Thursday, 29 December 2016

New Year

The New Year is a time for hope and optimism. For some people, it represents a chance to turn over a new leaf and make changes in their lifestyles, by stopping smoking, or doing more exercise. 

The year ahead represents a fresh start for our politics. 2017 will be a defining moment in our country's history as we start the process of leaving the EU and re-establishing the rule of British law in many policy areas including agriculture and fisheries. I fully support the triggering of Article 50 before the end of March 2017. Whilst there are challenges ahead and there is a lot of work to do, the Government has a mandate from the people to leave the EU and nothing should stand in the way of the democratic decision voters took last June.

I was a supporter of leaving the EU because I have seen first-hand the damage caused to our democracy by the European Court.  Once we re-establish control we will be able to get things done again and will be able to tackle problems. But I also want us to put in place a very close partnership with the EU based on friendship and cooperation and I want the UK to be a generous and outward looking country that is a good global citizen.

Locally, 2017 also promises to be a year where we see change take shape. Work continues at the Kresen Kernow archive centre in Redruth, which is set to open in 2018. We have seen huge progress at Hayle, and I am delighted that the marine energy park on North Quay is now starting to attract new enterprise and industry to the area.  The next stage is to complete sensitive development at the end of South Quay, put in place the footbridge to link the quay to Penpol Terrace and get things moving on North Quay.

Finally, now that we have the new link road, it is time to progress the regeneration of Tuckingmill.  I have recently been having discussions with the various land owners around the site of South Crofty mine and hope we can start to see plans progress in the coming year.

Thursday, 22 December 2016


As I write this column I have just finished signing the final Christmas cards ready to catch the last post in order to make it before Christmas. The tradition of Christmas cards plays a vital role in keeping in touch with old friends and family. Throughout life, there are always old friends who we are in danger of losing touch with. Sometimes because they have moved away, changed their job or are preoccupied with other priorities. The annual Christmas card is often the final thread that prevents you from losing touch altogether, so time writing cards is time well spent.

This year, as in previous years, I enlisted the help of local primary schools in the area to design my Christmas card. We certainly have many talented artists in this part of Cornwall!

At this time of year we should also acknowledge the extra work we create for the Royal Mail with many millions of extra items of post to process in just a few short weeks in December and our postmen go out in the worst weather that a Cornish winter can throw at them in order to make sure that families and friends keep in touch and receive their Christmas cards on time.

We must also acknowledge that this time of year can be a lonely time for many people in our community. However, it is also a time when we see tremendous goodwill and generosity. I was heartened to read about Peter Campbell from Camborne, who will be treating fifty strangers to a Christmas dinner to ensure they’re not alone over Christmas.

Last week, I visited the food bank. Don Gardner and his team of dedicated volunteers are working incredibly hard to ensure that local people who are struggling financially are able to enjoy a family Christmas dinner. Christmas really brings our communities together, and demonstrates the strength and resilience of our society.  Have a great Christmas!

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Fisheries Council

As I write this article, I am in Brussels about to enter the final stages of the annual EU negotiations on fisheries quotas.  This is the fourth year I have led the UK negotiating team at the December fisheries council and each has had its challenges.  It is too early to tell how things will end up but all the indicators are that it will be a late night on Tuesday because there remain quite a few areas where we have differences with the European Commission.

Two years ago I pushed very hard to get emergency measures to try to protect Bass which is in a precarious state.  We secured a major breakthrough at the time with new limits introduced, although when the EU built on the package of measures last year, there was some criticism that they got the balance wrong and allowed too much for some commercial fishermen and not enough for recreational anglers.  This year I am pushing for a more balanced package of measures that continues to increase protection for the stock.

On the commercial fleet, our aim is to ensure we fish sustainably but make best use of the available science and also that we take account of some of the complexities of making quotas work where different species of fish are caught together.  Of particular relevance to Cornwall are species like monkfish and pollock where the scientific indicators are positive but where the European Commission often argues for arbitrary automatic cuts because there are some gaps in the evidence available.

Secondly, for many years now there has been a challenge around the Cornish coast in terms of setting quotas for cod, haddock and whiting because all three swim together and are caught together. We are arguing for scientific analysis to take account of the mixed fishery to be considered. 

This year's negotiations take place against the backdrop of our decision to leave the EU, which will allow the UK to take responsibility for its own waters. There will still be cooperation and annual negotiations but we will regain our seat at the table. It will be easier to deliver change where change is required.  There will be an opportunity to move towards fairer shares for some fish species off the Cornish coast.  We will be able to set the ground rules for countries that seek access to our waters to ensure that we deliver sustainable fisheries.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Fibre Park

This week I have a meeting at Headforwards Software in Pool, to discuss how we take forward the idea of a Fibre Park in the area. In recent years we have seen an embryonic but vibrant computer software industry taking root in this part of Cornwall. The big leap forwards came with the introduction of super-fast broadband.  It means that software companies can now compete around the world from a digital connection in Cornwall.

Previously, people often had to choose between a high flying job in London or the lifestyle choice of Cornwall.  That's changing. Now, new industries like software can run world leading operations from Camborne and Redruth offering people the best of both worlds.

Headforwards now employs over fifty highly skilled people and is expanding.  Local computer software companies are now employing hundreds of people in Camborne and Redruth and they are paying good salaries.  I want to see them grow and prosper and I also want to ensure that young people taking their GCSEs are learning to write computer code so that they can take up these new opportunities.

The idea behind the Fibre Park was that you could have a joint venture between a cluster of local software companies and Cornwall College so that you could establish a work based computer software academy where young people could learn key skills in computer programming and coding in a real working environment.  Every software company has its own unique approach so training in educational institutions can only go so far.  All of the companies need to offer a level of in house training and if we could bring training and the work environment closer together in a single cluster, you would really start to see results and ensure that some of these new high paid jobs go to young people who have grown up locally.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Christmas, Cornwall Air Ambulance and the Addington Fund

There is nothing like Christmas to bring our communities together and this week, Camborne and Redruth have both been getting into the festive spirit with both towns turning on their Christmas lights last Saturday. 

It is also the time of year when we start to think about sending Christmas cards. As in previous years, I ran a competition with local primary schools to design my Christmas card. We had over sixteen schools enter, which is a record, and local children really rose to the challenge with some fabulous artwork.  The panel of judges had a difficult task as always.

