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 george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk, 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.