Campaigns. It is important that I continue to know the strength of feeling on an issue and I prefer to respond to every inquiry, but the sheer size of campaign correspondence means that it is hard to justify to the tax payer the cost and time taken for individual written replies, so regrettably I will no longer reply to every item of campaign correspondence.  I will  post a response to the campaign on the "Responses to campaigns" page of my website.

I am sorry to do this, as it is rather impersonal, but can see no other way of maintaining a good service for all my constituents unless I approach campaigns this way.


21 NOV 2018

EDM 1527

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me.

I understand you would like me to sign EDM 1527, however like many MPs I do not sign any EDMs no matter how worthy the cause. This is because EDMs now cost a huge amount per year to administer and have no chance of changing the Law. They are in effect petitions which only MPs can sign. They have also been superseded by online petitions which can be on any issue for which the Government or Parliament is responsible and any which receive 10,000 signatures will receive a response from the Government. Those petitions which reach 100,000 signatures will almost always be debated in Parliament – unless it is an issue which has recently been debated. There are also concerns that EDMs may give a false impression that action is being taken.

Nonetheless, I agree that people should know how animals were slaughtered through clear labelling as to whether it is halal or kosher.


19 NOV 2018

World Watch List

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the launch of the Open Doors world watch list, I will endeavour to attend.

I do appreciate your concerns about freedom of religion and hope the following information on this topic from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is reassuring:

It is completely abhorrent that millions of Christians worldwide are persecuted for seeking to practise their beliefs openly, in peace and safety. Here in the UK our freedoms are all too often taken for granted. The Prime Minister has shown a longstanding commitment to address the persecution of religious minorities around the world.
The UK's multiple overseas programmes are an important part of this work to promote and protect religious freedoms. This includes raising concerns over provisions that are being used to limit the freedom to adopt, change or practise a religion around the world. Almost £1 million of funding has been allocated to pursue the Government's freedom of religion and belief policy objectives through the Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy.
The Government will continue to defend the fundamental right of religious freedom, alongside its commitment to promote and defend human rights more generally. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has recently reissued its toolkit on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) to all of our overseas embassies and missions across the world and encouraged them to promote and defend this important human right. Additional funding of £12 million has also been made available through UK Aid Connect, to work with faith groups, NGOs and academics to promote religious diversity and help countries worldwide embed FoRB policies alongside poverty reduction and development.
The UK acts both multilaterally, through institutions such as the UN, striving to build and maintain consensus, and bilaterally, though the UK's diplomatic network to address the persecution of religious minorities.


19 NOV 2018

S106 Equality Act

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me.

I will be supporting the campaign concerning S106 and parliamentary seats for women.


16 NOV 2018

Arms Sales

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about arms sales.

I particularly have concerns about the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia by the UK and the use of those arms against their own citizens as well as their conflict with Yemen. It is often said that government can go further in applying pressure for genuine reform by cooperating with the Saudi regime but the extent of human rights abuses in the Kingdom calls for a far stronger approach and an end arms sales.

I hope the following information on this topic from the Department for International Trade is of interest:

The Government takes its defence export responsibilities extremely seriously and operates one of the most robust export control regimes in the world. All export licence applications are rigorously assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria.
These strict criteria take account of all prevailing circumstances at the time of application and includes human rights and international humanitarian law considerations. The Government does not issue export licences where there is a clear risk that the goods might be used for internal repression, in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law, or where the export would provoke or prolong conflict.
By adhering to the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, the Government will continue to ensure that UK arms exports are not used for internal repression, violating international humanitarian law, or for provoking or prolonging conflict.


16 NOV 2018

Race Horse Welfare

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about the safety and welfare of horses during races.

I understand your concern on this matter and I hope the following information on this topic from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is reassuring:

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) is the independent body responsible for regulating the sport of horseracing. It works closely with animal charities such as the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare to ensure that the highest of standards are upheld. As a consequence, Britain is regarded as having one of the best regulated racing environments across the world.
It is always upsetting to hear about the death of a horse during a race, but the BHA has a number of policies to ensure that racing is as safe as possible for horses. These include not licencing any racecourse in the UK which is not welfare approved, ensuring all races have veterinary surgeons on hand to administer treatment and investigating any course showing an increase in fatalities. In the last 20 years horse fatalities during races have fallen by a third, to 0.2 per cent of runners.
The Retraining of Racehorses is the official charity dealing with the welfare of retired racehorses. It raises funds through regulatory and licence fees from racing, as well as from donations. It runs a nationwide programme find new homes and roles for these horses, including in other recreational activities.


16 NOV 2018

Guide Dogs

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about discrimination against guide dog owners.

I appreciate your concern on this matter and hope the following information on this topic from the Department of Transport is reassuring:

Everyone deserves the right to travel with comfort and dignity. Guide dogs give people with disabilities the freedom and confidence to work and visit friends independently. There are already, as you are aware, strict laws against the discrimination of those who rely on guide dogs.
The Equality Act 2010 makes clear the duties of all people to permit guide dogs without any hindrance. Failure to comply with this requirement can result in prosecution and a fine on conviction of up to £1,000. People who use guide dogs currently enjoy the legal right to travel on routes that other animals or pets are not allowed. This is absolutely the right thing as independence is an important aspect in the lives of many people and should be extended to as many people as it is possible.
The use of guide dogs is encouraged by the clear guidance which clarifies the rights of guide dog owners, and outlines the options available to those who have been discriminated against when using a guide dog. This includes the ability to report those who do not make reasonable adjustments to make a disabled person's journey easier. Distinctive jackets for guide dogs to wear are issued to help clearly identity them. It is also advised that any identification cards, if given, are carried by a person with disabilities to help ensure they are not discriminated against.
The Government's Inclusive Transport Strategy commits to enhancing disability equality and awareness training for transport staff, which will better equip them to safely and confidently assist those with mobility challenges, including guide dog owners.


15 NOV 2018

Red Wednesday

Thank you for taking the time to email me about Red Wednesday with CSW and Aid to the Church.

I share your concern about the persecution of Christians worldwide and I hope the following information on this topic from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is reassuring:

The Prime Minister has consistently reiterated the UK's commitment to stand up for the freedom of people of all religions and to allow them to practice their beliefs in peace and safety.
We have recently celebrated International Freedom of Religion or Belief Day and promoting Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) is a foreign policy priority for the Government.
The appointment of Lord Ahmad as the Prime Minister's Special Envoy on FoRB is welcome, which will promote our firm stance on religious intolerance abroad. Additional funding of £1 million will provide support to places of worship that have been subjected to hate crime attacks, underscoring the Prime Minister's commitment to tackling religious discrimination in all its forms.
The UK worked alongside international partners to maintain consensus on the adoption and implementation of both the Resolution on FoRB and the Resolution on Combating Religious Intolerance at the UN Human Rights Council in March. More recently, the Government has committed £12 million of additional funding to champion FoRB worldwide, working with faith groups, NGOs and academics to promote religious diversity and helping countries embed FoRB policies alongside poverty reduction and development.
The UK, will now, and in the future maintain a firm commitment to promoting and defending FoRB for individuals around the world.


15 NOV 2018

Defend Israel

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about Hamas in Gaza.

I hope the following information on this topic from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is reassuring:

The recent activities of Hamas in Gaza, including attempts to rearm and rebuild tunnel infrastructure undermine efforts to improve the situation in Gaza and harm prospects for the Middle East peace process. Hamas must renounce violence, recognise Israel and accept previously signed agreements. Ministers have been clear that any investigation into the recent violence in Gaza must examine the role of non-state actors, including Hamas.
The Government's policy towards Hamas is clear - it does not have contact with Hamas, which is a proscribed terrorist organisation. Hamas must make a credible movement towards the conditions set out above, which remain the benchmark against which their intentions are judged, before we consider a change in our stance.
Israel, like any state, has the right to ensure its own security, and its citizens also have the right to live without fear of attack. The UK will continue to support Israel's right to defend itself. The UK Government has called on Iran to end its financial support for Hamas as well as its supply of military equipment.
There is an urgent need for all parties to reach an agreement that addresses the underlying causes of conflict in Gaza and to take the necessary steps to ensure Gaza's reconstruction and economic recovery. Any agreement should ensure that Hamas and other militant groups permanently end rocket and other attacks against Israel, that the Palestinian Authority resumes control of Gaza and restores effective governance, and that Israel lifts its restrictions to ease the suffering of ordinary Palestinians.
The UK remains focussed on securing progress towards a two-state solution, with a sovereign and democratic Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel. Only a negotiated settlement can achieve this.


15 NOV 2018

EDM 1761

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about the water industry and EDM number 1761.

I realise you would like me to sign EDM 1761, however like many MPs I do not sign any EDMs no matter how worthy the cause. This is because EDMs now cost a huge amount per year to administer and have no chance of changing the Law. They are in effect petitions which only MPs can sign. They have also been superseded by online petitions which can be on any issue for which the Government or Parliament is responsible and any which receive 10,000 signatures will receive a response from the Government. Those petitions which reach 100,000 signatures will almost always be debated in Parliament – unless it is an issue which has recently been debated. There are also concerns that EDMs may give a false impression that action is being taken.

