Last week I welcomed Lord Heseltine's review into what more the Coalition can do to help businesses and entrepreneurs grow their businesses and create jobs. As part of his review he visited Cornwall to talk to the Local Enterprise Partnership. I am sure what he learned while he was in Cornwall helped inform one of his key conclusions- that more decisions that support business in Cornwall should be taken in Cornwall.
Cornwall Council already plays an active role in driving economic development locally with the Rail Partnership and Local Enterprise Zone at Newquay Airport being good examples. This role will get even stronger as the full potential of the community infrastructure levy, localisation of business rates and the new homes bonus – which has already delivered £5 million for new, genuinely affordable homes to Cornwall - is realised.
Another of Lord Heseltine’s findings, that we need to get finance on favourable terms to creative, technology and science based companies, of which we have great local examples is just what the Select Committee on which I serve recently concluded.
Along with my Coalition colleague Andrew George MP I am working with Ministers to develop the 'Cornwall Deal' which could see an acceleration of the Government's Localism plans, that return power, responsibilities and resources to people and communities in Cornwall.
Since I was a young person in Cornwall, I have seen huge improvements in the range and quality of job opportunities. Cornwall has benefitted from the EU funds which were designed to help incomes in poorer regions to grow faster. They have helped fund large investments in the Combined Universities in Cornwall, the Medical and Dental Schools, the Eden Project and some local businesses.
However I have long felt that not all of this money was spent wisely. In future, if Cornwall secures more EU funds, decisions on how it is spent should be made with the Local Enterprise Partnership and local communities.
In Westminster I am a member of the Fresh Start Project that is looking at how the UK can transform our relationship with the EU by cutting out waste and bureaucracy and returning powers to the UK. In fact getting us back to the type of relationship with our European neighbours that I believe most people voted for when they decided that we should join the EU.
There is no doubt in my mind that the EU budget of more than £100 billion a year of which the UK contributes £12 billion is unaffordable. I support the Prime Minister's determination to persuade other EU countries to agree to cut the budget and at worst freeze it. This will be an historic achievement, when every year under Labour the budget grew to is current bloated level. Labour gave up the rebate that Conservatives worked so hard to secure.
This was money was sorely needed in the UK during the aftermath of the 2008 Credit Crunch. I am pleased that the Government will stop this haemorrhage of your money to the EU.