This is also a good time of year to acknowledge some good news.  Earlier this week I had the chance to catch up with the team at the Cornwall Air Ambulance who were attending an event at Westminster. They have just been awarded £1 million from the Libor banking fund which is a major boost to their fundraising for a new helicopter.

I can remember when the Cornwall Air Ambulance began in 1987. It was a great example of Cornwall's "one and all" approach because people in Cornwall really rallied behind the idea.  It was the first air ambulance in the UK and now many other parts of the country have followed Cornwall's lead.   Since 1987, it has completed more than 26,000 missions and saved many lives.  It is a great initiative and I wish them every success in raising the funds that are still required to hit their target.

Last week I also had the chance to visit a new housing project run by the Addington Fund at Ruthvoes. Addington does excellent work providing homes for farmers who have had to leave their farm either due to hardship, retirement or ill health. They now have over eighty homes. For many farmers, leaving the farm and having to sell their herd or flock is an emotional wrench and they often find it hard to get alternative housing too.  Having a specialist housing provider with people who really understand farmers is a life line for many.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Redruth Job Centre

Last week, I visited Redruth Job Centre. Unemployment is at its lowest level for many years and I was told that on one local job website alone, there were some 500 job vacancies within a five mile radius of Redruth.

I have always been impressed by the local management team at Redruth Job Centre.  They have an enthusiasm and a passion for the area.  They try new ideas and pilot new approaches nationally.  They currently operate a call centre helpline from Redruth offering advice to benefit claimants nationally using the expertise that the team have developed over many years.

While no system we put in place will ever be perfect and different people need different support, we have to constantly try to improve the support we offer local people to help them back into work. Getting a job and being a valued part of a team in a working environment gives people purpose in life and can help on so many other fronts too.  That is why we owe it to the long term unemployed to help them gain the confidence to take work.

About seven years ago under Gordon Brown's premiership, there was a severe problem with youth unemployment.  When David Cameron became Prime Minister he introduced a new work experience programme so that young people who had left school or college could do work experience for a few weeks. It was contentious at the time and some dubbed it "slave labour" but they were proved completely wrong.  The policy was an extraordinary success and many young people found work as a result. Youth unemployment has now fallen dramatically.  

The next challenge is to help those with impairments or suffering from depression and anxiety back to work. A lot of progress has been made through schemes like Access to Work which provides grants to help people with a disability get any additional equipment they might need to help them get a job.  There is also more work being done to redesign the "Work Programme" so that it provides additional help to those who are on Employment Support Allowance and other disability benefits and to help knock down the barriers to them joining the workplace where possible.  

As the economy turns a corner, we need to make sure we continue to create better paid jobs for this part of Cornwall. As new companies arrive I want to see them become successful and profitable enough to offer higher wages so that we encourage people to take work and stay in work.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Remembrance Sunday

It was a beautiful day for this year’s Remembrance Sunday services. I joined the Royal British Legion at Redruth in the morning, and then went on to Illogan in the afternoon. This year marks the centenary of the Battle of the Somme and Battle of Jutland, as well as the 25th anniversary of the Gulf War.

2016 saw twenty one Second World War veterans from across Cornwall being presented with the Légion d’honneur. The French Government has been awarding the Légion d’honneur to D-Day veterans from many different countries as a way of honouring and thanking those who fought and risked their lives to secure France’s liberation during the Second World War.  The Légion d’honneur was established in 1802 by Napoléon Bonaparte and is France’s highest distinction and is awarded in recognition of both military and civilian merit.

However, we also have more recent scars from conflict.  There is no doubt in my mind that the difficult operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years has made the public far more conscious of sacrifices made by our armed forces. We owe those who have given up so much at such a young age all the support they need to help them build their lives back, especially those who suffered life changing injuries during those terrible conflicts. Charities such as Help for Heroes, the Army Benevolent Fund and the Royal British Legion do just that, helping people recover not just from the physical but also mental difficulties that come from being exposed to war.

It was good to see such a strong attendance from all the various Cadet groups, Scouts and Brownies. It is great to see these movements going from strength to strength, and the young people that represent them always do us proud.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Carnegie Wave Energy at Wave Hub

I have always believed that Wave Hub is a really exciting project. It is the world’s largest and most technologically advanced site for the testing and development of offshore renewable energy technology. It is establishing Hayle as an international centre of excellence in the renewable energy technologies of the future, and this in turn is securing the UK’s reputation as a market leader in offshore renewables.

I am delighted that Carnegie Wave Energy, a leading wave energy developer from Australia, has been awarded a grant to support the first phase of its £60m commercial wave energy project at Wave Hub. Carnegie Wave Energy is the only company in the world to have operated a grid-connected wave energy project over four seasons, and I believe that it is wonderful news for Cornwall.

The project will be delivered by Carnegie’s local subsidiary, CWE UK, which is already based at the Hayle Marine Renewable Business Park. Delivery of the project will leverage Cornwall’s wave energy resource, marine energy revenue support, maritime industrial heritage, Wave Hub infrastructure, and innovative marine engineering and research sectors.

Additionally, the project will include engagement with, and coordination of, a suitable supply chain for the construction and operational phases. Having spoken with representatives from Carnegie Wave Energy, I am confident that the project will bring huge opportunities to commercialise wave energy in the UK.

Carnegie Wave Energy will be announcing the funding and the CETO Wave Hub Project at the Ocean Energy Europe conference in Brussels this week. I will be meeting with representatives from Carnegie at Hayle, and look forward to learning more about the project.

Attracting Carnegie Wave Energy to Cornwall highlights a long term commitment to this sector. I am hugely proud of what has been achieved at Wave Hub. I am excited about its future, and believe that we should fully support continued investment in this sector.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Meeting with Volunteers

This week, I met with a group of students from Camborne Science and International Academy. They were all taking part in the National Citizen Service. As part of this, the group were at the Centenary Chapel on Wesley Street volunteering at the food bank.

Visiting groups such as these always boosts my faith in human nature. The energy, determination and commitment of the group was infectious. The food bank has now been running for a number of years. The driving force behind the project is Don Gardner but he has incredible support from volunteers both connected with churches in Camborne and outside, as well as other volunteer groups. I was really heartened to hear of the excellent contribution being made by the students from CSIA.

