Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Newspaper column 24 December 2019 - Christmas message

As we head towards Christmas this week, I am looking forward to having some time off after a hectic election campaign that was followed immediately by a busy but productive week in Parliament.

Christmas to me is not just about remembering the birth of Jesus Christ but also taking that time to spend with our friends and families to reflect on the year passed and the future.

As always I pay tribute to those who work during the festive, whether those in our armed forces, keeping us safe and protecting our national interests overseas, in our emergency services or in the NHS and care sectors, and those who work in hospitality. Whilst most of us will enjoy a break from work in the coming week let us not forget that there are many for who this is a very busy time of year.

Looking back to last week, the first week back in Parliament following a General Election is always an interesting one. I was pleased to welcome over 100 new Conservative colleagues to Westminster, including neighbouring Truro and Falmouth MP Cherilyn Mackrory, who until recently worked for me in my constituency office in St Austell and as the Cornwall Councillor for St Mewan.

The mood in Parliament last week was tangibly different to how it has been for much of the previous year. There was a sense of positivity about the place after the past two years or more of deadlock and dither. It is great to be part of a Government that has a clear majority and a big mandate to get things done.

I have already been sworn in as MP for St Austell and Newquay for the third time. This is one of the solemn traditions of Parliament which means I can now officially do my duty as a Member and speak in the House of Commons Chamber and, most importantly vote.

On Friday we started the progress of the Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament. This is the first step to ‘Getting Brexit Done’ and will path the way for us to leave the EU at the end of next month. This was clearly the key issue in the General Election, and I am sure the vast majority of people will welcome this decisive step that allows us as a country to move on from the endless debate. It will settle the issue, we will have left and the focus will now move onto our future relationship with the EU and trade deals with other nations.

It certainly is a monumental time to be in Parliament and I am looking forward to getting on with the job in 2020 and beyond.

My office is closed from midday on 23 December, reopening on 6 January, and I will shortly be publishing surgery schedule for the first part of the coming year. Check my website www.stevedouble.org.uk for more details.

May I take this opportunity to wish all readers a Merry Christmas and a happy and peaceful New Year!

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Newspaper column 18 December 2019 - Victory!

It’s great to be back with my regular column as your Member of Parliament for the St Austell and Newquay constituency. It is difficult to express the incredible honour I feel to be elected for a third time to represent the place that has always been my home and that I care so passionately about.

Although the campaign was a short one, due to the snap election, it was certainly challenging. Campaigning in the winter months is always a challenge due to the changeable weather and the short days – and we certainly had some changeable weather! Nonetheless my team and I faced the challenge positively and it has been an absolute pleasure to get out there and knock on doors around Mid-Cornwall in the run up to December 12th. I am very grateful for the warm and encouraging response we received on the doors.

I want to say a huge thank you to all those who supported my campaign. Firstly to my campaign team and particularly my Campaign Manager Jordan Rowse. Also to the small army of volunteers who were out delivering leaflets, stuffing envelopes, making phone calls and putting up signs. We received more support than ever from people offering to help and it made a huge contribution to the campaign. I also want to say a big thank you to my family and especially my wife Anne. Being married to a politician creates unique challenges, particularly at an election. But, as always, she was my biggest supporter and by my side every step of the way. We are very much a team.

In the end I was absolutely delighted to be declared, early on Friday morning, as Member of Parliament for St Austell and Newquay. I have also been honoured to be re-elected with the largest majority of any Member of Parliament to ever serve mid-Cornwall, with an increased vote share. This is something I never dreamed of when I began in politics 10 years ago.  

As well as a great result locally, it was also a very positive election nationally for the Conservative Party – being elected with an 80 seat majority. This week I am already back in Parliament, as part of Boris Johnson’s Government, working to deliver Brexit and then get on with the other important issues, including continuing to provide record levels of funding for our NHS, putting more police officers on our streets, as well as levelling up the money available to our schools in Mid-Cornwall. I am excited by Boris Johnson’s vision for our country and I believe we have positive times ahead. I look forward to getting down to work with the Prime Minister to ensure that your voice continues to be heard.

