A&E

It’s often said that A&E is a barometer of the health of our NHS. Despite the fact that since 2010 A&E at Treliske has been upgraded, across the country there are 1,500 more doctors in  A&E departments and 600 more consultants, with more people being treated safely and well, there remain problems to be solved.

Across the NHS, we have more than 11,000 additional doctors and 11,000 more nurses, so the pressure on the NHS is recognised. Indeed, we have 1,600 more doctors than this time last year.

Over the decade to 2015, we saw a 31% increase in the number of people living to 85 and older. This is a cause for celebration, but there has not been a matching increase in disease-free life expectancy. We know that when people of that age go to A&E at this time of year, there is an 80% chance that they will be admitted to hospital.

There is no doubt at all that we will need to look after 1 million more over-65s in five years’ time and will need to continue to increase investment in the NHS and social care system.

The truth is that, to solve this problem, we need to increase the number of people working in general practice, which is why we are funding the second biggest increase in the number of GPs in the NHS’s history. Cornwall Council and our local NHS leadership need to get on with joining up the care they provide while enabling investment in more, better paid carers. More support for family carers too.

Next year the NHS will be 70 years old. I will continue to everything I can to support NHS staff and carers to deliver the safest, highest quality care anywhere in the world.

Tackling Homelessness in Truro

Last week I met with the primary local agencies that have the responsibility of tackling the antisocial and criminal behaviour of a small group of people camped out in the centre of Truro.

This has been going on for too long. Last Autumn, I welcomed the Mayor of Truro’s initiative of getting all the organisations that have the resources to help rough-sleepers and tackle people committing antisocial behaviour, including street drinking, around the same table to develop a coordinated action plan. There are lessons to be learned from other places where effective partnerships have tackled similar problems, so I provided information and details of additional funding opportunities.

Keeping the city centre safe and an enjoyable place for all members of our community is not the sole responsibility of our local Police, it requires effective partnership working between Cornwall Council, our local NHS, local businesses and the wider civil society of Truro.

I am frustrated that the problems people have been facing for months now have yet to resolved. There has been progress but there remains a small group of people, who I am told are refusing help and continuing their anti social behaviour. St Petroc’s are offering support in their Truro night shelter.

In order for the Police to take further action, to secure prosecutions for anti social behaviour, they need more people who have experienced or witnessed the anti social behaviour to come forward and tell them about it. People convicted of committing antisocial behaviour crimes who have alcohol or drug abuse problems can have their punishment linked to participation in therapeutic activities to reduce this harm to themselves and society.

You can email the Truro Police directly from the Devon and Cornwall website or call 101 or speak to one of the officers on the beat.

 

First published in the West Briton 11 January 2017

Environmental Protection

While some are mourning 2016 as a year of political shocks and celebrity deaths, conservationists say it has seen some “landmark” environmental successes.

Environmental campaigners warn global wildlife populations could have declined by two thirds on 1970 levels by the end of the decade, but said 2016 shows that people can make a difference.

Some of the world’s most charismatic species have seen an upturn in their fortunes, with tiger numbers increasing for the first time since efforts to conserve them began and giant pandas moved off the “endangered” list, wildlife charity WWF said.

Nepal has achieved two years in a row with no rhino poaching, while trade in the world’s most trafficked mammal, the pangolin or scaly anteater, has been made illegal by countries meeting to discuss international wildlife trade.

The UK was among 24 countries and the EU that signed an agreement to protect 1.55 million square kilometres (600,000 square miles) of the Ross Sea in the Southern Ocean, Antarctica, from damaging activities.

2016 saw the UK commit an extra £13 million to tackling the illegal wildlife trade and, elsewhere in the environmental arena, ratify the Paris Agreement, the world’s first comprehensive deal by countries to tackle climate change.

People in Cornwall are playing our part. We will be hosting ground breaking work to develop a sustainable local energy market. A three year £19 million programme has just been agreed, including EU funding, with Centrica, British Gas, Western Power, The National Grid and Exeter University. The programme will be working with local businesses and residents, utilising new technology to develop more sustainable and lower cost energy.

I am delighted that this innovative work will be undertaken here. It is just part of a plan enabling Green Growth in Cornwall, with high skilled and well paid employment that brings.

First published in the West Briton 04/01/17

Constituency Boundaries

I really enjoyed joining some of the great, local Christmas festivities and thank everyone involved in organising local events and activities. While out and about some people asked me about “Devonwall”. As there is some confusion about what is actually happening, I thought you might find this update useful.

Firstly, I will clarify the current situation. Constituency boundaries are kept under review to ensure that MPs represent a similar number of constituents at Westminster. The reviews are carried out by the Boundary Commissions for England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. These are independent bodies that propose constituencies that must meet the Rules for Redistribution set out by Parliament.

These Rules were changed in 2013 to include the requirement that the House of Commons has 600 seats, a reduction of 50; and the requirement that all these constituencies (with the exception of four island seats) have electorates within 5% of the electoral quota. This is the total number of voters in the UK divided by the total number of constituencies (with the exception of the four island seats and their electorates).

In 2011 The Parliamentary Election and Constituencies Bill was debated and voted upon. It sought to enable the 2015 election to be fought under the Alternative Vote system, provided the change was endorsed in a referendum on 5 May 2011 and boundary changes made to reduce the size of the House of Commons to 600. New rules for the redistribution of seats were designed to give primacy to numerical equality in constituencies and regular redistributions would take place every five years.

Understanding that one of the implications of this Bill would be the possibility of an MP representing Cornwall and part of Devon, all Cornwall’s MPs made the case for Cornwall be treated as a special case. We moved an amendment to the legislation but sadly were defeated. Unfortunately, we simply didn’t have enough support in Parliament.

Subsequently, the legislation went through both Houses of Parliament and the Bill became an Act of Parliament. The Boundary Commissions are currently implementing the Act. That is a public consultation on the proposed boundaries.

Also, as you will be aware, building on the foundations laid when John Major was Prime Minister, the last Prime Minister helped enable the Council of Europe recognition of Cornish Minority Status. This special status is of course being taken into consideration by the Boundary Commission.

After the Commission report in 2018, the Secretary of State must lay their reports before Parliament. The Secretary of State must then lay before Parliament a draft Order in Council to give effect to the proposed boundary changes. This Order requires the approval of both Houses of Parliament. This order is not amendable.

We are very fortunate to live in a democracy where there are a politicians promoting a wide range of views. From what I understand, the basic assertion of the Cornish nationalists is that Cornwall is a separate nation like Wales and Scotland and should be treated as such. While I agree that the Duchy has a unique status within the United Kingdom, I accept that Cornwall is currently part of England and in turn the Union.

I think being part of the Union matters. It matters for the economic stability and jobs that our partnership brings. It matters for the defence and security of our country. It matters because of the common bonds we share right across this United Kingdom. And it matters perhaps even more so now that we are leaving the European Union. I don’t agree with the Scottish, Welsh or Cornish nationalists that want each nation to become independent and break up the Union. I think it is important to build bridges not walls between people, focusing on what unites us rather than what divides us.

There is an assertion that by having one MP represent Cornwall and part of Devon, that Cornwall is in some way diminished or weakened. I don’t accept this assertion. Cornwall remains Cornwall. It’s worth noting that Cornwall’s bishop Tim, a member of the House of Lords, represents Cornwall and some parishes in Devon. This recognises the fact that the border between Cornwall & Devon has moved over time.

It is also worth noting that one Cornish MP, Derek Thomas represents not only Cornwall but also the Isles of Scilly. As you know the Isles of Scilly are not part of Cornwall. This proves to me that it is possible for one MP to represent two distinct areas.

I am very proud of my deep Cornish roots and am proud that along with my fellow Cornish MPs we have delivered significant investment into Cornwall, including the Cornish language, heritage and culture over that last few years. I am confident that we will continue to see investment in years to come.

First published in Wave Magazine

Looking Back at 2016

2016 will be remembered as the year Britain chose to leave the European Union and for the U.S. Presidential Election, the results of which challenged conventional expectations. I will remember saying good bye to David Cameron, who was a good friend to Cornwall and welcoming Teresa May on her first visit to Cornwall as our new Prime Minister.

2016 has seen some important successes for our constituency, too many to list in the 300 words permitted! Ensuring local people have genuinely affordable, decent homes to rent or buy remains a top priority. We have made progress including: enabling enforcement of improved housing standards; reduced costs for tenants; more affordable homes for local people.

I was delighted to secure the commitment from Government that stamp duty on the sale of second homes will be used to support more community led housing. Cornwall Community Land Trust will be receiving money to build up their capacity to help more local people into new homes and new trusts could bring old buildings into use for homes.

Improved funding of our vital public services, including education and policing depends on a strong economy and growing businesses. I am pleased that we have record numbers of men and women of all ages in employment here. While there is more to do, wages are rising and income taxes are falling.

Local businesses are making good use of the Cornwall Growth Hub that was set up this year to provide a one stop advise and support service for local businesses.

One area that is not doing as well as I would like is our local NHS and social care services. Despite the hard work of those on the front line, increased resources and more local decision making, ensuring better progress in 2017 is essential.

Happy New Year!

First published in the West Briton 28/12/16

Employment in Truro & Falmouth

Last week we learned that unemployment in Truro & Falmouth, the number of people claiming the key out of work benefits, has fallen by 565 – a 42 per cent drop – since 2010.

As well as unemployment continuing to run at a 10-year low, the number of women in work is at a record high and youth unemployment is also significantly reduced. Across the country, there are 31.8 million people in work, up by 2.7 million since 2010 – that’s well over 1,000 jobs created on average every day – and average wages excluding bonuses grew by 2.6 per cent over the last year.

This is good news but there is more to do to help people of all backgrounds and abilities into work. Also to help people already working into more secure and better paid employment opportunities.

Building an economy that works for everyone means making sure everyone has the opportunity to achieve their potential, providing the security of a regular income so they can provide for themselves and their family.

That includes investing in education and skills training for people of all ages. Thanks to the dedication of teachers in our local schools we are saw continued progress in 2016. Truro & Penwith College is one of the best in the country. Local employers are embracing apprenticeships and opportunities to work with graduates from our local universities.

I will continue to do all that I can to support improved educational opportunities.

Having campaigned for many years for a revision of the funding formula used to allocate resources to our local schools, I was pleased last week that the Government launched a consultation that recognises the challenges for schools in sparsely populated and relatively deprived communities like ours. I hope all schools will participate in this consultation to help me secure fairer funding.

Published in the West Briton 21/12/16

The Government’s support for the Istanbul Convention shouldn’t come as a surprise

Earlier this month, in a Commons debate on violence against women and girls, I was profoundly moved to hear several of my fellow MPs share their own deeply personal experiences of these horrendous crimes.

I commended then, as I do now, their courage in standing up to share these harrowing stories. Only by speaking out and confronting this kind of abuse can we begin to ensure that all women and girls are protected from violence and that those who would cause them harm are brought to justice.

In 2012, the Government signed the Istanbul Convention. In doing so it sent a message that perpetrators of gender-based violence had no place in a Britain that works for everyone, and that victims and survivors could count on our care and support.

Next Steps

Today, the Government supported a Private Members Bill underlining our commitment to take further steps to ratify that Convention. This should come as no surprise as we have always been clear in our support for the Istanbul Convention and its important role in prompting action against gender-based violence around the world.

To comply fully with the Convention we must first amend our laws on extra-territorial jurisdiction, allow the prosecution of certain offences when they occur outside our national borders, and we will make these will changes as soon as Parliamentary time allows.

This Government has worked tirelessly to ensure that victims are supported, perpetrators are brought to justice and everything possible is done prevent these heinous crimes from happening in the first place. Because of these efforts I am proud to say that in nearly all areas the UK is fully compliant, and in many cases our measures go significantly further than the Convention requires.

In March we pledged increased funding of £80 million as part of the Violence Against Women and Girls strategy. New laws, including the criminalisation of forced marriage, new stalking offences and the inclusion of coercive control as a form of domestic abuse are all helping to ensure that abusers are brought to justice.

And only last week we announced the introduction of a new stalking civil protection order, which will allow police and the courts to act swiftly to protect victims in cases of ‘stranger stalking’.

The Government is also taking world-leading action against so called ‘honour-based violence’ and has greatly strengthened the laws on female genital mutilation and forced marriage. In these areas, as well as offences against children, the UK already has extra-territorial jurisdiction, ensuring we can prosecute those who seek to go abroad to commit these vile crimes.

As a world leader in tackling violence against women and girls, we are committed to ratifying the Istanbul Convention. This is a global fight that can only truly be won through global co-operation.

Until then the Government will continue to work with law enforcement agencies and communities at home and abroad to look at what more we can do to protect victims and potential victims, and bring offenders to justice.

First published in INews: https://inews.co.uk/opinion/governments-support-istanbul-convention-shouldnt-surprise/