The concept of the food bank is simple: members of the public and sometimes local businesses donate food to the charity and local agencies can issue vouchers for food to those families facing genuine financial crisis. As well as helping those facing problems all year round, they make a special effort at Christmas. Food Banks do excellent work helping those who have hit difficult times and I fully support the efforts of people like Don Gardner and others from local churches in our community who have come together to offer support in this way.  

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Cornwall Manufacturers Group

Last week I met the Cornwall Manufacturers Group. The group was started in 2012, with the addition of SME manufacturers to the Cornwall Manufacturers Forum of the largest manufacturing companies in the county. Members come from various sectors, including agricultural machinery and medical equipment. 

The Group comes together as a means of sharing information, and discussing the wider manufacturing industry in Cornwall. It aims to encourage and assist the development of manufacturing in Cornwall. The switch of emphasis towards manufacturing is feeding into an economic revival in areas like Camborne and Redruth, which have traditionally been centres of excellence for industry and engineering.

A great example is that of European Springs and Pressings. Based in Redruth, European Springs and Pressings recently took on a project that highlighted the technological expertise of its workforce. The company formed part of a design solution to West Ham Football Club’s new football ground.

Teagle Machinery is another great example of a Cornish success story. It is a world leader in its sector. It remains a private company owned by the same Teagle family who founded it. The number of staff employed has more than doubled in the last ten years. More than half of everything the company makes is exported as far afield as Japan, the US and Eastern Europe. It has achieved success by achieving the highest standards and by constantly reinvesting in research and development to create new designs which offer engineering solutions to the challenges of modern farming.

I would like to see more support for manufacturing businesses. We need to be more willing to lend a hand to those companies which have a proven track record and might achieve a lot more with some targeted help on things like developing export markets and research and development.  Leaving the EU creates an opportunity to modernise and improve the way we target grant support for businesses.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Camborne Rec

I am delighted that Camborne Recreation Ground has been preserved as a community facility following a major campaign and a petition by 5000 local people.  There is now an agreement between Cornwall Council and the Town Council to a 99 year lease which also secures the home of Camborne Rugby Club and the best rugby ground in the county for decades to come.

Camborne RFC has less than twenty years to run on their current lease. This has made it difficult for the club to acquire grant funding to improve the current facilities. The certainty that this agreement secures means the Club can now plan its future with confidence.

Two weeks ago I watched Camborne beat Salisbury 56-19 and the ground looked perfect: almost like a cricket pitch.  My father used to play for Camborne and a couple of years ago he deployed his farming knowledge to improve the ground.  He would be proud to see how well the team is performing this year.

Camborne Rugby Club has really been on the up in recent years.  They have recently been promoted from Tribute South West 1 West to National League 3 South West. They have also won all six of their first games this year in the higher league.  

The club also have teams for each year age group, and are also good at playing younger players in the main team so that they gain valuable experience. There has been a strong team spirit because the players quickly progress through the Colts and into the Chiefs and get used to playing rugby together.

I think that amateur sports clubs like this have a crucial role to play in our community. We need to have the club structures there to support and encourage children into the sport they love. Groups like this are the bedrock of our society and we need to support them.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Cornwall Athletic Club

Last week I rejoined Cornwall Athletic Club after a gap of some twenty years.  I have been meaning to get back into running for several years and, this year, finally made use of the summer months to actively find the time to do it and to make going for a short run part of my daily routine.  Athletics and cross country running was my childhood passion and I continued to compete as part of the Cornwall county cross country team until my late twenties.  Work ended up crowding out the time I had for running and, with the exception of a brief period when I trained for a marathon about six years ago, I struggled to keep it up and my fitness ebbed away.

The great thing about running as a sport is that everyone can find their own level and compete against the time they themselves got the previous week or month.  It is also open to all ages with many races now offering results for age groups in five yearly bands from junior categories right up to over seventy fives - I have just tipped into the 45-50 age group.  It is also a great way to keep fit.  A growing number of primary schools in the area are signing up to the national campaign to run a "mile a day" which is a brilliant way for children to start their school day.   

The sport has seen a transformation in the last fifteen years.  The number of members of Cornwall Athletic Club has grown exponentially.  In addition, locally we have new road running clubs like Carn Runners and Hayle Runners who also boast large and growing memberships.  We have also seen developments like the "Park Run" movement which now stages 5k fun runs nationally every Saturday.  I recently went to the 10th anniversary of the original Park Run in Bushy Park which attracted over 1200 runners.  It was my first race for years and I had to buy a new Cornwall AC vest having "outgrown" the last one.  I managed to get around in 21.05.  Not bad for a start after such a long break, even if it's five minutes slower than I would have done twenty years ago!

Friday, 7 October 2016

Conservative Party Conference 2016

This week marks the end of the party conference season as Theresa May delivered her first speech as Prime Minister.  As always, each of the parties has their own issues to contend with. 

For the Liberal Democrats it was to try to make their party relevant again.  The election last year brought an abrupt end to the three party structure that had characterised our national politics for almost forty years with the Lib Dems losing all but eight of their MPs.  They are hoping that the decision by Jeremy Corbyn to lurch to the left will create space for them to recover.

For the Labour Party, the big question was how they can try to heal the scars of bitter infighting and try to put together an effective official opposition in parliament when nearly all Labour MPs think that Jeremy Corbyn should go.  I worked for David Cameron and Michael Howard when they were Leaders of the official Opposition.  The role has an important formal function in our democracy to help scrutinise law so it's important that Labour get their act together.

For we Conservatives, the issue that loomed large throughout the conference was how we maximise the opportunities created by our decision to leave the European Union.  I took part in several fringe events to discuss how we could dramatically improve policies on agriculture and fisheries once we escape the dead weight of the EU and are free to innovate, try new policies and make our own laws again.  Theresa May has revealed the huge amount of work going on behind the scenes to prepare for Brexit with a Repeal Bill being drafted which will replace EU law with regulations we want to keep on a legitimate UK legal basis.

I have known Theresa May for over twelve years.  She was on the front bench for the Conservatives when I worked for Michael Howard.  She was always solid and dependable, never ducked a difficult fight and played as a trusted part of a team.  What strikes me most so far is that she doesn't mess about but takes clear decisions in a timely way and seems determined to get things done.  That is what we need right now.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Marine Conservation Society's Great British Beach Clean

This week I took part in the Marine Conservation Society’s Great British Beach Clean at Porthtowan, joining volunteers to clean up litter and record what we found. I have taken part in the event for several years and, as a Minister in Defra, the evidence collected across the country helps inform policy on reducing litter.

