Tuesday, 29 May 2012

A growing reputation for creative excellence

As we approach the Jubilee weekend there will no doubt be lots of debate about the role of monarchy, indeed Britain's role in the 21st century world. Anyone who has spent anytime overseas knows that Britain's image in the world is largely based on the Queen and the Royal family. Other key global icons of Britain and Britishness include our armed forces, our football teams, our music, art and creativity, and to a lesser extent our parliamentary democracy and the image of 'Big Ben'. 

The BBC is another British export cherished around the world, last week the BBC World Service won another global award for outstanding, impartial news. Despite spending considerably more, no other state sponsored news organisation has the global reputation of the BBC for independent, high quality news and analysis. Good quality news gathering and reporting is important and the BBC World Service is a beacon promoting our national reputation for freedom.

Journalism is just one of a range of creative industries including music, film, dance, theatre, design, computer games and digital communications. These all contribute to our global reputation for creativity. No doubt the jaw dropping Jubilee and later this summer Olympic ceremonies will affirm this to a massive global audience.

Creative industries are important to the British economy with latest data showing 1.5 million people employed in nearly 110,000 companies contributing 11% to UK exports. There is much more potential for these industries to grow - particularly in Cornwall where we have centres of excellence and access to Superfast Broadband.

Last week I was delighted that University College Falmouth (UCF) opened the doors of the Academy for Innovation and Research (AIR) at the Tremough campus. Funded by both the EU and the Government it is a £9 million investment in future jobs in this growing part of the UK economy. Congratulations to all those involved in the construction of this building to very tight deadlines and budgets.

UCF has a first class reputation in fine and performing arts as well as fashion design, the digital economy and broadcast journalism. AIR will enable local businesses to benefit from the creativity and problem solving skills of the talent at UCF to improve their performance. Between now and 2015 UCF has the goal of supporting 185 companies to grow, creating 122 new jobs and setting up 27 new companies. Together they aim to add nearly £18 million to the local economy.

Cornwall is arguably the second largest creative hub outside London and this investment will enable new and existing businesses to grow and offer people of all ages new and interesting learning and employment opportunities.

Creative industries will continue to play an important role in rebalancing our local and national economy away from over dependence on financial services in London and the South E and towards designing and making more goods and services here and exporting them around the world. I will continue to do everything I can to support sustainable employment opportunities in these industries.   

Monday, 28 May 2012

Congratulations to BBC Worldwide

BBC Worldwide has won a British Inspiration Award to mark their work in showcasing British talent around the world. Working in international organisations and living abroad in the USA and Italy has made me very much aware of the importance of the BBC in projecting the UK's positive influence in the world and providing trusted impartial news. The Worldwide Service is a real gem within the BBC

Welcoming new support services for the families of missing children

Like any parent one of my greatest fears is the prospect of one of my children going missing. The launch of a new helpline and website to help families with missing children is very welcome:

Friday, 25 May 2012

Clarification on buzzard plans

I have been contacted by a number of constituents who have been concerned by reports that the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is planning to implement a buzzard control programme.

Defra have now released a statement clarifying these reports:

Defra is absolutely not proposing to cull buzzards or any other raptors. 
We work on the basis of sound evidence.  This is why we want to find out the true extent of buzzards preying on young pheasants and how best to discourage birds that may cause damage to legitimate businesses.   This would be only in areas where there is a clear problem, using non-lethal methods including increasing protective cover for young pheasants with vegetation, diversionary feeding of buzzards, moving the birds elsewhere or destroying empty nests. The results of this scientific research will help guide our policy on this issue in the future. 
As the RSPB have said, the buzzard population has recovered wonderfully over the last few years, and we want to see this continue.

As a keen supporter of Britain’s beautiful wildlife, I am pleased that this assurance has been given. I will continue to keep a close eye on the situation.  

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Growth in South West Manufacturing - news from the Manufacturing Advisory Service


Funding boost for Hall for Cornwall

I am delighted by the news that the Hall for Cornwall has been awarded £240,000 from the Arts Council England Catalyst Fund. This funding, which will match-fund future fundraising campaigns, will allow the team at the Hall for Cornwall to further enhance their facilities, whilst opening up new opportunities for independent artists and young people to engage with their work.

More information about the Arts Council England Catalyst Fund can be found through:

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Sensible way forward for Ship-To-Ship transfer regulations approved

I was pleased that amendments to the Ship-To-Ship transfer regulations went through Parliament yesterday that enables environmental protection whilst protecting the bunkering businesses that are so important to the port of Falmouth. I have been working on this issue since I was first elected and am pleased a balanced and practical solution has been achieved:

The storm rages but the IMF says we’re on track

Despite a real threat from the euro crisis, our strategy of deficit reduction is still the only sensible course 

After last week’s fall in unemployment we’ve had some more good economic news today. Inflation has fallen a full half a per cent to three per cent. For the first time since 2009, the Governor of the Bank of England has not had to write a letter to the Chancellor to explain why inflation is above his target range. What’s more, data on the public finances published this morning show that government borrowing fell even more than was thought last year, so that in just two years the Coalition Government has reduced Britain’s deficit by more than a quarter.

