, while ensuring that nobody, especially our ex-servicemen, are unfairly prosecuted for lawful actions they took.

I will also be seeking to raise this matter directly with the Secretaries of State for Defence and for Northern Ireland and bring to their attention the points which constituents have so convincingly made when I next see them.

Newspaper column 2 October 2019 - A new hospital for Cornwall

Well, after another tumultuous and historic week in politics there are so many things I could write about this week. But amidst all the chaotic scene there was some truly amazingly good news for Cornwall.

On Sunday the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced a new national Health Investment Programme which will see £13 billion invested in our hospitals. The announcement included an allocation for Cornwall of £450 million to improve hospital facilities in the Duchy. In my recent new role as the Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Department for Health and Social Care I was pleased to be able to be at the heart of this announcement.

This represents the biggest single investment ever seen in our local health services. Inevitably the sceptics and naysayers have been out in force talking down this announcement. So, let me lay out precisely what was announced.

The government has committed to fund 40 new hospitals or upgrades of existing facilities over the next 5-10 years. This includes an initial 6 new hospitals where local NHS bodies have plans ready to go. Here in Cornwall we don’t have a ready to go plan for a new hospital, therefore, quite reasonably the government have said they will commit £450 million for Cornwall but it is now down to the local NHS bodies to come forward with a plan for this investment.

The government will immediately provide some ‘seed funding’ to cover the costs of the work that will be required to consider the options, develop and plan and design the work. This in itself is important so that resources do not have to be taken away from providing frontline services to fund this work.  But the Health Secretary has made clear that he is open to all options of how this money could be spend. This could be a brand new acute hospital on a new site, a redevelopment and upgrade of the existing hospital at Treliske or upgrading our community hospitals across the county – or any combination of these.

My own view is that if we can use this opportunity to see another hospital built then we should seriously consider this. People in Cornwall have been saying for several years now that they find our current acute hospital at Treliske increasingly difficult to access. I would love to see a new hospital that could take some of the pressure off of Treliske, built in a more accessible location, possibly on the A30 in mid-Cornwall.

The six Cornish MPs met with the Health Secretary in July when we discussed the various challenges we faced in Cornwall and particularly at Treliske. We stated then that we felt we had reached the point where a new hospital was needed. It is good to see that we clearly got our message across and that the government as accepted this. This announcement shows he was listening.

What needs to happen now is that our local NHS management need to consult as widely as possible with local stakeholders and the people of Cornwall to gather a clear view of what the best proposals for this money would be. I certainly want to play an active part in this process, along with the other Cornish MPs to ensure we get the very best outcome from this.

I appreciate there will be those in other political parties who will try to talk this announcement down and present it as just talk. But this is a commitment from the Department for Health and Social Care to make this significant investment in our NHS which should be enthusiastically welcomed by everyone in Cornwall. Any new hospital is going to take years to design, obtain planning permission and build. Projects of this scale do no not happen overnight. But they all begin with an acknowledgement that there is a need and a commitment from the government to allocate the necessary funding. That is what happened this weekend. It is the first, but vital step in the process.

I will now continue to do what I have always done since I was first elected in 2015. I will use my position as an MP, including in my new role in the Department for Health and Social Care, to champion the case for Cornwall, to ensure we get the support and funding we need, and work tirelessly to see this money is spend in the best way possible and that it results in a major improvement in our health infrastructure and services in Cornwall. I am sure everyone can get behind this.