Thursday, 23 January 2020

Developing a new Agriculture Policy fit for the 21st Century

Last month’s general election result has finally brought clarity and direction, following three very difficult years. The UK will leave the EU at the end of this month and there will be an orderly Brexit with an implementation period running until the end of this year. There will be no extension and we will not be part of the customs union, nor the single market, but we will seek a free-trade agreement.
We now have the freedom to press ahead with our plans to develop a new agriculture policy that is fit for purpose in the 21st century and delivers for British farmers and the environment.
The Agriculture Bill has returned this week for the second time. As before, we seek to replace the bureaucratic shambles that is the Common Agricultural Policy with something that has coherence.
Rather than arbitrary area-based payments, where land ownership and tenure is subsidised, we will instead direct future funding to support activities and interventions that deliver for our environment and enhance animal welfare.
We want a package of incentives to support sustainable farming practices and the bill creates the powers to do this.
We recognise that Basic Payment Scheme payments currently make up a significant proportion of net farm income. However, rather than maintain a system that just masks poor profitability, the ambition behind our Agriculture Bill is to tackle the causes of that poor profitability.
So, the bill creates the power to make grants available to deliver a prosperous future for farming by helping farmers invest in new technology and equipment to reduce costs.
There is a section in the bill to improve transparency and fairness in the supply chain, so that farmers stop being price takers and start getting a fairer share of the cake.
Also, we want to make it easier for farmers to retire with dignity and simultaneously help new entrants get access to land.
I grew up on a farm and spent a decade working in the industry. Domestic food production is crucial and plays a vital role in contributing to our nation’s food security.
The government takes this very seriously, so the revised bill creates a duty to review food security every five years and a duty to consider the production of food when devising policy.
I also know that farming is a risky business and there will always be circumstances where the government must act and intervene in a crisis to support farmers or stabilise markets. The bill makes provision for that too.
Finally, I know that change must be delivered in an orderly and progressive way. It won’t happen overnight. Our bill envisages a seven-year transition period from the old legacy system to the future policy, starting next year.
Our ambition is to use our new-found freedom to embark on a journey to a better future for farming. We want to innovate and develop the policies of the future.
A decade from now, I want the rest of the world to be coming to the UK to see how it is done, and I know we have some of the best farmers in the world who can do just that.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Levelling up our schools

A child’s education is one of the most important aspects of their life. The first three years of a child’s life are the most formative and have a crucial impact on a child’s life chances.
Education is also the single most important thing that can increase social mobility and help the next generation to get on in life. We must constantly strive to strengthen primary education, bring rigour to both secondary education and the exams system and also support those who want to go on to university or take on an apprenticeship.
Here in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle we are fortunate to have some fantastic local schools delivering an outstanding quality of education. When I am visiting them, I always find that there is a sense of pride from students and teachers alike. It is clear for everyone to see just how hard the staff are working to deliver the highest levels of education for our children. But it is important that we do everything that we can to support our schools so that they can continue to deliver an outstanding education.
Throughout the General Election, the Prime Minister made clear his intention that the Government would invest in schools around the country with £14 billion over the next three years, worth an extra £150 million a week. Because of this major investment, each secondary school will receive a minimum of £5,000 per pupil for the next academic year, and each primary school will receive a minimum of £3,750 rising to £4,000 in 2021-22.
Many in the campaign questioned whether the Government would deliver on these promises but this week the Department for Education released figures which showed that the per pupil funding figures had increased for schools in the constituency, delivering on its pledge and helping to level up education funding for schools in Cornwall. This is a positive step forward and demonstrates that the Government is serious about improving the lives and futures of everyone in this country regardless of whether you’re from Putney or Camborne.
We will also do more to support those who need extra support from schools to help them achieve their full potential by increasing the high needs budget by £780 million in 2020-21. This 12% increase will ensure that every pupil can access the education that is right for them and strengthen the support that they receive in their schools.
I think it is important to create a culture of excellence in the education system where schools are constantly striving to achieve more for all children. You only get one education, so we must do all we can to make it a success.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

A New Year Awaits

The New Year has always been regarded as a time for hope and optimism. For some, it is a chance to turn over a new leaf, stop smoking or start exercising. For others it’s a chance to take up a new hobby.
Our country has had to endure several years of highly divisive argument over Brexit. It has divided communities, political parties and in some cases even families. Following the result of the recent General Election we have a chance to put all the arguments behind us, bring our country back together and start the process of healing. This week the Bill that delivers an orderly exit from the EU concluded all its stages through the House of Commons without incident. Our country has finally turned the corner and is on the way back.
The year ahead represents a fresh start for our politics and a chance to finally turn our attention to other matters. Already the Prime Minister has indicated his support for regions like the South West and others outside of London to help reduce the inequalities that exist in our communities. In the weeks ahead the UK will leave the EU and the Government will get on with delivering on the people’s priorities. From investing in our NHS, levelling up our schools funding and improving the vital infrastructure that we all depend on, there is much to be getting on with.
The year ahead also brings new opportunities for our towns. Since I was first elected in 2010, my number one priority has been to deliver the economic regeneration that our towns require, attracting the jobs and opportunities to level up our towns. Last autumn it was confirmed that all three of the major towns had been selected to receive funding. Hayle will receive funding to improve the flow of traffic at Loggans roundabout, Camborne has access to a new regeneration fund and Redruth will receive funding to help restore and preserve some of the historic buildings in the town. In the months ahead I will be working with local councils and the communities to discuss how best to deploy these new resources.
2019 was a turbulent year in British Politics however it is my hope that with a majority government that we can finally put the turmoil and divisiveness of the past year behind us and all move on. Events this week have been a very promising start.
If you have a problem that you need help solving, why not email us to provide some detail or drop into our Camborne office to arrange to meet one of our team. George can be contacted at, by telephone on 0207 219 7032 or by appointment in our Camborne Office at 13 Commercial Street, Camborne, TR14 8JZ.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Christmas - A time of goodwill

Our country has had to endure several years of highly divisive argument over Brexit. It has divided communities, political parties and in some cases even families. Following last week’s General Election result with a clear majority for Boris Johnson and the new Conservative Government, we have a chance to put all the argument behind us, bring our country back together and start the process of healing.
As we approach Christmas, which is traditionally the season of goodwill, let’s hope that some goodwill can also spread into our political discourse. In recent years there has been a trend towards a greater polarisation of views. Social media has encouraged people to make short and terse comments on issues of the day and to make sometimes quite aggressive or offensive comments anonymously about others. People can wind themselves up and become angry. We need to get more tolerance and respect back into our political debate.
I think there are some signs that we may have turned a corner. The aggressive tone of debate and the level of intolerance was particularly noticeable and acute in the 2017 General Election. I think that this time, while people were very frustrated by what has happened (or not happened) over the last three years, there was also a calmness about the situation and a clarity about what was needed to rectify matters which subsequently translated into a very clear and decisive result in the election.
Boris Johnson has wasted no time in doing what he said he would do. The Queen’s Speech has already taken place this week and on Friday Parliament will have started taking through the legislation needed to implement the withdrawal agreement that was agreed with the EU in October. Having cleared its stages in the House of Commons the Bill will be on its way to the House of Lords by the New Year where it is expected to clear very quickly.
Christmas is also a time when we are particularly aware of the dedication of NHS staff and other public sector workers who work difficult shifts throughout the holiday period. Boris Johnson has reaffirmed his clear commitment plans to substantially increase spending on our NHS by almost £34 Billion per year. Spending on the NHS has increased over the last decade and is about 20 percent higher now than in 2010 but the pressures have grown faster. As medicine advances and surgery becomes more complex, the NHS can do more and that is why we need to make a major new injection of funds.
After some turbulent and difficult times for our country, I would like to wish everyone a peaceful and restful Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Get Brexit done or more dither and delay?

As I write this article, MPs are voting on whether to hold a General Election in December. Many of us had hoped that it would not get to this stage, that MPs would have found a way to compromise and finally deliver Brexit, indeed there was a moment where a Brexit deal looked possible, but it was not to be. Once again factions in Parliament, Labour and the Liberal Democrats came together to dither and delay and force the Government to abandon any hope of delivering Brexit this side of Christmas.
When the election comes, people will have a clear choice to make between a Government who will get on and deliver Brexit or a Labour opposition that will dither and delay and force more years of referendums and misery on this country. There will be a choice between a government that is putting 20,000 more police on the streets, delivering the biggest hospital building programme in a generation, investing £14 billion more in our schools and levelling up education funding across the country and a government that will truly deliver on the public’s priorities. Or a Labour Opposition who would turn 2020 into a toxic, tedious torture of two more referendums, one on the EU and one on Scotland, hike up taxes, ruin the economy and run this country into the ground.
Here in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle there is also a choice to be made. In my time as an MP I have made the economic regeneration of our towns and job creation my number one priority. We have made good progress in recent years with the new link road, developments around Tuckingmill and the Kresen Kernow Archive, the prospect of South Crofty reopening and new jobs in industries like computer software.
We’ve also seen huge levels of investment into our local health services, and are fortunate to have some of the best healthcare facilities in the country. Recently, there have also been significant commitments from the Government to build a new maternity and children’s unit at Treliske as well as funding to be directed towards a new hospital helping more people have access to first class public health services. Across the constituency, I’ve also worked hard to protect our precious green spaces, campaigning alongside residents to ensure that our precious green spaces are protected from inappropriate developments.
In Westminster I have worked to support those who need help the most, representing constituents cases, helping to unblock problems, proposing a bill that would correct the historic injustices that affect properties affected by mining subsidence as well as fighting for fairer funding for Cornwall, for our schools, nurseries and local services.
In the last nine years we have achieved a great deal, but there is still more to be done to drive forward the growth and reforms that people yearn for. It is time now for the people to decide between a government that will get Brexit done and get on with delivering on the publics priorities or more dither and delay with Labour.

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Are we in the home strait at last?

For the first time since the Falklands War, MPs assembled in Parliament on a Saturday to discuss Brexit and the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement. This was an important day and there were hopes that we might finally turn the corner and settle this long running Brexit saga which has sucked the life out of all other debate.
However, it was not to be. Once again, factions in Parliament and Labour and the Liberal Democrats came together to add a wrecking amendment that blocked the deal. Then, because they passed an earlier, rather bizarre Act of Parliament, the government was forced to send a ridiculous letter on behalf of Parliament begging for an extension.
A couple of weeks ago these remainer MPs said they just wanted to “take no deal off the table.” But now that a deal has been secured by the Prime Minister, they now say they want to take a deal off the table, ignore the referendum result and extend our membership to the EU instead. Not only would this betray the trust of those who voted to leave and who expected their government to implement the result, it would also be the first time in our history that we have not respected a democratic vote.
For over three years, politicians in Westminster have been arguing about how to deliver on the referendum result. We’ve been able to say what we don’t want and even voted against a deal three times. As someone who campaigned to leave and sought to compromise in order to achieve Brexit, it’s been a frustrating time. But it’s now time to get Brexit done and despite the frustrations of this week we may just have turned the corner and entered the home strait.
Since becoming Prime Minister over 80 days ago, Boris Johnson has shown huge determination to get Brexit done and taken a stand against those factions in parliament who want to block democracy. It was initially said that Boris Johnson wouldn’t get a new deal but he did. That he wouldn’t get rid of the backstop, but he did. That the EU would never change the Withdrawal Agreement, but it did.
The fact that a new deal has been secured with the EU changes the dynamics completely and although factions in parliament have been using tactics to play for time, they couldn't block the legislation to implement the deal. It passed with a majority of 30. By hook or by crook either before an election or after an election, the deal that Boris Johnson has secured will eventually be done and Brexit will finally be delivered.

Monday, 21 October 2019

Britain’s first Superbus network

In a peninsula like Cornwall, there will always be challenges to building a resilient public transport structure. However, some good progress has been made in the last few years. We have invested to improve our railways and there is now a regular half hourly service running through Cornwall which has led to a significant increase in passenger numbers.
However, for most people in Cornwall, it is the local service that matters most and the key to making things work better is to try to integrate or join up the bus network with the rail network more effectively than we have done in the past. This will allow rail and bus timetables to work in tandem to give people more frequent options to get from one destination to another.
I have long pressed for a regular and routine 30-minute local train service through Cornwall with buses then providing onward connections over shorter rural routes to our villages and this is now starting to come together. By joining up commercial routes of buses and trains with smaller, local, shuttle buses travelling shorter distances, you start to get the makings of something that could really work, and you could build more confidence in the public transport network.
There are now however some really interesting and important things happening with the Government announcing that local bus routes will be supported more than ever with the new ‘Superbus’ network. This network is part of the government’s plans to reverse the impacts of dwindling services in local towns and drive forward a bus revolution that will improve access to these fantastic local services.
As the home to Britain’s first ‘Superbus’ Cornwall will pioneer the service with investment driven towards more frequent public transport in the countryside and rural places where often the remaining local services have often struggled to meet demand. New apps will also be developed that draw together information on bus routes, fares, and timetables from different bus operators across England into one place. As ever the need to think about the environment has been factored into these plans with buses for larger cities and towns to be electrified, and hybrid engines ordered for those on more rural routes.
Creating an integrated public transport system for Cornwall is an important step forward in ensuring that our communities are supported. Often you’ll find in Cornwall that you may be able to get a train for part of your journey but that it is very difficult to get to that train. The ‘Superbus’ network will help deliver that support by improving the quality, frequency and capacity of rail and bus services to create an integrated public transport system for Cornwall so that no one is left behind.
The idea of the ‘Superbus’ network planned for Cornwall is to have low fares improving the affordability of the routes whilst also introducing more bus priority measures to speed up journeys and make them more reliable. For many, it is often the cost and difficulty of travel is a major barrier to getting work, seeing loved ones or travelling at all. The ‘Superbus’ service will help to alleviate the problems that people experience and will be a major boost for local residents in Cornwall.