That doesn’t make the headlines about the euro go away. Back in 2010, this Coalition Government was formed against the backdrop of a eurozone crisis. Two years on and you’d be forgiven for asking if anything has changed.

There is one crucial difference, however. Two years ago people were asking whether Britain would join the growing list of countries in crisis. International investors were questioning our ability to deal with the huge debts that were built up in the boom times and then exposed as unsustainable in the bust. That is no longer true. Our record low interest rates are a tangible sign that investors around the world once again believe in Britain. Many economic problems remain, but our deficit is falling, inflation is falling, unemployment is falling, and we are laying the foundations for better times ahead.

As Chancellor of the Exchequer, I would say that. But you don’t just have to take my word for it. Today the two most respected international organisations that look at the British economy have passed their verdicts: the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, has come to town to deliver the IMF’s annual report card on the British economy; and this morning the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development published its Economic Outlook.

The IMF in particular plays an increasingly vital role in scrutinising and judging governments’ economic policies. We know from the IMF’s own report into failings before the crisis that, when he was at the Treasury, Ed Balls used to suppress any external criticism of the enormous debts run up by his boss, Gordon Brown. Now that we know the scale of the wreckage he left behind we can only wonder at what might have been different if the country had been allowed to see those warnings.

Now Mr Balls is in opposition and he says the Government should “heed the advice of the independent IMF”. So what is its advice today? It starts by stating that decisive action to tackle the record budget deficit that this Government inherited is “essential” and that “substantial progress” has been made. When asked this morning what might have happened if this Government had not acted to deal decisively with the deficit, Mme Lagarde’s answer was stark: “I shiver.” I couldn’t agree more.

Of course, economic growth has been lower than forecast. The IMF gives three reasons for this: commodity price shocks around the world, especially the big increase in the oil price; heightened uncertainty because of the euro crisis; and the fact that unwinding the huge imbalances built up in Britain over many years is “likely to be more protracted than previously anticipated”.

I know that of all these developments, the one that people have noticed most in their daily lives is higher prices. That’s why this morning’s news that inflation has fallen is especially welcome. Things are still tough, but at least we are heading in the right direction.

As well as lower inflation, the IMF notes recent falls in unemployment as a positive sign. Indeed, it notes that there have been “fewer employment losses than in the aftermath of previous major UK recessions”. Unemployment remains too high, but our efforts to help people find jobs are paying off. The Youth Contract that we launched last month will help more young people into work.
What about the challenge of dealing with our debts? Does the IMF back the Government’s responsible deficit reduction plan or does it back Labour’s calls for more borrowing and more spending? The answer is clear: deal with your debts. It thinks the current pace of deficit reduction is “appropriate” and that the first line of defence against slower economic growth is further action on monetary policy and credit, not yet more government borrowing.

Indeed, the IMF today specifically welcomes the Prime Minister’s announcement that we will go further than we have already to make sure that the low interest rates we’ve earned as a nation are passed on to businesses and families. In the coming months we will be announcing new policies to get credit flowing to small businesses, boost the construction sector with more support for housing, and attract more investment into vital infrastructure projects.

What about the report from the OECD? It takes a similar view: “the ambitious Government plan to restore fiscal sustainability remains on track and appropriate”. It also judges that meeting our deficit targets has earned credibility “as evidenced by the very low interest rates on long-term government debt”.

The British Government has had to take many difficult decisions, but the report card we’ve got from those who take a careful, independent view of the economy is a good one.

We can put our own house in order, but we need the eurozone to do the same. The IMF says that setbacks in the euro area are the “key risk to economic prospects and financial stability in the UK”. We’ve set out what needs to be done: more support for indebted eurozone economies from the European Central Bank and the stronger economies in the zone; moves towards a system of fiscal burden sharing such as Eurobonds; and more economic reform to improve competitiveness. Whether our neighbours take the necessary action remains to be seen. We seek the best outcome but at the same time we are preparing for something worse. Contingency plans are well developed.

It’s precisely because we’ve taken the tough decisions at home that we’re ready to face the problems from abroad. No one says it will be easy, but we will do whatever it takes to keep Britain safe in the financial storm.

George Osborne- 22nd May

Monday, 21 May 2012

A very special weekend for Truro and Falmouth

My impression of how well the Olympic torch was carried through Cornwall can be summed up by one word- Wow!

