Thursday, 20 December 2012

West Briton Column 20 December 2012

Despite my good intentions for planning ahead, I expect you'll see me doing last minute shopping in the last few days before Christmas. Like many people, I like to buy as much as I can for my family from local producers and thoroughly appreciate the huge increase in the range and quality of food and drink produced in Cornwall.  A third of jobs in Cornwall are related to food and drink. The seasonal food festivals, markets and recent Truro Fatstock Show do a great job of connecting local people with our local farmers and food producers. This is important not only for the local economy but to remind us this important part of Cornwall's life.

While perhaps better known for our fruit and vegetable farming, seeing the lovingly cared for beasts at the Fatstock Show also reminds us of the very high standards of animal welfare and husbandry we are rightly proud of in our country. Standards that if necessary are enforced. When I learned from my colleague the MP for South Thanet of the horrors of live animal exports from UK ports, I was determined to bring this iniquitous trade to the Government’s attention.  

Under current EU regulations living animals can be exported from their country of origin to slaughter in another EU country. Such journeys cause terrible distress to the animals involved. Loaded into confined and poorly ventilated spaces, jolted during long hours of travel and often transferred to unsafe holding pens at ports, animals are put under immense stress and sometimes die en-route.

Last week I presented a petition signed by over five hundred Truro and Falmouth residents to Parliament calling on the House of Commons to ban live animal exports.

I am pleased by the Government’s robust response to my petition and the subsequent debate held on this issue. The Farming Minister has promised to review the regulations governing live animal exports from UK ports, and has stated the Government’s commitment to ensuring that animals are slaughtered as near as possible to their point of origin.

This commitment is crucial if we are to make real progress in securing better welfare for all farm animals. We can all play our part in supporting local producers. In Cornwall we have farmers who produce top-quality meat and care passionately about the welfare of their animals. By buying local meat we support these farmers and their welfare first approach, help the local economy, and ensure that animals going to slaughter are not subject to long and stressful journeys.

I am grateful to all the Truro and Falmouth residents who took the time to circulate and complete my petition to ban live animal exports, I will continue to pursue this and other animal welfare issues in Parliament. Defending and extending the UK’s high standards of animal welfare is an important part of my work as an MP.

Finally, I would like to thank all those constituents who have contacted me over the past year,  and wish you a Happy Christmas and a Healthy and Happy 2013.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Truro City FC takeover deal finalised

I am pleased to see this news, which signifies a new era and fresh start for Truro City Football Club

European funding allocated to Cornwall

I am pleased to see additional funding from the European Social Fund allocated to help those who are long-term unemployed back into the work place

Monday, 17 December 2012

Citizenship for Life meets success in Cornwall

I am pleased to see the success of the Citizenship for Life programme, which pupils from my constituency participated in:

The Space in Penryn

I was privileged to observe some the excellent work that the volunteers, supported by Jobcentre Plus and local business, carried out to transform The Space:

Local shopping highlighted in Falmouth

The ‘Shop local, think Falmouth’ initiative, designed to highlight the benefits of shopping in Falmouth, is a great initiative:

Friday, 14 December 2012

Penryn shop wins Cornwall Life Food and Drink award

 I am delighted to see that Bailey’s Country Store in Penryn has been named the best food shop at the Cornwall Life Food and Drink Awards.

Falmouth Sketch Club

As part of the Community Alive Falmouth network, Sketch Club, is a great place for practising artists to drop in and hone their skills

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Biggest quarterly fall in unemployment since 2001

Figures just released by the Office for National Statistics show the biggest quarterly fall in unemployment since 2001.

West Briton Column 13 December 2012

Last week’s Autumn Statement saw the Chancellor reaffirm the Government’s commitment to taking the hard decisions necessary to secure a prosperous future for Britain.  To ensure this prosperity we need to lead people out of poverty, through education and employment.

This is why the Government is investing in education for people of all ages.  In his Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced over £1billion to fund the building of over a hundred new schools and the expansion of hundreds of existing schools.  A further £270million will be invested in further education.

Last month I was able to see firsthand what a difference education can make to the lives of people of all ages as I attended Cornwall College’s graduation ceremony. Many of the local students I saw collecting their first degrees were people who had careers and families and then returned to education later in life.  From next year, older students will be helped by recent reforms which means that mature students can access student financing that covers both further education and higher education courses.

Of course academic subjects are only part of the picture; the Government has also made it easier for people of all ages to acquire vocational skills.  £1.5 billion is being spent on increasing the number of apprenticeships available whilst benefit changes mean that jobseekers can undertake work experience whilst receiving benefits, allowing them to gain vital workplace skills while seeking employment. More help has also been made available for small businesses and for people looking to set up new businesses.

The Autumn Statement detailed a range of measures to further boost the push for job creation which has already seen over 1.2million new jobs created in the private sector since May 2010.  We are seeing the effects of this in Truro and Falmouth; over the past year there has been a steady increase in the vacancies registered at local Jobcentres.  Hundreds of jobs have now been secured at Falmouth Docks as a result of the Ministry of Defence’s decision to extend the Shipyard’s contract to support the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) flotilla.

It is of course essential that, whilst we help as many people as possible into education and work, we continue to look after those who need financial support.  Disability benefits will be increased next year, as will the basic state pension, which is set for an above inflation rise of 2.5% next April.

Hard-pressed family budgets across Truro and Falmouth will also see some relief, with tax changes meaning that over two million people on modest incomes in the South West will see their tax bill fall next year.  Thanks to the Government listening to the concerns colleagues and I voiced, next year’s planned fuel duty rise will be scrapped.

To lay the foundations for a prosperous future we need to invest in people, to support them through the difficult times and to help them realise their potential through education and employment.  If we are to build a future fit for our children to inherit, this work must continue. 

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Darzona Kernow

The Darzona Kernow fund was set up in 2010 to raise money to provide disability aids for children in local authority foster care in Cornwall.
A child in need of funding who lives with their parents has the option to campaign publicly through the media or similar to raise any additional funds needed for disability aids, but with foster children, due to often difficult circumstances, this is not the case.  Darzona Kernow has been raising money for this purpose since 2010 and is now close to raising the amount needed to purchase an all-terrain wheelchair for one of the children.
Any Christmas donations would really help towards Darzona Kernow meeting their target, you can see more about Darzona Kernow, and make a donation via the link below:

Western Greyhound and Cornwall Council bus subsidy deal

This deal between Western Greyhound and Cornwall Council to subsidise concessionary passengers is welcome news

Monday, 10 December 2012

Falmouth firm wins international award

I am delighted to see that Mojo Maritime, based in Falmouth, has again win awards at the annual International Tidal Energy Summit, held in November.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

West Briton column 6 December 2012

Last week the inquiry set up by the Prime Minister and undertaken by Lord Justice Leveson reported its extensive findings. The inquiry had the power to see any document and summon any witness to be examined under oath by a barrister in public. It was the most thorough look at the press and relationships with police, politicians and the public ever seen in our country.

Over the next few months the detailed recommendations will be debated widely so that a way forward can be agreed for independent regulation of the press. Broadcast media are already regulated by OFCOM. Our press is subject to criminal law, civil law and requirements for data protection, but there should be a proper regulatory system as well to ensure that standards are upheld, complaints are heard, and that there is proper redress for all those who have been wronged. Not just for those who can afford a lawyer.

A free press nationally and locally is vitally important to our democracy as it can hold people with power to account. During the debates in Parliament, I will be representing the views of my constituents, including those that work in our local media. A very fine balance needs to be struck as we make decisions about the independent regulation of the press. We should not forget that it was a newspaper that uncovered the phone hacking scandals that caused so much harm to innocent people such as the Dowler family.

As with politicians it is all too easy to tar everyone with the same brush, when in fact it is usually a minority who let the rest of us down.

Like many local people I grew up reading the West Briton and the local Packet. These local newspapers and others around the country are really important sources of local information and make a significant contribution to our community life. I value the opportunity that this column provides me.

One improvement I would like to see consistently and voluntarily implemented in all newspapers is where a story is printed reporting allegations of wrong doing by a member of the public and the allegations are subsequently found to untrue, that both stories are reported and given equal prominence in the paper. This is an issue I have raised with this newspaper’s editor.

Finally, after much behind the scenes work I am pleased that my colleague, Dr Dan Poulter MP and Minister of Health has responded to my calls to speak out about the SW Cartel of NHS employers who are exploring the possibility of regional pay and conditions. While I am very supportive of the considerable improvements the management and staff are delivering at the RCHT during what is a challenging time I do not think it is right to balance the books by reducing the terms and condition of employment of modestly paid staff. I hope the board of the RCHT will look at again at the proposals and work with partners to make efficiencies not pay cuts.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Government’s economic rescue mission continues

I welcome the Chancellor’s statement, and the Government’s ongoing commitment to taking the hard decisions necessary to lay the foundations for a prosperous economic future.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Truro Primestock Show

I am proud to sponsor the Truro Primestock Show, held this year on Lemon Quay in Truro on Wednesday 5 December. This is a great event to exhibit some of the best that local farmers have to offer and bring a real slice of rural life into the heart of Truro. For more information see the Truro Primestock Show website below:

Monday, 3 December 2012

Calling for a ban on live export

 Live animal exports cause terrible distress to the animals involved. Loaded into confined and poorly ventilated spaces, jolted during long hours of travel and often transferred to unsafe holding pens at ports, animals are put under immense stress and sometimes die en-route.

I would urge everyone who wants to see an end to this cruel practise to sign the petition calling for a ban-in order for the Government to make the case for a ban to the EU Ministers needs to know how deeply people care about this issue. In Britain we have a proud tradition of compassion towards animals- with the help of the public I am confident that we can make real progress in ending this iniquitous trade.

The Chancellor’s article in the Sun on Sunday

 Ahead of Wednesday’s Autumn Statement the Chancellor wrote the following article in the Sun on Sunday yesterday which I thought would be of interest to you:

‘On Wednesday I will make my Autumn Statement to the House of Commons on the economy. Nobody will be surprised that the economic situation we and the rest of the world face remains very difficult. After the biggest financial crisis in our history it was always going to be a hard road to recovery. But we are making progress. The deficit is down by a quarter. More than one million private sector jobs have been created. And we are equipping Britain to compete in the global race so that our children will have better lives and lower debts.

My approach this Wednesday will be based on three core principles.

First, Britain is on the right track and turning back now would be a disaster. It is only two years since Britain was staring into the economic abyss. Faced with the biggest budget deficit of any major economy and the biggest bank bail out in the world, people questioned whether Britain would go the same way as so many other European countries. But we didn’t. In 2010 the Coalition Government set out a clear plan to deal with our debts and rebalance our economy. Since then we’ve done the hard work of saving money in Whitehall and cutting billions from welfare budgets.

Now the deficit is down by a quarter in just two years and the world has confidence that Britain can pay its way. As a result the interest rates we pay to borrow are low and stable, saving us billions of pounds in interest payments every year. That means low mortgage rates for families and businesses, keeping people in their jobs and in their homes.

Of course the scale of the challenge has been greater than anyone thought. The damage done by the financial crisis went deeper, and the eurozone crisis has dragged on for longer. As a result it is taking longer than we hoped to put things right. But the last thing we should do now is change course. Cutting Government spending is a difficult thing to do after a decade when the spending taps were turned on full blast, but everyone knows that when you are living beyond your means it is the only way out. Deliberately choosing to spend and borrow even more – as the Labour Party want to do all over again – would not only be reckless, it would throw away everything we in Britain have fought for, plunge us ever deeper into debt and put interest rates up.

My second principle is that we are still all in this together. Everyone must make a contribution to dealing with our debts, from the richest in our society to those living a life on benefits. Every one of my Budgets has raised more from the richest. The situation under Labour where top people in the City were paying lower tax rates than their cleaners has been ended. And we are hunting down those who evade tax wherever they try to hide.

But we understand that fairness isn’t just about taxing the rich. It’s also about ending the something for nothing benefits culture. So we have introduced a new cap on benefits and are changing the welfare system with our new Universal Credit so that it always pays to work. Unbelievably, the Labour Party opposes these vital changes.

Even though money is tight, we’ve also found ways to help people who work hard to pay the bills. We’ve frozen council tax for three years now, cut 10p a litre from Labour’s fuel tax plans, cut income tax for 25 million people and now David Cameron has insisted that energy companies must move people onto the lowest tariffs to cut their gas and electricity bills.

Finally, I believe there’s no point solving today’s problems if you don’t also prepare for tomorrow. Britain is in a global race and we need to get ourselves fit if we want to be one of the winners. That means backing people who want to work hard and get on. So we’re making it easier to hire new employees and easier to give them shares in the business they work for, we’re cutting taxes on enterprise, investing in apprenticeships, and building the next generation of roads and power stations. We’ve created a million private sector jobs in just over two years. If we back aspiration and enterprise we can create a million more.

My message to the country next week will be this. There is a lot more to do, but together we’re making progress. The road ahead may be longer than we thought but it leads to a better future. Let’s have the courage to stay the course.’


Sunday, 2 December 2012

Health Minister urges South West NHS Trusts to rethink pay plans

Over recent weeks I have been doing all I can to ensure that Health Ministers are aware of the scale of concern amongst staff at Treliske about the Consortium proposals. I am pleased that Ministers have listened and hope Dr Poulter’s comments will help persuade the Trusts currently supporting the Consortium to look again at this issue.

I will continue to do all I can to persuade the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust to rethink its support for the Consortium’s proposals and to look at ways in which they can balance their books without cutting the wages of modestly paid staff

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Pendennis Shipyard expansion to create extra jobs

I am delighted to see the expansion of Pendennis Shipyard, which will create sixty new jobs in Falmouth

Pirate FM MP's Diary 30 November 2012

Focussing on the help I can offer following the recent floods, and the welcome news on Falmouth University