Week Commencing 17th April
On my journey to London I heard on the news that the PM was seeking Parliamentary approval to call a General Election for June 8th. She stated that she believes the ‘United Kingdom should be free to chart its own way in the world. That means that we will regain control of our money, our own laws and our own borders and we will be free to strike trade deals with new partners all around the world. This is the right approach and it is in the national interest.’ I fully agree and support the Prime Minister.
- Questions to the Chancellor
On arrival I asked the Chancellor the following questions in the Chamber as I had successfully been selected to ask a question in the ballot: What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Education on school budgets in (a) England and (b) the St Ives constituency?
The majority of schools in my constituency are rated good or outstanding and this is due to the hard work and determination of teaching staff and their heads. However, government funding for schools has not kept up with increases in costs which according to the House of Commons Library increased by 3.4% in 2016-17 and will increase by 8.7% by 2019-20. What message can I take back to my schools who tell me they can not maintain these standards if school funding does not keep up with increased costs?
I’ve been working hard to support our schools and visit a school most weeks. This week I visited Garras School who not along ago had been destined to close but is now thriving due to the hard work of governors and staff.
- Safety improvements to the A30
I also met with the Transport Secretary to raise again the urgent need to improve the safety of the A30 in Crowlas. We will achieve this but it is taking too long.
- Space Flight Bill
On February 21st the Government published a draft spaceflight bill “dedicated to commercial spaceflight in the UK”. The Government described the proposed legislation as: fundamental to enabling small-satellite launches and sub-orbital flights from the UK, ensuring the UK is well placed to take advantage of a growing global market.
At our Science and Technology Select Committee we met the UK Space Agency, Civil Aviation Authority and leading UK Space companies to understand the intended function of the Bill and explore the opportunities for a successful space sector in the UK.
I was privileged to ask my 5th Prime Minister’s Question on Wednesday.
Small businesses (that provide most of the employment in Cornwall and on Scilly) are finding that attracting credit, increasing costs and red tape is making running a small business increasingly challenging. I wanted to know what more the Government could do to help and look forward to seeing this in the Manifesto.
- Diabetes Technology
I hosted a meeting with the Health Minister to press for greater progress towards giving patients access to medical technologies. This includes devices for people with diabetes to help them manage their condition much more effectively.
- St Piran Cross
Scott Mann MP and myself secured a debate on the use of regional flags to promote the area. We argue that, as we leave the UK, we have the opportunity to introduce the St Piran flag (Cornish Flag) on driving licenses and vehicle number plates. The Minister agreed that things like this would help to encourage regional identity and could be considered.
- In West Cornwall
I was glad to visit, alongside Garras School, Mounts Bay Academy and St Uny Church Academy on Friday. St Uny Church Academy to celebrate, with staff and parents, the official opening of the new hall at St Uny Church of England Academy. Mounts Bay and a meeting with Mrs Davey, Headteacher, at Mounts Bay Academy to support the work the school does to help Five Islands School on St Mary’s and I had the delight to talk to pupils at Garras Community Primary School in Mawgan-in-Meneage and answer any questions.
- Meeting with the NFU
The NFU hosted a meeting with myself and local farmers and we discussed the increasing challenge of attracting local young people into the food and farming sector (which happens to be the topic of a Parliamentary debate I’m hosting in Westminster this week).
- Helston, a vibrant town?
Each town has its particular set of challenges and aspirations and I met with a small group of people from Helston to discuss their hopes for Helston town centre. I’ve been working to identify the priorities of the business community so that they can be supported to grow their town centre.
I nipped into the Lugger in Penzance to meet the pupils from Humphry Davy School who were busy raising funds for their trip to Uganda in the Summer.
- Food and farming
On Saturday, St Keverne Farmers’ Market proved to be a destination for many, as was the coffee morning in St Keverne Chapel. From there I joined the thousands of people at Porthleven Food Festival which continues to be an incredibly successful event in the town’s calendar.
- Variety and St George’s Day
I took my wife for a romantic night out to Breaney Methodist Chapel variety show (raising funds for Cornwall Air Ambulance and Mary’s Meals) and on Sunday attended the St George’s Day Parade with Cape Cornwall Scout Group and the Penwith and Isles of Scilly District. A reminder of what a great community we live in.
Week Commencing 10th April
During the Easter break I have the opportunity to catch up on loose-ends and spend more time pursuing key priorities.In addition I met and helped resolve specific difficulties for a number of constituents who had made surgery appointments with me.
- RCH Treliske
I was greatly privileged to visit RCH Treliske to get a better understand of the diabetic foot pathway in Cornwall and meet with clinicians who deal with this problem day in, day out. I met with clinicians from each section of the pathway, from diagnosis through to treatments, including representatives from each part of the pathway: interventional radiology, vascular surgery, endocrinology, orthopaedics, podiatry, diabetic foot clinic, and GPs. It was a very fascinating visit. I learned a great deal and know gave a better understanding of how I can help ensure the service grows and thrives.
- Neighbourhood Policing
I hosted a meeting with Alison Hernandez, the Police and Crime Commissioner, and our Neighbourhood Policing Team in Penzance Police Station. We discussed pressures on policing, the need to maintain the number of PCSOs, at least until warranted officer numbers had increased sufficiently, and discussed the vital role community policing has in keeping people safe.
- Care and Support
Sarah Newton MP and I met with the county’s leading care support agencies, which between them provide about 95% of the support needed to support our most dependent adults. It’s fair to say the relationship between these organisations and Cornwall Council is not fantastic. They provide a vital support for very vulnerable people and we are working to improve current working relationships between the Council and these agencies.
- Rural Post Office Services (On the Lizard)
We need to develop a different approach to running rural post office services than the one used by Post Office Ltd at the moment. I chaired a public meeting in The Lizard to discuss the future of the post office as the current Sub-Post Master and his wife, who have served the community for nearly 30 years, are planning to retire. The offer the PO make to businesses interested in continuing the service is not particularly attractive.
- Penzance Harbour
A small team, including myself, are working together to secure much-needed investment in Penzance Harbour and Mounts Bay. We met again to rally after the disappointment of not securing Coastal Community Funds to carry out initial improvements to the Harbour.
- Bosavern Community Farm visit
A most enjoyable part of my job is visiting and supporting local community projects and charities. My visit to Bosavern Community Farm in St Just was no exception.
- Shared Lives Carer of the Year
There are individuals and families who have opened up their home to allow people with severe learning disabilities to live with them. They are unsung heroes and I was glad to visit the Carer of the Year who lives near Penzance.
Week Commencing 20th March
- Big Bang Fair
The Science and Tech Committee travelled to the NEC to see some of the innovation of school children who entered the show this year. We also took evidence from leaders of industry to understand more what is needed to encourage young people to take up Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
- National Trust and our Coast Path
I have received a number of emails from concerned people who object to the introduction of car parking charges and unsightly signage at Levant Mine. This is a popular destination and the site of a mining tragedy that took the lives of 31 men. I met with senior members of staff at the National Trust to raise a number of valid concerns.
- Condoleezza Rice
The Former US Secretary of State visited Parliament to talk to MPs and Lords about US politics and the new President. She voiced some very interesting insights into US politics today which help us to understand some aspects of modern Western democracy and how this is affecting the decisions people make.
- Health and Social Care
Philip Dunn is the Health Minister and I met with him to discuss concerns I have regarding how plans to integrate health and social care are progressing (or not as the case may be).
- Modern apprenticeships
The modern apprenticeship is now providing a real alternative to going off to university for many and we are now seeing some of our brightest young people opt for ‘on the job’ training which is welcome indeed. I attended an event in Westminster to hear from some of these young people about their experience.
- Brain Tumour Research
I have supported this charity for a few years now. Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under 40 and more must be invested into research to improve treatments and find a cure. I attended an event hosted by the Speaker to meet with families affected by this terrible illness.