While I imagine most readers of this column had the chance to join in the activities and festivities surrounding the passage of the torch through Cornwall - I would like to share my impressions gleaned from the reporting of the BBC as I  watched all day from my bed in hospital (recovering from surgery for a broken hip).  

Anyone who has spent any time in hospital knows how difficult it is to sleep on a ward but I was pleased to be awake for the early start of the BBC News 24 coverage of the day’s events in Cornwall.

It was a great day for the Duchy, which was on show to the worldwide audience watching the Torch’s progress. The superlatives trickled off the tongues of the TV presenters all day, referring to the great natural beauty of Cornwall, the tremendous community spirit, the pride in our history and love of sport - as well as the great weather. The hosting of the Finn World Championships in Falmouth just before the torch arrived was the topic of much discussion, along with Ben Ainslie’s magnificent victories in those championships.

No one watching could have been left in any doubt what a great place Cornwall is, and in particular what a centre of excellence for international sailing Falmouth is.

It was also great to see young people of all ages and backgrounds got involved with the many free sporting and cultural activities put on. Falmouth prepared for the coming of the Torch with an open to all ‘flame’ party on Events Square on Friday night, followed the next morning by an Olympic style decathlon for children at the Dracaena Centre.  Meanwhile in Truro Lemon Quay was transformed into a Sporting Carnival, with crowds being entertained by theatre performances, sports performances by local clubs and a variety of circus workshops.  The streets of Truro and Falmouth were both packed all day, with visitors drawn in by the passage of the torch and the associated events learning what special facilities each town centre had to offer.    

My congratulations go to all those people and organisations who came together and brought the spirit of the Olympics to Truro & Falmouth over this very special weekend.

By the time you read this article I hope to be up and about with the aid of crutches and with lots of help from my family. Thanks to modern technology, I will be able to carry on working via the phone and email. The doctors have given me strict instructions to keep off my feet for six weeks so you will not see me around as much as usual. However, my really helpful team will be working as hard as usual so that any constituent that needs my help will get it. Do not hesitate to contact my office, as ever my focus is on ensuring that my constituents get the help that they need.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Supporting innovative new ways of working


An accident at Westminster

At lunchtime on Tuesday, whilst crossing the road that separates Portcullis House from the Palace of Westminster, I fell and fractured my hip.

I have received excellent treatment from the NHS and hope to be back at work following my discharge from hospital next week. In the meantime my Truro office remains open, with staff available to assist constituents.

The NHS advises that people walk with care, however much of a rush they are in. I have learnt how important it is to heed this advice, and hope that people can learn from my mistake!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Campaign to secure fairer funding for rural affairs

I am pleased to support the ‘Rural Fair Share’ campaign, led by my colleague Graham Stuart MP,  pushing for greater recognition of the particular challenges faced by rural communities:

Monday, 14 May 2012

The Queen's Speech

Last week a new session of parliament started with the Queen’s Speech and while a bill to reform of the House of Lords grabbed the headlines - I have selected some bills that will be important to you and your family.

Banking Reform Bill – will improve our banking system in line with the recommendations of the Independent Commission on Banking.

Crime and Courts Bill – will establish the National Crime Agency to tackle serious, organised and complex crime and strengthen border security. Measures will further reform and modernise the courts and tribunal service to increase efficiency, transparency and judicial diversity.

Energy Bill – will reform the electricity market. This will include powers to establish long-term contracts for low-carbon energy generation and to guarantee generating capacity, as well as other measures which together will deliver affordable electricity for consumers and help meet security of supply and decarbonisation goals. The Bill will also establish an independent nuclear regulator.

Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill – will promote enterprise and fair markets, including provisions on a Green Investment Bank, a new Competition and Markets Authority, and reforming employment tribunals.

Children and Families Bill – will improve the lives of children, young people and families, especially those coping with special educational needs. It will reform the assessment, planning and provision for children and young people with special educational needs and those who are disabled, reduce delay in the adoption system, introduce new arrangements for children of parents who apply to court and reform court processes for children in care so cases progress more rapidly. The Bill will also strengthen the role of the Children’s Commissioner, enable both mothers and fathers to take flexible parental leave to share early years parenting and make it possible for all employees to balance their work and family commitments.

Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill – will establish an independent Groceries Code Adjudicator to ensure supermarkets deal fairly and lawfully with suppliers.

Justice and Security Bill – will provide for strengthened oversight of the security and intelligence agencies; and will prevent disclosure contrary to the public interest of certain material in judicial proceedings, including material shared with us by our allies.

Local Audit Bill (draft) – will set out measures to close the Audit Commission and to make new arrangements for the audit of local public bodies.

Pensions Bill – will reform the state pensions system, creating a fair, simple and sustainable foundation for private saving.

Public Service Pensions Bill – will reform public service pensions in line with the recommendations of the report prepared by the Independent Public Service Pensions Commission.

