Thursday, 21 October 2021

Newspaper column 21 October 2021 - Tributes to a fallen colleague

Last Friday we were all shocked and saddened to hear of the murder of my MP colleague Sir David Amess, while at a constituency advice surgery in his constituency.

Sir David was an utter gentleman and my thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and team.

MP advice surgeries are done so we can be approachable and help those who are vulnerable, and want questions and concerns addressed. Just earlier that morning I had held my own advice surgery in Truro.

This terrible incident has again made people ask if Members of Parliament should continue seeing people face to face in surgery-style events. We have to remember that as awful as this incident, and others such as the tragic murder of Jo Cox in 2016, have been, that the vast majority of people in this country are kind and generous and just want to get on with their lives. While I was in Truro at the weekend I was approached by many people who wished to pass on their condolences and were shocked at what had happened, and I know full well that the vast, vast majority of people would never countenance such actions.

As well as holding my regular MP constituency advice surgeries, which I restarted earlier this year when covid regulations allows for them, over the summer I also held a village tour, which I hope to become an annual event, and the people attending these events were again overwhelmingly positive. It is so important that we are allowed to continue these meetings, bringing us as your elected representatives into direct contact with the people we have been elected representatives is such an important part of our democracy.

I recently sat on the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly for the first time and I was struck by in how much respect our own democracy is looked at by some of our neighbours, how the fact that we as MPs can directly meet with our public is seen as a privilege and it is not something we should take for granted.

On a wider scale, as a society, I believe that everybody has to come together and think about why we are allowing society to be in fear of people, we have got to be more compassionate, promote our communities as being good and positive places to live in, and we have got to look at what brings us joy in life, rather than what brings us fear.

One thing that I think we must do is look very carefully about how we frame our debates and arguments, particularly on social media. MPs of all parties get into politics for one reason, to make the communities they serve better places. We are not there to be vilified or to be hate objects. We are people with families who don’t always agree but we are all there to do the best for the people and places we represent. From my own perspective, I do not and never have engaged in name calling or mud slinging, to opposition politicians or anyone else and try to keep all communication as positive as possible, both on social media and elsewhere.

Whatever your politics, Friday’s events were an attack on our democracy. By giving in and changing how we do business, we are letting those who would do us, as a nation, harm, win. As such, my surgeries and other meetings with you, the residents of Truro and Falmouth, will continue and you can get in touch to meet with me via email at , or by telephone on 01872 229698.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Beatrice's Bill and welfare of animals.

Thank you to the many constituents getting in touch regarding Beatrice’s Bill.

I would like to start by assuring you that I care very much about the welfare of all animals. I am pleased to tell you that my Ministerial colleagues are examining the evidence around the use of cages for farm animals and are considering the options. They have also committed to continuing to focus on maintaining world-leading farm animal welfare standards through both regulatory requirements and statutory codes.

Ministers have been clear that it is their ambition for farrowing crates to no longer be used for sows. Indeed, the new pig welfare code clearly states that “the aim is for farrowing crates to no longer be necessary and for any new system to protect the welfare of the sow, as well as her piglets.” It is important that we make progress towards a system that both works commercially and safeguards the welfare of the sow and her piglets, and that we do so as quickly as possible. I am pleased to confirm the UK is already ahead of most pig producing countries in terms of non-confinement farrowing, with around 40 per cent of our pigs housed outside and not farrowed with crates.

I recognise that the ‘enriched’ colony cage system restricts a bird’s ability to exhibit normal behaviours so I am pleased that the Government is also examining the future use of cages for all laying hens. I also welcome the commitment from our major retailers, with positive support from our egg producers, to stop retailing eggs from enriched colony cage production systems by 2025. I know that the UK already has a much larger free-range sector by far than any EU country, with over 55 per cent of our hens kept in free range systems.

I am encouraged that this Government has set itself a challenging agenda to tackle animal welfare issues and is taking action on many fronts to improve the health and wellbeing of farm animals. A major example is the commitment to end excessively long journeys for live animals going for slaughter and for fattening, which will be realised through the Kept Animals Bill now making its way through Parliament. Now we have left the EU, Ministers are also able to reward farmers for providing higher standards of animal welfare and environmental protection measures. I am pleased that Ministers have committed to co-designing an Animal Health and Welfare Pathway under this plan, which aims to promote the production of healthier, higher-welfare farm animals at a level beyond compliance with current regulations. The direction of the Pathway so far has been developed in active partnership with industry.

If you would like to discuss this further or any other matter, then please do not hesitate to contact me.

Better Buses EDM 382

Thank you to the many constituents getting in touch regarding EDM 382 and bus deregulation.

Buses are the backbone of the UK’s public transport network, being used for twice as many journeys as trains and from thousands more stopping places across the country.

As you are aware, since 1986, bussing in England outside London has been deregulated. This model hasn't always worked for passengers, which is why I am pleased the Government has committed to levelling-up bus services, tackling many of the issues that EDM 382 notes, and that Local Traffic Authorities (LTAs) face.

Through the National Bus Strategy, the Government will ensure the skillsets of both private bus operators and LTAs are brought together in either an Enhanced Partnership, or through franchising agreements. This is a welcome approach which will develop and deliver improvements for passengers and is backed by the £3 billion investment pledged in 2020. I am glad to see that all LTAs have now confirmed that they are developing one, or both approaches, and that Bus Service Improvement Plans are being developed for the 31 October deadline. This strategy will prove equally beneficial in supporting decarbonisation goals, as £120 million has already been invested in zero-emission buses this year.

This investment is in addition to the £50 million already pledged to delivering the first all-electric bus town in the UK, whilst striving towards the Prime Minister’s commitment to 4,000 new zero emission buses.

As I am sure you will agree, improving our bus services to the levels that passengers deserve is of great importance. I am therefore delighted that the Government has put forward a comprehensive plan to achieve this, strengthening the powers of our LTAs and ensuring we continue towards our goal of hitting net-zero by 2050.

If you would like to discuss this further or any other matter, then please do not hesitate to contact me.

Breast Cancer EDM 419

Thank you to the many constituents getting in touch about EDM 419 and Breast cancer.

Please allow me to assure you that every effort is being made to continue raising awareness of breast cancer and to improve the treatment of all those diagnosed with this disease.

I’m delighted that breast cancer survival rates have improved remarkably over the last 40 years, with five-year survival rates for women at over 86 per cent, up from just 53 per cent in the 1970s. This is a testament to the efforts made to raise awareness of, and boost funding into tackling this disease but more must be done.

Great efforts are being made to improve cancer services and to ensure that the NHS continues to provide some of the world’s best cancer care. The NHS has launched the National Cancer Programme which committed to offering uniquely tailored cancer treatment to all patients with breast cancer by March 2021; I understand that NHS Trusts were well on track to meet this target from the latest available data, with 91 per cent by the end of 2019. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has also updated its guidance on diagnosing and treating breast cancer. This guidance aims to help healthcare professionals offer the right treatments to people diagnosed with breast cancer, taking into account their individual preferences which I am encouraged will significantly improve patient experience and quality of care.

These measures form just part of the NHS’s ambitious wider strategy to improve cancer outcomes. The NHS Long Term Plan (LTP) was published in January 2019 and commits to improving detection, with more targeted screening and Rapid Access Diagnostic Centres, so that in 10 years’ time these measures will help achieve 55,000 more people surviving cancer each year. Further, the LTP outlines that, where appropriate, every person diagnosed with all types of cancer, including those with secondary cancers, should have access to personalised care by March 2022.

I understand your frustration that Sacituzumab Govitecan, also known as Trodelvy is, is not yet available in our country, however, it is vital that any new drug or treatment is rigorously tested to meet the UK's high standards of medicine. I am proud that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has some of the highest standards in the world. While information on cancer drugs being considered by Project Orbis is considered commercially confidential, I would like to reassure you that the Government is committed to providing the best possible treatment not only for Triple Negative Breast Cancer, but all types of cancer.

If you would like to discuss this further or any other matter, then please do not hesitate to contact me.

Violence against Women and Girls

Thank you to the many constituents getting in touch regarding violence against women and girls.

I have always been clear that protecting women and girls from violence and supporting victims is of the utmost importance. I was glad to stand on a manifesto which pledged to continue the fight against the perpetrators of violence against women and girls.

I welcome the publication of the tackling violence against women and girls strategy to ensure women and girls are safe everywhere - at home, online and on the streets. The strategy will increase support for victims and survivors, increase the number of perpetrators brought to justice and to reduce the prevalence of violence against women and girls in the long-term.

A number of measures in the strategy are focused on practical action to increase physical safety in public places. This includes a £5 Million ‘Safety of Women at Night’ Fund, in addition to the Safer Streets Fund, that focuses on the prevention of violence against women and girls in public spaces at night, including in the night-time economy. This could include targeting parks and alleyways, and routes from bars, restaurants and nightclubs. I also welcome the appointing of two new Violence Against Women and Girls Transport Champions, to drive forward positive change and tackle the problems faced by female passengers on public transport. The creation of a new online tool 'StreetSafe' is also welcome. This platform will build on the Safer Streets Fund and provide women and girls with a way to anonymously and quickly pinpoint areas where they have felt unsafe and say why – be it from a lack of lighting or CCTV or because of the people around them.

It is vital that good practice is shared and the new strategy will make this happen. The Government will introduce a new national policing lead on violence against women and girls. The lead will be the point of contact for every police force and will ensure, best practice is shared and that progress on improving the response to these crimes is being carefully monitored.

Following the tragic case of Sarah Everard, the Government reopened a call for evidence to further collect views from those with lived experience of, or views on, crimes considered as violence against women and girls. The Home Office received an unprecedented 160,000 further responses over two weeks, taking the total to over 180,000 responses which have helped shape the new strategy.

If you would like to discuss this further or any other matter, then please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thursday, 14 October 2021

Newspaper column 14 October 2021 - Culture success!


The end of last week saw some really positive news for Cornwall after we had confirmation that our bid for Cornwall to be the UK City of Culture for 2025 passed its first hurdle and has moved onto the next stage.

The competition, delivered by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport uses culture as a catalyst for levelling up areas outside London and putting new parts of the UK on the cultural map internationally.

Entrants have been tasked with proving that they can put culture at the heart of their plans to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

That we are allowed to bid as a ‘city’ is a positive move in itself, as while Truro is by default, Cornwall’s City of Culture, allowing the whole Duchy to be included in the bid together is particularly advantageous. Basically we can pull together not only everything that is special about Truro as a city, but then all the best bits from the rest of Cornwall, of which there is a massive supply, and put together a truly amazing bid.

Our bid, Cornwall 2025: Leading from the Edge, builds on Cornwall’s strong culture and heritage as well as our world class superfast broadband connectivity to accelerate the growth of our strong and nationally significant Creative Industries cluster, especially in film, gaming, virtual reality and theatre.

The theme of our bid; People, Place and Planet is focussed on our distinctive environment and a cultural response to climate change and the transition to carbon neutrality. This is the challenge of our age and we plan to use this and Cornwall’s powerful global brand to turn UK City of Culture into a global event with real purpose.

Our recent hosting of the G7, in partnership with UK Government, has highlighted our capability to deliver large scale events in the global spotlight and our cultural institutions featured strongly with visits from leaders from across the World. Similarly, the start of this year’s Tour of Britain cycling race was a triumph of public participation.

I look forward to working with all involved to develop our offer and demonstrating what everyone who lives, works here and visits already knows - that Cornwall is the creative and culture capital of the UK.

One venue that I am sure will add a great deal to both Truro and Cornwall’s cultural offer both in the short and long term is the refurbished Hall for Cornwall, which is due to reopen very shortly.

This project is something I have worked on very closely since my election in 2019, helping it get Government funding to remain on track during the pandemic and inviting senior government figures down to see the progress for themselves.

As well as a larger 1,300 seat auditorium, new performance spaces and cafes and bars, the transformed building will host an area for creative businesses to work together and grow, and new creative spaces for young people.  Together the project is forecast to add £35.6 million to the local economy and create 165 jobs.

I am delighted to see scaffolding being removed from Lemon Quay as I type, and this beautiful building restored to its prominence in Truro. My very best of luck to Julien Boast and his team for opening night and beyond, and I look forward to seeing the Hall for Cornwall once again being our premier entertainment venue going forward.


Friday, 8 October 2021

HS2 Debate 13th September campaign response

Thank you to the many constituents getting in touch regarding the HS2 debate on 13th September.

Unfortunately, due to a prior engagement I was unable to attend.

Firstly, I would like to make it clear that the decision on HS2 was made well before I became an MP and had I been the MP at the time, I would have been opposed to it.

However, on the recommendation of the independent Oakervee review, the Prime Minister gave the go ahead to HS2, alongside major improvements to local transport networks up and down the country.

HS2 will play an important role in the UK’s transition to a net-zero carbon economy by 2050. I understand that HS2 will offer some of the lowest carbon emissions per passenger km, seven times less than passenger cars and 17 times less than domestic air travel in 2030. Indeed, HS2 is expected to help reduce the number of cars and lorries on the road and cut demand for domestic flights.

It is estimated that the total carbon emissions produced by both constructing and operating Phase One for 120 years would be the same as just one month of the UK's road network.

I am also pleased that a green corridor will be created alongside the railway. This will involve the planting of seven million new trees and shrubs, including over 40 native species, along the Phase One route from London to the West Midlands.

It is welcome too that an overall £70 million funding package has also been made available to enhance community facilities, improve access to the countryside, and help improve road and cycle safety in towns and villages along the HS2 Phase One route.

If you would like to discuss this further or any other matter, then please do not hesitate to contact me.