Plastic is a particular concern; it takes hundreds of years to break down and has been the subject of high profile debate recently.  The problem is compounded year after year as new plastics find their way into the oceans while those that have already been there for decades remain and break down into smaller particles.  While the precise impact of plastics in the marine environment is difficult to quantify, I have always taken the view that we should be on the side of caution. 

We know that ghost nets lost from fishing vessels can have considerable impact on marine life.  Each year, the Cornwall Seals Group based near Hayle find seals that have been entangled in nets or caught in discarded sections of net.  We know that tiny particles of plastic attract toxins in the marine environment and when ingested by fish and marine mammals, those toxins can enter the body. With other marine species like molluscs and shell fish, plastics can block their digestive systems or affect their ability to function normally.

 Last year the government introduced a 5p plastic bag charge. The result has been amazing with a drop in carrier bag use of about 80 percent.  This year there has been debate about the use of microbeads in cosmetics. Microbeads are tiny plastic particles used to give a gritty texture to some soaps but which sewage systems are incapable of filtering so they end up in the sea.  Earlier this year I told the House of Commons that we were considering implementing a ban on the use of such plastics in the manufacture and sale of cosmetics and this was adopted as policy a few weeks ago.  

 We also need to tackle littering onshore. Last year 5,500 people were taken to court for littering offences and 30,000 on the spot fines were introduced.  There is more to do, but we are making progress in tackling the challenge.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Hayle Harbour and Foundry Day

Last week, I had the pleasure of formally opening Hayle’s first Harbour Festival. Hayle Harbour and Foundry Day is a celebration of local business, local talent, Hayle heritage and our community. The organisers deserve huge credit. There was great entertainment throughout the day, and it showed that Hayle really is on the up.

There has been an event in Foundry for several years, but this was the first year it has been broadened to cover the harbour. The day aimed to bring Hayle Harbour back to the forefront of the community, and to bring different businesses, charities and clubs together to show off what Hayle has to offer.

When I became an MP I said I wanted to see Hayle Harbour regenerated. It had been left derelict for too long and plans had been talked about all my life time. It was time for action.  While a lot of work needed to go into planning something that local people could get behind, and we needed government grants to put infrastructure in place, like the new bridge into North quay, great progress has been made.  As well as the new harbour walls, we now have a marine energy park on North Quay.

The next stage is to complete sensitive development at the end of South Quay, put in place the footbridge to link the quay to Penpol Terrace and get things moving on North Quay.  There are now two new developers who have bought the harbour from the Dutch bank, ING, and I will be working with them to ensure we get the rest of the development right.

Hayle is going from strength to strength and there is a new confidence in the town but we have to see through what has been started.
On a less optimistic note, this week saw a reminder of the threat of flash floods in Cornwall. Homes, businesses and schools have been affected. We can't legislate for the weather but we can prepare. In the last parliament, the Government spent over £1.5 billion on investment in flood defences. During the current parliament we plan to invest an additional £2.3 billion, supporting around 1500 schemes that will help protect some 300,000 homes.  

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Annual Pasty Festival

Last Saturday I attended the annual Pasty Festival in Redruth, where we celebrate the international home of the Cornish pasty. The weather was glorious, and I even tried my hand at making my own pasty!

When we think of the mass Cornish migrations of the late nineteenth century, we tend to think of the moves to Australia, South Africa or the US but Cornish miners fanned out across the world taking their mining and engineering expertise to new countries. Wherever the Cornish miners from Redruth went, they took the Cornish pasty with them.

Cornish miners also settled at Real Del Monte in Mexico. I have previously met local representatives from the town when they visited the Heartlands project in Pool and there were other Mexican pasty makers in attendance last Saturday and there was a Mexican band.

Cornish miners were responsible for developing silver mining in Real Del Monte during the nineteenth century. They also introduced football and other sports to Mexico. Hundreds of Cornish miners ended their lives in the area and many are to be found in one of the local cemeteries, apparently facing home to Cornwall which was a common request at the time.  This cemetery was damaged by storms earlier this year and credit is due to Mike Kiernan from the Cornish Global Migration Programme who helped raise funds to repair it.

Today the Cornish heritage is evident in some of their architecture and in their love of pasties.  

Four years ago, I and Cornwall’s other MPs, were in the middle of a battle to reverse the government’s decision to put VAT on freshly baked pasties. The traditional exemption from VAT was what civil servants described as an “anomaly”. Thankfully, common sense prevailed and George Osborne intervened to reverse the measure and ensure that the Cornish Pasty continued to be given the special treatment it deserves. Last Saturday was really well attended with a buzz about the town.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

National Citizenship Service

During the Summer Recess, I have enjoyed spending time in the constituency. A particular highlight was a visit to a group of young people taking part in the National Citizenship Service (NCS). NCS was set up in 2011, and is open to all 16-17 year olds in England. It aims to bring together young people from all sorts of different backgrounds, helping to break down social barriers and develop self-confidence. 

Programmes like this have a crucial role to play in giving opportunities to young people when they are on the cusp of adulthood but will be finding their feet socially and emotionally. 

This year, the group I visited were taking part in a variety of community projects: contributing to the development of a sensory area at BF Adventure, participating in a project at the Dreadnought Centre (which provides a range of support programmes for children and young people who are facing emotional and behavioural problems) and a beach litter clean.

NCS is a residential course, so it gives participants the opportunity to leave home behind for a couple of weeks and immerse themselves in a fresh environment and make new friends. This can be a great way to develop their confidence and independence as it means those taking part are all in the same boat.

I have met groups participating in NCS previously, and it has always been clear to me just how beneficial the scheme is. I was working for David Cameron when he first came up with the idea over a decade ago and it is good to see the scheme growing. Huge congratulations to all those young people who took on the challenge and for delivering something in their community.  It was clear from speaking to them that they enjoyed it and made new friends.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Exam Results

Getting exam results can be a nerve racking experience because, for many, the results they achieve at A level and GCSE can have an important bearing on where they go to university, and their future career paths.