I will be closely scrutinising these bills as they come before Parliament, to ensure that the good intentions they contain are carried into effective legislation  that will work for my constituents. I am particularly pleased that the Government will also be introducing a bill and other actions to reform the care of adults with disabilities, and elderly people. This is long over due and requires all-party support to make sure it delivers lasting change.

Another step closer to a fairer deal for our farmers

 Since my election I have been pressing the Government to honour its commitment to create an adjudicator to ensure that supermarkets offer British farmers a fair deal for their produce. Subject the passing of the Groceries Adjudicator Bill through Parliament, such an adjudicator could be up and running by 2013:


Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Welcoming new role for the CAB


Carers week 2012

 Last month I met up in Parliament with presenter Fiona Phillips, to help raise awareness of Carers Week 2012 (18-24 June)

It is crucial that the UK’s six million unpaid carers are recognised for the contribution they make to those they care for, and to their communities.. The UK’s health and social care services simply could not function without the contribution of the unpaid care provided by families – which is estimated to be the equivalent of £119 billion a year. 


Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Government identifies brownfield sites for over 100,000 homes

We have a housing crisis that must be tackled, however in order to protect our precious countryside it is important that wherever possible new homes are built on brownfield sites. I am pleased that the Government is working hard to identify these brownfeild sites for the homes we need:


A week with the Royal Navy

Last week I joined HMS Ocean as part of the Parliamentary Armed Forces Scheme.  The scheme is open to all parliamentarians, with the aim of improving the quality of debate on defence issues by exposing Members of Parliament to first-hand military experience. Most of this experience is acquired during periods when parliament is in recess.

In light of the historic connection of the Royal Navy with the Port of Falmouth and the importance of RNAS Culdrose to my constituency, I have chosen to serve with the Royal Navy.

While I was onboard HMS Ocean I spent time with each part of the ship's company from marine, aviation and weapons engineering and navigation teams to catering and stores staff, as well time with the helicopter pilots and Royal Marine Commandos. Each evening I spent time in the messes of all ranks listening to concerns and ideas as well as answering questions. I was delighted to meet many people from Cornwall including constituents serving on this the Royal Navy's largest ship.

HMS Ocean played a very important role in the recent operations off Libya and east of Suez. The crew set sail expecting to be away for seven weeks and didn’t return for over seven months. This was very tough for both the ships company and their families. Despite the soaring temperatures off Libya they delivered an effective operation.  

HMS Ocean is now part of the team, led by the police, that will be providing security for the Olympic Games in London. She will be providing a platform from which RN and Army Lynx helicopters will be operated. She will also be open to the public one day a week. I urge anyone visiting London over the summer to try and fit in a visit to get a peep into the workings of a warship, and to meet your fellow Cornish men and women who are so positively and professionally serving their country.  

While I welcomed the Government's commitments to build two new aircraft carriers, I was concerned about the potential lack of aircraft for the new carriers. Having debated this with senior navy officers as well as defence analysts, I am reassured that aircraft will be available for use by the Royal Navy as the new carriers come into operation. This will be an important consideration as Parliament scrutinising the Government’s preparation of the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review. While working in partnership with our allies is indisputably the way forward, we need to maintain our own capability to defend out nations interests around the world. Carriers and the ability to use aircraft to support our soldiers on the ground is critical to this.

These are very difficult times for our armed forces as they face changes as a result of cut backs to defence spending and I am determined to do what I can to make sure that those serving on the front line are treated with the respect they deserve.

Below are a couple of photos from my time on HMS Ocean:


Friday, 4 May 2012

The Richard Lander Walk

I always enjoy meeting my youngest constituents when they visit Parliament, but was particularly inspired by a recent visit from pupils from Richard Lander School, along with members of the St Agnes Rotary Club, who recreated Richard Lander’s epic walk from Cornwall to London when he was only nine years old!
I am sure you will agree that this is an incredible achievement, and all for a good cause in bereavement charity Penhaligon’s Friends.
More on the walk can be found here:
More on Penahligon’s Friends can be found here:

Meeting with Richard Lander Walkers at Bush House

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Rebels in Penryn

I was delighted to recently visit the Penryn-based Rebel Brewing Company, a microbrewery established by two former University of Exeter Cornwall Campus students in 2010, Rob Lowe and Henry Austwick.

Egg-citing News!

I was recently really pleased to see research published by the British Egg Industry Council which indicates that the Government's decisive steps to prevent European egg producers from undercutting British farmers have had the desired effect.


Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Invictus Trust selected for Untold Stories initiative

I was delighted to hear that a charity based in my constituency, the Invictus Trust, which campaigns tirelessly for support and offers services to local teenagers who are suffering from poor mental health and associated issues, has been selected to be part of the Media Trust’s Untold Stories initiative:

For more on the Invictus Trust, please see: