Thursday, 24 December 2015

Christmas

Christmas is fast approaching and I have been taking stock of what has been accomplished in the constituency since May and what more needs to be done in the New Year. 

One of my pledges at the General Election was that I would protect our green areas and I have spent the last few months opposing a planning application to build over 200 houses near St George’s Road in Hayle. This was an unpopular development in the community which is why I was pleased Cornwall Council chose to reject it. 

I have also been working to make sure Cornwall gets its fair share of funding and have worked with our Police and Crime Commissioner to persuade the Government not to implement a formula that would have disadvantaged Devon and Cornwall Police. I am pleased the Government have listened to these concerns as it means that our community policing can now be safeguarded.

In other news, the East-West Link Road finally opened in November. I lobbied hard in the last Parliament to secure funding from Government for this important project. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing, and there were a number of challenges during construction, but it is really great to finally see this project, which will create hundreds of new jobs and open up derelict mining land for development, finally come to fruition.

I am also now working on a number of new projects to benefit the constituency. One such plan is to change the law so people whose houses experience subsidence due to old tin mining works receive compensation in the same way that people whose properties are affected by old coal pits are supported by the Coal Authority. This is an old problem (Seb Coe even asked a question in Parliament about this issue back in 1992) and I have already spoken with the Coal Authority about extending their remit to cover people in Cornwall. 

I wish everyone in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle a Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year. 

Thursday, 17 December 2015

EU Council

This week I have been representing the UK in Brussels in my role as Fisheries Minister.  It is my third year leading our negotiating team and while challenges remain, it does feel like our fisheries industry is starting to turn the corner. 

The picture is particularly good in the North Sea where the haddock quota has gone up by around 30 percent with cod going up by 15 percent and monkfish by 20 percent.  Meanwhile in the channel we are likely to see a big increase in the quotas for plaice with science suggesting quotas could more than double over last year.  

Here in the far South West the picture remains more challenging. There will be some difficult decisions to be made on inshore bass targeting and likely cuts in the quota for haddock and cod for another year.  However, in other areas things are brighter.  There could be an increase in sole in some areas, while the science, although limited, shows that skates and rays are in a strong position and we are likely to see another increase in the quota for hake. I will also be looking to maintain current quotas on other high value species of great importance to Newlyn including Monkfish, Megrim and Pollock.

I have always argued we should make the best judgement we can with the science we have and this year one of my key priorities will be to persuade the European Commission that they should look at trends in so called "data limited" stocks and allow quotas to rise gradually as the stock recovers rather than have arbitrary cuts in quota which is what has sometimes happened before.

The latest reform of the CFP means that decisions about how to manage fisheries are taken by the groups of countries that have a shared interest in the fishing grounds concerned rather than centralised and this year will also be the first year that we start to phase in the discard ban for some of the main species caught here in the South West.  

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Syria

Last week Parliament voted to commence air strikes against ISIL in Syria. It was a good debate and those who attended heard some powerful speeches on both sides of the House. 

As an MP I received hundreds of emails from constituents, many of whom were concerned about the consequences of taking military action, both in terms of how it will affect Britain’s security and the risk to civilian lives. 

These are all genuine concerns. However, I have never tried to hide the fact I support military action against ISIL in Syria. The so called Islamic State is an appalling terrorist organisation whose brutality is like something out of the dark ages and includes the beheading of aid workers, throwing gay people off buildings and selling young woman into sexual slavery. Make no mistake this is an evil organisation and the attacks on Paris, Tunisia and Turkey cannot be ignored.  

We have already recognised this and for over a year British forces have been taking action against ISIL in Iraq. However, for all intents and purposes, the border between Iraq and Syria no longer exists and it makes no sense to allow ISIL sanctuary in Syria or even to rely on France and America to do the work for us. 

The legacy of Iraq hangs over Parliament whenever we contemplate taking any form of action in the Middle East and while I agree we must learn the lessons of Iraq, we cannot allow fear of action to paralyse us from doing the right thing. It is very easy to talk ourselves out of action because there is always the possibility that things might go wrong. However, where we can act and make a difference we should. 

The UN had already called upon countries to do their utmost to defeat ISIL, and I believe we need to stand by our allies as part of a coalition to defeat this murderous death-cult, whose destruction is not only vital to our own national security, but also to any peace process in Syria.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Good News for Public Services

This week, public sector organisations throughout the constituency will be working out what George Osborne's Autumn Statement means for them.  There had been lots of drastic predictions made by commentators about major cuts to be made over the next five years but in the event, things were far more positive.  

There was a collective sigh of relief as funding on key public services was protected and the proposed changes to tax credits were reversed altogether. I support the move to a higher National Living Wage of £9 per hour which will be a big boost to those on low pay in Cornwall.  Once we get there people won't have to fill out complicated forms to get money back in tax credits because they will be earning what they need to live.  But until we start to see wages going up, tax credits will remain important to many in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle, so I am pleased that George Osborne listened and reversed his original proposal.

The tough decisions taken in previous years to get the country's finances back on an even keel and get the economy growing again are starting to pay dividends.  As a result, the Treasury will have tax receipts that are £27 billion higher than previously expected and George Osborne used that dividend to help our public services.

The NHS budget will be increased again.  The schools budget is protected and there is a commitment to overhaul the unfair funding formula that gives Cornish schools less than they deserve.  The dire warnings on the police budget proved unfounded.  Instead the police budget has been protected in real terms which means we can keep our excellent community policing teams.  In the department where I am a Minister, we kept the £50 water bill rebate for Cornwall and protected funding for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty around our coast.  Finally, as we face uncertain times internationally, it was right to give a boost to our armed forces and security services so they have what they need to fight terrorism.