Friday, 28 February 2020
My thanks to the constituents who have contacted me in recent weeks following the publication of the US President’s Peace Plan in the Middle East.
I appreciate the strength of emotion that have typified the Israel-Palestinian debate for decades and I note the polarised response to the US proposals for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
While they have not been universally welcomed, but it is noteworthy that Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE have expressed optimism over the plan alongside the UK.
It is regrettable that the Palestinian leadership refused to participate in the drafting process, and rejected the proposals outright last month.
The complex issues that exist in the region can only be resolved in direct negotiations, and any unilateral action by either side that could harm the peace process should be avoided.
For a lasting peace to prevail, the Palestinian leadership must educate its people towards peace and coexistence with Israel. It must uphold the Quartet Principles that it has committed itself to: To recognise Israel’s right to exist; to abide by previous diplomatic agreements; and to renounce and distance itself from violence. The Palestinian Authority must end the glorification of ‘martyrdom’ and incitement, including the naming of schools and sports tournaments after murderers who have killed Israelis and the payment of salaries to terrorists. Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, must put down its arms and cease its terrorist activities.
On the issue of settlement construction, while I believe settlement expansion to be counter-productive to the peace process, they should not be considered a permanent obstacle to peace. Not only does Israel have a history of unilaterally removing settlements in the interests of peace, but both parties accept that any future final status agreement will include equivalent land swaps.
As a supporter of the State of Israel, I celebrate the UK’s record trade ties and flourishing partnership in medicine, technology and academia with the country. I may not always be in agreement with the actions of its government, but that does not detract from the fact that Israel is the only true democracy in the region and a strong bilateral partner to the UK.
At the same time, I am proud to be a friend of the Palestinian people. I look forward to the day when the Palestinians can enjoy the security of a sovereign state upon the successful conclusion of a negotiated two-state solution. This will require difficult compromises from the leaders of both parties, but it remains achievable.
What is clear, above all, is that the need for a renewed peace process is more urgent than ever. Our Government remains committed to a two-state solution through direct negotiations, and all parties involved as well as the international community must step up efforts without delay.
It is in the best interest of all sides to resolve this complex conflict, and I will continue to urge the UK Government to encourage the Palestinian leadership to engage with the US proposals and return to the negotiating table.
Thank you to constituents for writing to me to draw my attention to plight facing girls around the world in the midst of humanitarian crises who are unable to feel safe, healthy and access quality education.
Of course, girls in crises anywhere in the world matter to me.
I appreciate their stand in solidarity with these girls and I will hope to voice their concerns to the International Development Secretary directly when I next see her.
I am assured that much work has already been done by DFID to raise awareness and tackle some of the issues facing the most disadvantaged and vulernable girls in the world.
For instance, the Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC) was launched by the UK in 2012 as a 12 year commitment to reach the most marginalised girls in the world and is the largest global fund dedicated to girls’ education: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/girls-education-challenge
The UK is committed to ensuring over a million girls in some of the poorest countries, including girls who have disabilities or are at risk of being left behind, receive a quality education.
However I regret to inform them that due to a longstanding commitment I will not be able to attend the event on 4 March.
But I will be asking for a copy of the report Our Vision will be reading the contents and recommendations of the report with great interest.
Thursday, 27 February 2020
A number of constituents have sent me a copy of a campaign email regarding Permanent funding for the National Wildlife Crime Unit.
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 taxpayer.
The funding of various bodies is always a big concern for supporters and the organisation itself and I note the comments made regarding funding for IFAW. With the budget not far away, it is something I can raise with ministers to see if any permanent provision is proposed.
We will be able to review our own laws and regulations (once we finally leave the EU) on a whole raft of issues not least the ones raised in the campaign.
The governments commitment to recruit another 20,000 police officers will be a major boost to ensuring existing and new laws and regulations are enforced.
When I see ministers I will raise the concerns expressed about the future of IFAW and the ongoing excellent work they perform.
Wednesday, 26 February 2020
I am now back in Parliament following the Recess last week. It was good to be able to spend the week in Cornwall to be able to get out and about and catch up with a number of local businesses and meet with local people to discuss all sorts of different issues.
One of the exciting local opportunities is the potential of lithium extraction in Mid-Cornwall – this is something I have been working on in Parliament with government ministers. Therefore, it was a great opportunity, last week, to meet with two different lithium companies at locations in Mid-Cornwall to discuss their plans for the extraction of this mineral, and get an update on the progress they are making.
Getting a domestic supply of lithium, which is important for many hi-tech products including electric car batteries, would be a real game changer for both Cornwall and the whole UK. If we could get lithium to be not only extracted but also processed in Cornwall, this would make us an incredibly valuable area for the whole of the Western hemisphere, and could be a huge boost to our Cornish mining industry.
During the week I also met with members of Newquay Town Council to discuss some of their really exciting plans for devolution in the town. Newquay has long been used by Cornwall Council as a lucrative income stream for the council while not investing back into the town. I think that, much as we have seen successfully carried out in St Austell, St Columb and other towns and villages, a substantial devolution package of local assets and services, run by Newquay Town Council would see services run much better and more cheaply run locally. It is disappointing and frustrating that so little progress has been made in Newquay while Cornwall Council have devolved assets in other towns. I was pleased to confirm my support to Newquay Town Council to work to making much more progress in order that these essential services can be locally run and protected for the future.
Meanwhile in St Austell it was good to meet with St Austell Healthcare, and get an update on the progress they are making in delivering GP and other services in the town. SAHC is now an award-winning practice and the healthcare practitioners and staff in general deserve a great deal of praise for making this system work as it does. While I am aware that there are still some challenges to do with the level of demand for services there is no doubt that real improvements have been achieved and plans are in place to continue to improve for the future.
I also took the time to meet with the Chair of Cornwall Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee to discuss how I can take back concerns from Cornwall Council on health and social care back to Westminster.
These were just a few of the things I did last week, which also included meeting with St Austell Brewery, Innis Fisheries, Ocean Housing and local councillors, and visiting the site on some of the recent storm damage in Newquay and see the repairs being carried out.
Being an MP is always a varied job and one of my favourite parts is getting around the constituency and keeping in touch with local people. This will always be a vital part of my role and if you would ever like me to visit your community, organisation or business, please do get in touch and I will be happy to come along.
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 email@example.com. Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at: www.stevedouble.org.uk/events
Tuesday, 25 February 2020
Several constituents have sent me a copy of a campaign email entitled “End deforestation in our food.”
There is much here I can agree with and many will know of my ongoing work on environmental matters.
The climate, our environment and how we make progress on protecting our planet has never been more important. That is why the government continues to take decisive action on many different fronts and also why the environment featured in such a major way in the Conservative party manifesto. You can read the full document here:
The second reading of the environment bill is important and will provide the basis for the UK to continue in a world leading role on making progress in this important area. I will endeavour to attend and take part in the debate.
How much influence the UK can bring on the actions of other governments and countries is of course limited, but we can make progress in ensuring our own food chains are free from abusive practices.
For those of you who are interested in our environment and protecting it, there are some modest yet practical steps you can take. I regularly work with volunteers on beach cleans to rid our environment of plastic pollution and would welcome your involvement in a practical way. Please sign up for my newsletter for more information – link below.
Caring for our planet matters across the globe including in our own beautiful part of the world. You can find out more here: https://www.stevedouble.org.uk/
Monday, 24 February 2020
Thank you to constituents who have written about the long-awaited Windrush Lessons Learned Report.
I note the points that they have made about the report’s lengthy delay which many, including members of the Windrush Generation, have expressed
Constituents will be assured to learn that this is a matter that I have raised with the relevant ministers at the Home Office in meetings, and I have also tabled parliamentary questions on this matter.
I am as eager as they are to see the report and will keep on pressing ministers to expediate the publication of the report.
Recently I was able to address the House on the Windrush Compensation Bill’s Second Reading earlier this month: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2020-02-10/debates/2689E446-2379-4EFE-8B10-8E1E0CEC7466/WindrushCompensationScheme(Expenditure)Bill#contribution-586FB4F8-3E90-492B-9BA6-38685177EEA9
What has taken place with the Windrush generation is nothing short of a scandal; these are British Commonwealth citizens who have moved here to rebuild Britain after the War and deserve not only status to be here but our utmost respect.
I will continue to champion their cause.
I have been contacted by a number of constituents as part of the campaign ‘The time to end rough sleeping is now’.
Homelessness matters. In Parliament and in our constituency I have often spoken about the importance of tackling this issue and have voiced my strong support for legislations and initiatives seeking to eradicate homelessness.
I am delighted that the government intends on leading the fight to end homelessness by publishing its Rough Sleepers Strategy recently, which commits £100m towards eliminating rough sleeping in England by 2027. This will include £30m of funding for mental health and substance abuse services and £50m for new homes outside of London for those ready to move on from hostels. It will also give renewed focus on preventing homelessness by providing more intensive support for those vulnerable to homelessness, including people leaving prison or care.
I am proud to be supporting the implementation of this strategy, which complements the Homelessness Reduction Act (came into force at the beginning of April). The Act provides new support to people who aren’t entitled to help under the current system, by requiring local authorities to do more to prevent homelessness – incorporating prevention and relief duties for the councils, as well as a duty to refer for other public services, and continued protection for affected families.
Cornwall has received hundreds of thousands of funding as part of the Homelessness Reduction fund to support those sleeping rough and those at risk in 83 local authorities with the highest need. I am pleased that the Government has released this further funding to Cornwall Council to help support those sleeping rough. This represents a significant step in the Government’s plans to reduce rough sleeping, but crucially Cornwall Council does need to ensure that this funding is used so that it helps both those in need of support as well as the communities they are in.
This funding nationally will provide for over 500 new staff focused on rough sleeping. This will include more outreach workers to engage with people on the streets, specialist mental health and substance misuse workers and dedicated co-ordinators to drive efforts to reduce rough sleeping in their areas. It will also provide over 1700 new bed-spaces nationally including both emergency and settled accommodation.
I applaud the vital work of campaign groups to ensure that this issue remains on the top of Government’s agenda. I will continue to work to ensure that the Government be given every resource necessary for it to keep its pledge of eradicating rough sleeping in the next decade.
Friday, 21 February 2020
Thank you to constituents who have recently contacted me about the counter terrorism laws that the Government is introducing in light of recent events in London.
I think many constituents will be assured by the swift and decisive legislative action that the Government has taken to tighten our counter terrorism laws and strategy in order to prevent any more terrorists from roaming our streets.
When the emergency legislation was introduced and passed through Parliament last week, the bill received broad cross-party support and was praised by many members of the opposition parties.
No longer will we see criminals convicted of terrorism offences released automatically halfway through their sentences – something that I believe everyone in this country wants to see.
However I am concerned to hear that non-violent protestors may be affected by the change in the law, and as such I will be speaking to the relevant ministers about this matter and seek for an assurance that the right to peaceful protest will not be affected by our new counter terrorism laws.
I would like to thank constituents again for bringing this matter to my attention.
Wednesday, 19 February 2020
This week Parliament is in recess so it will be good to be home in Cornwall and spend some time working locally, getting out and about, visiting businesses and other local organisations and listening to the views and concerns of local people. Do come and say hello if you see me.
This weekend we had our second severe storm in successive weekends. Thankfully compared to some parts of the country we didn’t have it too bad but it was still a pretty rough few days. I want to place on record my thanks to the staff of the emergency services, the Environment Agency and Cornwall Council and other public bodies who worked hard to keep us safe, the roads clear and dealt with any local issues.
Other than the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Reshuffle (congratulations to my good friend and fellow Cornish MP George Eustice on being appointed Secretary of State for Environment) the other big news in Parliament was the announcement that HS2 will be going ahead. HS2 is the plan to build a new high speed rial route linking London to the Midlands and North of England. It has certainly become a controversial project. There are huge challenges to keep cost under control and deliver the scheme on time.
I have always been fairly agnostic about the scheme. I understand the need to increase capacity on our national railways. More people than ever are using trains to get around and with the need to reduce our carbon emissions we need to ensure our railways can carry more passengers. I am concerned that the costs of the scheme seem to continually rise and I am pleased that as part of this announcement the government will be putting more robust management in place to ensure costs are kept under control.
But the reality is that this scheme will have very little impact on us in Cornwall and the South West. So I do understand the concerns some have expressed that this could mean we get less government investment in Cornwall. However, I am confident this is not the case.
We are currently in the midst of the greatest transport infrastructure programme our county has ever seen. We are seeing record levels of investment in our roads, railways and other services. All totalled up we have had more than £1billion announced of government investment in recent months.
From the £450million for a new hospital, £100million for a new maternity unit, £40million for new scanners and other equipment and £11million for the new mental health unit in Bodmin. Our NHS is getting major new much needed investment.
Last week saw confirmation of the £290million improvement to the A30 to dual the Chiverton to Carnon Cross section. We are in the final stages of planning for the £80million A30 link road. This is on top of the new trains and multi million upgrade of the signalling on our mainline railway which has significantly increased capacity.
And of course we have had £8million from government for the Spaceport, tens of millions in flood prevention schemes and millions for new primary schools.
Whenever I have spoken to the Prime Minister I have reminded him of the need for investment in Cornwall and that his ‘levelling up’ agenda must include our Duchy. I have always received a clear and unequivocal response that Cornwall will get the investment in needs. Boris Johnson has numerous times said we will continue to get the funding we have previously received through the EU – and much more.
So, I am confident that whatever our views on HS2, we will continue to receive the investment we need here in Cornwall and the SW. One thing you can be sure of is that along with my fellow Cornish colleagues we will continue to make sure Cornwall’s voice is heard and that we work tirelessly to secure the funding for the things we need. And now that we have a Cornish MP in the Cabinet – the first time for almost 40 years, our voice will be heard even more clearly.
Monday, 17 February 2020
I have been contacted by a number of constituents recently regarding concerns the NHS should be kept outside of any future trade deals with the US.
As I have stated repeatedly in the past, if the NHS were ever ‘on the table’ in future deals with the US I would strongly oppose this. 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 feel it is important to clarify that a trade deal would never have the power to stop the NHS being a free, universal service and there is legislation already in place regarding restrictions and regulations for private companies, including US companies, to bid for contracts to provide NHS services.
There are many high-profile politicians within the US who are publicly blaming the UK and other European countries for the high cost of medications and healthcare within the US. However, the reality is the UK, through the NHS and Department of Health and Social Care initiatives, have the bargaining power to negotiate lower prices of medicines whereas the US does not have national procurement initiates and therefore do not hold the same bargaining power. As I understand it, national bargaining is banned in the US following pharmaceutical lobbying, the group who would of course be severely financially impacted by such initiatives, and therefore the most effective step the US could take to reduce costs would be to change their own laws. I believe it is easier for US politicians to use the UK and European countries as a ‘scapegoats’ for the issues within US healthcare to give the impression it is out of their hands, regardless of the facts of the situation.
As a result, there is no need for legislation to protect the NHS as it is not on offer. Implementing legislation would be timely and costly and potentially delay other more urgent legislation. As trade deals are already in the works, it would not be possible to implement without a great deal of resources and time from across both Houses, at great cost to the taxpayer. This would not be a good use of parliamentary or government time when it is unnecessary.
The Prime Minister has reiterated his commitment, both publicly and privately, to the NHS and I assure you none of my colleagues across the house would support the NHS being a part of trade deals. It is one of our most loved institutions and has been in the hands of Conservative governments for the majority of its time. It will always be safe in our hands.
I hope this clarifies my position and reassures you that the NHS would never be open to negotiations in a trade deal with the US.
Thanks to those constituents who have contacted me regarding proposals to change the four-hour standard in A&E departments, particularly those who have shared their personal experiences with A&E waiting times.
There are undoubted pressures facing the NHS, and in particular A&E services, and the need to find new and innovative ways to deliver better health outcomes in a timely manner is a priority. The government is reviewing current measures, such as the four-hour standard in A&E, to explore ways to improve patient care, patient outcomes and effectively measure where this is working and where it is not.
The four-hour standard target since its introduction has focused resources into emergency care with the number of emergency doctors growing by almost 50% since 2009 and significant increases in the numbers of nurses working in A&E. This is positive progress and any new proposals would be designed to help maintain this.
The proposals referred to by this campaign are not intended to ‘scrap’ the four-hour waiting times, but to review and update them in line with the major changes in the practice of medicine and way that urgent and emergency care services are delivered since its inception in 2004, more than 15 years ago.
The four-hour standard only measures and reports performance of one aspect of the urgent and emergency care system and the clinically-led review of NHS access standards states a more sensitive method of measuring the timeliness of care is needed. This review raises the following concerns with the current standard:
· The target does not measure total waiting times
· The target does not take into account patient condition
· The target does not measure whole system performance
· The target does not consider clinical advances in Same Day Emergency Care
· The target is not well understood by the public
Proposals are therefore aiming to bring more transparency to waiting times, additional focus on time spent by patients awaiting admission, introduce new timescales for critically ill patients needing immediate care (e.g. patients experiencing a stroke or sepsis), ensure clinical-decision making takes places at a clinically appropriate time and be more meaningful in reflecting the true picture in A&E departments and hospitals a whole.
However, it is important to note that at this stage these are proposals and no plans are in place to implement any of the above without comprehensive consultation with clinical experts, appropriate charities and wider stakeholders. There are a number of hospital trusts testing the initial proposals and the views of staff, patients and local stakeholders operating under these proposals will also be captured as part of this evaluation.
The NHS is one of the best and most loved institutions we have and 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 recent £450m to improve hospital facilities in the Duchy. I am confident this government will continue to ensure the NHS is priority and any new measures are appropriate, transparent and focused on providing quality patient outcomes in a timely manner. I will follow this review with interest, and work with colleagues in the Department of Health and Social Care and wider colleagues in Westminster to ensure the needs of the NHS and in particular the unique challenges we face in Cornwall are fully considered.
Thanks to those constituents who have got in touch with regard to children and young people’s wellbeing and the included digital care package.
Improving children and young people’s mental health is an area I am very passionate about and am proud to have been able to support record levels of funding and investment to tackle this rising issue.
This year will see the roll out of additional NHS mental health trailblazer sites, Cornwall being one of them. This will establish new Mental Health Support Teams will provide early intervention support on wellbeing, as well as encouraging a ‘whole school approach’ to improve the mental health and wellbeing of pupils and staff.
Additionally, Cornwall is one of 6 local authorities to have been awarded funding from The National Lottery Community Fund for the HeadStart programme which commenced in 2016. Locally the programme is known as HeadStart Kernow. As part of this programme an annual survey of Cornish secondary school children is undertaken and wellbeing is one of the measures captured.
This funding also provides the opportunity for all school staff in Cornwall to access HeadStart Kernow funded training in mental health, resilience and trauma to enable them to better support pupils and staff wellbeing. There is also funded places on intensive, 10-day courses for two staff members within school to enable them to provide one-to-one and group support for pupils will additional emotional health needs.
I understand that funding for the HeadStart programme is due to end in 2021, however I have been informed the Council are committed to continuing as much of this work as possible and are exploring ways to continue annual surveying of children and young people’s emotional health and wellbeing in Cornwall.
As Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) for the Department of Health and Social Care, I am in a good position to champion this issue and would like to assure all my constituents that I will continue to highlight the importance of this work. I am confident from previous conversations with colleagues, and recent commitments from the Prime Minister, that this agenda will continue to be a priority.
Thank you to those constituents who have contacted me regarding the NSPCC’s Wild West Web campaign to support new legislation to make children safer online.
The safety of children, both online and offline, is a government priority and the Online Harms Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech underscores this commitment. I am confident the government will bring forward this bill as soon as possible. The initial government response to the Online Harms White Paper was published yesterday (12th February 2020) and the full response is expected in the spring. The government is continuing to work with a wide range of stakeholders across the industry and civil society to ensure progress is made on online safety now highlighting the seriousness with which the government is taking this issue.
Where there is a risk to the safety of children, the government is working with law enforcement and other relevant bodies to produce interim codes of practice. This will provide guidance on how to tackle specific content and activity of great concern, such as Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (CSEA). The codes will be voluntary but are intended to bridge the gap until a regulator becomes operational, given the seriousness of these harms. I understand these interim codes of practice will be published in the coming months, however the government expects companies to take action immediately to tackle harmful content and activity on their service.
With the rise in internet use opening the door for new ways for children to potentially be abused and exploited, it is essential we get this right. I have every confidence that the government will take this issue seriously and look forward to the full response to the White Paper and reading more detail of the bill when available. I will continue to follow this closely as I am extremely committed to protecting children from all harm, online and offline.
Wednesday, 12 February 2020
Thank you to those who have sent me a copy of a further campaign email regarding animal cruelty sentencing. I know the strength of feeling on this issue and note the previous campaign emails covering this. With that in mind I copy below my earlier expressed views on this. As an animal lover I will continue to promote animal welfare.
Animals are mentioned many times in the Conservative manifesto and as an animal lover I welcome the actions proposed. The document sets out :
High standards of animal welfare are
one of the hallmarks of a civilised
society. We have a long tradition of
protecting animals in this country,
often many years before others follow.
Under a Conservative Government, that
will continue – and we will continue to
support such efforts overseas.
We will introduce tougher
sentences for animal cruelty.
We will crack down on the illegal
smuggling of dogs and puppies.
We will bring in new laws on animal
We will end excessively long
journeys for slaughter and fattening
– one of the many benefits of
leaving the European Union.
We will bring the ivory ban into
force and extend it to cover other
ivory-bearing species, and ban
imports from trophy hunting of
We will ban keeping primates as pets.
We will bring forward cat
microchipping, giving cat owners
peace of mind and increasing the
measures we have available to tackle
I have already led a Westminster Hall debate calling for banning of live animal export for slaughter and will continue to support legislation that improves the lives of animals and was delighted to hear the Prime Minister make reference to banning this during Prime Ministers Questions.
Several constituents have sent me a campaign email concerning the Environment Bill.
The environment and how we protect it has long since been of great importance to me and I have been delighted to work with different environmental groups on this vital matter.
The government has consistently said that it will not dilute measures designed to protect the environment now we have left the EU. The Government’s 25-Year Plan to Improve the Environment is available here:
The campaign email refers to local people: “Locally, people are doing great things for nature’s recovery by switching to green energy, leaving a patch in their garden to grow wild, and eating less meat, but key nationwide change cannot happen without strong laws”. I agree with much of this sentiment about local people caring. My own experience of organising events around improving our environment have always been met with real support and enthusiasm from constituents. One area I have long campaigned on is the reduction in single use plastics and the terrible damage they do to our environment. Beach cleans involving collecting plastics have also been well attended and I will always be pleased to welcome more volunteers in helping. You can find out more here: https://www.stevedouble.org.uk/
The conservative party manifesto refers not only to the environment but also to the bill:
Stewards of our environment
Our Environment Bill will guarantee
that we will protect and restore our
natural environment after leaving
the EU. Because conservation has
always been at the very heart of
We will set up a new independent
Office For Environmental Protection
and introduce our own legal targets,
including for air quality.
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.
We welcome the Glover Review
and will create new National Parks
and Areas of Outstanding Natural
Beauty, as well as making our most
loved landscapes greener, happier,
healthier and open to all. We will
make the coast to coast path
across the most beautiful areas of
the North a National Trail.
We will continue to lead the world
in tackling plastics pollution, both
in the UK and internationally, and
will introduce a new levy to increase
the proportion of recyclable plastics
in packaging. We will introduce
extended producer responsibility,
so that producers pay the full
costs of dealing with the waste
they produce, and boost domestic
recycling. We will ban the export
of plastic waste to non-OECD
countries, consulting with industry,
NGOs and local councils on the
date by which this should be
We will crack down on the waste
and carelessness that destroys
our natural environment and
kills marine life. We will increase
penalties for fly-tipping, make
those on community sentences
clean up their parks and streets,
and introduce a deposit return
scheme to incentivise people to
recycle plastic and glass.
Much of the concerns raised in this campaign are covered by the strong environmental commitments made by the government and I will always welcome feedback from constituents on this vital area and hopefully look forward to meeting many of you on our next beach clean.
Last week was another busy and significant week in Parliament. As the first week that Parliament had sat since we left the EU we were able to focus on delivering what the country needs to ensure a positive future independent of the EU.
The Agriculture Bill passed its second reading – this lays out the framework for how we will continue to support our farmers as we leave the Common Agriculture Policy. We also passed the NHS Funding Bill, which will now go to the House of Lords. This sets into law the record increase in funding we will be providing for the NHS. By the end of this Parliament the NHS will receive an additional £33.9billion every year – the biggest cash increase in its history. This amounts to an additional £651million per week – almost double the amount that was written on the side of that bus!
I was also pleased to meet with Education Minister Lord Agnew to discuss the future of Further Education provision through Cornwall College. This was a meeting I was due to have in the Autumn but was delayed due to the General Election. It was a very positive meeting and I was pleased to receive his support to work with me to ensure that FE provision is not just secured but improved for the future.
One of the biggest challenges facing our country is ensuring that we have the housing we need to meet the demands of our population, particularly the 83% of people who currently do not own their own home but aspire to do so. Nowhere is this challenge felt more strongly than here in Cornwall.
We will all be familiar of the difficulty our young people face in finding a home they can afford to purchase, particularly those who desire to live the in communities they grew up in when those places are popular for tourists and holiday homeowners.
Very often the biggest obstacle is saving enough for a deposit. Very often couples who are renting from a private landlord find that the monthly cost of a mortgage would be less than the rent they pay, but are unable to save for the deposit due to the cost of renting.
In recent years the government has sought to help first time buyers get onto the property lander through various schemes, such as Help to Buy, which have had some success. But the challenge is a very large one and more clearly needs to be done.
Therefore I was pleased that the Conservative Manifesto contained a commitment to bring forward further schemes to enable first time buyers to buy their first home and that one such scheme was launched last week. The First Homes scheme will enable first time buyers to buy their first home with 30% discount that will count towards a deposit and assist in obtaining a mortgage. The scheme is specifically aimed at enabling local people to purchase a property in the place they currently live.
I believe this could be a game changer in enabling local people to own their first home. As with all these type of schemes we need to watch the detail closely as it is rolled out. But I am pleased to see the government getting to grips with the real challenges that face people in our communities and coming forward with plans to address them.
Monday, 10 February 2020
Several constituents have written to me with a campaign email, “support a ban on the use of the whip in horse racing.”
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 taxpayer.
This industry is already one of the most heavily scrutinised in the world and quite rightly so as all animals should be treated appropriately. However sometimes there are campaign groups seeking to introduce ever more draconian regulation as a disguised attempt at a total ban on horse racing. As a Conservative, I do not believe in banning things in general.
As a family we have been horse owners and lovers and so animal health, welfare and their treatment is always of interest.
During a recent Westminster hall debate the Minister did take note of many points raised over the concerns for racehorses . It is also worth noting that the debate itself was an invaluable tool in raising awareness amongst MPs and the public around racehorse welfare and treatment. 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 British Horseracing Authority 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.
Thank you to those constituents who have recently contacted me as part of the campaign ‘Please attend Action for Children’s drop-in event on domestic abuse and children’.
I regret I am unable to attend this meeting due to a longstanding prior Parliamentary commitment.
However I am of course sympathetic to these concerns and will certainly continue to raise them with colleagues in Westminster when these matters are discussed in informing future policy.
Campaign reply Please support people with motor neurone disease by attending a meeting in Parliament
Thank you to those constituents who have recently contacted me as part of the campaign ‘Please support people with motor neurone disease by attending a meeting in Parliament’
As a Parliamentary Private Secretary for the Department of Health and Social Care I am unable to join All Party Parliamentary Groups relating to health matters.
However I am sympathetic to these concerns and will certainly raise them with colleagues in the Department when these matters are discussed in informing future policy.
Several constituents have sent me a copy of a campaign email from Greenpeace, “ Help protect the Oceans”.
It was an honour to host an event for Greenpeace in Parliament in June of last year highlighting similar issues and plastic pollution in our rivers – which of course can lead to the further pollution of our seas and oceans.
I continue to take an interest in the work of Greenpeace and also the excellent work of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Ocean Conservation Group which I have chaired. Following the general election the APPG will be reformulated. The invitation to others to join the APPG says this:
As you know, the ocean is now front and centre of the environmental debate and public concerns, both in terms of impacts we are having on ecosystems and possible solutions to safeguard our natural world. We look forward to working together to discuss issues including climate change, plastic pollution, water quality and the need for highly protected marine reserves. This year marks the start of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, and the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, which provides us with a powerful external frame to further develop the scope and impact of the Ocean Conservation APPG.
Representing a coastal constituency, I feel an increased sense of responsibility to do all I can to both raise awareness of these issues and do something about it. It includes taking practical steps too. For those who have troubled to send me a copy of the campaign email I believe it shows your keen interest in our environment. As already stated, I have long since been involved with various environmental groups such as Greenpeace and Ocean Conservation hosting events in Parliament and lobbying ministers on a range of related issues. I will continue to do so including the Prime Minister. But it is essential to do something beyond that; I also take practical steps by organising events in the constituency. Campaign emails have become part of our democracy, but far more telling is what we all do to improve our environment. With that in mind I would be delighted if you would join me and my team of volunteers on beach cleans and the like. Details of upcoming events can be found here: https://www.stevedouble.org.uk/
Friday, 7 February 2020
Thank you to constituents who have been in contact with me about the amendment that was passed to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Bill requiring the Government to introduce a new abortion framework for Northern Ireland that would have to be implemented by 31st March 2020.
As someone whose pro-life views on abortion are known to many, I continue to have my concerns about the imposition of Westminster’s unpopular and unwarranted will on the people of Northern Ireland regarding abortion liberalisation.
The legislative process in Northern Ireland has been devolved since the creation of the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998 as a result of the Good Friday Agreement. Abortion laws in Northern Ireland is a domestic policy issue that primarily affects the people of Northern Ireland.
Recent polling shows that two-thirds of women in Northern Ireland (and 70% of 18-34 year olds) believe that the law on this issue should be a decision for the people of Northern Ireland and their elected representatives, and is not for Westminster to decide.
It is also worth noting that the Northern Ireland Assembly has considered the issue of abortion more recently than any other parliament in the United Kingdom. In 2016, a cross-community vote in the Northern Ireland Assembly upheld the law on abortion as it currently stands.
The amendment to the NI Bill sets a risky precedence in our devolved relationship with the Northern Ireland executive, especially at a time when we have finally found a way forward to restore the Executive in Belfast.
As your representative in Parliament I continue to work closely with charities and organisations like Right to Life, SPUC (the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) and others to campaign to lower to gestational time limit for abortion in the UK, prohibit the practice of sex-selective abortion, and ensure that we have an adequate system of support women and their unborn children.
I have already spoken to Government ministers about this issue and raised my concerns, and constituents can have my assurance that I will continue to make my views known via all channels on this issue.
Thursday, 6 February 2020
Campaign reply - Will you attend the St Mungo's Parliamentary event? - 5 February, 12.30 - 2.30, Dining Room A
A number of constituents have contacted me asking me to attend the St Mungo’s Parliamentary event, which took place on 5 February.
Unfortunately I was unable to attend as my role as Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Department of Health and Social Care required me to attend to other Parliamentary duties.
However I recognise the need to support people away from rough sleeping. I am pleased that the government in recent years has given significant funding to Cornwall Council as part of the Homelessness Reduction Fund. However this funding needs to spent responsibly and with the impact of the wider community in mind, as well as helping those in need. I will continue to work with colleagues in Cornwall and in Westminster to ensure this happens.
Wednesday, 5 February 2020
Several constituents have sent me a copy of a campaign email entitled, “Will you ensure the Budget delivers on PM’s climate and energy promises?”
Protecting our environment is a matter of huge importance to me and I was delighted to see the clear commitments made in the recent Conservative Party manifesto to see us reach a net zero carbon economy by 2050. We are the first major world economy to announce this bold plan. Plans are well laid and there are a range of actions already in process. For instance, we were one of the first countries in the world to ban the sale of conventionally fuelled cars by 2040 – something likely to be achieved well ahead as the market and manufacturers have already reacted with the sale of electric cars up and the introduction of a record 19 new electric cars into the UK market this year. Transport makes up around a third of all pollution, so this is a vital step forward.
The way we tackle climate change and protect our environment will be many fold and whilst the emphasis in this campaign is on onshore wind farms it is just one way we will win the climate change battle. Another highly significant development, with less visual and noise impact than onshore wind farms, is the huge technological strides being made in offshore wind farms. I have recently met with industry specialists on this and believe there to be huge potential in developing this industry not only to generate clean energy but also see hundreds of new, well paid jobs come to Cornwall as we see potential development in the seas that surround us.
The Conservative party manifesto references the environment 22 times. The government has and is taking this as a priority. I copy a section below:
Fight climate change and protect the environment Conservation is, and always has been, at the heart of Conservatism. Our Government’s stewardship of the natural environment, its focus
on protecting the countryside and reducing plastic waste, is a source of immense pride.
But today, the climate emergency means that the challenges we face stretch far beyond our borders. Thanks to the efforts of successive Governments, the UK has cut carbon emissions by more than any similar developed country. We are now the world’s leader in offshore wind – a fantastic success story of Government and the private sector working hand in hand to cut costs and deliver ever more electricity at plummeting costs.
Unlike Jeremy Corbyn, we believe that free markets, innovation and prosperity can protect the planet. Yet we recognise that there is far more that needs to be done.
We will lead the global fight against
climate change by delivering on our
world-leading target of Net Zero
greenhouse gas emissions by 2050,
as advised by the independent
Committee on Climate Change.
We have doubled International
Climate Finance. And we will use
our position hosting the UN Climate
Change Summit in Glasgow in 2020
to ask our global partners to match
We will set up new international
partnerships to tackle deforestation
and protect vital landscapes and
wildlife corridors. We will establish a
new £500 million Blue Planet Fund to
help protect our oceans from plastic
pollution, warming sea temperatures
and overfishing, and extend the
Blue Belt programme to preserve
the maritime environment. We will
continue to lead diplomatic efforts
to protect 30 per cent of the world’s
oceans by 2030.
Our first Budget will prioritise the
environment: investing in R&D;
decarbonisation schemes; new flood
defences, which will receive £4 billion
in new funding over the coming
years; electric vehicle infrastructure
including a national plug-in network
and gigafactory; and clean energy.
In the next decade, we will work with
the market to deliver two million new
high quality jobs in clean growth. We
have ambitious targets:
Our world-leading offshore wind
industry will reach 40GW by 2030,
and we will enable new floating wind
We will invest £800 million to build the
first fully deployed carbon capture
storage cluster by the mid-2020s.
We will invest £500 million to help
energy-intensive industries move to
We will support gas for hydrogen
production and nuclear energy,
including fusion, as important parts of
the energy system, alongside increasing
our commitment to renewables.
We placed a moratorium on fracking
in England with immediate effect.
Having listened to local communities, we
have ruled out changes to the planning
system. We will not support fracking
unless the science shows categorically
that it can be done safely.
We will help lower energy bills by
investing £9.2 billion in the energy
efficiency of homes, schools and
We will support clean transport to
ensure clean air, as well as setting strict
new laws on air quality. We will consult
on the earliest date by which we can
phase out the sale of new conventional
petrol and diesel cars.
Since publication there is now further consideration being given to bringing forward the ban on sale of conventionally fuelled cars to 2035.