In the last fortnight, we have seen some exceptional A Level and GCSE results from our local schools. Redruth School has had its best ever year for GCSE results, and a 98.5% pass rate at A Level. Camborne Science and International Academy achieved a 100% pass rate at A Level, as well as topping GCSE league tables in Cornwall. Hayle Community School and Pool Academy have both seen their GCSE results improve this year and they are all achieving more against a backdrop of a curriculum which is tougher and more rigorous than ever.

I am really proud of all of our schools, which are some of the best schools in Cornwall. They have each made tremendous progress in recent years. When I am visiting them, I always find that there is a sense of pride from students and teachers alike.

 Clearly, our secondary schools are going from strength to strength.  Earlier this year the Maths department at Pool Academy was short listed for a national teaching award for the success of their innovative work teaching Maths.  Hayle continues to do excellent work on modern languages; Camborne boasts impressive international exchanges and work on science and Redruth has a particularly strong sports department and as been on the way up over the last few years.  I am proud that our schools cooperate and learn from each other, whilst maintaining healthy but friendly competition.

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. I wish all of our schools the very best for the 2016/17 academic year, and look forward to working with all of them to continue the success that we have seen this summer.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Software Cornwall

Over the last two or three years, we have seen growing momentum behind the embryonic computer software industry here in West Cornwall.  A recent national study identified Camborne and Redruth as one of the fastest growing computer software clusters in the country with huge growth in jobs and turnover. 

Companies like Headforwards Software from Pool which develops software solutions for the telecoms industry are growing exponentially.  In Redruth we have the Barncoose Gateway centre which hosts other home grown local success stories like Blue Fruit and Netbooster.  Earlier this week I visited SCSL at Tolvaddon which is another rapidly emerging company in this new industry.  It was founded by Dr Mark Sullivan, a former GP, who spotted the need for better data monitoring to assist doctors in managing the medication of patients in need anticoagulants to reduce their risk of stroke.  Over the last twenty years they have been developing sophisticated software for use by the NHS which makes them one of the world's cutting edge technology companies in their field.

Software Cornwall is a grouping that now has over sixty members both large and small and Mike Barritt, the Managing Director of SCSL, is heavily involved in organising the annual "Agile on the beach" convention which takes place at Falmouth next week and is now judged to be among the top three such events in the world. "Agile" is a new management concept which can be applied to many disciplines including even in financial management but is especially used in software development.  It is about removing rigid processes, targets and management plans and replacing them with something more flexible, holistic and iterative so that complex challenges can be overcome by natural adaptation.

 I have always said that I wanted to see new industries and higher paid jobs in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle. The ingredients of success are the right infrastructure, like Superfast broadband, and the raw talent of bright individuals who can make things happen.  Then you need critical mass so here is local resilience which we are now starting to get.  Previously, people had to choose between leaving Cornwall and taking a well-paid career up country, or taking the lifestyle choice to live in the most beautiful part of the country but accepting a lower salary.  Increasingly, the young people who have grown up in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle and who are receiving their exam results this week will not be forced to make that choice. 

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Structural and Investment Fund Projects

I am pleased that the Chancellor has announced that the Treasury will ensure that all structural and investment fund projects signed before the Autumn Statement will be fully funded. Philip Hammond has also confirmed that agricultural funding will continue until at least 2020. Horizon research funding granted before leaving the EU will also be guaranteed by the Treasury after the UK leaves.  There will also be further announcements in the autumn statement about how the government intends to secure some continuity and consistency of the funding streams currently managed by the EU up until the point we actually leave.

This move will ensure stability and certainty in the run up to our exit from the EU. However, I believe that we now have a wonderful opportunity to design our own domestic policies to run regional policy, support businesses and sectors such as agriculture and science.

In terms of regional policy, in areas such as Cornwall, over the last couple of years the British government has operated a highly successful economic fund called the Local Growth Fund. This has funded the successful Devolution Deal for Cornwall and has had nothing to do with the EU. It is nationally funded, and is audited in a consistent and proportionate way by the National Audit Office. Following problems relating to procurement around EU funding and grants, Cornish businesses have increasingly questioned the risks of EU funding when they could instead benefit from a stable, national regeneration fund implemented property and consistently.

Research carried out in 2012 by the independent think tank Open Europe has shown that there are huge dead weight costs to sending money out to Brussels and then bringing it back again with lots of pointless bureaucracy and strings attached.  We now have a chance to do things differently and more effectively so that the money we spend really delivers jobs and growth.

For example, by expanding the existing Local Growth Fund, which would be properly managed by national government in conjunction with the Local Enterprise Partnership, we would be free to invest in projects that really deliver for Cornwall.

I am currently enjoying spending Summer Recess in the constituency. On 23rd August, I will be holding a pop-up surgery at Asda, South Quay, Hayle, between 2pm and 4pm.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Man Engine

In recent days, it has been fantastic to watch the progress of the Man Engine's tour of the county. In July 2006, the Cornish Mining Landscape became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Man Engine, a 10-metre mechanical giant, celebrates the 10 year anniversary of our World Heritage Status and the successes and struggles of the people whose lives shaped the Cornish mining story.

I believe that this part of Cornwall must make the most of its amazing industrial heritage, and make the most of Cornwall’s World Heritage Status. Camborne, Redruth and Hayle together make up the heart of the county’s industrial heritage. There are also around 8 million people around the world who are part of the Cornish Diaspora, with ancestors who can be traced back to Cornwall. They took mining technology around the globe to places such as Australia, the United States, Mexico and South America. The growth of the internet has made it easier for people to trace their family history and there has been a surge of interest in such research.

A few years ago I organised a conference in Redruth that culminated in the decision to build the Cornwall Archive in Redruth. It has transformed the old derelict Redruth brewery site into a centre for holding the world’s largest collection of maps, photographs and manuscripts relating to Cornwall.

Cornwall has always been unique.  We have a strong identity and our own language and culture. Many of us consider ourselves Cornish before English and in recent years we have seen a renewed interest in learning the Cornish language. I have always believed that we should give more decision making powers to Cornwall, and this week I have had some encouraging meetings regarding the Devolution Deal.

I am enjoying taking the chance to spend time in the constituency over Summer Recess. On Monday, 15th August, I will be holding an open surgery at Trenithick, Mount Hawke Residents Association Club between 10am and 11.30 am, followed by another open surgery at my office on Commercial Street, Camborne, between 2pm and 4pm.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Olympics 2016

Team GB look set to have a very successful Olympics in Rio. It seems only yesterday that we were preparing for the start of the London 2012 Olympics, in which Mo Farah made history by being the first British man to win gold in the Olympic 10,000 metres.

Cornish athletes have often played a huge part in the success of Team GB. In 2012, Ben Ainslie won his event for the fourth time and Helen Glover took Britain’s first gold of the Games. She will defend her title in Rio. I am also enormously proud that paratriathlete Melissa Reid, from Porthtowan, has been selected to participate in the 2016 Paralympics. I wish her the very best of luck.

The legacy from the London 2012 Olympics is often described as economic, encouraging trade, inward investment and tourism. However, I hope that the most important legacy is that a generation of young people has been inspired to take up sport thanks to the emergence of new role models from various backgrounds, all of whom are about achievement and excellence through hard work.

Locally, I am always very impressed by the efforts of students participating in the Cornwall Schools Games. This allows young people to take part in a huge variety of sports, and is a great way to raise the status of sport in our schools. I am a keen runner, and used to be a member of Cornwall Athletics Club. It is great to see that the club continues to thrive.

I recently watched part of the Cornwall BMX Racing Club Summer Racing Series. It was great to see so many participants, and I am hugely supportive of plans for new and improved facilities which are supported by both British Cycling and Sport England.

I am encouraged by the legacy of London 2012, and optimistic that Rio 2016 will ensure a continuation of this new era for British sport.


Thursday, 28 July 2016

Summer Recess

Parliament has now dissolved for the summer recess. I am looking forward to taking the opportunity to spend more time in the constituency and catch up on some of the exciting projects in Cornwall. I am looking forward to meeting people around the constituency, and I have a packed and varied diary over the next few weeks.
Next week, I will be having a meeting to catch up on the Cornwall Devolution Deal. Cornwall has its own unique identity and being a peninsula at the end of the line, I have always said we should have more control over the way we configure key services.
Among the more unusual visits is one to Cornish Edible Insects at Carnkie. The company offers insect-based products for human consumption, and is a unique enterprise for the region. I am also looking forward to several “out and about” days in Mount Hawke, Portreath, Hayle and Constantine, where I meet as many local people and local groups as possible.
will also be catching up with young people who are taking part in the National Citizenship Service (NCS). NCS aims to bring together young people from a range of backgrounds, helping to break down social barriers and develop self-confidence. I have met groups participating in NCS previously, and it has always been clear to me just how beneficial the scheme is. I was working for David Cameron when he first came up with the idea over a decade ago and it is good to see the scheme growing.
I will also be catching up with local companies including Rodda’s, and visiting the Kresen Kernow Archive Centre at Redruth.  I am very proud of what has been achieved at the Archive Centre. Redruth is the most international of Cornish towns. Of the 8 million strong world-wide Cornish Diaspora, around a quarter can trace their roots back to Redruth. We exported mining expertise around the globe from Australia and South Africa to California, South America and Mexico. Redruth Town Council has shown tremendous enthusiasm for the archive project and credit should also go to both existing and former local councillors for their support.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Government reshuffle

I am delighted that I have been re-appointed as Minster of State for Farming, Food and the Marine Environment at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. I said during the EU referendum campaign that I hoped to be the first Farming Minister in over 40 years with the power to design a new national agriculture policy starting from first principles, so I am delighted to be offered this opportunity.
We have an enormous task ahead of us. I do think it is important now to bring the country together, put the campaign behind us and all work together to implement the collective will of the nation.  I am pleased that a government has now been formed, giving us the certainty to move forwards and put in place new agriculture, fisheries and environment policies.
Rather than having lawyers coming in to my ministerial office to tell me that nothing can be done because of EU law, instead my office can now become a vibrant hub of discussion with farmers, fishermen, scientists, ecologists and volunteers talking about how we can try new things and do better for our agriculture, fisheries and environment.
I want us to put in place a very close partnership with the EU based on friendship and cooperation and I want the UK to be a generous and outward looking country that is a good global citizen.  I will strive in the months ahead to ensure that we get our approach right.

Friday, 15 July 2016


When it comes to development around our towns I have always been clear that we should prioritise building on brown field sites over green field sites.  The industrial legacy that we have around Camborne, Redruth and Hayle means that we have a large number of heritage buildings but many of them are falling down.  If we spend the time and effort getting things right, we can save these buildings and the unique features that make them special while providing new homes and employment for families who grew up in the area.

There are always complications to developing brown field sites with the extra costs of thinking about unique designs as well as the costs of remediation and land decontamination.  To make things more complicated still, we are never far from a mine shaft in this part of the world and that can add to the cost in unexpected ways.  But the prize is worth the extra effort.  Consider how the old Holman's site around Camborne Train Station has been transformed or how Heartlands in Pool has really started to take shape. Consider the transformation of Hayle Harbour and the major changes taking shape at the old derelict Redruth Brewery with the new archive project.  We have made great progress but there is further to go.

In recent weeks I have had meetings with several of the key developers who own remaining difficult sites at Tuckingmill, South Crofty and the old Avers garage site.  I want to get things moving at Tuckingmill.  I have also met local planners to ensure that the latest version of the Cornwall Council local plan will retain a strong preference for brownfield development in the existing footprint of our urban area.   We need to keep up the momentum and focus on solutions to these difficult, derelict sites so we can make Camborne, Redruth and Hayle the place of choice to live and set up a business in Cornwall. 

Monday, 11 July 2016


I have never known a more turbulent time in politics.  Scarcely a day goes by without another resignation of some sort.  We are in the eye of the storm.  However, it will settle down in time and clarity will eventually prevail.  By the time you read this article the first two rounds of the Conservative leadership contest will have been completed.
I wish that David Cameron hadn’t resigned.  He did not need to in my view.  It was quite possible for him to put together a negotiating team to manage the outcome of the EU referendum while staying on to provide some continuity and to help with relations with other EU countries.  However, he didn't want to carry on so now we must calmly choose a new leader.

I worked for David Cameron for almost three years including during his own campaign for the Conservative leadership. From the very beginning I could see that he had the judgement and temperament to become a really great Prime Minister.  It has been fascinating to see him catapulted from an unknown MP twelve years ago to become leader of the party and then leader of our country.  I have seen him grow at each stage and as each challenge presented itself.  No one is born to be Prime Minister and there is no special training.  You have to learn it from trial and error on the job.  You either have the aptitude to do it, and manage to overcome obstacles and become stronger after each and every setback or, rather like Gordon Brown, the job overwhelms you and you get gradually eroded by it.

While David Cameron will be disappointed at the way things have ended, I think that history will judge him well. He took the helm in desperate times and steered the country back to economic recovery. He was the only Prime Minister I can think of who had the temperament to make coalition government really work for a full five years.  I am very sad to see him go but it has been a real privilege to have worked with him.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

EU Referendum

Our decision to leave the European Union last week was a big decision but the right decision for our country.  I am very proud of the courage shown by so many people in Cornwall.  They overcame the natural apprehension people often feel when facing really big decisions in life and they weighed up all the facts carefully.

Now that the campaign is over it is essential that we reconcile our country and bring people back together.  As we negotiate a new partnership with the EU it is essential we reassure voters and demonstrate to them that, while we have decided to re-establish democratic self-government in the UK, we will still be a generous, cooperative and outward looking nation. 

I think there is scope for widespread cooperation in a new partnership between the UK and the EU.  We can cooperate on the mutual recognition of technical standards to ensure that trade continues to work freely.  We can cooperate on measures to protect the environment.  We can support cooperation between our universities to promote science and technology and we can cooperate in the field of international security and fighting terrorism. 

However, in my view, there is one red line: we would no longer accept the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice which has undermined our democracy and which second guesses the decisions of elected governments.  We would no longer accept EU auditors coming here and overturning decisions we have made and arbitrarily fining the tax payer. We would no longer accept the European Court overturning ministerial decisions to deport dangerous criminals or terrorists and we would no longer abdicate responsibility for our trade policy to the EU.  The future will be based on willing cooperation not reluctant subjugation.

I believe that in a few years’ time, once a new partnership is concluded and we see the benefits of regaining control, the only question people will ask is why we didn't do it sooner.  As it turns out, membership of the EU was just a passing phase in our nation's long history.  Its time has come and gone.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Jo Cox

The appalling murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox has caused shock and revulsion throughout the country and the fact that over £600,000 was raised for her designated charities literally overnight shows how people have been moved by these tragic events.

There are lots of things that divide the different political parties but there is one thing that unites us all and that is a passionate belief in democracy.  One of the things that makes our democracy so special is the fact that local MPs are accessible.

Every MP holds regular surgeries in their constituency to try to help people with problems in their lives.  From people who have had their quality of life blighted by intractable planning disputes with their neighbours, through to those having difficulty getting sense out of the system to gain the care support they need for a disabled loved one.  From really difficult issues involving social services and child custody, right through to the most terrible of tragedies where constituents have lost children in road accidents or loved ones in hospital operations that went wrong.  Wherever you might have come from in life, the experience of being a constituency MP is a leveller.

Making sure that MPs are exposed to and empathise with all of these problems is what keeps the system on its toes.  MPs return to parliament and can table difficult questions to any Minister.  Ministers, in turn, know that local MPs can alert them to problems on the ground. Sometimes new problems are discovered and put right.  The way our system works enables a small injustice or failure locally to be translated all the way to the top.

That is why, despite discussion about the security around MPs, it is essential that things carry on as before and that MPs remain accessible.  Jo Cox was clearly a talented MP with a great future ahead of her. She had great experience of the charity sector and expertise in international development which she brought to the House of Commons and she earned respect across the House.  Her murder is a loss for parliament and a tragedy for her family, especially her two young children.  Our best answer to this senseless murder is to ensure that we carry on.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

EU Referendum Campaign

We are in the final week of the EU referendum campaign and it will shortly be time to decide. Referendums can be really refreshing for our politics because they bring together coalitions of people from all parties who share the same view on a single issue. A referendum is the one time when the tables are turned and the people get to tell the politicians what to do.  It is not a time for big politicians like Obama or overpaid, self-appointed "experts" to dictate what should happen.  Although the national discussion has been fractious at times, I am detecting that the public are really engaged in the detail.  They recognise that leaving the EU is a big decision but one they should not duck or avoid. Here in Cornwall, it feels like there is a very solid majority for leaving the EU and taking back control.
If we vote to leave on 23rd June some things will change immediately. The very next day, it will become the official policy of the British Government to withdraw from the EU. The Prime Minister will accept the verdict and commit himself to delivering what the country wants and the entire civil service machine will become dedicated to delivering an orderly transition to independence.   Things that have been described as impossibilities during the campaign will suddenly be revealed as eminently doable after all.

Our European partners will want to build a close working partnership based on friendship and cooperation. It will be very easy to agree a Free Trade Agreement between the UK and EU.  Our starting point is that we are in the single market, and there is a high degree of equivalence and compatibility in our approaches to issues like product specification, food safety and labelling etc.  

There is no one in government today who has ever known anything other than being told what to do by the EU.  It's the only reason we have put up with it for so long.  If we decide to leave, we will stop sending £350 million a week to Brussels and end the supremacy of EU law. We will be able to deliver the change that is so desperately needed.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Royal Cornwall Show

This week is Royal Cornwall Show week and, like most of the shows, one issue is dominating discussion: the referendum.  I will be attending on Friday and taking part in several debates to explain why I believe that Cornish agriculture and the wider food industry in Cornwall will be better off if we vote to leave the EU on 23rd June.

The UK government will continue to give farmers and the environment as much support - or perhaps even more- as they get now. The Prime Minister has made this clear and I agree with him. After all, non-EU countries such as Switzerland and Norway actually give more support to their farmers than we do. In the scheme of things, the amount of money spent on our countryside and wildlife is very modest when compared with spending on other departments.  But we could spend our money more effectively if we had control.

We will also maintain a free trade agreement.  Last year, we exported £7.5 billion worth of food to the EU but we imported food worth £18 billion.  We have an annual trade deficit with the EU in food alone of £10 billion, meaning that EU member states need a free trade deal as much as or more than we do.

In Cornwall, companies like Lynher Dairies have created new markets with their highly acclaimed Cornish Yarg. Rodda’s Cream are creating new export markets, and Falfish have ensured that Cornwall is the market leader for many fish species. These great companies will continue to do well because they have strong brands and fantastic high quality products that the rest of the world wants to buy.

I have fond memories of the Royal Cornwall Show, and my family used to show our South Devon Cattle there. My brother and father will be there this year, showing the family’s rare breed Lop Eared Pigs. I am very much looking forward to it.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

EU Referendum

Last week the referendum campaign got going properly with Boris Johnson kicking off a nationwide tour for the Leave campaign starting in Cornwall and with local volunteers delivering thousands of leaflets to get the message across the county.  These volunteers play an important role because the pro-EU campaign have benefited from over £9 million of tax payer funded support on a pro-EU leaflet.

I took a decision in February to join the Leave campaign because I didn't like the way our Prime Minister was sent back from Brussels empty handed after he tried to argue for the return of powers.  He got nothing.  So I think we should show them we are serious and act decisively to end the supremacy of EU law.  We should replace our membership with a different sort of partnership where we stop sending £350 million a week to Brussels and stop European Courts undermining our democracy.

None of the arguments put forward by the pro-EU campaign have been very persuasive.  In fact, as the volume of scare mongering propaganda has increased, the credibility of those arguing we should remain has gone down even further.  We have had all sorts of bankers and bureaucrats wheeled out to tell us how to vote.  These are usually the same sorts of people who said we should join the euro and have a track record in being wrong.  We have also had an American president ordering us to get to the back of the queue while other EU countries want us to stay because they need our money.

In my view, as a country, we should do what is right for us in this referendum and vote to leave.  We should not allow ourselves to be told what to do by other countries.  We will always have an international outlook, but this is one occasion when we should think about the UK.  Here in Cornwall, I am detecting a growing consensus that we would be better off if we were to leave, but nationally this contest is going to be very very close.  

Thursday, 12 May 2016

PCC Elections

This time last week voters across the UK went to the polls for the local elections. In Cornwall we had the second election for Police and Crime Commissioner.  This is still a relatively new role and many people remain sceptical about it.  However, it should be remembered that this is not a new tier of administration within the police as some presume.  

It is simply a directly elected role to replace the old, unaccountable Police Authorities that existed before. So whatever people might think about the performance of Tony Hogg over the past three years, it is difficult to argue that having a more visible, elected role is not a step forward from the days of Police Authorities.

The election was much closer this time and the turnout much higher. The Labour Party also put more effort into the election than they did previously.  That’s good because important democratically elected roles like this only work when the political parties contest them vigorously. Political parties are not always popular because, in power, they have to take difficult choices.  However, without political parties, and the thousands of volunteers who give up their time to deliver leaflets, democracy simply does not work.  

I was very pleased to see Alison Hernandez elected our new PCC. She had actually gone for the role three years ago and was only very narrowly beaten by Tony Hogg.  What impresses me about her is that, in the intervening years, she has really developed a real understanding of what is required in the role. She has worked out the bits that Tony Hogg got right and what she would like to retain. This is crucial because any new PCC should build on their predecessor, retaining what is right and changing what is wrong. In particular she has some really good ideas on developing the "tri-service" model like what is currently used in Hayle. There are certainly challenges ahead, but I think Alison has what it takes to earn the respect of the police and to champion the great work they do.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Trevithick Day

We had fine weather and a great turnout at Trevithick Day last weekend, and although the Puffing Devil was absent from its place at the head of the parade it was fantastic to see so many people coming out to celebrate the life of Cornwall's greatest engineer and inventor of the steam locomotive.

Six years ago, when I was first elected to Parliament, I made Richard Trevithick the main focus of my maiden speech.  I found a wonderful statement from him saying that, although he had been criticised for trying new principles and was left in severe financial hardship as a result of his pioneering endeavours, he knew in his own heart that he had brought forward new ideas that would be of boundless value to his country.  For many years, Trevithick's achievements were not really recognised which makes it all the more important we celebrate them now.  

For me the achievements of Richard Trevithick epitomise the contribution made by Cornwall to the industrial revolution, and while Holmans and the mines may be gone, Camborne and Redruth still has many world leaders in specialist engineering. We have LDD, based in Tolvaddon, which works on offshore oil projects in countries as far flung as Argentina and Malaysia, while Severn Subsea in Redruth helps manufacture complex components for the oil and gas industry.  DP Engineering, also in Redruth, manufactures specialist components for the aerospace industry while Rigibore in Hayle produce highly specialised, computer guided drill bits for use in precision hydraulics manufacturing.

In some cases, the driving forces behind these companies trace their roots back to Holmans.  It is why the greatest legacy left by Holmans wasn't the buildings but the people they trained. I would like to see us build on our heritage and expertise in engineering.  We are seeing our local schools bring in a renewed focus on science and technology to prepare the next generation for a rewarding career in technology and, in recent years, the government has delivered a huge expansion in apprenticeships to help young people get a career.  

Thursday, 28 April 2016

George in Japan

Last week I represented the UK at the G7 summit in Japan where we discussed how to address the challenge of feeding a growing world population while protecting the environment. 

Around the world countries are turning their attention to the challenge that demographic changes pose. The world population is currently projected to grow to about nine billion by 2050 and demand for food could increase by around fifty percent. The truth is we are going to need our farming and fishing industries like never before and we will need leaps forward in technology to deliver more food more sustainably.

In the UK we are leading the world in developing new technologies which mean we can make better use of things like satellite data to have more precise use of inputs like fertilisers.  We are also doing work to breed new proteins from peas that will enable us to reduce our reliance on imported soya beans for animal feeds and we are funding a range of breeding programmes to develop new varieties of crop that are drought tolerant so that developing countries will still be able to produce food even from land where water becomes scarce.

Fish protein will also be important.  We have made big strides over the last two decades in understanding the science of our oceans and in improving the sustainability of the fishing industry. There is also scope to do far more by way of aquaculture and the UK is funding work that would enable essential Omega 3 fish oils crucial to fish farms to be synthesised in crops grown in the soil. 

While in Tokyo I also did some trade promotion work to promote British food and drinks products.  It was great to see Cornish company Tregothnan out in Japan selling Cornish grown tea to the Japanese and other Asian markets. They had even been asked to be the judge in a competition to assess the quality of tea!  We have some amazing and unique food and drink producers in Cornwall who are increasingly finding an interest for their products overseas.