An Important Week in Parliament

Since I was elected in 2010, I don’t think that there has been such an important week in Parliament. By the time you read this, the Prime Minister will have set out our plans for keeping our nation safe over the next five years in The Strategic Defence Review. The Chancellor will have set out plans for our economy in the Autumn Statement as well as the funding for our public services in the Comprehensive Spending Review. The Prime Minister will also have set out his response to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee Report on Syria, including possible additional military intervention.

For more details on these significant developments, please visit my website or call my office and I will put the relevant information in the post to you.

As regular readers will know, I have worked hard over a number of years to have the funding formula that is used to allocate funding to our schools revised. Currently our schools receive less than the English average for each pupil. I am delighted that we saw some progress on this issue in the last Parliament, with extra money allocated to Cornish pupils. More needs to be done and I welcome the decision announced this week to revise the formula. There will be a consultation on this and I will ensure my constituents have their voices heard.

I am delighted to see the delivery of our manifesto commitment of significant additional investment in our national security. From investment in diplomacy and international aid, to cyber and intelligence services as well as the army, airforce and navy. Cornwall has had a very long and proud tradition of supporting our armed services and will continue to play a strategically important role, providing amongst other things, much of the support for the two new carriers.

 

Published by West Briton.

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In Solidarity

My thoughts like your thoughts have been with our French neighbours this week. The spontaneous acts of solidarity around the free world speak of a unity of spirit. A spirit that is united against the infusion of fear and hatred that the perpetrators of the atrocities in Paris on Friday night want to achieve.

It is vitally important that we do not succumb to the hatred and division that those responsible for these and other recent terrorist attacks on democratic nations incite. Our democracy is well worth defending against the barbaric forces of so called ISIL who want to snuff it out altogether. Along with my colleagues, I will be working hard to redouble our efforts to protect our citizens at home and abroad while ensuring our response to recent events is motivated by the desire to bring peace to Syria, Iraq and the wider region.

While our thoughts remain with those grieving in Paris, local people are planning their journeys to the UN Climate Change Summit there later this month. Last week, I met supporters of Climate Vision and received the Climate Logic Report that sets out the results of the enormously successful, local, campaign which clearly shows that by taking part in ten straightforward pledges individuals can collectively make a huge difference in reducing carbon and at the same time boost their health, the local economy and community spirit.

Sometimes people tell me that they think that the actions of an individual or even our nation won’t make a difference to preventing man made climate change. I found taking part in the 10 straightforward pledges can be fun and certainly isn’t too difficult. This local work proves an individual and a community working together can make a really positive difference to what is a major global challenge.

Published by West Briton.

 

Remembrance Sunday

It was an honour and privilege to participate in the acts of Remembrance in Truro and Falmouth on Sunday. I believe it is vital that we remember all those people who have sacrificed so much for the freedom we enjoy today.

Over the past few months some constituents have contacted me to relate their concerns regarding the situation in Syria, the wider Middle East and Britain’s military role in the region.

Firstly, I think it is important to say that there are currently no plans for Parliament to vote for more British military involvement in Syria.

Secondly, I thought it would be helpful if I outlined to you how I would approach such a vote if a motion was presented to Parliament. The most difficult decision for any MP to make is whether or not to risk British lives in a foreign conflict. Fortunately, as an MP, I have privileged access to a wide range of up-to-date, independent, security information and briefings that allow me to make an informed decision.

If Parliament was asked to vote on this issue again, I can assure you that I will cast my vote based on my assessment of a wide range of evidence, including from Ministers, independent analysts and constituents. However, I do believe that we need to consider a range of possible interventions, along with our allies, to try and address the problems in Syria. The terrorists operating in Syria, as well as the regime of Assad, are both responsible for terrible atrocities, and I believe we should consider what more we can do to bring this dreadful civil war to an end. If you are interested in Syria, you might like to read the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons report of their recent inquiry into Syria.

Published by West Briton.

Advancing Gender Equality

If you have the opportunity to see the film Suffragette, take it. Not only is it a good film but a powerful reminder of the debt we owe to women who fought so hard for Parliamentary representation and in doing so, they improved the lives of women and girls here and around the world. Local women like Jane Pascoe of Marlborough Road, Falmouth who travelled to London and took part in direct action to help secure the franchise.

Encouraging girls and women into public life is important to me, so I was delighted to join the Leader of the House of Lords and female Cornwall Councillors at a recent event at County Hall to do this. I am proud that the two finalists in the Conservative candidate selection for our Police & Crime Commissioner were women.

Tackling the gender pay gap has been a long standing priority for me and my Conservative colleagues and it is something that I have personally campaigned on for many years. The current pay gap in the UK means that women, on average, earn 19% less than men. In real terms, this means women earn 80p for every £1 earned by a man – for doing the same job. Across the whole of the EU, women earn less than men for doing a job of equal value, something that is not only morally indefensible, but is against the law in the UK.

I am pleased the Government has brought in new measures so companies with more than 250 employees will be required by law to publish the difference between the average pay of their male and female employees as well as the amount awarded to men and women in bonuses. We have seen progress with the enforcement of the minimum wage by using this ‘naming and shaming’ approach.

Published by West Briton.