- Disability Confident
The Government has dramatically improved its support for employers to help them employ people who have disabilities. I’ve signed up to recruiting 30 employers in April to increase opportunities to employ people who have disabilities.
- Making Tax Digital
I met with HMRC to discuss concerns I have for people who are not very IT literate but will be required to provide quarterly online tax reporting from 2019. This was to start in 2018 but we have won the argument that this change is too soon and too large and more must be done to accommodate small businesses that are ‘offline’.
- 38 degrees and the Federation of Small Businesses
My meeting in the constituency with representatives of the 38 Degrees organisation concentrated on the priorities of their members as we navigate our exit from the EU. I was glad of the opportunity to hear what many of my constituents care about most of all. This meeting was followed with a meeting with members of the FSB where we discussed the need to reform business rates, avoid further red-tape and extra unnecessary costs as a result of ill-thought out policies.
- School visit and a trip to the GP
A favourite task is to answer any question in our schools. I visited a Heamoor Primary to meet year 6 pupils and the school council. I also met GPs and patient group representatives affiliated to Cape Cornwall Surgery. GPs want to be more involved in plans to integrate services and want to ensure that, in the drive to integrate services, rural practices are not forgotten or neglected. This is a valid concern and I am pleased to take up their ideas and observations.
- Meeting our Street Pastors
Street Pastors give up their evening and early hours to engage with people on the streets caring for them, listening to them and helping them. Evidence shows that wherever Street Pastors patrol, crime and antisocial behaviour goes down. Most of us would have no idea these volunteers are out and about whilst we are ‘tucked up in our beds’. I was glad to call in and visit them and thank them for all they do.
Week Commencing 6th March
- Becky Parker is a Director of the Institute of Research in Schools and I met with her following a presentation she made to the Science and Technology Select Committee. We discussed the work she is doing to increase the number of pupils who choose science subjects and she has agreed to speak at an event I plan to hold for West Cornwall schools later this year.
- UK innovators have developed Small Modular Reactors that are small in size, produce enough power for a decent size town and are inexpensive to build. These are the first of their kind in the world and have the potential to help meet the energy demands we have as we move away from carbon fuels.
- This week in Parliament, MPs continued to wrestle with how best to help unaccompanied children. I put my name to an amendment which intended to increase the number of children we could offer homes to be working in a different way with local councils. I met with the Home Secretary to discuss these concerns. The Government has agreed to do what colleagues and I had proposed and I intend to watch closely to ensure we are doing everything practicably possible.
- MPs also debated how we keep children safe online and how we ensure that they are taught important principles in regards to relationships. I joined colleagues to block an effort to introduce sex education in primary schools – I do believe we must do much more to help children build safe and good friendships and relationships with others.
- The Select Committee investigated the role of Genomics in healthcare. Medical advances are moving at pace and it is important that we understand how to provide both the best care and protection for people who are sick.
- Support for small businesses is something I take a close interest in. These employers are the lifeblood of West Cornwall and I had a Ministerial meeting to learn more about how I can help local businesses in their work and to network more with other businesses.
- The budget statement has become infamous. I would prefer that it was due to the extra £1bn for social care and £325m for building facilities to help healthcare integration. These funds have the potential to greatly impact health and social care provision in Cornwall and on Scilly if we work hard together.
- Allied Health Professionals are all those who provide healthcare but are not doctors or nurses. They include optometrists, pharmacists, occupational nurses etc. I met with their representative group as there is a concern that they are not part of plans to integrate health and care services which is very shortsighted!
- Back in West Cornwall I met with representatives of Victim Care who are a group of voluntary organisations and the police etc who work to support victims of crime whatever the crime may be. Few know they exist and I’m working to promote what they do so more people can be helped.
- Where would you find tatty green tin sheds, freight vehicles on the road and tired boats? Anyone living in Penzance or close by will have no trouble answering this and will wonder what is being done to improve Penzance Harbour. These concerns were the subject of a meeting between officers from Cornwall Council, the IOS Steamship Company and a representative of the Neighbourhood Planning Team. I hosted this meeting to ensure that we step up our efforts to improve this working harbour for passengers, for those who work in and around the harbour and for the residents of Penzance.
- Penwith College held their open day on Saturday. I went along to continue discussions with lecturers about setting up a Summer Construction School to help young people who may be suited for a job in this area, but have had no opportunity to explore the possibility.
- I travelled across to Helston to hold a MP’s surgery – a very worthwhile and privileged part of the job. I also called in to the Methodist Church’s Spring Show which was very impressive!
- I should have spent 24 hours on the Isles of Scilly but the fog put an end to this plan.
Week Commencing 27th February
Marie Curie offers tremendous support to cancer patients and families in very difficult times – I was glad to meet them and show my support for them during their visit to Parliament.
Funding to maintain National Trails is always a challenge and I met with representatives of the charity that leads this effort to discuss their work to care for the South West Coast Path. We agreed to meet at the mid-point of the trail in May to promote their work.
I met with Three (mobile phone operator) to see what we can do to improve signal in West Cornwall and support the Make the Air Fair Campaign.
The Earth Hour 10th Anniversary extravaganza celebrates people in our communities who love our planet and are driving action on climate change. I attended this event in parliament to see how the WWF is helping to improve the planet we live on.
The UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) launched their new policy paper: Building Places That Work For Everyone. I supported this as the paper sets out how new homes can keep people safe, warm and comfortable with reduced running costs and reduced demand on carbon fuels.
I took part in a Coastal Communities Inquiry as I am seeking support for small businesses that are reliant on tourism and need help to survive all year round.
- Holocaust Education Trust visit
I joined schools from South West England on a day’s visit to Auschwitz in Poland to witness the traumatic scene of the concentration camps at both Auschwitz and Birkenau. I can not begin to understand how human beings can treat other human beings in this way. Over 200 six-form children took part in the visit and I was impressed by the way they studied the accounts of these chilling events and handled the day’s experience. I was left stunned by this historic memorial
- West Cornwall
In complete contrast I took part in the St Piran’s Day procession on Friday. It is one of the most enjoyable events in Penzance and it’s good to remember and celebrate our Cornish heritage with our school children.
Over 1000 people attended the Expo in Penzance and you could not have failed to note the ambition and aspiration of many organisations that are working tirelessly to see our area improved for everyone. I recently met with the Transport Secretary who referred to the fact that Government investment in Cornwall is now greater than any time in recent decades. The money being spent to protect our coastline, the recent receipt of new buses, new carriages and trains on their way, improvements to the A30 and Government spend on the rail network is all testament to this.
I was reminded of the pressures on our schools during a visit to Newlyn School on Friday. The teachers and governors are a victim of their own success and have attracted a number of children who need and deserve a little extra care and attention due to their education needs.
Every three months I meet with the Mayor, Clerk and Helston Division Councillors to identify issues that need help from Government to resolve, this is worthwhile and took place on Friday. I also met with local business people to discuss their priorities for Helston.
I also joined local business men and women for a late night meal to discuss investment opportunities in West Cornwall. There is a great deal of confidence around and I’m determined to embrace any investment available.
Week Commencing 20th February
- Science and Technology Select Committee
University professors and leaders of UK engineering and innovation contributing to the UK Industrial Strategy Green Paper consultation attended the Select Committee’s inquiry into the ambition of the Government to be a world leader in research and innovation.
I was privileged to ask my 3rd question of this Parliament of the PM this week and used the opportunity to raise the need for her help to reopen Edward Hain Community Hospital.
- Funding for local authorities
I stressed to the Secretary of State to take urgent action in support of the Council of the Isles of Scilly’s finances during a debate in the Chamber this week.
I always welcome those who are able to visit the Palace of Westminster from West Cornwall – the place where I work is the home of our democracy and everybody should feel welcome. This week I welcomed two separate families.
- Diabetes ThinkTank
I feel honoured to be asked to chair this influential think tank and will do all I can to ensure this group influences the Nation’s approach to caring for people who have disabilities.
- BT Tower and Big Data in government conference
This conference brought together leading Civil Servants, business leaders and Parliamentarians to debate the challenges and opportunities of using and embracing digital technology and data. I found the Government’s ambition encouraging but recognise much needs to be done to win over the trust of the general public.
- UK Aviation and the Industrial Strategy
I joined aviation leaders including Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Virgin Atlantic and colleagues to identify the priorities of the UK Aviation Sector to input into the Government’s Industrial Strategy.
- Southwest MPs
Together we are pressing the Government to deliver for the Southwest. This week we met Transport Secretary Chris Graying, to stress the need to speed up further investment in roads and rail in the west.
I also joined a small number of MPs in a meeting with the Education Secretary Justine Greening to stress the need to address funding pressures faced by our schools. The Government is seeking to make funding for all public services fairer and transparent. The transition process is not comfortable but it promises to deal once and for all with perverse funding arrangements for schools, hospitals, policing and our councils.
- Business Rate review
Retailers in St Ives Town are being hammered with unfair business rate increases. I’m taking this up with the Government because there is no justification for it.
Sepsis is a far better known illness and people recognise how dangerous it can be. The work of Parliamentarians has ensured that people are much more aware and the treatment is much more effective. However, there is more to do and I joined colleagues and campaigners to raise the profile of Sepsis once again.
- Boost your Business
I joined Facebook and the Federation of Small Business to promote the opportunity small business has to export around the world. Only 9% of businesses in the UK export and this Government is throwing everything it has at it to increase our exports.
- Traffic danger
Leedstown is a village that falls between Penzance, Camborne, Helston and Hayle. The weight and speed of traffic is no longer acceptable and I met with senior Council officers to find some way to deliver some safety improvements.
- Fish and Chips and health
I gathered the Health Inquiry Panel for a final meeting to sign off our recommendations to health managers. We enjoyed fish and chips and agreeing on the priorities we believe will help improve patient care.
- Levant Mine
The National Trust have installed a parking meter at the car park adjacent to Levant Mine. Understandably there are many locally who oppose this, not least because it is the site of a terrible tragedy where over 30 miners lost their lives. I met a number of concerned local residents and together we are pressing the National Trust to abandon these charges.
- Isles of Scilly
I flew out to the Isles of Scilly for a series of meetings. These included the need to build homes for local people & house essential workers, the challenges faced by Park House in both finances and recruitment and the pressures on Council finances.
Week Commencing 6th February & Week Commencing 13th February
I attended a debate looking at the role of marriage in modern society and the evidence that should give the Government the confidence to support marriage more proactively.
- Housing White Paper
The Government launched its White Paper that sets out how the UK will respond to the pressure on housing and enable people to secure suitable housing that they can afford.
- Government’s Bill to trigger Article 50
People that choose wisely to pay little attention to Commons debates could not have avoided the contributions of MPs as we considered giving the PM the authority to trigger Article 50. Once triggered this enables the Government to begin formal negotiations and gives 24 months for these to be concluded. MPs supported the Government by a huge majority and the Lords are now debating the Bill.
- Seagull debate
As we head towards a new summer season MPs called on Government to work with local authorities and communities to find a realistic way to manage ‘rogue’ seagulls in coastal towns. Human behaviour is to blame and as a result in my speech I asked ‘how do you solve a problem with our seagulls’ because ‘Seagulls are beginning to behave badly’.
- Sustainable Development Goals
One year ago UN nations agreed 17 common goals to address the difficulties facing the world’s poorest people (by 2030). These goals are known as the Sustainable Development Goals and countries across the world are grappling with what implementing the 2030 Agenda means for them. I was privileged to take part in a conference chaired by Jon Snow Channel 4 news, in Central London, where representatives from Governments that are addressing the challenges of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were sharing their experiences. Government representatives from Finland, Uganda, Germany and Colombia set out the approaches of their governments to policies relating to health, industry, education, environment and equality in relation to the 17 goals. The goals include ensuring everyone has clean water, reducing hunger, improving access to clean water, increasing access to good education, health care and employment. For more about the 17 goals go to: un.org.
- Number 10 Policy Unit
I contributed to a discussion hosted by the PM’s policy unit seeking to identify what practical measures can be implemented to enable people who have long-term disabilities towards greater independence and towards meaningful employment.
- The Rocketry Challenge
It is vital that we inspire young people to the areas of science, technology, engineering and maths. The Rocketry Challenge is a competition aimed at 11-18 year olds to design, build and launch a model rocket aiming to keep a raw egg intact throughout the launch and landing. It is free to enter and the national final champions win an all-expenses paid trip to the Paris Airshow to compete for the UK against the USA, Japan and France. I went to see two winning school teams from previous years who explained how taking part in the Challenge allowed them to apply what they are learning in science, technology, engineering and maths to a fun environment. Entries for this year close on 28th February and details can be found at http://www.ukayroc.org.uk/.
- Cyber security
A significant threat to British business is that of a cyber crime where intelligence, including people’s personal data can be hacked by criminals based in far-off countries. A few MPs debated this challenge with leading police officers, representatives of the insurance sector and businesses themselves. I found it a fascinating discussion and we identified the need to work more openly with competitors in order to stand up to these criminals.
- International Trade
I was able to raise the need to enable small businesses the opportunity to export their goods from the Southwest with the International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox. There is a demand for food and drink from the Southwest in particular and the Government are focusing on this economic opportunity.
- School Visit
As an MP it is a great privilege to welcome school groups to the Houses of Commons. St Just Primary School visited this week and I make a point of answering any questions they have.
- Smart Meter Roll Out
The Government want every household and business to benefit from smart meter technology by 2020. This is welcome but very ambitious. I took part in a debate to scrutinise this objective and identify concerns that present a risk to achieving this objective.
- Friends of the Children
I’m working with Trelya, a local very effective youth outreach project and they are committed to providing 1-1 support for children who have had a rough start. I’m working with them to identify some financial support.
- Helping youngsters get skills in the construction trade
I am aware of a number of young people who would like the opportunity to train in the Building Trade. This is good as we need more people with these skills. I hosted a meeting with the college, voluntary groups and social housing officers to find a way to give easier access to training for these young people.
- Investing in Penzance Harbour
We could be successful in a bid for millions of pounds to improve Penzance Harbour. To avoid previous difficulties I am meeting with everyone concerned to ensure people’s views are taken on-board and that the eventual scheme will cater for the current and future demands of the harbour and surrounding area as much as is practicable.
- Car parking
I was asked to host a public meeting in St Ives to discuss concerns with Cornwall Council’s proposed parking permit scheme. It was a useful meeting and helped to clarify the key areas of concern.
- Health Inquiry
The panel are now considering what recommendations we should put forward about the future of health and social care in West Cornwall. We met to consider all of the information the experts had provided.
- Health Campaigners
I met with local campaigners for a three hour discussion regarding healthcare in Cornwall and Scilly. I’m ambitious about the opportunity to integrate services to improve patient care and spend the money more wisely. It’s fair to say the campaigners are dubious about this aspiration.
- Opening of the Lamb and Flag
I was privileged to reopen the Lamb and Flag Pub on the A30 following extensive refurbishment. It’s good that our pubs are investing in their future as they provide an important service in the local community.
- St Levan Parish Council
I’m slowly finding my way around each of the Parish Councils as I’m keen to help them in any way possible as they go about their business. I attended St Levan Parish meeting and discussed how I could help them identify what local housing need there is.
- Edward Hain Community Hospital
This hospital has now been closed for a year due to fire-safety concerns. I took part in a public meeting in St Ives to rally support to reopen this valued local hospital.
- Official Opening of Bosence Farm
I attended an open day to celebrate the new build for the young people and family unit for treating substance misuse issues. The building is now complete and staff are just kitting it out in anticipation of gaining Ofsted approval in time for the opening at the end of March/early April.
- Mustard Seed Fuel Poverty Awareness
I joined Community Energy Plus who are working with Mustard Seed and Helston & Lizard Food Bank to help householders take control of their energy bills at an energy advice event.
- Dean Quarry and local concern
The threat to the community of St Keverne and valuable assets such as the Marine Conservation Zone is still real as the intention remains to extract significant quantities of rock for UK infrastructure projects. I met with local residents to listen to these concerns so that I can raise them in Parliament.
- West Cornwall Hospital Forum
I joined the regular meeting of Hospital Managers and local campaigners to find out how the hospital is doing and how I can support the staff better.
- Cornwall Partners in Care
I also joined local care providers to hear how they are doing, the challenges they face and how I can support them.
- A30 Action
The stretch of A30 in West Cornwall is a concern to local people as it struggles to meet the demands placed upon it. The action group met in my office and we discussed the next steps to achieve safety measures and improvements to this section of road.
- MPs appointment surgeries
These took place in Heston and Penzance and issues such as fishing, benefits, disabled access, planning and road safety issues were raised with me.
- Out and about
A favourite task of mine is calling on residents to introduce myself and discuss any concerns. I was out and about in Helston and included a brief visit to the Rugby Club which was very busy.
Week Commencing 30th January
- Dell – Data storage and IT and the NHS
The Public Affairs Manager of Dell met with me to discuss the company’s growth in jobs in the UK and discuss how they can help the NHS with the health data challenge. It is still the case that clinicians do not have easily accessible and adequate records relating to their patients.
- Housing Solutions on Scilly
The Duchy of Cornwall owns most of the land on the Isles of Scilly and have identified a number of sites where they plan to build houses. The debate is how to reduce the cost of building on Scilly so that people who live and work there can have a good standard of living accommodation.
- Local Enterprise Partnership
The LEP has increasing powers to decide the investment priorities for Cornwall and Scilly. I met with members of the board to stress the importance of delivering investment in Penzance in particular.
- Triggering Article 50
I see the vote to trigger Article 50 as a choice to make a new relationship with the world. The referendum result requires MPs and the Government to get on with the job and lay firm foundations for a new, more open Great Britain.
- Future of Farming
We will always need a secure source of quality food. Yet, the way we treat our farmers and expect them to produce food for less than it costs to grow, suggests that we don’t realise how important food security is.
- A new era for Stroke
It is much more likely today that a stroke patient can make a significant if not full recovery. This is due to a greater understanding of how important it is to get rapid treatment and intervention to a patient and to provide coordinated and extensive rehabilitation therapy. We know what to do, but we sadly we don’t do it every time. This is why we need a nationwide strategy for stroke victims.
- The draft Scottish Fiscal Commission Act 2016 (Consequential Provisions and Modifications) Order 2017
A less exciting task for MPs is to serve on Delegated Legislation Committees. During this one we discussed the proposed method of monitoring budget responsibility of the Scottish Parliament.
- Southwest MPs joint working
MPs from Southwest constituencies meet regularly to discuss issues with Government Ministers such as fair funding for health, policing, education and local government. We also press Government departments to invest in the regions infrastructure including roads and rail etc.
- Edward Hain Hospital
This loved local community hospital in St Ives has now been closed for a year. I had a meeting to identify what more could be done to ensure that it reopens and social care services could be hosted it the hospital.
- Supporting people towards employment
I had a constructive meeting with the Job Centre to pursue an initiative to fund local charities to support vulnerable people to get work and become more independent.
- Education Minister Nick Gibb
I hosted two school visits by the Education Minister Nick Gibb, on Thursday. One to Alverton School where the Minister opened a brand new classroom and then to St Erth School to highlight the need for a school hall. I’ve been working with St Erth Parish Council and the school to achieve this ambition and the Minister’s visit helps to highlight the need for a school hall. The visit included two meetings with head teachers and teaching staff. The Government are currently addressing the inequalities in school funding which is welcome and I was keen for the Minister to hear from the profession how school funding concerns are adding pressure to an already pressured environment.
- Alice in Wonderland
Helston Community College put on a great musical performance of this play. I really enjoyed it!
- Place Shaping Penzance
The ‘movers and shakers’ met on Friday evening to look at all the areas of investment planned for Penzance. There is a great deal of ambition and a renewed confidence in the area hence the desire to invest in our harbours, transport and business sites.
- MP’s surgery
Every week I have the unique opportunity of listening to people’s concerns and difficulties and apply what influence I can, to help resolve these challenges.
- Refugees welcome
In West Cornwall there are a number of very committed people who firmly believe that we can do more to help refugees. I hosted a brief meeting to gather these people together and identify what we can do to help.
- Helston Cricket Club
This club needs financial help to improve its facilities. I called in on the volunteers who were busily preparing for the builders to arrive following their success in securing £36K.
- St Ives Feast
A great tradition in my constituency is Feast Weekends and this Sunday was the turn of St Ives. The Civic Service was well supported by dignitaries and I was able to catch up with a lot of locally elected representatives.
Week Commencing 23rd January
- Funding the police
On Monday I dashed from London Paddington to the House of Commons Chamber to ask the Police Minister what his Department was doing to ensure Devon and Cornwall Police had a fair share of the policing budget. The Minister Brandon Lewis, confirmed that the Government was looking at the current funding formula to ensure it recognised the demands of rural areas such as West Cornwall in a new funding arrangement. I was also glad to hear of the commitment this week by our new Police and Crime Commissioner to create 100 frontline policing jobs.
- Relationships teaching for primary school children
I took part in a discussion about sex and relationship training in our primary schools. There is considerable pressure on the Government to set this agenda centrally by Whitehall. I have some concerns about this – there are some aspects of a child’s development that remain the privilege of parents and if anything, we should be supporting parents and offering them any help they require. I accept that we could do more to help children understand how to build healthy relationships and stay safe from any bullying, especially online. That is why I’ve been promoting a ‘Parents Portal’ which answers many questions parents and guardians have surrounding the internet. The Facebook platform – www.facebook.com/safety/parents – includes a number of different sections such as a Bullying Prevention Hub, Parenting Tips and a list of links to safety experts.
- Catch up with investment plans for West Cornwall
Cornwall’s MPs work closely with council officers and this week I met with the lead officer for transport. We discussed plans to improve the A30, work we are doing to invest in our rail network, Penzance Harbour, our bus service and an exhibition taking place in St John’s Hall in early March.
- Meeting the Chancellor
Funding for the NHS and social care is a topic that rightfully gets covered regularly by MPs, the media and concerned members of the public. I raised the need to review the funding formula for health funding in Cornwall and on Scilly. I also asked for consideration to be given to provide extra funds to meet the cost of transforming to a more integrated health system. Whilst I did not leave with actual promises of extra cash I did receive an assurance that the Government would look at these concerns. We also discussed the urgent need to provide extra funds for social care.
- Reducing demand in the NHS
I met with a group of health consultants to discuss how we can reduce demand on urgent care and A&E services by investing in community services, providing improved information so patients turn to the right place to receive help, better support to help people manage conditions and improved public health to reduce demand through better care of personal health. We are working together to draw up an action plan that I can pursue for West Cornwall.
- Rural shop report
At a meeting hosted by Scott Mann MP MPs discussed how we can help rural shops and fuel stations. We discussed the need for further business rate reform, better use and support for Post Offices including taking on more banking functions and more support to help rural shops employ people.
Tearfund put on a very interesting presentation showing how they help the world’s poorest communities effectively draw up neighbourhood plans and help them secure the funds they need to deliver these plans. They can include clean water and good sanitation, setting up businesses, health centres and schools etc.
- Science and Technology Select Committee.
The Committee questioned the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government. We enquired about the recently announced Industrial technologies strategy, the UK’s preparedness to respond to health emergencies such as Ebola and the Zika Virus, and the role of Government scientists as we navigate our exit from the EU.
- The Chamber
In the Chamber we debated the challenges facing our prisons. We also debated the new National Funding Formula for schools. I am researching the impact of NFF on West Cornwall schools and raising concerns with the Education Department. We also spent considerable time discussing the terms for our exit of the EU following the ruling of the Supreme Court and the welcome fact that MPs will vote to trigger Article 50.
We also debated the funding settlement for local authorities. I’ve been active in my support of the Council of the Isles of Scilly and Cornwall Council who face particular challenges in funding social care and other core priorities.
- Bowel cancer awareness
I believe we should reduce the age that people receive bowel cancer screening. It is a terrible disease and, caught early, is far more easily treated. I attended an event to get a better understanding of this.
- Back to West Cornwall and a Housing Solutions Discussion
I hosted a discussion for leading figures in housing in West Cornwall to discuss the significant challenge people face in securing the housing they need and can afford.
It was a very constructive meeting and we have a number of actions to take forward so that we ensure housing is affordable, we improve existing housing and we create options for people who are a low priority for social housing but are in need of a home.
- West Cornwall Health Inquiry
Two health inquiry meetings took place over the weekend. We met a Psychotherapist and Counsellor, Community Pharmacist, an Optometrist and Phil Confue, who is leading integration of health services in Cornwall and Scilly.
- MP’s surgery
This is a favourite aspect of my job and I appreciate the honesty and integrity of the people that come to these surgeries to raise their specific difficulty or concern.
Week Commencing 16th January
- Creative arts in Porthleven
The week started with a very useful meeting in Porthleven where I met business man Trevor Osborne to discuss his creative arts community vision. The village encourages and excels in creativity in the arts and his vision is to build a holistic approach to creative arts in Porthleven.
- Southwest Power House
A good sized group of South West MPs meet fortnightly in Parliament and we concentrate our efforts on the economy and funding for health, education, policing, transport and defence. We are led by former Chief Whip Mark Harper and already we are seeing very positive outcomes in return for our concerted collaboration and effort.This week we received a briefing from Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox who set out the methods the UK is developing to increase exports and we were told there is an international demand for food and drink from the South West.
- Trading with Taiwan
I also attended a briefing with the Ambassador for Taiwan who made it very clear that they are ambitious for a trade deal with the UK. They are a strategic nation in Asia and potentially offer the UK greater trading access to the continent.
- In the Chamber
In the Chamber we debated the Government’s National Citizen Service Bill – creating opportunities for young people, the Rural Economy, low income households and the negotiation programme for leaving the EU.
- Raising the VAT Threshold to help small business
During the week I met with Jane Ellison, Financial Secretary to HM Treasury, to discuss the VAT threshold for small businesses. I urged the Treasury on Tuesday in the Chamber to consider a change to the threshold (currently £83,000) as some businesses find themselves curtailing their business to remain competitive and avoid the administration associated with VAT. This could be implemented after we leave the EU. My plea to businesses in West Cornwall and on Scilly is to assist my campaign and take part in the consultation being undertaken by the Office for Tax Simplification (OTS). The OTS want to hear from businesses, advisers etc who deal with VAT about the issues they find most complex and any ideas they have to simplify the system.
email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your views.
- Supported housing with the Sally Army
Following a speech in support of supported housing I met with the Salvation Army this week to discuss how the Government could use the money available for supported housing more wisely and reduce rough sleeping at the same time.
- Closing the Digital Gender Skills Gap
This week in Parliament I learnt that contrary to what many students think, you don’t have to study an IT-related degree to get a job in technology. The leading IT graduate recruiter, FDM Group, told me how over half of its female consultants do not have STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) degrees but in fact come from a whole range of backgrounds including marketing, history, business and even politics. These girls came to the industry with little knowledge of IT but lots of transferable skills and enthusiasm for learning and are now thriving in their careers.
- Safety online
Internet providers are making progress in addressing safety online including creating tools to tackle bullying. I met with many of the providers including Facebook to take a look at these tools and see how I could engage our schools in introducing these tools to their students.
- Cornish Lithium
Cornwall’s MPs met with Cornish Lithium to hear of plans to extract lithium from former mine workings. This scheme offers promising opportunities to create wealth, well paid skilled jobs and another reason why our young people can choose to stay, train and work in Cornwall. Only time will tell if this initiative will lead to a form of revival in the Cornish mining industry.
- Armed Forces Briefing
Rear Admiral Alex Burton briefed MPs on the current work of UK Maritime Forces and how the new Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carriers will aid international security. We also heard of the progress being made to supply the UK with a number of new Royal Navy vessels. This is of particular interest to me as RNAS Culdrose will play a leading role on the aircraft carriers.
- South West Water
I’ve been working closely with South West Water to improve water supply, quality and drive down water bills. This week we discussed a joint initiative between the company and myself to increase the amount of households that switch to a water meter. A meter will reduce bills for most households.
- Leaving the EU
The Prime Minister set out how she intends to take the UK out of the EU. If we all knuckle down and focus on what positives can be achieved there is a far greater chance of getting the deal we need.
- Sex trafficking
For sometime I have been working with a number of colleagues to address the problem of sex trafficking in the UK. This week we met with a former prostitute who is now campaigning for buying sex to be made illegal in the UK. Northern Ireland, Canada and France have recently done this and early evidence suggests incidents of sex trafficking has dramatically reduced.
- Policing in Devon and Cornwall
Cornish MPs met with the Policing Minister to discuss funding for policing in Devon and Cornwall. People were rightly concerned about misinformation last year that suggested 1000 serving personal would lose their jobs. I was keen to discuss this in good time with the Minister to ensure accurate information was reported in the press and on the radio. We can’t have people led to believe that their livelihoods are being threatened. I am keen to hasten this Government towards a fairer funding arrangement which will increase funding for Devon and Cornwall.
- West Cornwall Health Inquiry
This week our panel met the lead GP in Penwith, and his locality support manager. We also met the Director and Matron of West Cornwall Hospital. It was helpful to hear how clinicians in West Cornwall are integrating services and how more decision-making needed to be devolved directly to them.
- Penzance Breakwater Group
It has been an ambition for sometime to protect our coastline in Mounts Bay. We now have a workable costed design and can demonstrate the economic impact for West Penwith. I hosted a meeting with key stakeholders such as Historic England, Environmental Agency, Marine Management Organisation and others to talk them through the scheme and establish early in the process what concerns they may have.
Finally I met with a few campaigners who were concerned that health and social care in Cornwall did not receive the funding required. I agree and am working to find ways to address this.
Week Commencing 9th January
- Deep Space
I had a very constructive meeting with Goonhilly Earth Station regarding a Deep Space initiative and potential government funding for this ground-breaking work. Well paid jobs could be created and West Cornwall could continue to be strategically important to the world space sector. All things crossed.
- Community Health Care
Discussions regarding the proposal of the provision of a new nursing home in West Cornwall. Community healthcare is not adequate in West Cornwall and I’ve had very early discussions with developers about the possibility of a community bed facility and training facility for community health assistants to help address the pressure we face in social care.
- Dean Quarry Debate
The Minister said in response to a debate I secured in the Chamber that ‘Whilst the Government were in favour of development, this should not be at any cost and anywhere.’ I welcome these comments because I believe allowing a super-quarry at Dean would be a backward step and not take adequate notice of concerns about local businesses, the environment and the negative impact on local residents.
- The NHS and Social Care
There was a heated debate in the Chamber regarding health and social care funding. Far too party political for such an important subject. It is encouraging how many back-bench MPs, at least, want to work with all political parties to address the pressures on the NHS. Me included.
- Science and Technology Select Committee
The committee discussed the management of intellectual property and technology transfer as part of an inquiry into this complicated space. We pressed the Minister, Jo Johnson MP, for further information about the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, and access to other funding sources, and asked the IPO about the nature and breadth of its remit.
- Meeting of the Showman’s Guild
I’m not sure if I’ve paid much attention to the fairs that travel from town to town. I do know that on Flora Day in Helston and Mazay Day in Penzance the fairs are popular and I met with the Showman’s Guild to learn a little about the business and the challenge of educating their children.
The sad truth is that in the UK many children are often isolated and do not receive the love and support I took for-granted. I met with KidsOut to see if we could work together to help children in West Cornwall and we have planned a couple of initiatives to take place later in the year.
- Small Council – Big responsibility
The Isles of Scilly is a small council with big responsibilities and I’m in continued dialogue regarding governance and funding of the Council of the Isles of Scilly. This week was no exception.
- Electrical Safety First
Ensuring our elderly population is safe at home is very important to me and I have joined forces with Electrical Safety First who advise people about appliance and domestic equipment safety around the home. I was glad to host an event with them in the Commons to spread the word to other Parliamentary colleagues.
- The Council and the NHS
Cornish MPs meet regularly with the leadership teams of Cornwall Council and the NHS. On Friday we discussed environmental priorities for the County, the integration of Health and social care and support for vulnerable children.
- Care and Support
I also met with Cornwall Partners in Care to discuss with them the difficulties they face trying to recruit and retain care and support workers. We need to dramatically improve the support and pay of these essential community care providers.
- Health Inquiry
The local Health Inquiry continues and since Christmas we have received evidence from GPs, AgeUK, day care providers, Andrew George and West Cornwall Hospital League of Friends. These sessions have been fascinating and will contribute to our report about what we believe community health services could look like in West Cornwall.
- MPs Surgery
Regular surgeries take place in Helston, St Ives and Penzance. I also held a ‘retailers surgery’ in St Ives following the news that many independent retailers are to pay significantly higher business rates unless we can do something to address these disproportionate increases. We have agreed a plan to collate accurate rental charges. This information could lead to an across the board reduction in business rates for St Ives businesses.
- Pasty and Cake
Occasionally I host a pasty lunch in the constituency office. Those who attended the lunch on Saturday entered into lively debate about how 2017 will unfold, particularly in relation to our exit of the EU.
- Bridging the Gaps
Social responsibility is something that I want to understand from the perspective of a local MP. How can my office support the many people who give time and money to help others? I co-hosted the launch of a report on Sunday at Chapel St Methodist Church that records many of the groups that are engaged in positive social action.
Week Commencing 9th January
Here is a quick summary of what I got up to over the Christmas Recess from Westminster:
- I popped in to see the volunteers and people enjoying their fortnightly hot lunch in Breage.
- Met with Dr Blacker to discuss treatment of Yazidis and Christians in Iraq and Syria and followed this up with a meeting with the Home Secretary on my return to Parliament.
- Discussed with the Chairman of the Steamship Company investment plans and opportunities for 2017
- Attended St Buryan Farmers Market and went away with lots of local produce.
- Delivered Foodbank parcels to families in Porthleven, Breage and Ashton
- Hosted a lunch in my office for a number of people who have attended surgery appointments during the year.
- Visited those who hosted my drop-in surgery tour to thank them in Mullion, Lizard, Manaccan, Helford, Porthleven, Goldsithney, Leedstown, Lelant, Madron, Newlyn, Pendeen and Penzance.
- Attended the Western Hunt Meet which draws in a huge crowd and it was good to see so many youngsters risking life and limb riding across our countryside. I believe these ancient traditions are part of our rural DNA and are largely misunderstood.
Week Commencing 28th November
- Delivering the homes we need
On my arrival in Westminster I met with Housing Minister Gavin Barwell, to discuss what more Government could do to ensure we have the homes people need. This was particularly relevant as over the weekend I met with Grade Ruan Community Land Trust to discuss with them how to remove barriers that make delivering homes in Grade Ruan Parish more difficult than it needs to be. The Minister said that he is introducing measures in the new Housing Bill to assist small Community Land Trusts. I also raised the need to refurbish empty homes for local people. Again the Minister agreed to consider any ideas I have to put these homes to good use.
He also set out new support for the Neighbourhood Planning process, measures to address land-banking where developers sit on sites rather than develop them, support for small builders to build new homes and encourage more self-build solutions where they are wanted.
- Mental health and rough sleeping
We are not doing enough to help people who are homeless and do not provide the mental health services many rough sleepers need. I supported the launch of a new report that sets out the sheer size of the task in hand and asks the Government to act to stop homelessness and make sure nobody is stuck sleeping rough with a mental health problem.
- Air ambulances in rural areas
The Government has awarded £1million for Cornwall Air Ambulance. I met the team in Parliament and discussed the role they can play in ensuring people get urgent care as soon as possible. On average in the UK air ambulances attract £4 per person in donations. In Cornwall the figure is £8 and on Scilly £16 per person. This demonstrates the value and appreciation people have for Cornwall Air Ambulance Service.
- Supported Housing Debate
I took part in this debate in support of organisations in West Cornwall that support young people and adults with learning disabilities. I have a little experience in both from past work I have done both with YMCA Cornwall and Mustard Seed in Helston. The Government are consulting people on how supported housing should be provided and how it is funded. The Government’s intention is to give local authorities the money for them to fund as they see fit. I support control being given to local decision-makers but it is essential that any government funding awarded for supported housing is spent on supported housing 100%.
- Making a difference (for people with long term conditions)
I attended the launch of a report produced by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society that proposes that the appropriate use of expertise and clinical knowledge of pharmacists will help people manage their condition and medicines better and make more efficient use of NHS resources. Health Minister David Mowat, presented the vision for more integrated community healthcare and increasing the role of community pharmacists. On Saturday morning I met with Community Pharmacists David Ramsey, to discuss this further and understand how changes in community pharmacy funding directly impacts his pharmacy in St Just.
- Science and Technology Select Committee
This week we continued our inquiry into anti-microbial resistance and the need to cut unnecessary use of antibiotics in humans and animals bred for food. Antimicrobial resistance is the result of microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites) evolving when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs (such as antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, anti-malarials, and anthelmintics) – resistant traits survive to successive generations. Microorganisms that develop antimicrobial resistance are sometimes referred to as “superbugs”. As a result, the medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spread to others.
Recent Government focus on this has reduced use of antibiotics in humans by 3.4% and animals by 10%. Evidence suggests that if we do not address this further, 10m people will die each year in 2050 through resistance to antibiotics.
- Coastal Communities
West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is largely made up of coastal communities and I met with the Local Government Minister and officials to discuss the need for some creative funding support to help unlock private investment. Our coastline offers much in our strive to build a strong local economy and Government help is needed to kick-start this regeneration.
- Future of fishing annual debate
MPs debated this hot topic late on Thursday afternoon prior to the annual December Council negotiations that will determine what fisherman in Newlyn and St Ives, on the lizard and West Penwith will be able to land next year (and around the UK). The debate also focused on the opportunity that the referendum result gives the Government to build a sustainable and prosperous future for UK fishing. You can read my full speech on this website.
- Pastries for the Posties!
One of the privileges of my job is the opportunity to visit the Royal Mail Sorting Offices. This weekend I visited sorting offices in Helston and Penzance taking with me pastries from Warrens Bakery to thank them for their hard work over this time of year. Our postmen and women do an amazing job and we tend to take them for granted.
- Mullion School
The School Council were on form with my many questions session on Friday at Mullion Secondary School and I enjoyed a very productive meeting with the Head and Chair of Governors. The school is quite small and serves a large rural area. This summer their GCSE results were spectacular and a credit to the staff.
- The ‘Big Society’ at work.
People are constantly out and about working hard in support of local charities and these groups are so important to life in West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
Over the weekend I had the privilege of attending the St Ives Rotary Christmas event raising money for the Salvation Army. I called in to Tesco in Helston to meet the volunteers collecting for Helston and the Lizard Foodbank and I called in at Barclays in Penzance to meet the volunteers raising funds for Cancer Research.
- What should Community Health look like in West Cornwall?
Our local inquiry that seeks to answer this question continued on Friday. We ‘interrogated’ people from domiciliary care and residential care. They gave us an insight into the challenge facing their profession. It’s clear that we need to make the job of care and support more attractive, more rewarding and more secure. We must pay these professionals properly and support them much more.
- Cornwall People First
This organisation supports vulnerable people across Cornwall. I had a brief meeting with a member of staff to discuss a new piece of work that will be the first of its kind (as far as I can see) to support people to become more independent if we can secure the funds needed.
- Small Business Saturday
Small businesses are the backbone of the economy in West Cornwall and on Scilly. Recent changes to legislation has come at a cost to small businesses and it’s time to help them out a little. I’ve asked the Government to raise the VAT threshold as soon as possible. Many businesses curtail their activity to avoid this threshold and this threatens job security, reduces productivity and hinders our ability to create wealth. During the day I visited small businesses in Helston Town Centre.
- A30 improvements
I held a brief public meeting in The Star Inn, Crowlas to update residents on the effort being made to make the A30 safer through the village and local hamlets. I have been working with Highways England to achieve some safety measures on this section of road. Until the contractors turn up and deliver we are not claiming any success. I am confident that improvements will be made soon and I know that the desire to have a by-pass is now on the Government’s and Highway’s radar.
- St Levan School Christmas Fete
For a small school the staff and friends put on a great fete once again and people travel long distances to support the event. My two boys loved it and I had a job to extract them when the time came to leave.
- St Buryan Christingle Service
My personal opinion is that St Buryan Village host the best* welcome to Christmas with our ‘bursting at the seams’ Christingle service, and village square celebrations. Almost everybody turns out and the volunteers that put up the lights excel every year and this year was no exception.
*I accept that my opinion is heavily biased towards St Buryan, my home village.
Week Commencing 21st November
- No more excuses – we must improve resilience on the railway
My journey to work at Westminster on Monday was fraught with trouble. I witnessed people with all manner of difficulties effectively abandoned by public transport because the railway could not withstand the inclement weather and the measures applied to respond to this chaos, fall desperately short. We all muddled along helping each other where we could and nearly 12 hours later we reached our destination. A perfect example of why the Government must act fast to make the rail-link to the Southwest more resilient as set out in the Southwest Rail Taskforce’s twenty year strategy. The strategy, launched the day after my experience, also sets out the work needed to reduce journey times and improve capacity and comfort for passengers. I attended the launch as a member of the task force group and welcome the Minister’s comment that he recognises the urgency of the challenge.
- Southwest Powerhouse delivers Southwest Growth Charter
On the same day I joined other Southwest MPs to launch our Southwest Growth Charter, a commitment to collaboration between MPs and business to deliver a strong economy in the southwest. This also needs the support of Government and we delivered the charter to No 10 and the Prime Minister on Tuesday lunchtime. The Charter focuses attention on the need to invest in innovation particularly in aerospace, marine, defence, energy, engineering and digital technology. Also to ensure we have the skills we need, deliver superfast broadband, deliver consistent mobile phone signal and invest in transport infrastructure.
- Never give up – A30 improvements are a must
I had a useful meeting with Nigel Blackler, responsible for transport at Cornwall Council regarding the regeneration of Mounts Bay and improvements needed to the A30. Following this I went directly into a meeting with the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, to set out our demand to improve the A30 all the way to Penzance to include a new route bypassing Crowlas and the adjacent hamlets. He is aware of the need and agreed to talk to Highways England regarding the cost of such a scheme.
- Education, moving on up and funding the NHS
In the Chamber the topic of debate was Education and Social Mobility and NHS funding. These are both important subjects, as important as they come. I supported the Government’s commitment to promoting and improving social mobility and the NHS’ Five Year Forward View which sets out how the NHS needs to evolve and be funded. I had a very constructive discussion with Scottish MPs as their health system is slightly ahead of ours. Many of the plans we have to integrate services have already been delivered in Scotland and there is a lot we can learn from their model.
- Eye health matters
In recent weeks I chaired a discussion on eye health and followed this up at an event with the RNIB who have provided me with data showing the numbers of people who suffer from sight loss in West Cornwall and how well we treat them. I am writing to Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group asking them to review eye health services so more can benefit from the incredible treatment available on the NHS.
- Safety first
I was also reunited with the team from Electrical Safety UK who helped me with the health fairs which I hosted in Helston and Penzance in September. They are a fantastic team who exist to help us stay safe in our homes with a particular focus on older people during Winter.
- Research awards with the BMA
It’s a rare event for me to attend a black tie dinner. However, I did this week at the British Medical Association HQ for the annual research awards. This event recognises the contribution of clinicians to medical research and awards grants to enable them in their research. It was an incredibly powerful evening and humbling to say the least.
- No more Autumn Statement
This was a historic week as it saw the end of the Autumn Statement. Next year the Budget will take place in the Autumn giving industry and business time to adjust to any changes in economic policy. This will aid stability and stop the twice yearly nervousness that comes with the current arrangement. Overall I’m pleased with the Statement although I am keen to ensure that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly benefit from the infrastructure spending announced. I wrote to the PM regarding concerns I had to changes in Universal Credit asking for additional help for low-income families. I also wrote a letter asking the Government to freeze fuel duty. Several backbench Conservative MPs raised these issues as well and it does appear that we have been listened to.
- Accelerating access to diabetes technologies
Securing a Parliamentary debate is always a great privilege and I was fortunate to secure a debate urging the Government to accelerate access to diabetes technologies.
This is a complex topic but I know that there are patients who would benefit from technologies such as insulin pumps and glucose monitoring systems, but are not able to access them. The Minister said that the Government would do all it can to support people who have diabetes. I do get the sense that more people will be able to access these life-transforming devices.
- Policing space
MPs are hugely privileged as we are giving briefings from Armed Forces personnel.
This week we heard from Air Commodore Al Gillespie, Battlespace Force Commander on how the Ministry of Defence is extending its reach to monitor activity in space, particularly potential harm caused by junk (old satellites, spacecraft debris etc). They are also seeking to establish some agreed arrangements with other nations as space has no recognised borders or normal or formal arrangements that we are familiar with here on earth!
- St Ives Rotarians
A favourite activity of mine is to welcome constituents to Parliament and give the opportunity for them to see a little of the work we do away from home. This week I welcomed St Ives Rotary Club and took a few moments to take them for tea. My Westminster staff also gave them a great tour and the group enjoyed an hour in the public gallery. People are very welcome to visit my place of work!
Home to West Cornwall to meet GPs to discuss the Sustainability and Transformation Plan. We must integrate services and ensure that health and social care is designed around local communities. We have an opportunity to do this although I am well aware of the incredible pressure on finances, GP time and problems of recruiting the care and support workers we need to care for people at home. I also chaired the 3rd of our inquiry sessions into what community healthcare could and should look like in West Cornwall. My team of 12 volunteers quizzed health campaigners and the hospitals friends group about their hopes, dreams and fears regarding health and social care in Cornwall.
- Drop-in surgery tour
This weekend brings to a close my annual drop-in surgery tour with surgeries in Newlyn, Mousehole, Ruan Minor and Helston. In total I’ve held 40 of these events since September 20th and met hundreds of people all raising valid, interesting and important issues with me. The best bit of this job is meeting people and the majority of these surgeries have taken place in pubs which I am glad to support.
My normal appointment surgeries continue on Fridays and Saturdays as normal.
- Geevor Statue unveiling
My family and I attended the unveiling of the miners statue on Sunday at Geevor Mine. The small team and countless businesses and individuals who donated to enable this memorial garden and statue to be created have delivered something quite profound. This garden and statue (created by Colin Caffell) will serve as a constant reminder of the incredible heritage of Cornish mining and of the impact Cornish miners had on mining across the world as they travelled with their skills and innovation to earn a living for their families.
- Pendeen School visit
I met members of Pendeen School’s Student Council last week and they described some of the challenges of their 107 year old building. The school is applying to the Education Funding Agency for a Condition Improvement Fund grant to refurbish the toilets and tackle damp problems and I’m going to do what I can to help.
- Penzance Breakwater Group
This group meets monthly and we now have a choice of potential schemes to choose from all designed to protect Penzance Harbour, parts of the coastline and promote economic prosperity in Mounts Bay. We discussed these options on Friday and listed all the organisations that we need to talk to establish the feasibility of this ambitious project.
- St Buryan School
My local primary school kindly agreed to host my 2016 Christmas Card design competition. I collected the designs, chosen my favourites and they are now with the printers. Apologies if you do not receive one. You are not deliberately omitted from my Christmas Card List. I then stayed for their Christmas tea party and auction. This was very well supported and the money raised is for new books for the school library.
- Christmas Lights switch on
Everyone seemed upbeat and cheerful and I am glad of the opportunity to catch up with list of people as they spend money in our high streets. A great place for an MP to do business!
Week Commencing 14th November
Much of my time in Parliament last week was taken up as a member of the Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Bill Committee. Sixty-two years after the formation of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property (in the event of Armed Conflict) the Government is seeking to ratify this convention (incorporating it into domestic law). The Hague Convention was adopted following massive destruction of cultural property that took place during WW2. It is important to state that British Armed Forces have operated within the convention. Once this convention is ratified in the UK Parliament we will be the first permanent member of the UN Security Council to have done so, giving the UK Government and Armed Forces a considerable lead in ensuring that cultural property is protected during existing and any future conflicts.
I also attended the launch of the National Housing Federation’s Ambition to Deliver Strategy on Monday evening which set out a plan to deliver ‘a great place to live’ for everyone. The plan is to build 120,000 homes a year.
- Diabetes Technologies
At a meeting on Tuesday night Labour MP Jamie Reed and myself met with leading diabetes specialists and sought to understand what stands in the way of access to diabetes technologies such as insulin pumps and the Libre flash glucose monitoring system (for measuring interstitial fluid glucose levels in adults aged 4 years and older). We are looking at what the Government and industry can do to accelerate access to these life-changing technologies.
- Business rates and pubs
Additionally I met with pub representatives to discuss the burden of business rates prior to the Autumn Statement. This is something that has been raised during my drop-in surgeries. Many pubs have responded strongly and positively to the challenges they have faced on recent decades, not least the undercutting of drink prices by supermarkets.
- Retirement age for women
The transitional arrangements of the pension age of women is a hot topic for many. On Wednesday I had a private meeting with the Pensions Minister and his senior civil servants to discuss some concerns that I share with a group of women who find that their pension age has increased more dramatically than others who were born just months or days earlier. Whilst I recognise the pension age increase is needed to reflect the fact that (on average) we are living longer, I support the argument that transitional arrangements must be fair and transparent.
- Science and Technology
During Wednesday afternoon’s Science and Technology Select Committee session we concentrated on Science Communication. Focusing on responsible research and innovation, social sciences and the humanities, the use of science in policy-making and the role of government.
- Youth Employment
Afterwards I was invited to speak at a youth unemployment All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG). We ‘enjoy’ very low youth unemployment in the St Ives Constituency in part due to the numbers of individuals who leave to study elsewhere. Those that stay are often in low paid jobs. The solution is to create more skilled jobs, for schools to promote the job opportunities that exist and for colleges to work more closely with businesses to ensure they are equipping young people with the skills they need. Not as straightforward as I’ve made it sound.
- A30 Improvements
Road safety in Crowlas remains a concern and I had hoped to see safety measures undertaken by now or in the very near future. I met with Highways England on Wednesday late afternoon to ask them to ‘hurry’ this work along and used the opportunity to reinstate the case for providing a new road from St Erth to Penzance.
- Fishing and the EU
I had a brief meeting with Fisheries Minister George Eustice MP to discuss concerns raised by fishermen prior to the annual December negotiations that take place in Brussels regarding topics such as fish quotas. We also discussed the progress of negotiations regarding exiting the EU and what this should mean for fishermen and the future of their industry.
During the week I did what I could to speak in the Chamber but once again I was unsuccessful! However, I have secured a debate on ‘accelerating access to diabetes technologies’ due to take place next Wednesday.
- Out and about in West Cornwall
Back in West Cornwall I attended the YMCA Cornwall AGM with Bishop Tim in Penzance. It was good to hear the progress of YMCA Cornwall, not least because I was a founding member of YMCA Cornwall when it relaunched in the 1990s’. It was very encouraging to hear of plans to extend the support and housing currently provided for young people in Penzance. The guest speaker (from Narcotics Anonymous) gave an inspirational talk about how members of the group are currently supporting each other.
- Efficient homes and outer space!
I met with Ian Savage who goes under the title ‘Strategic Environmental Resilience Advisor’. This meeting follows a discussion I chaired in Parliament regarding the energy efficiency of our homes and Ian is helping me to identify measures that can be taken to improve the efficiency of large numbers of homes in West Cornwall. This meeting took place in Helston and I went on to visit Goonhilly Earth Station as I am supporting them to increase their ‘deep space’ satellite capability and we are investigating what can be done to attract more young people into this high-tech sector.
- Drop-in surgeries
Over the Friday and Saturday I continued my constituency drop-in tour. These took place in pubs Mullion, Pendeen, Zennor, Crowlas and St Just. I also visited Mullion Sunshine Memory Cafe and Newlyn Centre (who celebrated their 10th anniversary).
- Cornwall Hospice Care
On Saturday evening my wife and I attended a fund-raising event held at Waves Cafe in Penzance for Cornwall Hospice Care organised by Hannah from Walkers Jewellers. The event and the raffle for a diamond ring crafted by Hannah raised £6,000. An incredible sum for Cornwall Hospice Care.
Week Commencing November 7th (Parliamentary Recess)
- West Cornwall Community Health
I am working with a small number of residents across West Cornwall to consider what community health in West Cornwall could and should look like. To understand the challenges better we met with Phil Confue who heads up the Cornwall Foundation Trust which is responsible for our community hospitals and mental health provision. We also met with Cllr Andrew Mitchell and Cllr Sue Nicholas who gave us a very interesting insight into the role of Cornwall Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee’s sub-group set up to hold to account the planned integration of services in Cornwall. We also met Richard Phillips who is the Director of Healthcare Policy for the Association of British Healthcare Industries and also lives in Newlyn who shared some of his experience working with other areas of the UK who are seeking to integrate health services.
- Supporting veterans
I visited a small emerging project near Newlyn designed to support veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome. The project’s aim is to use practical skills such as stone carving to support the recovery of these former servicemen and women.
- MP’s surgeries
I held a number of surgery appointments this week to try to help people any concerns they currently have. These included everything from evening disturbances due to late-night drinking to business concerns as a result of the weaker pound.
- Volunteer passenger?
My Friday night was spent with the police as a volunteer passenger out on patrol. We discussed concerns we shared regarding the wellbeing of homeless people over winter and the continuing weight of form-filling which impacts the amount of time our police can be out and about.
- Remembrance Sunday
As part of Remembrance Sunday my family joined me at the Service of Remembrance in Penzance. I then went on to Helston to share in their Service of Remembrance and Civic Parade. The evening concluded with a fantastic concert given by Mousehole Choir and the Guest Soloist Simeon Royle at St Anton Church in Carbis Bay, which formed part of the Poppy Appeal. The annual event includes reading out the name of every Cornish serviceman who has lost their lives in recent conflicts.
- School improvements
There are a number of schools that need improvement or extensions to their buildings and a small working party met, including myself and a member of my staff to continue to explore possible funding opportunities for these schools.
- Businesses interests
I had meetings with local business owners and with the Steamship Company regarding planned regeneration, particularly in regards to the area along Mounts Bay and Penzance Harbour.
Finally I met with a business in Penzance which is concerned about the Government’s plans to digitise tax reporting. The plans appear to require earning over £10,000 through self-employment including earnings from property to be maintained as an online ‘return’ every three months. For lots of small businesses and ‘one-man’ bands this is a dramatic change from the annual tax return. I have some concerns about the speed by which this is to be implemented and I have submitted a request for a parliamentary debate on the subject.