I am conscious and humbled by the fact that there are many of you who voted Conservative for the first time last week. I do appreciate that for many the decision of who to vote for would have been difficult and I am sure many people agonised over where to place their X. I do not take this for granted and to you I pledge that I will do everything I can as your Member of Parliament to reward your trust in me and ensure that both me and the Government do what we have said we will do.
For those of you who did not vote for me, as your Member of Parliament I am here to represent and serve everyone in the constituency and I will continue to do just that.

I am looking forward to a positive five years where I continue to be your strong voice in Parliament. We have a number of exciting opportunities ahead of us and I am determined to play my part in making the most of these, so that we create the jobs of the future for our young people.

Now that I have been re-elected, my office is back to normal and is open to the public Monday – Friday 10.00am – 4.00pm (no appointment necessary). If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please, either visit the office or contact me on either 01726 829379 or office@stevedouble.org.uk. Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at: www.stevedouble.org.uk/events

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Campaign reply - “I want you to be a Disability Gamechanger”.

A number of constituents have sent me a campaign email entitled, “I want you to be a Disability Gamechanger”.

I read the statistics and goals with both concern and interest. During my time in business locally, I set out to ensure my company went the extra mile to ensure we did all we could to employ and retain staff with many different forms of disability. I was pleased to work closely with the local job centre on this issue and saw real success.

During my time on the Transport Committee, I was pleased to see changes in transport regulations to improve access and facilities on public transport – whilst I also acknowledge there is much more to do.

The recent announcement by the Government on proposals to make Changing Places Toilets for people with severe disabilities mandatory in new large public buildings has been is a vital step forward and one I have fully supported. Currently, building regulations guidance only recommends Changing Places toilets are provided.

Alongside this, the Department of Health and Social Care has announced £2 million to install over 100 Changing Places toilets in NHS hospitals throughout England. There are currently only around 30 to 40 Changing Places on the NHS England estate, and this investment will enable Trusts to increase accessibility. I met with local campaigners to discuss the importance of providing accessible toilets for everyone in public places, particularly in NHS facilities. It is common sense that everyone should be able to use toilet facilities and I very much hope this consultation, which is a vital step forward to increasing accessibility for disabled people, will lead to these changes being put in place without delay.

If honoured with re-election as MP for St Austell and Newquay constituency, I will continue to champion improving life for people with disabilities.

The Conservative Party manifesto outlines the commitments made to those with disabilities. You can read the full details here:

Campaign reply - Climate change

A number of constituents have sent me a  campaign email regarding the climate change.
Imperative in the debate around climate change is that political parties, government and councils set out plans to address climate change with honest and realistic targets. The government has done just that with ambitious yet realistic plans to see the economy become carbon neutral by 2050. It will be a real challenge but I believe achievable. That is far better than setting unrealistic dates that cannot be achieved that are then abandoned – as with the Labour Party’s recent u turn.

 The department for environment, food and rural affairs has set out  the actions and achievements I believe you will be interested in. you can read it here:

If I am honoured with re-election,  I will be sure to continue my work supporting Ocean environmental groups both locally and in Parliament tackling plastic pollution and many other matters. It was also a pleasure to host a Green Peace event last June, in Parliament. It was well attended and I will continue to support much of their work.

Friday, 6 December 2019

Campaign reply - Will you show your support for people affected by dementia?

A number of constituents have written to me with a campaign email concerning support for people with dementia care.

Like many other families I too have a close family member with dementia and know how distressing this is both for the sufferer and the family.

The Conservative manifesto sets out in some detail the issues facing the country on social care and specifically mentions dementia. Above all else I firmly believe a political consensus must be found. I copy below the relevant section:

