Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Newspaper column 19 July 2017 -

In Mid-Cornwall we are lucky enough to be surrounded by the sea. Not only does it set the stunning backdrop to our daily lives for those of us who live here, but it remains our biggest asset in drawing the thousands of tourists which are so vital to our local economy.

Since being elected Chairman of the Protect Our Waves All Party Parliamentary Group in 2015 I have come to truly understand the perils that our marine environment faces and the cold reality that the Government needs to take serious steps to stop the pollution of our seas.

Very prominent in this fight are the problems caused when plastic bottles end up in our seas. More than 13 billion single-use plastic bottles are sold in Britain each year (that is a staggering 35 million every day) and only 57 per cent of these are recycled, with the remainder sent to rubbish dumps or left as litter. Millions of them end up on beaches and in the sea where they will pollute our marine environment for decades to come.

This is fast becoming a crisis whereby we are rapidly reaching the point where there will actually be more plastic in our seas and oceans than there are fish. Plastic does not bio-degrade but in the marine environment it gets broken down into tiny particles that are then ingested by fish and then enter our food chain. It is clear that is this a serious issue and is not just a danger to our seas but to mankind. 

In the last Parliament I was pleased to work with Surfers Against Sewage to highlight these concerns and lobby Ministers about what the Government could do to take positive action. There is growing support for a plastic bottle return scheme to be introduced that would reward consumers for returning their single use plastic bottles.

Initially there was a great deal of resistance from both the soft drinks industry and the government to such a scheme. However, recently, Coca Cola, the biggest provider of drinks in plastic bottles put their support behind such a scheme. With this in mind I was delighted last week to see Lord Gardiner of Kimble, the environment minister, say,

“We are going to look at a number of measures to improve recycling. One of them is to have a full and proper look at the impacts and benefits of different types of deposit and reward-and-return schemes for drinks.”

That the Government is now willing to consider such a scheme is a very positive step forward. Since the Government’s announcement I have already spoken in Parliament, urging the Secretary of State for the Environment to publish more details of the plans being considered.

This is one of the biggest issues we will face in the years ahead, especially in Cornwall where the sea plays such a significant part in our lives. I look forward to continuing to make the case for a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles and any other measures that will reduce the amount of plastic that ends up polluting our seas and beaches.


As always, my team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and work hard to make a real difference to the lives of everyone needing support. If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please contact me on either 01726 829379 or office@stevedouble.org.uk. Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at: www.stevedouble.org.uk/events

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Newspaper column 12 July - The end of EU funding?

Last week I was interested to read information released by the European Union that throws a new light on the funding we have received from them in Cornwall over the past twenty years.

I have been vocal in the past about the appropriateness of how this EU funding has been allocated and whether or not it has been effective due to poor targeting and a lack of results.

Under the new formula, the EU says that Cornwall would no longer receive any further funding from it, and indeed would never have qualified for any in previous years under this criteria.

Obviously with the UK soon due to leave the EU following the result of last year’s Referendum on our membership, the funding was due to stop anyway.

And while the EU may say that Cornwall is no longer one of the poorest areas of its union, Cornwall does still remain one of the poorest areas of the UK.

Regardless of what the EU thinks, it is clear that additional funding into Cornwall, if correctly targeted and without making potential applicants have to jump through too many hoops in order to access it, should make a positive impact here.

Once Brexit happens, we will be able to take back control and allocate the money we had been sending to the EU to funding streams and schemes that will be able to directly affect families and businesses that really need it. It won’t matter what unelected mandarins in Brussels think – members of our own Parliament will instead be able to use our own local knowledge to ensure funding is used effectively and efficiently where it will have the best possible outcome.

While the Government has already been investing more into Cornwall, correcting historic underfunding issues that we have endured under previous governments, including in transport infrastructure, schools and the NHS, there is still more to do to ensure that we in Cornwall get the best deal to put us on equal footing with the rest of the country.

I will certainly do all I can, along with my Cornish MP colleagues, to ensure the voice of Cornwall is heard loudly in Westminster and that when the EU funding stops we get a new replacement from the Government that is better targeted, fit for purpose and will accomplish what it sets out to achieve, helping those who need it the most.


As always, my team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and work hard to make a real difference to the lives of everyone needing support. If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please contact me on either 01726 829379 or office@stevedouble.org.uk. Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at: www.stevedouble.org.uk/events

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Newspaper column 5 July - The Queen's Speech

Last week in Parliament we saw the successful passing of the Queen’s Speech. The Queen's Speech is the first act of a new Government and presents a legislative programme of the laws which the Government wants to pass during the course of the next two years.

This year’s Queen’s Speech was particularly important as its main feature is the Great Repeal Bill, the process that will formally repeal the 1972 European Communities Act, which took Britain into the European Union and meant that European law took precedence over laws passed in the British Parliament. It will also end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. Also under this Bill, all existing EU legislation will be copied across into domestic UK law to ensure a smooth transition on the day after Brexit. As such, this is one of the largest legislative projects ever undertaken in the UK and one that is crucial for the upcoming Brexit process.

Also in the Queen’s Speech there were a number of measures designed to grow the economy for the whole country. Throughout my time as MP for St Austell and Newquay I have been clear that building a stronger economy for Mid-Cornwall, with highly skilled, all year round jobs, is a real priority for me, as a strong economy allows investment in many of the infrastructure and other projects that we want and need.

In the Queens Speech, I saw a message of hope, a plan of action, and a clear commitment to deliver for the economies for the South West and for Cornwall specifically.

In particular the speech contains legislation that when introduced will ensure the United Kingdom remains a world leader in new industries, including electric cars and commercial satellites.

There seems little doubt that our roads will soon be occupied by an increasing number of electric vehicles. These will require batteries to power them on their way. The recent discovery of significant deposits of Lithium (one of the rarest metals on earth) in Cornwall – a vital component for all the batteries required for these new cars, spells good news for Cornwall and a potential great revival of not only mining the metal but also in becoming a centre for manufacturing of batteries, creating many new, skilled, well paid jobs in our communities.

Commercial Satellites, another key government prioritised industry, specifically mentioned again in the Queens Speech, tie in with the ongoing bid for Cornwall Airport Newquay to become the UK’s first commercial spaceport, one which I have championed since its inception.

These are exciting times for Cornwall and I will continue to do all I can to ensure that we continue to benefit from new and existing opportunities that are coming our way.

As always, my team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and work hard to make a real difference to the lives of everyone needing support. If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please contact me on either 01726 829379 or office@stevedouble.org.uk. Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at: www.stevedouble.org.uk/events


Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Newspaper column 28 June 2017 - Transport infrastructure investment in Cornwall

After a busy time in Parliament last week it was great on Thursday to go down to Penzance and see the new intercity bullet train that Hitachi is testing for the Penzance to Plymouth line ahead of the full rollout of the new rolling stock in 2018.

The new trains, along with investment in the signalling system, will create more capacity on the mainline to London as well as cutting about 15 minutes of the travel time and providing much better onboard facilities.

This new £400million investment is another example of the current record levels of investment into Cornwall’s transport system.
On 14th July we are also seeing the completion of the dualling of the A30 at Temple. This has seen Highways England and the Department for Transport, along with Cornwall Council, invest £59 million into improving this vital stretch of the road.

In return it will cut congestion for visitors and commuters using the A30 to get to Mid-Cornwall. By reducing business costs and improving productivity (and generating more employment as a result), the wider economic benefits of dualling the road have been put at more than £134m to the Cornish economy.

With the Temple Project completed I am continuing to work with all involved to bring forward the plans for the crucial link road from the A30 to St Austell and the surrounding area. These plans have been supported by the Government and will provide a direct road from the A30 to the A391, bypassing currently congested villages including Roche, Bugle and Stenalees as well as providing more immediate access to St Austell from Cornwall Airport Newquay. We are in the final stages of securing the funding for this project and good progress is being made.

I have also been making the case for funding for Phase 2 of the Newquay Strategic Route that is essential in order to cope with the increase in housing being developed in and around Newquay and will continue to work with Cornwall Council to ensure this new road is built as soon as possible.

On the subject of Cornwall Airport Newquay it was great to see the new Space Industry Bill, announced as part of the Queen’s Speech last week. This will introduce new powers to permit launches from British soil.

Since becoming MP I have championed Cornwall Airport Newquay as the best location for the first UK Spaceport. This is an amazing opportunity for the investment and better paid jobs we need in mid-Cornwall. It is clear with our prime location, Aerohub Enterprise Zone, proximity to Goonhilly Earth Station and existing infrastructure that Newquay is the frontrunner. I will continue to do all I can to work with the Government, LEP and space industry to bring the Spaceport to Cornwall.

Of course, these are just some of the ways in which the Government is investing into Cornwall's infrastructure. There is a popular myth that is often stated that central Government neglects Cornwall. The fact is that Cornwall is currently in the midst of the biggest transport infrastructure investment ever – new roads, new trains and improvements to the railways, new buses and support and opportunities for our airport. There is still loads more to do but we are making good progress. I will continue to champion these and other existing projects, as well as working on your behalf to lobby for and attract more funding and investment to make our constituency and Cornwall as a whole a better place to live, work and grow up in.


As always, my team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and work hard to make a real difference to the lives of everyone needing support. If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please contact me on either 01726 829379 or office@stevedouble.org.uk. Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at: www.stevedouble.org.uk/events

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Newspaper column 21 June 2017 - The Grenfell Tower tragedy

As I head back up to Parliament this week for the Queen’s Speech and start of the next session of Parliament, the tragic events of the fire at Grenfell Tower last Wednesday are not far from any of our minds.

This was a terrible tragedy and my thoughts and prayers are with all those affected, those who lost their lives and their families. Praise must be given to our emergency services for acting how they did, running into the flames when others were running away and putting their own lives on the line to save those in danger.

The Prime Minister has promised a comprehensive package of support for victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. During a meeting with survivors of the fire, she announced a £5 million fund would be made available to pay for emergency supplies, food, clothes and other costs.

The package includes: a commitment that victims who lost their homes in the disaster must be rehoused at the earliest possible opportunity and that the Government should aim to do this within 3 weeks at the latest.

The Prime Minister has also ordered a judge-led Public Inquiry to ensure these events are properly investigated, lessons are learnt and everything possible is done to make sure nothing like this can ever happen again in the future. The survivors will be consulted on the terms of reference for the inquiry, which will allow them to shape the way it is run so they can obtain the answers they are seeking.

Clearly this tragic event raises concerns about the safety of high rise blocks of flats. We actually have the highest tower block in Cornwall in our constituency at Park House Flats, at Truro Road in St Austell. Shortly after the fire in Kensington I contacted Ocean Housing, the social landlord of Park House Flats, to ensure they have safety measures in place to ensure the safety of the residents if a fire was to happen there.

I have been assured by Ocean that the Park House Flats are fire rated to 1 hour and have all of the appropriate safety measures and alarms in place.

Ocean say that the building is subject to regular familiarisation inspections by Cornwall Fire and Rescue and is visited regularly by Ocean’s Head of Health and Safety with emergency plans being updated every six months.

Finally, Ocean have also confirmed that the Park House flats do not have any external cladding of the type implicated in the Grenfell tragedy.

I am also pleased to report that the local Fire and Rescue Service are visiting the flats and advising residents on how to act in the event of a fire to ensure their safety.

I am sure there will be more to come from this incident which has affected so many, but what is important now is that lessons are learned and we do not see any repeat in the future.


As always, my team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and work hard to make a real difference to the lives of everyone needing support. If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please contact me on either 01726 829379 or office@stevedouble.org.uk. Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at: www.stevedouble.org.uk/events

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Newspaper column 14 June - Looking back on the General Election

At June 8th’s General Election I was delighted and honoured to be re-elected as the Member of Parliament for St Austell and Newquay.

I was pleased at the result of my positive campaign, particularly that you, the people of Mid-Cornwall chose to vote for me in higher numbers, with a greater majority and share of the vote than in 2015.

Thank you to everyone who voted for me and especially to my incredible team and all those who volunteered to help my campaign, and a special thanks to my family and especially my wife Anne for her incredible support.

While nationally the result was not what we as the Conservative Party hoped for, I am pleased to be returned as part of a Conservative-led Government, as the Conservatives again won more seats across the country than all of the other parties put together.

It was also good to see Cornwall retaining its full complement of Conservative MPs and I am looking forward to working together with my colleagues as a continuing powerful shared voice for our county within Government.

It is important we get behind the Prime Minister as she leads our country into the crucial EU negotiations. That we press on now to make a success of Brexit both for the UK and also for Cornwall.

In the run up to the election International Trade Minister Liam Fox visited St Austell to discuss some of the exciting ways in which Cornwall could benefit from Brexit, including ‘phenomenal potential’ for our Cornish food and drink exports around the world once we leave Europe.

I am already back in Parliament and now the campaign is over and done with am back at work serving you to do my best, regardless of how you voted, to represent and serve your interests, both locally and as a strong Cornish voice in Westminster.

Looking to the future I am meeting this week with Cornwall Council to get an update on the progress of the crucial A30 link road to St Austell and the surrounding area, and will continue to champion the bid for Newquay to become the location of the UK’s Spaceport, as we await to hear news on their recent bid.

It has been a privilege to serve as your MP for the past two years and I now look forward to continuing to work for you over the coming years to make where we live a better place to live, work and grow up in.


As always, my team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and work hard to make a real difference to the lives of everyone needing support. If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please contact me on either 01726 829379 or office@stevedouble.org.uk. Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at: www.stevedouble.org.uk/events

Monday, 12 June 2017

Statement on proposed Conservative Party/DUP deal

I have been contacted by a number of constituents raising concerns about the proposed deal between the Conservative Party and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). 

I have outlined my views on this below.

Firstly, it is not a formal coalition. It is a supply and confidence motion which means the DUP will vote with the Conservatives on issues such as budgets and the Queen Speech. They will not be part of the Government. The Prime Minister has now appointed her Cabinet and it does not contain any DUP members.

Forming a Government that is supported by the DUP does not mean the Conservative Party agrees with all the DUP’s policies. From 2010-2015 we were in a formal coalition with the Liberal Democrats despite there being many key issues where we did not agree with their policies. There are many key issues where we do agree with the DUP such as our approach to defence and terrorism, our general approach to taxation and Brexit. But there also some areas where we clearly do not agree on.

Laws concerning abortion and LGBT rights will not be affected, there are no plans to change legislation and those issues are devolved to the Northern Ireland assembly and therefore the DUP would have no influence over this matters in England.

It is generally the convention in Parliament that areas such as these are a matter of conscience and therefore would be a matter for a free vote.

The DUP will not be able to change the curriculum for schools in England, as it is an English only matter and as far as I am aware there are no plans to change what is taught in schools. Any attempt to change this is unlikely to find any support amongst my colleagues. 

The Conservative party is opposed to the reintroduction of the death penalty. I would vote against any attempt by anyone to introduce a bill for its reintroduction.

As regards to climate change, the British Government has signed the Paris Climate Agreement and will stick to it. There will be no watering down environmental legislation once we leave the EU. As someone who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group to Protect Our Waves, I am keen to see further efforts to reduce pollution and tackle problems of waste entering the environment.

I believe it is important that following the outcome of the election we now get on with forming a Government and providing the leadership the country needs at this time. The only possibility of this happening is if the Conservative Party forms a Government. The Labour Party simply do not have enough members and even if they were supported by all the other parties they would still have less seats than the Conservatives have on our own.