Nonetheless, I hope the following information on this topic from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is reassuring:

Properly regulated private markets are the best way to meet the ongoing needs of water customers and the environment.
Since privatisation we have seen £140 billion of investment in water supply, thanks to which consumers are five times less likely to suffer from interruptions to their supply. Ministers have, however, been putting pressure on the water companies to do more to enhance the environment and provide customers with the reliable and resilient service they expect. As a result, water companies now plan to invest £50 billion on improving services, while reducing customer bills on average by 4 per cent in real terms by 2025.
The industry regulator, Ofwat, will scrutinise the water companies' plans to ensure they go far enough, and my ministerial colleagues will hold them to their promises. They submitted draft business plans for the 2019 Price Review in September, and these give an early indication that water companies are responding positively to the Secretary of State's challenge. The industry is raising its game on several fronts, such as cutting prices, investing more and paying lower dividends to shareholders.
Reforming industry governance and empowering the regulator is the best way to secure a water industry that works for everyone, including both customers and the environment.


15 NOV 2018

Brexit

Thank you for taking the time to email me about Brexit.

I understand that there are many different views on the Withdrawal Agreement and you may like to read the outline of the future relationship

The draft Withdrawal agreement can also be viewed here:

My own stance is that there is simply not enough detail in the Framework for the Future Relationship for anyone to make any sensible judgement. Shockingly, there is absolutely nothing in the Future Framework document about health, care, public health or research. Yet this is an area which profoundly touches the lives of every citizen in the UK and across our partner EU nations.

There are repeated references throughout the Withdrawal Agreement to "the end of the transition period" which hammers home the extent of what we are losing without any detail in the future framework document on which to make a judgement. The Withdrawal Agreement helps prevent an immediate chaotic exit because of transition but kicks the can down the road on what we are left with thereafter, taking us out of the EU but on a road to nowhere.

The Withdrawal Agreement is a profoundly depressing document for anyone concerned about the future loss of rights and freedoms built up over decades. It is now time for MPs to put aside narrow party political or personal interest and unite to demand a People's Vote on the final deal.


15 NOV 2018

Subsidies For Burning Wood

Thank you for taking the time to email me about subsidies for burning wood.

I realise you would like me to sign EDM 1771 on this topic, however like many MPs I do not sign any EDMs no matter how worthy the cause. This is because EDMs now cost a huge amount per year to administer and have no chance of changing the Law. They are in effect petitions which only MPs can sign. They have also been superseded by online petitions which can be on any issue for which the Government or Parliament is responsible and any which receive 10,000 signatures will receive a response from the Government. Those petitions which reach 100,000 signatures will almost always be debated in Parliament – unless it is an issue which has recently been debated. There are also concerns that EDMs may give a false impression that action is being taken.

I hope the following information on this matter from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy is reassuring:

Climate change is one of the most serious challenges facing us today. The UK is already the third best country in the world at tackling climate change, but the Government is working hard to further reduce emissions and increase generation from renewables, while at the same time ensuring a reliable, secure source of energy and protecting consumers from excessive costs.
The Government supports the G20's initiative to reform inefficient fossil fuel subsidies and this commitment is welcome. It is important to distinguish, however, that the Government does not provide subsidies to fossil fuel production or consumption. The sums argued by some are features of the tax regime intended to promote the industries concerned. For instance, the UK oil and gas sector which has made a huge contribution to the economy and supports thousands of jobs.
The Government has also made clear, through its Bioenergy Strategy, that only biomass from sustainable sources should be used in the UK. Under new biomass sustainability criteria bioenergy suppliers must report on the sustainability of their operations if they want to claim Government subsidy, and any generators that do not comply will lose this support.
Ultimately, Britain is already leading the way on tackling climate change and building an energy system fit for the 21st century. We will be one of the first developed countries to take coal out of the energy mix completely, with the announcement that all coal-fired power stations where carbon emissions are not being captured and stored will be closed by 2025. Renewable capacity has quadrupled since 2010, and the Government has sent clear signals to investors and businesses about the shift to a low-carbon economy through its Clean Growth Strategy.


13 NOV 2018

Palestinian Human Rights

Thank you for taking the time to email me about violence in Gaza and Palestinian human rights.

I understand your concern on this matter and hope the following information on this topic from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is reassuring:

The Palestinian right to protest is important, however these protests must remain peaceful. Extremist elements may have used the protests to further their own violent and deplorable aims against the State of Israel. This is another reason why there is an urgent need to establish the facts. Above all, it is important that this violence is not repeated and that all those involved commit to peaceful protest, restraint and observe international law.
There is a pressing need for all parties to reach a wider agreement that addresses the underlying causes of conflict in Gaza and to take the necessary steps to ensure Gaza's reconstruction and economic recovery. Any agreement should ensure that Hamas and other militant groups permanently end rocket and other attacks against Israel, that the Palestinian Authority resumes control of Gaza and restores effective governance, and that Israel lifts its restrictions to ease the suffering of ordinary Palestinians.
The international community must redouble its efforts to support a comprehensive peace agreement that delivers a safe and secure Israel alongside an independent Palestine. A two-state solution brought about through agreement is the most effective way for Palestinian aspirations of statehood to be met.
The Government is deeply concerned by the humanitarian situation in Gaza. The UK is providing humanitarian support through a number of programmes including those of UNICEF. Of this support, £2 million is helping to support up to a million people in Gaza by providing access to clean water and sanitation facilities in order to prevent the spread of disease. The recent announcement of a new £38.5 million programme to support economic development in Gaza and the West Bank is also welcome.


13 NOV 2018

MS

Thank you for taking the time to email me about multiple sclerosis.

I appreciate how challenging this condition can be to live with and I hope the following information on this topic from the Department of Health and Social Care is reassuring:

With more than 100,000 people across the UK diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, helping those suffering from this condition to lead as normal lives as possible remains a key commitment of the NHS.
Diagnosis in the early stages of multiple sclerosis can be difficult, with some of the symptoms often similar to other conditions. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has produced guidelines to assist clinicians in diagnosing the condition. This guidance also provides clinicians with best practice for treating the many possible symptoms of multiple sclerosis, including mobility problems and fatigue.
Those suffering from multiple sclerosis may also have specific long-term social care needs. £9.4 billion in dedicated funding has been made available for adult social care through to 2020. Better integration between health and social care provision, creating genuinely people-centred coordinated care, is also required.
Almost £288 million has been spent on research into neurological conditions, including multiple sclerosis, since 2010 through the publicly-funded National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). With the NIHR's annual spending on neurological conditions up by more than £22 million since 2010.


12 NOV 2018

Universal Credit Child Disability Addition

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the Child Disability Addition under Universal Credit (UC).

I understand your concern on this matter and I hope the following information on this topic from the Department of Work and Pensions is reassuring:

Raising a child with a disability is as challenging as it is inspiring and rewarding. That is why parents should receive support from the state to help them raise children with disabilities.
To clarify, there are two rates of extra monthly amount a parent with a disabled or severely disabled child is entitled to under UC. They are £126.11 and £383.86 for, respectively, children who receive Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and children who receive the highest rate of the care component of DLA or the enhanced rate for daily living of PIP or is registered blind. Parents also receive extra amount for disabled or severely disabled child, no matter how many children they have.
It is important to remember that the Child Disability Addition under UC is only one part of the broader welfare system which is helping everyone with a disability. For example, the Budget announced a £1,000 increase to the UC work allowances for households with children, and people with disabilities. This means that 2.4 million households will keep an extra £630 of income each year.
On top of this, Tax-Free Childcare is also available to over 1.5 million families to help with the cost of childcare. Working parents are able to access up to £4,000 for disabled children. Furthermore, 30 hours of free childcare per week is available for working parents of three and four year olds in England and 15 hours for parents of disadvantaged two year olds. Additionally, UC claimants can have up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs reimbursed with their UC award each month.


12 NOV 2018

Children's Futures

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the upcoming replenishment of the Global Financing Facility.

I understand your concern on this matter and I hope the following information on this topic from the Department for International Development is reassuring:

Supporting poor and vulnerable children to access affordable healthcare should remain a priority for UK aid spending. Investing in health services not only saves lives but also helps the most marginalised people to realise their full potential. The UK's £50 million commitment to the World Bank's Global Financing Facility (GFF) at the recent replenishment event is welcome. This will help close the global funding gap for maternal, newborn and child health services.
The GFF has a unique way of working, so that the UK's contribution, and those of other donor countries, will be used to help encourage investment from the private sector and recipient governments. This will help to make medicines, equipment and life-saving resources more available for pregnant women, babies and children in 27 countries across Africa and Asia until 2023.
The UK's new commitment builds on our £30 million investment in the GFF made at the 2017 Family Planning Summit in London, which is designed to enable the GFF to try new financing methods to expand sexual and reproductive health services. Improving access to contraception empowers adolescent girls and women to choose whether or when they have children, giving girls more control over their health and futures.


12 NOV 2018

NHS Funding

Thank you for writing to me and I have long campaigned for funding for the NHS and social care.

As chair of the Health and Social Care Committee in Parliament I will shortly be chairing an inquiry into the funding commitments and will also be looking at the new ten year plan when this is finalised as well as the proposals in the social care green paper.

These hearings will be available to watch online or to read our reports via this link


12 NOV 2018

Universal Credit and Cancer

Thank you for taking the time to email me about people with cancer who claim Universal Credit (UC).

I understand your concern on this matter and hope the following information on this topic from the Department for Work and Pensions is of interest:

Cancer is a terrible condition for people to go through, and it is crucial that people who suffer from health conditions like this should receive as much support as possible to help reduce stress and anxiety.
There are people who may struggle with access to the benefits system, which is why £200 million has been invested in Universal Support. From April 2019 it will be delivered by the independent charity Citizens Advice, to support people with every step of making a new UC claim. All Jobcentres across the UK have free Wi-Fi and there are more than 8,000 computers available to support customers with making their claim online. If someone cannot get online then there is a Freephone UC helpline.
There are safeguards in place to ensure people with a terminal illness can access UC more quickly. Any household that needs it will be able to access a full month's payment as an advance within five days of applying, and the repayment period will be increased to 16 months from 2021. If someone is in immediate need, then their payment would be fast tracked, so that they receive it on the same day. The initial seven-day waiting period has been removed so that entitlement to UC starts on the first day of the application.
There is also the Special Rules for Terminal Illness procedure, which allows people with terminal illnesses to be fast-tracked without the need for a face-to-face assessment.


12 NOV 2018

Wild Animals In Circuses

Thank you for taking the time to email me about wild animals in circuses.

I understand your concern on this matter and I hope the following information on this topic from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is reassuring:

The Government remains committed to introducing a ban on wild animals in circuses.
Currently, a ban would impact on two travelling circuses in England that continue to operate. Conditions of the remaining wild animals at both circuses are closely monitored under Defra's interim Welfare of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (England) Regulations 2012, through regular announced and unannounced welfare inspections.
These regulations expire on 19 January 2020. The Government does not plan to renew them because it intends to ensure that a legislative ban is introduced by then. The Regulations will then be allowed to expire.
The draft Bill states that an offence would be committed under the law if an animal 'performs or is exhibited' as part of a travelling circus, a term whose definition is well understood. There is no exemption for businesses claiming that the exhibition is 'for educational purposes' or similar. In any case of doubt, the Bill also allows for the appointment of inspectors who could make a determination.


09 NOV 2018

Devon Wildlife Trust

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me.

I understand you are a supporter of the Devon Wildlife Trust and have noted your position that there should be set targets in law for improving the environment. I can assure you that I meet regularly with the Devon Wildlife Trust and as your MP I will be pressing for environmental standards to be at least equivalent or higher in the event that we do leave the EU.

I hope the following information from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which sets out the Government's general approach to environmental policymaking as we leave the jurisdiction of EU environmental regulations is of interest:

Food and farming is a bedrock of our economy and environment, generating £112 billion a year and helping shape some of our finest habitats and landscapes. The Government will continue to commit the same cash total in funds for farm support until the end of this Parliament in 2022. Once we have the freedom to move away from the Common Agricultural Policy, the proposal is for an 'agricultural transition' period in England, allowing farmers to prepare for a new system.
Leaving the EU creates a once in a generation opportunity to design a domestic agricultural policy that will stand the test of time. Starting from first principles we can bring in innovative new ideas to support investment in healthy, sustainable British food production and do much better for farming, the environment and animal welfare. The Government proposes to move to a system of paying farmers public money for public goods: principally environmental enhancement.
Ministers have consulted widely with farmers and others, and have published the Agriculture Bill alongside their response; it focuses mostly on England because they recognise that devolution provides each administration with the powers to decide its own priorities. They are keenly aware of the importance of seasonal labour, so will work with the industry to ensure it has the right people with the right skills.
We must take this opportunity to use public money to reward environmentally-responsible land use, as well as maintaining and enhancing high standards of animal welfare. We will harness this opportunity and ensure that our best days as a food and farming nation lie ahead of us.

If you would like to come and see me at a constituency surgery to discuss this further then please do call my office on 01803 868 378. However, it would be helpful to collate with other supporters of this campaign so a joint meeting could be held.


09 NOV 2018

Fair Funding for Mental Health

Thank you for taking the time to email me about mental health and funding.

I understand your concern on this matter and I hope the following information on this topic from the Department of Health and Social Care is reassuring:

While it is hugely welcome that we are on the road to parity of esteem there is still more to do. As part of the five-year funding offer that will see the NHS budget grow by over £20.5 billion a year, mental health services will receive an additional £2 billion per year.
A new mental health crisis service with comprehensive mental health support will be available in every major A&E, alongside new children and young peoples' crisis teams across the country. The additional funding will also deliver more mental health ambulances, "safe havens" in the community; and a 24-hour mental health crisis hotline when people are in urgent need of help.
These new services help end the stigma surrounding mental health, offering crucial support to people suffering from crisis and those who have suffered in silence for too long. As you may also be aware, the Prime Minister recently announced the creation of a Minister for Suicide Prevention, who will help continue the progress made in suicide prevention, with suicide rates at their lowest for seven years. The Government is working to ensure mental health spending is spread across the whole country. Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are required to achieve the Mental Health Investment Standard, to demonstrate they have increased their mental health spending in line with the growth in their overall budgets. In 2016/17, 85 per cent of CCGs achieved this standard, and NHS England continues to work with CCGs to improve this figure.


09 NOV 2018

Ovarian Cancer

Thank you for taking the time to email me about ovarian cancer.

I understand your concern on this matter and I hope the following information on this topic from the Department for Health and Social Care is reassuring:

Early diagnosis makes a huge difference in survival and this is a priority for the Government which is why Public Health England (PHE) is working with cancer charities to pilot and assess the feasibility of an ovarian cancer audit over the next two years.
The NHS is developing new models of care and pathways that will transform services by speeding up diagnosis. This includes a commitment to roll out a new Faster Diagnosis Standard by 2020 to ensure that patients referred for an investigation with a suspicion of cancer are diagnosed or have cancer ruled out within 28 days. NHS England has also committed more than £200 million in cancer services between 2017 and 2019, to accelerate diagnosis, improve survival and enhance quality of life.
In October, the Prime Minister announced that NHS England is introducing Rapid Diagnostic and Assessment Centres which will operate as one-stop shops to reduce time-to diagnosis and time-to-first treatment. This is a real step change in the way people with unclear symptoms are identified, diagnosed and treated.
More broadly, the Government is delivering the largest single upgrade in NHS cancer treatment for the last 15 years. The £130 million radiotherapy modernisation programme is upgrading and replacing radiotherapy equipment in hospitals across England. Through this programme, patients will have access to the most modern, innovative radiotherapy techniques to create better health outcomes and improve patient experience.
The Government is closely working with PHE to develop an approach to raise awareness of generic symptoms that can indicate a wider number of cancers, including ovarian cancer, and the need to visit the doctor promptly with these symptoms.


09 NOV 2018

Horses and the Highway Code

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me.

I did manage to attend and speak in the Road Safety debate: http://www.drsarah.org.uk/in-parliament/news-and-speeches/road-safety/2952

On the topic of horse riders and the Highway Code review, I hope the following information from the Department of Transport is reassuring:

Ministers are aware of the points made by horse riders about the scope of the review. A review of the Highway Code was recently announced to help keep vulnerable road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians, safe on the roads.
It is important to recognise that horse riders are also vulnerable road users and so Highway Code advice on, for example, overtaking or passing cyclists applies equally to them.
When the review was first announced, it was encouraging to see the Government committing to update the Highway Code in relation to close passing. This is a dangerous practice which is the root cause of many road incidents involving horses.
The full scope of the review has yet to be determined, but it will be conducted in consultation with those representing horse riders.
In addition to the Highway Code review, work has taken place with the British Horse Society to support its 'Dead Slow' campaign to encourage drivers to pass horses safely.
It is also welcome that the driving theory test contains questions about how drivers should interact with vulnerable road users, including horse riders. The hazard perception test includes a number of clips where horse riders are the hazard, either directly or indirectly.


08 NOV 2018

St Mungo's

Thank you for taking the time to email me about homelessness and the St Mungo's campaign.

I understand your concern on this matter and hope the following information on this topic from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is reassuring:

Just one person without a roof over their head is one too many, and it is vitally important that the most vulnerable people in society, including homeless people and rough sleepers, are helped to get their lives back on track. Over £1.2 billion has been allocated to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping through to 2020.
The Government has a strong record of preventing and relieving homelessness. Across England, since 2010, there have been over 1. 6 million cases of homelessness prevention and relief.
The launch of a new £100 million Rough Sleeping Strategy expected to provide rapid support to up to 6,000 vulnerable people either new to the streets or at risk of becoming rough sleepers is welcomed. This will complement the £28 million Housing First pilots which are supporting the most entrenched rough sleepers off the streets by providing them with stable accommodation and intensive wrap-around support.
Furthermore, the Homelessness Reduction Act, the most ambitious legislative reform for tackling homelessness in decades, has recently come into force. This Act, praised by both Shelter and Crisis, requires councils to provide early support to people at risk of homelessness.


08 NOV 2018

Agroecology

Thank you for taking the time to email me about agroecology.

I have noted your support for this and I hope the following information on this topic from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is reassuring:

A UK Strategy for Agricultural Technologies was launched in 2013, designed to examine how the UK can meet the challenge of feeding a growing population without damaging the natural environment.
Central to the strategy is using basic research and applied science to allow our farmers to access agri-tech expertise and use innovative techniques. Hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent on agri-food research and development, plus further money to accelerate innovation by UK food and farming businesses. There has also been significant spending on agricultural systems research, which includes agroecology. This has included a range of studies in areas such as agricultural landscapes and systems, soil science and the effects of agriculture on ecosystems and the environment.
Evidence and advice on the issue has been published in the Land Use Policy Group commissioned study The Role of Agroecology in Sustainable Intensification (2015) which reviewed the evidence on issues such as productivity, soils, biodiversity from other European countries (notably France and Germany) and North America.
The UK is supporting a research partnership with scientists from India. In February 2015 a three-day event held at the Centre for Pollination Studies, University of Calcutta brought together agro-ecologists from our two countries, with the aim of facilitating knowledge exchange and collaborative research. This was the first step towards establishing joint research.
A range of actions is planned that will enable the UK to regain its world-leading role in the race for better, more efficient and more sustainable agricultural production.


08 NOV 2018

Agriculture Bill.

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the Agriculture Bill.

As your MP I will be pressing for environmental standards to be at least equivalent or higher in the event that we do leave the EU and I hope the following information on this topic from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is reassuring:

Food and farming is a bedrock of our economy and environment, generating £112 billion a year and helping shape some of our finest habitats and landscapes. The Government will continue to commit the same cash total in funds for farm support until the end of this Parliament in 2022. Once we have the freedom to move away from the Common Agricultural Policy, the proposal is for an 'agricultural transition' period in England, allowing farmers to prepare for a new system.
Leaving the EU creates a once in a generation opportunity to design a domestic agricultural policy that will stand the test of time. Starting from first principles we can bring in innovative new ideas to support investment in healthy, sustainable British food production and do much better for farming, the environment and animal welfare. The Government proposes to move to a system of paying farmers public money for public goods: principally environmental enhancement.
Ministers have consulted widely with farmers and others, and have published the Agriculture Bill alongside their response; it focuses mostly on England because they recognise that devolution provides each administration with the powers to decide its own priorities. They are keenly aware of the importance of seasonal labour, so will work with the industry to ensure it has the right people with the right skills.
We must take this opportunity to use public money to reward environmentally-responsible land use, as well as maintaining and enhancing high standards of animal welfare. We will harness this opportunity and ensure that our best days as a food and farming nation lie ahead of us.


08 NOV 2018

FOBTs

I very much hope that the Chancellor will listen to the strength of feeling across the Commons and agree to reduce the maximum stake on FOBTs in April 2019. This is a point of principle about the power of industry lobbying in our politics and frankly it is not good enough for the Chancellor to speak of reducing the tragedy of lives lost to suicide if that is not followed up by timely implementation of the policy levers to make a difference.

The October 19 date is not a 'compromise', it leaves more families and communities unnecessarily facing the misery caused by these machines. The date can and should be brought forward.


06 NOV 2018

Nuclear Weapons

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the UN treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons.

I hope the following information on this topic from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is of interest:

The UK has not taken part in negotiation of this treaty, and does not intend to sign, ratify or become party to it. It will not be binding on the UK. The UK is committed to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as the cornerstone of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. The treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons risks weakening the consensus around the near-universal NPT, which has played an unparalleled role in curtailing the nuclear arms race.
The Government is committed to a world without nuclear weapons. It is of the firm belief that the best way to achieve that goal is through gradual, multilateral disarmament, negotiated using a step by step approach within the framework of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. The UK has tried over the years to lead by example, with our nuclear warhead stock being much reduced. The UK continues to discuss and negotiate with our international partners on the best way to proceed.
Given the unpredictable international security environment we face today, however, it is right that the Government remains committed to maintaining a minimum credible deterrent for the foreseeable future. For this reason, the UK does not support a legally binding treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons.
Productive results can only be ensured through a consensus-based approach that takes into account the wider global security environment. However, as a responsible Nuclear Weapons State, the UK is committed to the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons.


06 NOV 2018

Changing Places Toilets

Thank you for taking the time to email me about accessible toilet facilities.

I understand your concern on this matter and I hope the following information on this topic from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is reassuring:

Many people take the availability of toilets for granted. Yet for adults and children whose needs are not met by standard public toilet provision, the availability of appropriate facilities is central to planning any activity that takes place outside the home.
Campaigns such as Changing Places have done much to increase awareness of this issue in recent years. The Government has worked with Changing Places, as well as with PAMIS, Mencap and the British Toilet Association, to improve the provision of accessible toilets. In 2007, when the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government became involved, there were only around 140 Changing Places toilets in the UK: the 1000th facility in the UK opened in 2017. In addition, guidance on Changing Places was introduced into the Building Regulations in England in 2013.
The Government has also helped fund the development of a website, which has information on the location and details of every registered Changing Place in the UK, to help disabled people and their carers to find the nearest Changing Places toilet more easily.


05 NOV 2018

Protect UK Aid

Thank you for taking the time to email me about our aid budget.

I support our aid budget as it helps to reduce future costs to the UK by helping to stop countries becoming failed states and thereby adding to the humanitarian disasters unfolding around the world. I believe in particular in trying to support projects which support women and children's health, education and choice based contraception for women as limiting family size makes a real difference to the life chances of children.


05 NOV 2018

Solar Power

Thank you for contacting me about export tariff payments for rooftop solar installations.

I understand your concern on this matter and I hope the following information on this topic from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy is reassuring:

The Government is currently considering the responses received to a recent consultation on Feed-In-Tariffs export-payments alongside the generation tariff for new applications after March 2019. Its response will be published in due course.
The Government is committed to ensuring the UK has secure energy supplies that are reliable, affordable and clean. Our country generates electricity from increasingly low carbon sources and the electricity powering the UK's homes and businesses in 2017 was the greenest ever, with 50 per cent coming from clean sources, up from 19 per cent in 2010.
Ultimately, the UK has been a world leader in cutting emissions while growing our economy, and in doing so has demonstrated to the world what is possible when government and industry come together to tackle big strategic challenges. Much of this however has been paid for through consumer bills, and the Feed-In-Tariff scheme alone carries a legacy cost to bill payers of around £1.2 billion a year for the coming decade.
Last year saw the launch of the Clean Growth Strategy which sets out 50 major policies and plans that will help us to cut the cost of energy, drive economic growth, create high value jobs right across the UK, and improve our quality of life. The Feed-in-Tariff call for evidence reaffirms the Government's ambition set out in the Clean Growth Strategy to consider its approach to small-scale low-carbon generation and to explore the clear cross overs with a smart energy system.
Ultimately, distributed generation may have a role to play a part in a smarter, more efficient energy system and Ministers should ensure small scale low-carbon technologies have a level playing field as the market for smarter services evolves, rather than continuing to rely on public subsidies.


05 NOV 2018

Diana Johnson Bill

Thank you for letting me know your views on this issue which will always be a matter of personal conscience. I am sorry that we will have to disagree on the nature of this bill which is not about 'self-abortion' but about decriminalising abortion for women seeking help. Those providing services outside a strictly regulated framework would still face penalties and the legal limit would remain in place at 24 weeks.


02 NOV 2018

Injured Workers

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about the proposed increase to the small claims limit.

I understand your concern on this matter and hope the following information on this topic from the Ministry of Justice is reassuring:

It is important that the limit is not disproportionately increased. That said, the proposed increase to £2,000, in line with inflation since 1991 when the current limit of £1,000 was set, is appropriate and reasonable.
With the last increase to the small claims limit made in 1991, followed by a minor technical change to what should be included in the limit made in 1999, it has been decades since the limit was last amended. Reform of the limit is therefore long overdue, with the proposed increase scheduled to come into effect in April 2020. This is part of wider reforms to the small claims track limit for managing whiplash injuries and minor injuries in road traffic accidents.
Following a 2016 consultation on raising the small claims limit to £5,000, the Government listened to concerns and instead limited the rise for claims relating to workplace injuries to £2,000, in line with inflation. The personal injury small claims track limit has been set at £1,000 since 1991, and the Government has used the Retail Price Index to calculate the increase to £2,000 to ensure consistency with the way such increases are dealt with by the Judicial College Guidelines.
The small claims track is the right one for these relatively straightforward claims which do not routinely require help from a lawyer to settle. The vast majority of these claims already settle without going to court, and the Government is developing a helpful new accessible IT portal to support claimants to bring forward claims quickly and efficiently, with or without a lawyer.
All employers are required by law to report accidents and dangerous occurrences in the workplace to the Health and Safety Executive, which will continue to investigate and prosecute those at fault irrespective of whether a personal injury claim arises from an incident. It is welcome that between 2000/1 and 2016/17 the estimated rate of self-reported workplace non-fatal injury is down by around a half, according to the Health and Safety Executive.


02 NOV 2018

MND Association Event

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about the MND Association and Marie Curie parliamentary drop-in event on the 13th of November.

Unfortunately, this clashes with a meeting of the Health Select Committee, which I chair so I will be unable to attend but I hope you will be pleased to hear that I have signed Madeleine Moon MP's backbench letter in support of her Access to Welfare (Terminal Illness Definition) Bill.


02 NOV 2018

School Funding

Thank you for writing to me about the importance of schools funding.

My personal view is that it would have been better not to have prioritised tax cuts through changes to the thresholds a year early because I do think there was a strong case for this going to support our public services including education.

I have abstained on the budget and will continue to make the case for education funding.


02 NOV 2018

Assisted Dying

I'm sorry I won't be able to attend the meeting in the Boothroyd room.

There is no government legislation or private member's bill before Parliament that could change the law on assisted dying at the moment.

I am sorry to disappoint you on that point but after the next Queen's speech there will be a further ballot for MPs to have the opportunity to do so, much in the way that I am currently taking a bill through Parliament to protect people from stalking.


01 NOV 2018

Tibet

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about Tibet

I understand that the UK regularly urges China to respect all fundamental rights across the People's Republic of China, including in Tibet, in line with both its own constitution and the international frameworks to which it is a party. I hope the following information on this topic from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is reassuring:

The Foreign Secretary raised the issue of human rights on his visit to China in the summer.
The UK also pays close attention to the human rights and wider situation in Tibet, which it regularly raises with the Chinese authorities. China remains a Human Rights priority country for the UK and the FCO's concerns were set out in its annual report on Human Rights and Democracy, which was published in July.
The UK will be raising a range of its priority concerns at China's Universal Periodic Review. The advance questions have been published at the following website, including the UK's contribution: https://www.upr-info.org/sites/default/files/document/china/session_31_-_november_2018/advancequestionschina.pdf.


01 NOV 2018

Post Office

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the Post Office network.

Post Office branches are relied upon by communities; they serve a distinct social purpose and are a valuable social economic asset for our communities and businesses, forming a cornerstone of British society. I hope the following information on this topic from the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy is reassuring:

Protecting the Post Office remains a priority. Nearly £2 billion has been invested since 2010 to maintain, modernise and protect the network including the Crown branches which account for around 300 branches run directly by Post Office.
The day-to-day management of the network and getting the right branches in the right locations is an operational matter for Post Office. However, it is worth noting that the majority of plans to franchise some of the Crown branches will not lead to the loss of the post office, just its re-location to a viable business partner.
This is an approach the Post Office has been following since 2012, a mix of investment in Crowns and franchising those that are better provided from a partner business. This has helped shift the Crown branch estate from making an annual £50 million loss to breaking even now.
While the Post Office has recently announced a plan to relocate 40 post offices in WHSmith stores, the overall number of Post Offices will not be reduced. WHSmith will also reach a franchise agreement for the 33 post offices that are already in its stores, so the total number of post offices operated by WHSmith in its stores is planned to rise.
It is also worth noting that there are now more than 11,500 Post Office branches in the UK, and the network is at its most stable for decades. More than 4,300 branches are now open on Sundays and nearly 1 million additional opening hours are to be added to the network every month.


01 NOV 2018

Fracking Debate

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the Westminster Hall debate on shale gas development that was held on the 31st of October.

I am afraid I was unable to speak in the debate as I already had other commitments at that time and in order to speak, MPs have to be present for the whole debate. Nonetheless, in my view shale gas extraction remains hugely contentious and in my view we are still overly dependent on fossil fuels and whilst on track to meet our short term legal targets to decarbonise, in the long term we are set to fall short. The five hottest years for global surface temperatures since records began have been since 2010 and evidence for the effect of greenhouse gas emissions in causing this rapidly escalating effect is now overwhelming. It is time in my view to move away from investing in polluting technologies to something that allows a better future for our children than one dominated by the misery of climate change. Freak weather extremes will increasingly become a new but frightening normal.

The recent consultation concerning shale gas developments has now closed but once the government responds you will be able to view this via the following link

You may also like to view the Hansard transcript of the debate which includes a response from the Minister and you can do so here


26 OCT 2018

Breast Cancer

Thank you for taking the time to email me about secondary breast cancer.

I fully agree that we must ensure that people with a secondary breast cancer diagnosis receive the highest quality care and hope the following information on this topic from the Department of Health is reassuring:

The Breast Cancer Care campaign, 'Secondary. Not Second Rate', is raising awareness of secondary breast cancer, which is estimated to affect 36,000 people in the UK. First launched in 2017, the campaign seeks to ensure that every person living with secondary breast cancer receives the appropriate care and support they require.
Efforts are being made to ensure that cancer services continue to improve and that the NHS continues to provide some of the world's best cancer care. In December last year, Health Education England (HEE) published its first Cancer Workforce Plan. The plan outlines HEE's commitment to support the expansion of Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) so that every patient has access to a CNS or other support worker by 2021.
The National Cancer Care Programme has also committed to rolling out follow-up pathways in breast cancer by 2020 to ensure patients get the right care after treatment, including information and support to spot signs of secondary cancer. These pathways also ensure that in cases of secondary cancer that patients are supported effectively, taking into account their individual preferences, which I am pleased to learn will significantly improve patient experience and quality of care.
These measures form just part of the NHS's ambitious wider strategy to improve cancer outcomes and to improve quality of life for patients. Following the announcement of a £20.5 billion funding increase in the NHS England budget, the cancer strategy will improve outcomes for those currently living with secondary breast cancer.


26 OCT 2018

NCT

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about new mother's mental health.

I understand your concern on this matter and hope the following information on this topic from the Department of Health is reassuring:

It is vitally important that women have access to the right care during pregnancy and in the first postnatal year. Ministers are aware of the National Childbirth Trust's 'Hidden Half' campaign on this important issue.
Improving perinatal mental health services during pregnancy and in the first postnatal year should be prioritised. The Department for Health is investing £365 million over five years in perinatal mental health services. NHS England is leading a transformation programme to ensure that, by 2020-21, at least 30,000 more women each year are able to access evidence-based specialist mental health care during the perinatal period. Where possible, the transformation programme aims to improve prevention of perinatal mental illness, including through earlier diagnosis and intervention, support for recovery and reducing avoidable harm.
Investment by NHS England in multidisciplinary perinatal mental health clinical networks, which include GPs, will also help drive change. By working together through these networks, health practitioners can ensure women at risk of perinatal mental health problems are identified at an earlier stage and can receive better, more coordinated care.


25 OCT 2018

Human Rights Defenders

Thank you for taking the time to email me about human rights defenders.

I understand your concern on this matter and hope the following information on this topic from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is reassuring:

Human rights defenders are at the forefront of work to promote and protect human rights and democracy, often at great personal risk to themselves. In many places they are persecuted, imprisoned, attacked or even killed because of their work.
In the light of increasing levels of intimidation and persecution of human rights defenders in many parts of the world, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has worked with several civil society organisations to update its internal guidance on working with human rights defenders. This updated guidance was issued to all Embassies and High Commissions in December 2017, and tasks the FCO's network of Embassies and High Commissions to find practical ways to support human rights defenders. This guidance is kept under constant review.
The Government is concerned about the case of Azza Soliman specifically. Lord Ahmad, the Minister for Human Rights, has been clear that the UK continues to raise its human rights concerns privately with the Egyptian authorities and also in public, including at the UN. The decreasing space for civil society to operate in Egypt is extremely worrying.
The Government supports the work of Human Rights Defenders globally and that the FCO works with and supports a wide range of organisations committed to helping human rights defenders either through emergency assistance or by building their capacity to protect themselves.
Support is provided to human rights defenders through the Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy, most of which is allocated for implementation of projects by human rights defenders and civil society organisations. The FCO also highlights repression of human rights defenders in its Annual Human Rights Report.


25 OCT 2018

Offensive Weapons Bill

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about the Offensive Weapons Bill.

I hope the following information on this topic from the Home Office is of interest:

It is important to ensure more work is done to break the deadly cycle of violence that devastates the lives of individuals, families and communities. The Government shares this position and is taking action to ensure the sale and possession of dangerous weapons is prevented.
The Serious Violence Strategy to help tackle recent increases in serious violence. This Government action supports a multi-strand approach including robust law enforcement, early intervention and prevention.
A key element of the strategy is the Offensive Weapons Bill. The Bill contains a range of measures to update and strengthen the law on the sale of corrosive substances, ban the delivery of knives and corrosives bought online to residential addresses and ban the possession of weapons including zombie knives, knuckle dusters and death stars both in public and private. The Bill will also make it harder for young people to buy knives and acid online.
The Government has a duty to safeguard the public and to take action in this area.


25 OCT 2018

Ivory

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about the plight of the elephant and the ivory trade.

I understand your concern on this matter and hope the following information on this topic from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is reassuring:

The decline in the elephant population, fuelled by poaching for ivory, shames our generation. The need for radical, robust action to protect one of the world's most iconic and treasured species is beyond dispute. Ivory should never be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol.
Following a consultation, the Government is banning the sale of ivory and will put the UK at the forefront of global efforts to address the drastic decline in the elephant population.
The ban will cover items of all ages, not just those made after a certain date, and the maximum available penalty for breaching it will be an unlimited fine or up to five years in prison. It will include certain narrowly-defined, carefully-targeted exemptions for items that do not contribute to poaching, where a ban would be unwarranted. By covering ivory items of all ages and adopting these narrow exemptions, the UK's ban will be one of the toughest in the world.
In addition, in the UK has hosted the fourth international conference on the illegal wildlife trade, bringing global leaders to London to tackle the strategic challenges of the trade. This follows the ground breaking London 2014 conference on the illegal wildlife trade, and subsequent conferences in Botswana and Vietnam.
The ban on ivory sales will build on work at home and overseas to tackle poaching and the illegal ivory trade. The UK military is training African park rangers in proven poacher interception techniques in key African countries, and Border Force officers share their expertise in identifying smuggled ivory with counterparts worldwide to stop wildlife trafficking.
Ministers also recognise the growing threats to the Asian elephant from the illegal trade in live animals, fed by demand from the tourist and entertainment industries. The UK has been working through CITES to increase protections worldwide.
Banning ivory sales will reaffirm the UK's global leadership on this critical issue, demonstrating our belief that the abhorrent ivory trade should become a thing of the past.


25 OCT 2018

NC7

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about NC7.

I did support the amendment and thought that Stella Creasy MP's speech on women's human rights in Northern Ireland to access safe legal abortion and for same sex couples on equal marriage was superb.


23 OCT 2018

Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan.

Thank you for taking the time to email me about implementing a Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan.

I have written to the Minister responsible for local transport, Jesse Norman MP asking him to set out what funds local authorities in the Totnes constituency can access.


23 OCT 2018

Public Pay

Thank you for taking the time to email me about public sector pay.

I hope the following information on this topic from the Treasury is of interest:

Our dedicated public sector workers deserve to be fairly rewarded for the vital work they do. Because of the balanced approach the Government is taking to the public finances, it has been able to announce the largest public sector pay rise in almost a decade, for around 1 million public sector workers. Teachers on less than £35,000 will get a pay rise equivalent to £800 in 2018-19; the average member of the Armed Forces will get a pay rise worth £980 in 2018-19; and band 3 prison officers with modernised terms and conditions will get a pay rise worth 4.1 per cent on average in 2018-19.

These increases represent a fair and responsible deal for public sector workers and are affordable for taxpayers, and will help make sure we have the workforce we need to deliver world class public services.


23 OCT 2018

Saudi Arabia

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me.

I read your comments with interest and understand you are deeply concerned about the situation in Yemen. I particularly have concerns about the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia by the UK and the use of those arms against their own citizens as well as their conflict with Yemen. It is often said that government can go further in applying pressure for genuine reform by cooperating with the Saudi regime but the extent of human rights abuses in the Kingdom calls for a far stronger approach and an end arms sales.

The government position on this matter is as below:

The Government fully recognises the severity of the unfolding humanitarian crisis. The UK is leading the global response to this crisis in Yemen, as the fourth largest humanitarian donor to the country. The UK recently announced an additional £170 million for Yemen, to cover the 2018/19 financial year. This funding is in addition to the over £400 million of bilateral support from the UK since the conflict began in 2015 and will provide food to 2.5 million Yemeni people.
Britain has taken the lead in lobbying across the international community for urgent and unobstructed access for humanitarian assistance into Yemen. The Government continues to call for the modalities for a ceasefire to be agreed. You may be interested to know that the UK proposed and co-ordinated the UN Security Council Presidential Statement earlier this year, which repeated the call for unhindered humanitarian access.
The UK continues to work hard in order to achieve stability in the region. The Houthi insurgency overthrew a legitimate, United Nations backed Government in Yemen. The insurgency has cruelly executed a number of people including the former President of Yemen and prevented humanitarian aid reaching those most in need. The legitimate Government of Yemen requested the support of its neighbours and allies, including the UK and Saudi Arabia, to help tackle the rebel insurgency.
With regards to the recent UK visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from Saudi Arabia, the Government is working with Saudi Arabia to address regional and international issues, including addressing the need for a political resolution to the conflict in Yemen.

It is important for the UK to engage with Saudi Arabia in order to encourage change. During a visit to Saudi Arabia at the end of last year, the Prime Minister made clear to the Crown Prince that the port of Hodeidah needed to be reopened for humanitarian and commercial supplies. Saudi Arabia then reopened the port, which shows the value and importance of engagement.

Lastly, on the topic of Jamal Khashoggi I have already publically asked how Britain can expect international support condemning state sponsored murder on our soil unless we stand up against the disgusting state sponsored torture and murder of Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia.


23 OCT 2018

Workers Rights Bill

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the Workers (Definition and Rights) Bill.

I have long standing commitments in the constituency on the 26th of October so will not be in the House for the vote but I hope the following information on this topic from the Department of

Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy is reassuring:

While not suitable for everyone, zero-hour contracts do have a part to play in a modern, flexible labour market because, for a small proportion of the workforce, that may be the kind of contract that is right for them. On average, people on these contracts work 26 hours a week and over 70 per cent of those people do not want more hours.
However, it is important to make sure that those benefitting from the flexibility of these contracts are not exploited by unscrupulous employers and action has been taken.
In 2015, the Government legislated to ban exploitative zero hours meaning it is now illegal for employers to include exclusivity clauses in zero-hour contracts. This means that people have the freedom to look for and take other work opportunities and have more control over their work hours and income. Individuals on these contracts can also make a complaint to an employment tribunal if their employer mistreats them for working, or seeking to work, elsewhere.
Since 2010 employment has increased by 3.3 million and three-quarters of this rise has been in full-time employment. In comparison, less than three per cent of the total workforce are on zero-hours contracts. However, in response to the Taylor Review on modern working practices, the Government has committed to providing a right to request a more predictable contract for all workers, including those on zero hours, as well as a list of day-one rights including holiday and sick pay entitlements and a new right to a payslip.
The Government will now consult on how this can be best achieved and bring forward any necessary legislation in due course.


23 OCT 2018

Legal Aid

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about legal aid.

I agree about the importance of legal aid and I hope the following information on this topic from the Ministry of Justice is reassuring:

The Ministry of Justice continues to make provision of £1.6 billion a year in legal aid. Maintaining access to justice remains absolutely vital and continues to be at the heart of reforms to the justice system.
In October 2017, the post-implementation review of the legal aid changes made by, and following, the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) was announced. The review will consider the effect of the major changes to legal aid fees made by LASPO as well as recent policy changes on access to legal aid. The Government has committed to review a number of areas, including the changes made to the scope of legal aid for family, civil and criminal cases and the introduction of the Exceptional Case Funding scheme, as well as changes to the rules on financial eligibility, including the application of the capital eligibility test to all legal aid applicants.
Our legal aid system is a fundamental pillar of access to justice. The reforms within the Act were founded on delivering better value for money for taxpayers by reducing the cost of the scheme and discouraging unnecessary and adversarial litigation, while ensuring that legal aid continues to be available for the highest priority cases, for example where life or liberty is at stake, where someone faces the loss of their home, in domestic violence cases, or where their children may be taken into care.


23 OCT 2018

People's Vote

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about a People's Vote on Brexit.

I am already publically supporting a People's Vote and actually spoke at the rally in London last weekend.

If a further referendum on the deal is agreed by Parliament, it should offer people the choice between the deal negotiated or to remain. If a deal cannot be negotiated, the referendum should be between that 'no deal' or remain.


22 OCT 2018

Fixed Odds Betting Terminals

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about fixed odds betting terminals.

I do understand your concern about the delay in implementing the maximum £2 bet limit and I hope you will be pleased to hear that I have signed an open letter to the Chancellor expressing my own concern about this.


22 OCT 2018

UC Managed Migration

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about the managed migration of claimants from the legacy system to Universal Credit (UC).

I understand your concern on this matter and I hope the following information on this topic from the Department for Work and Pensions is reassuring:

UC is a fair benefit that protects vulnerable claimants. As UC is a simpler, more accurate benefit based on up-to-date information, it will provide people with their full entitlement. This means that 700,000 people will receive on average an extra £285 per month which they have not received under the existing system. Around a million disabled claimants will gain on average £110 a month through UC, because their award is higher through UC than legacy benefits.
UC will help 200,000 more people into work when fully rolled out, and empower people to work an extra 113 million hours a year. People on UC spend around 50 per cent more time looking for a job than they did under JSA. Since 2010, we have seen over 3.3 million people move into work, which is on average 1,000 people each and every day. And youth unemployment has plummeted by over 50 per cent.
As part of their 'testing and learning' approach, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been working closely with stakeholders and other parties to design the best possible process for the migration of people from the old benefits system to UC.
This will include a variety of communication formats including, face-to-face, internet and postal notification, to ensure people are aware of the managed migration process. Work Coaches will also be fully prepared to ensure that claimants move smoothly onto Universal Credit.
Draft Regulations will come before Parliament later this year, with the managed migration process starting later in 2019 and will be tested and refined before larger volumes start from 2020 until completion in 2023.
Transitional Protection will be provided for those moved through managed migration. This means that at the point of moving to Universal Credit, people's incomes will be protected. This includes support for around 500,000 people who are eligible for a Severe Disability Premium.
There will be flexibility to extend the transition period for people alongside a process to ensure that staff check for evidence of complex needs or vulnerability or disability before existing benefits are stopped. Furthermore, if someone misses their deadline to make a claim, there are provisions in the draft Regulations for the DWP to back-date their claim.
For people with capital exceeding £16,000 who are moved onto UC, any capital which exceeds the limit will be disregarded for 12 months. This will affect around 50,000 people. It has been calculated that approximately 50 per cent have capital greater than £40,000.


22 OCT 2018

Diana Johnson Bill

Thank you for taking the time to email and let me know that you have concerns about Diana Johnson's Ten Minute Rule Bill.

Bills of this sort have no chance of becoming law, they are more designed to highlight an issue.


19 OCT 2018

Asylum Seekers Right to Work

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about asylum seekers and employment.

I understand your concern on this matter and hope the following information on this topic from the Home Office is of interest:

The UK has a proud tradition of providing a place of safety for refugees. Each claim for asylum is carefully considered and where it is found that individuals are in need of protection, asylum is given.
Asylum seekers are allowed to work if their claim has not been decided after 12 months through no fault of their own. Those allowed to work are restricted to jobs on the shortage occupation list. This is a fair and reasonable policy, for it is important to protect the resident labour market, and we must ensure that access to jobs is prioritised for British citizens and those with leave to remain here, which includes refugees.
The current policy strikes the right balance, being equitable towards asylum seekers, consistent with our international obligations while taking into account the rights and needs of our society as a whole.
Fully furnished and equipped accommodation is provided to asylum seekers with no utility bills or Council Tax to pay. Access to healthcare and schooling is free. In addition, while it is important to be mindful of the cost to the taxpayer, the Home Office periodically reviews cash payments to ensure they continue to meet essential living needs. Following such a review, the amount someone claiming asylum support is now £37.75 per week for each person in the household.


19 OCT 2018

Pollinators Bill

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the Protection of Pollinators Bill.

I am afraid I will be in the constituency on the 26th of October so cannot be in the House for the bill's second reading. However, I hope the following information on this topic from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is reassuring:

Bees and other pollinators play an essential role in our food production and are vital to the survival of our wild plant populations. There are 1,500 species of insect pollinator in the UK, and I welcome work over the last few years to protect them. These efforts have been brought together in the National Pollinator Strategy.
The Strategy lays out plans to improve our understanding of the status and role of pollinators, increase the area of habitat for pollinators, raise awareness of their importance, and safeguard be health. It also sets out new work to be done immediately, building on longer-term initiatives. These include conserving and creating good quality wild flower meadows, and minimising risks from pesticides. The Government is working with a range of public, private sector and charitable bodies to create bee and insect friendly habitats.
Since the Strategy was launched there has been encouraging progress on its aims to make farms, towns, cities and the countryside better places for our bees and pollinators. Ministers continue to work with partners such as Friends of the Earth, British Beekeepers' Association and Kew to deliver it.
Ministers have also introduced the first ever wild pollinator and farm wildlife package, which makes more funding made available to farmers and landowners who take steps to protect pollinators. In its first year of its operation over half of the mid-tier applications to the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, which channels these payments, included this package so it will make a real difference


18 OCT 2018

NSPCC

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about the NSPCC parliamentary reception on the 28th of November, I will endeavour to pop by.

I share your concerns about the online safety of children and young people and I hope the following information on this topic from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport is reassuring:

It is important that our approach to the internet supports freedom online, while protecting people, particularly children from harm. While the internet provides access to a world of new information and points of view, it also exposes young people to very real harms. That is why online safety is a top priority for the Government.
In 2013 the Government announced an agreement with the four major Internet Service Providers to offer internet filters to parents, enabling them to select what their children can and cannot view online. The Digital Economy Act also allows the BBFC regulator to direct Internet Service Providers to block pornographic sites that fail to comply with age verification rules.
The Government is also introducing a new requirement for the Information Commissioner's Office to produce a statutory code of practice on age-appropriate website design. This will set standards required of websites and app makers on privacy for children under the age of 16. It will also ensure that websites and apps make clear what personal data of children is being collected.
The Internet Safety Strategy sets out how the Government wants the UK to be the safest place to be online, with proposals aimed at cracking down on dangers like cyber-bullying, trolling, and under-age access to porn. For example, measures include: establishing a new social media code of practice to see a joined-up approach to remove or address bullying, intimidating or humiliating content online; as well as support for tech and digital start-ups to think safety first, ensuring that necessary safety features are built into apps and products from the very start. A White Paper will be published later this year to set out more detailed plans, including proposals for future legislation.


18 OCT 2018

Work Allowances

Thank you for taking the time to email me about Universal Credit and Work Allowances.

I have joined calls for the Chancellor to restore the work allowances for single parent families and second earners with children to the levels that were set pre 2015. This would help to boost the incomes for 9.6m low income parents and deal with many of the concerns raised.


17 OCT 2018

Puppy Farming

Thank you for taking the time to email me about puppies being smuggled across borders.

I understand your concern on this matter and hope the following information on this topic from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is reassuring:

Responsibility for stopping illegal movement begins in the country where puppies are born, so in response to a previous report the Chief Veterinary Officer wrote to the authorities in the highlighted countries to remind them of their duties.
An EU pet travel regulation introduced in 2014 brought further measures to strengthen enforcement. The new-style passport is harder to forge, new rules apply when more than five animals are moved together and all EU countries must carry out compliance checks. A 12-week minimum age for rabies vaccination assists compliance checking and restricts the movement of very young animals. As the UK withdraws from the EU, there will be opportunities to re-evaluate the rules.
There is a robust checking regime for pets travelling here. Every pet travelling with its owner on an approved route is checked for compliance with the travel regime and the UK Border Force carries out a wide range of checks on vehicles arriving in the UK.
It is important to recognise that we cannot expect the Government to defeat this problem by itself. As individuals, we need to take care not to fuel demand for these animals by providing a market for the unscrupulous people who exploit them. Government advice is very clear: people who buy a pet are responsible for knowing where it comes from and, if it is found to have been imported illegally, will be held responsible for any necessary quarantine and veterinary fees.


17 OCT 2018

Migrant Impact Fund

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the Migrant Impact Fund.

I understand your concern on this matter and hope the following information on this topic from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is reassuring:

While Britain is a great place to live, with a well-integrated society on the whole, in too many parts of our country communities are increasingly divided along ethnic, faith and socio-economic lines. The launch of the Government's Integrated Communities Strategy, an ambitious programme to build strong integrated communities, is welcomed.
The Strategy, to which £50 million will be committed over the next two years, outlines Government proposals across a broad range of areas, including fostering integration through schools and youth groups, providing better English language training, and promoting British values.
These measures include developing a new English language strategy, strengthening the expectations on integration for new free schools, and increasing the prominence of British values within Ofsted inspections.
Proposals in the Strategy will build on the Government's record of fostering community integration. Since January 2017, the Schools Linking programme has brought together over 17,000 pupils from 448 demographically diverse schools to boost integration. Similarly, since its launch in 2011, the National Citizen Service has promoted social cohesion among roughly 400,000 youths.
The £100 million Controlling Migration Fund, launched in November 2016, has helped local areas and services to cope where pressures emerge due to recent migration, pressures which can often be a source of community tension. As of March 2018, over £45 million had been awarded in funding across 82 local authority areas.
The Integrated Communities Strategy will help achieve the aim of building a strong, integrated community across the country, bringing all members of our diverse society closer together.


17 OCT 2018

Macmillan

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about Macmillan's coffee morning in Parliament on the 24th of October, I will of course endeavour to pop by.

I hope the following information concerning improving outcomes for cancer sufferers from the Department of Health and Social Care is reassuring:

The Government is working with the NHS, charities and patient groups to deliver the cancer strategy developed by the independent Cancer Taskforce. It has committed to ensuring that by 2020, everyone urgently referred with a suspicion of cancer will receive either a definitive diagnosis or the all-clear within four weeks. The Government is supporting this by investing up to £300 million a year by 2020 to increase diagnostic capacity. NHS England has also announced a £130 million fund to modernise radiotherapy across England. Furthermore, the Government invested over £1.2 billion to the Cancer Drugs Fund which has helped over 95,000 people to access the life-extending drugs they need.
Early diagnosis of cancer is key and that is why earlier cancer diagnosis is at the heart of the new long term NHS plan. Over the next ten years, the way cancer is screened and diagnosed will be overhauled to improve early diagnosis and ensure tens of thousands more people survive for longer after their diagnosis. Screening programmes will include easier and more effective tests and Rapid Diagnostic Centres will be rolled out.
Ministers are working closely with experts to achieve world-class cancer outcomes. Health Education England is developing a cancer workforce strategy, in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support, among others, to ensure that all cancer patients receive access to specialist nursing staff throughout the course of their treatment and recovery. This workforce plan includes a significant increase in the diagnostic workforce, such as the recruitment of radiologists and endoscopists, who will be instrumental in ensuring the NHS meets its ambitions to offer timely and accurate diagnoses to suspected cancer patients.


16 OCT 2018

Mental Health

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about mental health.

I agree that tackling poor mental health must be a priority and I hope the following information on this topic from the Department of Health and Social Care is reassuring:

The Government enshrined parity of esteem for physical and mental health in law in the Health and Social Care Act 2012. Spending on mental health increased to a planned £11.86 billion in 2017/18.
In February 2016, an independent Mental Health Taskforce published a new national strategy, setting out an ambitious vision for mental health services. To make these recommendations a reality, the Government will spend an additional £1 billion on mental health by 2020-21 so that people receive the right care in the right place when they need it most. This includes increasing the number of people completing talking therapies by 600,000 per year, and helping 20,000 more people to find or stay in work through individual placement support and talking therapies. To help meet these ambitions, the Government is increasing the number of Mental Health professionals in the NHS by 21,000.
The Government is also making £1.4 billion available in order to transform services for children and young people and enable an additional 70,000 children and young people a year to receive access to specialist mental health service by 2020/21.
Performance against Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) waiting time standards consistently exceeds the national targets. According to data from April 2018, 98.9 per cent of those people completing treatment waited less than 18 weeks for their treatment to start in England against a target of 95 per cent, and 89.4 per cent of people completing treatment waited less than six weeks against a target of 75 per cent. Patients experiencing psychosis for the first time should also be treated within two weeks: 76.7 per cent of patients their first episode of psychosis started treatment within two weeks in February 2018, against a standard of 60 per cent by 2020/21.
The Government announced reform to mental health policy in last year's Queen's Speech, in order to continue to reduce the number of people detained in police cells under the Mental Health Act. A comprehensive review of the Mental Health Act, which has remained unchanged for more than three decades, will examine existing practices, and address the disproportionately high rates of detention of people from ethnic minorities. The review will be led by Professor Sir Simon Wessely, a former president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and he will consider the needs of all users of mental health services and their families, and improve the system's support for those during a mental health crisis.
The Government working to ensure that mental health spending is invested throughout the whole country. Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are required to achieve the Mental Health Investment Standard, to demonstrate that they have increased their mental health spending in line with the growth in their overall budgets. In 2016/17, 85 per cent of CCGs achieved this standard, and NHS England continues to work with CCGs to improve this figure.


11 OCT 2018

Payday Lenders

Thank you for taking the time to email me about payday lenders and consumer credit.

I understand your concern on this matter and hope the following information on this topic from the Treasury is reassuring:

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which regulates consumer credit, has brought in tough new rules for payday lending. In 2015 the FCA decided to introduce a cap on the total cost of payday loans, not just the interest rate, but also the arrangement fees as well as the penalty fees. In total, no one should have to pay back more than twice what they borrowed, and there is a £15 cap on default charges.
The FCA has also been given stronger powers to ensure money is not being lent to people who cannot realistically afford to pay them back. Tougher advertising rules have also been introduced ensuring adverts must warn of the risk of not paying the loans back on time, and must include a line directing customers to free, independent debt advice. The FCA also has the power to ban misleading adverts.
Additionally, the FCA has recently published the proposals of its latest high-cost credit review. Many of the proposals tackle prevention, including new rules on fees from overdrafts, and raising the standards of sales practices in the home-collected credit sector. There is also a proposed cap on rent-to-own lending, the FCA is currently consulting on all of these proposals.


10 OCT 2018

Homelessness

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about homelessness.

I understand your concern on this matter and I hope the following information on this topic from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government is reassuring:

The Housing First approach to tackling homelessness has a record of being effective at helping people with high and complex needs. That is why the recent launch of a £28 million pilot of Housing First, providing some of England's most entrenched rough sleepers with stable, affordable accommodation and intensive wrap-around support is welcomed. The impact of this pilot will be evaluated to inform any wider roll out of the Housing First approach.
On the issue of social housing, recent statistics show that more than three times as much council housing has been built since 2010 than in the previous 13 years. That said, more needs to be done, and the £9 billion Affordable Homes Programme will help deliver more social housing, and look forward to the Government's forthcoming green paper on the sector, expected this year.
Working together with leading experts on homelessness, the Government will achieve the aim of halving rough sleeping by 2022 and eliminating it altogether by 2027.


10 OCT 2018

Frozen Pension

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the uprating of pensions abroad.

I read your comments with interest and will of course endeavour to pop by the event on this topic on the 31st October. I hope the following information on this matter from the Department for Work and Pensions clarifies the situation:

The UK State Pension is payable worldwide and is uprated abroad where there is a legal requirement to do so. In some countries, however, there is no agreement with the UK for securing the social security rights of people moving between the two countries. As a result, pensioners who move to these countries still receive the State Pension but do not have their payments uprated as they would be for UK residents. The Department for Work and Pensions endeavours to make this clear to those thinking of moving abroad and publishes guidance on its website.
It has been and remains the policy of successive governments not to enter into new agreements with countries or territories where this would include up-rating pensions in order to contain the long-term cost of the UK social security system. This issue has been examined extensively by the domestic courts, culminating in a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in 2010. In all these cases the courts have found in favour of the Government.


09 OCT 2018

Corporations Paying Tax

Thank you for taking the time to email me about corporations paying tax.

I understand your concern on this matter and hope the following information on this topic from the Treasury is reassuring:

Digital companies must contribute fairly to funding our vital public services.
The way in which businesses work is changing, which is why the Government is reviewing the taxation of digital companies, to make sure all businesses pay their fair share. The UK Government is leading international efforts to reform the international rules around where profit is made and where it should be taxed.
Pending this global reform the Government is exploring potential interim measures, such as a tax on the revenue of certain digital businesses. This would be targeted at businesses which derive significant value from users, such as social media platforms and search engines. The Chancellor has been clear that if our country cannot reach an international agreement over taxation, we will go it alone with a Digital Services Tax of our own.
Additionally, this country has led the way through tough new rules to crack down on multinationals shifting their profits to lower tax jurisdictions. Around £8 billion has been returned by cracking down on large multinational enterprises that are avoiding paying the right amount of tax in the UK. The Diverted Profits Tax has been introduced at a rate of 25 per cent on multinationals that artificially divert profits out of the UK.
There is more work to be done, but our country has made great strides towards ensuring businesses pay their fair share and will continue to lead international efforts to reform the international rules.


05 OCT 2018

Asylum Accommodation

Thank you for taking the time to email me about accommodation for asylum seekers.

I understand your concern on this matter and I hope the following information on this topic from the Home Office is reassuring:

Only asylum seekers in the UK who are destitute are provided with free accommodation. The type of accommodation varies, and could be a flat, a house, hostel, or bed and breakfast. The location of the accommodation also varies, and asylum seekers are unable to choose where they live.
The Government has made clear to its contractual providers that the use of hotels is only ever acceptable as a short term measure. Nor does the Government decide which hotels providers use, but it is important to note that asylum seeker accommodation must comply with strict contractual standards relating to safety and habitability.


03 OCT 2018

NHS Funding

Thank you for writing to me about this important issue.

I have long argued that we need a whole system response that covers the NHS, social care and public health and takes a long term view. I look forward to the NHS long term plan and to seeing the funding commitments upheld in the Chancellor's budget later this month. I do not yet know the details of this. I do not think there will be a 'Brexit dividend' and I would support a rise in taxation for this purpose and have argued for this to be part of an earmarked health and care tax.


02 OCT 2018

Arthritis

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about arthritis.

I understand your concern about how we best help those suffering from this debilitating condition and I hope the following information on this topic from the Department of Health is reassuring:

An independent review of the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG), which supports disabled people on low-incomes, has recently completed. This review considered how the DFG may need to adapt to changing innovation and technology in the aids and adaptions market. The Department of Health and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is now analysing these recommendations, and I look forward to studying their conclusions.
Funding for the DFG has increased from £220 million in 2015 to 2016 to £431 million in 2017 to 2018, and will rise further to £505 million by 2019 to 2020. However, there is more to do. Clinical guidelines for arthritis currently highlight the importance of self-management, and to help patients manage their condition, and live as independently as possible.
The Department for Work and Pensions ensures that people with arthritis applying for Personal Independence Payments are able to specify whether they need specific aids to help them with daily, physical tasks - making sure that they get the right support to improve their quality of life while maintaining their independence.


02 OCT 2018

Breast Cancer Care

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about breast cancer care and the reception on the 24th of October, I will endeavour to drop by.

I hope the following information on this topic from the Department of Health is reassuring:

Breast cancer survival rates have improved remarkably over the last 40 years, with five-year survival rates for women at over 86 per cent, up from just 53 per cent in the 1970s. This is a testament to the efforts made to raise awareness of, and boost funding into tackling this disease but more must be done. The Public Health England campaign, Be Clear on Cancer, continues to raise awareness of breast cancer among women over 70, who account for roughly 1 in 3 cases of the disease. First launched in 2014, the campaign drives awareness around key symptoms of breast cancer, encouraging thinking, acting, and treating early.
Great efforts are being made to improve cancer services and to ensure that the NHS continues to provide some of the world's best cancer care. The NHS has launched the National Cancer Programme which is committed to offering uniquely tailored cancer treatment to all patients with breast cancer by 2020. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has also recently updated its guidance on diagnosing and treating breast cancer. This guidance aims to help healthcare professionals offer the right treatments to people diagnosed with breast cancer, taking into account their individual preferences which will significantly improve patient experience and quality of care.
These measures form just part of the NHS's ambitious wider strategy to improve cancer outcomes, and save 30,000 lives per year by 2020.


02 OCT 2018

Ancient Woodland

Thank you for taking the time to email me about protections for ancient woodland and veteran trees, I am afraid I will be unable to attend the APPG AGM on this matter as it clashes with a meeting of the Health Select Committee, which I chair.

Nonetheless, I hope the following information on this topic from the Ministry of

Housing, Communities and Local Government is of interest:

The final revised version of the National Planning Policy Framework, sets out that "development resulting in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats (such as ancient woodland and ancient or veteran trees) should be refused, unless there are wholly exceptional reasons". This will ensure that these irreplaceable areas are not lost for future generations.
The revised version of the Framework will protect our ancient woodland and our aged and veteran trees for decades to come.


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