Improving social care
It is a basic, compassionate
Conservative belief that we should
care for those in need – helping
those who cannot help themselves.
Thanks to decades of economic growth
and scientific innovation, people are
living longer, healthier lives. But this,
alongside the rise of dementia and other
chronic conditions, means that the
pressures on the elderly care system
are ever-increasing. There has also been
significant growth in the number of
working-age people with disabilities who
need care at a younger age.
We need to have a system to give every
person the dignity and security that
they deserve. This is a significant and
complex challenge and in order to lay
the foundations, we must plan for the
infrastructure, workforce growth and
healthcare integration that is required
for a care system fit for the 21st century.
Because this is a long-term problem that
will affect so many people, any solution
has to be able to survive long-term.
We must build the same level of
consensus on social care as we have
already built on the NHS.
So we will build a cross-party
consensus to bring forward an answer
that solves the problem, commands
the widest possible support, and stands
the test of time. That consensus will
consider a range of options but one
condition we do make is that nobody
needing care should be forced to sell
their home to pay for it.
As a first step, and to stabilise the
system, we announced in the autumn
additional funding of £1 billion for the
year beginning in April 2020. We are
now confirming this additional funding
in every year of the new Parliament.
We will also extend the entitlement to
leave for unpaid carers, the majority of
whom are women, to one week.
We also want to save millions of people,
and their families, from suffering
the agony of a slow decline due to
dementia. We will make finding a cure
one of our Government’s biggest
collective priorities – one of the ‘grand
challenges’ that will define our future
along with the impact of climate
change or artificial intelligence. This will
include doubling research funding into
dementia and speeding up trials for
new treatments.
We will also provide £74 million over
three years for additional capacity in
community care settings for those
with learning disabilities and autism.

Campaign reply - As a candidate to be my MP, what are your plans for our trees?

A number of constituents have sent me a copy of a campaign email asking what are the plans for our trees.

The Conservative party manifesto sets out a wide range of environmental initiatives and I copy below the section on plans to plant countless thousands of new trees:

We will invest in nature, helping us
to reach our Net Zero target with a
£640 million new Nature for Climate
fund. Building on our support for
creating a Great Northumberland
Forest, we will reach an additional
75,000 acres of trees a year by the
end of the next Parliament, as well as
restoring our peatland.

You can read more on environmental and other commitments here:

Campaign reply - Will you commit to ending the housing emergency?

Will you commit to ending the housing emergency?

Par blog – they only provide the  campaign email address,

A number of constituents have sent me an email regarding housing and homelessness. This important matter is never far from my mind and issues around housing often form part of my case work.

The Conservative party manifesto is now published and I am pleased with it. It recognises the further progress we need to see on this important issue whilst setting realistic and achievable goals:

Helping people buy and rent

The biggest problem that young people

face in getting on the housing ladder

is the deposit. There are more than

three million people, many of them

with good jobs and secure prospects,

who would have been homeowners

before the economic crisis in 2008

but have been locked out of the

mortgage market. We will encourage

a new market in long-term fixed rate

mortgages which slash the cost of

deposits, opening up a secure path to

home ownership for first-time buyers

in all parts of the United Kingdom.

We will offer more homes to local

families, enabling councils to use

developers’ contributions via the

planning process to discount homes

in perpetuity by a third for local people

who cannot otherwise afford to buy in

their area. Councils could use this to

prioritise key workers in their area, like

police, nurses and teachers.

We will maintain our commitment to

a Right to Buy for all council tenants.

We will also maintain the voluntary

Right to Buy scheme agreed with

housing associations. Following the

successful voluntary pilot scheme in

the Midlands, we will evaluate new pilot

areas in order to spread the dream of

home ownership to even more people.

And we have extended the Help to

Buy scheme from 2021 to 2023 and

will review new ways to support home

ownership following its completion.

We will reform shared ownership,

making it fairer and more transparent.

We will simplify shared ownership

products by setting a single standard

for all housing associations, thereby

ending the confusion and disparity

between different schemes.

We will continue with our reforms to

leasehold including implementing

our ban on the sale of new leasehold

homes, restricting ground rents to a

peppercorn, and providing necessary

mechanisms of redress for tenants.

We will bring in a Better Deal for

Renters, including abolishing ‘no

fault’ evictions and only requiring one

‘lifetime’ deposit which moves with the

tenant. This will create a fairer rental

market: if you’re a tenant, you will be

protected from revenge evictions

and rogue landlords, and if you’re one

of the many good landlords, we will

strengthen your rights of possession.

The housing issue is a major issue and one that is never far from my thoughts. I and the office help people with housing needs every week. It is a stark reminder of the issue – if any were needed.

The biggest factor is housing pressures has been significant changes in family demographics and it is proving a challenge to build our way out of it. Having said new house builds frees up existing properties.

Campaign response - Arthritis must be a priority

A number of constituents have sent me a campaign email entitled arthritis must be a priority.

Arthritis is one of the most debilitating and painful conditions and my experience of those who suffer with such has left me in no doubt how it can affect people in all aspects of their lives.

The vast majority of the millions of patients are delighted with the service they get  but that does not mean there are not very real pressures on the service as demand grows every year.

In order to meet that challenge and improve the service, the government has provided record sums of new cash for the NHS. I have supported and welcomed this. We will also see a brand new hospital built for Cornwall and I hope it will be within our constituency. Certainly it is the investment we need and along  with more cash going in to the service it will give us all better healthcare and outcomes.

All of this is dependent on having a sound economy and with that in mind I firmly believe the Conservatives are the only party who will not only promise the funding but be in a position to deliver.

Campaign reply - Make sure nursing counts at this election.

A number of constituents have sent me a campaign email entitled make sure nursing counts at this election.

The NHS is of fundamental importance to us all and my own experiences of being a patient have only been positive. It remains a fundamental part of our society.

It is a government priority and the NHS is receiving record funding with more to come. You will know that the Conservative party has now released its manifesto which mentions nurses eight times. The section below which I copy for your ease of reference is a key feature:

The 1.4 million dedicated staff who
deliver world-class care day in, day out
are at the heart of the NHS. Our core
priority is to make sure this workforce
can grow and has the support it needs
– in terms of numbers, training and
resources. That means that if you do fall
ill, you’ll get the care and attention you
We will deliver:
} 50,000 more nurses, with students
receiving a £5,000-£8,000 annual
maintenance grant every year during
their course to help with their cost
of living – and they won’t have to pay
it back. Everyone will receive at least
£5,000 with further funding in regions or
disciplines that are struggling to recruit
– such as mental health – and help with
their childcare costs.
} 6,000 more doctors in general
practice and 6,000 more primary care
professionals, such as physiotherapists
and pharmacists. This is on top of the
7,500 extra nurse associates and
20,000 primary care professionals that
we have already announced.
} We will improve staff morale with more
funding for professional training and
more supportive hospital management.
} We will introduce an NHS Visa. Our
NHS People Plan will ensure that we
train and employ tens of thousands
more NHS professionals here in the
UK. But we also want to make sure that
those from overseas who want to work
in and support our NHS are encouraged
to do so. That is why qualified doctors,
nurses and allied health professionals
with a job offer from the NHS, who have
been trained to a recognised standard,
and who have good working English, will
be offered fast-track entry, reduced visa
fees and dedicated support to come to
the UK with their families.
Our new funding will deliver 50 million
extra general practice appointments
a year, an increase of over 15 per
cent. That means that if you need an
appointment, waiting times will be
shorter and you’ll get the service you
We also want to make sure that
doctors spend as much time as
possible treating patients, so we will
address the ‘taper problem’ in doctors’
pensions, which causes many to turn
down extra shifts for fear of high tax
bills. Within our first 30 days, we will
hold an urgent review, working with
the British Medical Association and
Academy of Medical Royal Colleges to
solve the problem.

The NHS is one of the best if not the most loved institutions we have and I am confident that with sound government and good management of the country we can continue to invest and deal with the undoubted demands and pressures that it faces.

Campaign reply - “I’ve seen the impact of bowel cancer”.

A number of constituents have sent me a campaign email entitled “I’ve seen the impact of bowel cancer”.

You raise an important matter that many families and loved ones across the UK will be only too well aware.
My Mother died from cancer and thus I have genuine insight into how this terrible disease is.

Investment in the NHS is now at an all-time record and is something we can all celebrate. With the economy now recovered from the Labour crash there is the funds to make inject funding enabling the NHS to improve further care for us all.

The Conservative party manifesto sets out in detail plans for social care and the NHS. It is referred to 45 times in the document: