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.


23 AUG 2019

EU Citizens and NHS Charges

Thank you for taking the time to email me about NHS charges for EU nationals in the event of a No Deal Brexit.

I too am deeply concerned by this decision to make the NHS a fee-charging service for EU nationals in the event of a No Deal Brexit. This is yet another example of Boris Johnson's government reneging on a promise to maintain the status quo and subjects EU nationals to a hostile environment. It fails to recognise the invaluable contribution EU nationals have made – and continue to make – to the UK's economy, NHS, and society as a whole.

You may be interested to know that the Liberal Democrats have already warned that hundreds of thousands of EU citizens could miss the deadline for Settled Status – set out by the EU Settlement Scheme – which could lead to a new Windrush Scandal.

I can assure you that I will continue to fight against a No Deal and remain committed to trying to secure a People's Vote.


23 AUG 2019

Onshore Wind

Thank you for taking the time to email me about your support for onshore wind.

I agree that we need to invest more in renewables, and I feel that projects are more likely to be supported by the local community if members of the community directly benefit. I would like to see greater focus on supporting community energy schemes. I would also like to see more investment in renewables such as tidal energy.

The Liberal Democrat position is that this decision to end new onshore wind farms (in the Energy Act 2016). must be overturned and that the Government has a duty to restore investment in onshore wind farms and solar PV, in order to guarantee future energy security.


23 AUG 2019

End the Cage Age

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about the End the Cage Age campaign and the debate on the 9th of September, I will endeavour to attend.

Clearly, it is indisputable that animals are sentient and feel pain and I understand you are concerned that the welfare of animals should be paramount in law making post Brexit. I know that under European Union treaty provisions animal welfare must be given full regard in policy making.

My Brexit focus remains on trying to ensure everyone has a final say in a referendum.

You may be interested to know that the Liberal Democrats support stronger animal cruelty penalties, improved standards of animal welfare in agriculture and an all out ban on caged hens.

It is our belief that UK animal welfare standards must not be undermined by cheaper imports produced to lower standards. Any future trade deals require high animal welfare standards for food imports, including clear and unambiguous country of origin labelling for meat and dairy products. My Liberal Democrat colleagues and I will do everything in our power to protect animal rights, Brexit or no Brexit.


14 AUG 2019

No Deal Brexit & Trade Deals

Thank you for writing to me about this and the risks of No Deal and any subsequent trade deal with the US.

As it happens I think the greatest risk in practice is around the cost of medicines which President Trump and his Secretary of State for health have been calling for to be raised as part of the US flexing its muscles in any trade deal.

I have been discussing this in Parliament and in the media and will continue to make the case for protecting the NHS. The following article may be of interest by way of background. https://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/news-item/could-the-nhs-be-the-price-of-a-us-trade-deal


07 AUG 2019

NO Deal Brexit Food Crisis

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about a potential food crisis caused by a no deal Brexit.

As you may know I remain firmly opposed to a no deal Brexit and will be doing everything I can to stop this. You may like to read my Brexit blogs and you can do so here:

http://www.drsarah.org.uk/sarah's-blog/

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee is also holding an inquiry in to whether the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affair is ready for Brexit and you can find out more about this here: https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/environment-food-and-rural-affairs-committee/inquiries/parliament-2017/is-defra-ready-for-brexit-17-19/


07 AUG 2019

Effective Asylum System

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about our asylum system.

I understand that Refugee Action have concerns about how effective the system is and I hope you will be glad to hear that the Minister was recently asked in the House of Commons what steps he is taking to improve the asylum application process. You can view the full exchange here:

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2019-06-10/debates/3ED19E09-255A-4772-98DD-FB4F08F671CD/AsylumApplicationProcess

With regard to your point about ESOL classes, I am pleased that the government has announced it will publish an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) strategy for England this autumn. The strategy will contain a range of cross-government measures to support the government's commitment to building "strong integrated communities". It builds upon the proposals set out in the Integrated Communities Strategy green paper and responses to the consultation. You can read both of these via the following links:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/696993/Integrated_Communities_Strategy.pdf

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/integrated-communities-strategy-green-paper


05 AUG 2019

HS2

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

I read your comments with interest and appreciate your opposition to HS2, I have already stated that I would have preferred the money to be spent on other things.


05 AUG 2019

Bus Driver Training

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about bus driver training and guide dogs.
I understand your concern on this matter and realise you wish to know when guidance on training in this area will be published.

I know that the Secretary of State for Transport has stated the following on this matter: It is unlawful for Taxi and PHV drivers to refuse to carry passengers accompanied by assistance dogs and it is unacceptable that a minority continue to discriminate in this way. The Government’s response to the Task and Finish Group on Taxi and PHV licensing committed to introduce legislation when time allows to require drivers to complete disability awareness training as part of national minimum standards. The eventual requirement and supporting guidance will be informed by public consultation and appropriate research.


26 JUL 2019

Sur Baher

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about the bulldozing that has occurred in Sur Baher.

I understand your concern on this matter and this has been raised in the House, as you can see via the following: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2019-07-25/debates/ECFEDC9A-8843-49BD-9294-5741753E0F5D/SummerAdjournment?highlight=sur%20baher#contribution-6297C02B-C17E-40DB-B28E-AA82CDA41AF8


26 JUL 2019

Mental Health Act

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about the debate that was held on the Mental Health Act on the 25th of July, unfortunately, I could not attend due to prior commitments.

Nonetheless, I understand you feel the act needs to change and I can assure you that mental health issues have been a strong focus of mine in parliament.

You may like to read a transcript of the debate which includes the Minister's response and you can do so via the following link:

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2019-07-25/debates/4FE061D8-70AC-4B51-BA13-F83C5CDA8438/MentalHealthAct1983


25 JUL 2019

Sino British Joint Declaration

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the situation in Hong Kong and the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

I understand your concern on this matter and the situation in Hong Kong was raised in the House only this week and I know the responsible Minister stated that China and the United Kingdom are co-signatories and equally responsible for the Sino-British agreement, and we expect our co-signatory to honour it as we have done. You can view the full transcript of this here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2019-07-22/debates/388E7E2B-03A6-4D84-A61C-F385F58678F2/HongKong

Some written questions have also been asked of the government concerning the agreement and you can view these here:

https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2019-07-16/277805/

https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2019-07-24/281731/

Lastly, you may be interested in the following briefing on this topic from the House of Commons Library: https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-8616


23 JUL 2019

Local Welfare Assistance

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the Children's Society Campaign concerning Local Welfare Assistance Schemes.

I understand your concern on this matter and I know some parliamentary questions have already been raised with the government on this topic. The Minister responsible for this area responded as per the below:

The reforms to the Social Fund in 2013 allowed local authorities in England and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales to deliver their own local provision for people who are in need of urgent help. Local authorities are best placed to decide how to promote and target flexible help to support local welfare needs. The Government has no further plans to review provision.

The Local Government Finance Settlement for 2015-16 identifies a notional amount relating to local welfare provision in each upper-tier and unitary authority's general grant, totalling £129.6 million for England. The notional allocation for local welfare provision remains at £129.6 million in England in the Local Government Financial Settlement until 2019/20. There are no plans to ring-fence this notional allocation.

Thank you for getting in touch and I realise you may be disappointed with the government's response on this.


22 JUL 2019

EDM 802

Thank you for writing to me about wholly owned subsidiary companies in the NHS.

These are wholly owned by the NHS rather than external private companies and currently there are around 42 Trusts using these. This does not represent privatisation in the sense that this is often used elsewhere because any profits remain within the NHS. In some cases these appear to bring tax advantages for Trusts but I do not think it is right for staff formerly employed directly by the NHS to lose access to pension and other benefits.

Most of these subsidiaries are involved with providing services to the NHS such as maintenance and cleaning for example but staff employed in these roles should have the same rights to access NHS conditions of service in my view.

Foundation trusts do have the legal powers to set up these subsidiary companies but will now have greater oversight from NHS Improvement.


15 JUL 2019

Alzheimer's Society

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about the Alzheimer's Society event that was held in Parliament on the 9th of July.

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend due to prior commitments, however I understand your concerns about the care of those suffering from dementia. You may be interested to know that the Health and Social Care Committee, which I chair, conducted a joint inquiry with the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee alongside a citizen's assembly in to the long term funding of adult social care and you can read our report here: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmcomloc/768/76802.htm

I will continue to press the Prime Minister to publish the overdue Social Care Green Paper and to bring forward sustainable long-term funding for social care.


15 JUL 2019

Disability Benefits Consortium

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the reception being held by the Disability Benefits Consortium on the 16th of July in Parliament.

Unfortunately, I have prior commitments and will be unable to attend but will endeavour to have a look at the report they are launching that day. I understand that some have concerns about the impact of changes to the welfare system on disabled people and I hope you are reassured to know that I recently met with representatives from the disability charity, Sense to discuss one of their ongoing campaigns- 'When I'm gone', which focuses on the families of those living with disabilities.


15 JUL 2019

Animal Welfare (Sentencing)

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill.

I hope you are pleased that the bill passed its second reading on the 10th of July and will now proceed to the committee stage. You can track the bill here: https://services.parliament.uk/Bills/2017-19/animalwelfaresentencing.html

You may also be interested in the following briefing on this topic from the House of Commons Library: researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-8612

Thank you for getting in touch and I glad this important bill is progressing.


15 JUL 2019

Cyprus

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the situation in Cyprus.

Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend the reception on this matter in parliament on the 16th of July due to prior commitments. Nonetheless, I appreciate your concern on this matter and I hope you are reassured to know that what recent diplomatic steps have been taken to help to pursue a resolution to the division of Cyprus was raised in with the relevant Minister in the House. You can view the full exchange here:

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2019-05-14/debates/443BB844-2B31-4633-9D78-7B15AEA8408C/Cyprus


10 JUL 2019

Homeless Young People

Thank you for taking the time to email me with your concerns about homeless young people and the shared accommodation rate.

I understand your concern on this matter but hope the following information on this topic from the House of Commons Library concerning eligibility and exemptions provides some reassurance:

The first point to note is that the personal allowances, which form part of the calculation of entitlement to Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance for all claimants, are set at lower levels for single people under 25. For example, from April 2019 the personal allowance for a single Housing Benefit claimant aged under 25 is £57.90 per week, while the allowance for someone aged over 25 is £73.10. The personal allowance is the minimum amount deemed necessary for the normal expenses of a person or couple in the relevant age group.

The differential treatment of single benefit claimants (without children) aged under and over 25 was introduced by the Social Security Act 1988. Prior to then, the rate of benefit which was payable depended on whether the person was a "householder", a distinction which caused considerable administrative difficulties. The introduction of the age threshold was justified on the grounds that most young people under 25 did not live independently and accordingly had fewer financial responsibilities, and because of the need to target resources on those likely to be in greatest need.

In addition, the Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR) was introduced in 1996 – this measure limited the Housing Benefit that a single person under the age of 25 could receive to the average rent level charged for a room in a shared house. The SAR was introduced "to ensure that Housing Benefit does not encourage young people to leave the parental home unnecessarily or to take on higher priced accommodation at the taxpayers' expense than they could afford from their own earnings." [Department of Social Security Press Notice, 96/09, 2 April 1996].

There are some exemptions from the SAR for certain categories of claimant:

local Authority and housing association tenants. Social sector tenants normally have their rent met in full (less deductions for non-dependants and earnings) as rents are generally below market rates;

tenants in certain supported accommodation. This covers tenants who are in accommodation where the landlord is a county council, voluntary organisation, housing association or registered charity and provides care, support or supervision. These cases are assessed under pre 1996 rules which recognise that their housing costs may be more expensive;

claimants entitled to the Severe Disability Premium - that is people who receive the middle or highest rate care component of Disability Living Allowance, or the Personal Independence Payment daily living component, who live alone and who don't have a carer;

claimants who have a non-dependant residing with them;

claimants under the age of 22 who were formerly in social services care. This allows care leavers some leeway to become settled and move in to work or establish links whereby they could share accommodation with others. [this exemption does not apply to the extended age group]; and

claimants entitled to an extra bedroom to allow for a non-resident carer to sleep over where overnight care is required.

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) was rolled-out for new claimants living in the deregulated private rented sector after 7 April 2008. LHA is not a benefit in its own right – it involves a variation in the way in which the rent element of Housing Benefit (HB) is calculated for tenants living in the deregulated private rented sector. When initially introduced, LHA rates for properties with different numbers of bedrooms within a Broad Rental Market Area (BRMA) were calculated at the median of market rents. Since April 2011, they have been calculated on the basis of the lowest 30th percentile of market rents within the BRMA. Furthermore, LHA rates have been frozen since April 2016 and will remain so until 1 April 2020.

For example, these are the current LHA rates within the South Devon BRMA – the LHA rate is the maximum weekly rent that Housing Benefit will cover for a deregulated tenancy in the private rented sector:

Shared Accommodation Rate: £63.50 per week

One Bedroom Rate: £96.91 per week

Two Bedrooms Rate: £128.19 per week

Three Bedrooms Rate: £153.02 per week

Four Bedrooms Rate: £192.24 per week

As part of the October 2010 Spending Review, the Coalition Government announced that the SAR would be extended to cover single claimants up to age 35. This change was implemented with effect from 1 January 2012 by The Housing Benefit (Amendment) Regulations 2011 (SI 2011/1736). Two further exemptions were added which only apply to the extended age group:

...the Government has looked carefully at the arguments presented by a number of commentators, the Committee and other Government departments on the potential effect of these changes on specific groups and has decided to introduce two additional exemptions which will apply to the extended age group only. The first is for a small but clearly defined group of ex-offenders who are subject to management by more than one agency under the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) and who are most likely to pose a risk of serious harm to others if they share accommodation. Offenders subject to MAPPA arrangements are in the main 25 years or over. In Scotland, MAPPA legislation is not yet fully in force in relation to violent and certain other offenders and so local authorities will be responsible for applying the exemption where it is considered that a claimant would present a risk of causing serious harm to the public. The Government is keen to avoid a situation that potentially risks putting members of the public in danger.

The second exemption is for people who have spent three months or more in a homeless hostel, or more than one hostel, specialising in rehabilitating and resettling this group within the community. To benefit from this exemption claimants would need to have been offered and to have accepted support services to enable them to be rehabilitated or resettled in the community. The three month qualifying condition is designed to target the exemption at people receiving a sustained programme of rehabilitation rather than people who have sporadic, short term stays. This exemption addresses the concerns raised by a number of commentators about the impact of these changes on rough sleepers, and in particular the silting up of hostel accommodation. The Government accepts that without this it will be difficult to secure suitable move-on accommodation for this group to help them in to a more settled way of life, which could undermine the Government's ambition to end rough sleeping. This exemption has been targeted at people aged 25 and over who are at greater risk of rough sleeping.

[SSAC Report on SI 2011/1736 and Government response, July 2011]


10 JUL 2019

Funding for Cycling

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me the debate held yesterday on funding for cycling.

I actually spoke in the debate and you may like to view the transcript here or look at my website page.


10 JUL 2019

Northern Ireland Abortion

Thank you for taking the time to email me.

I continue to believe in a woman's right to choose and I voted to support the amendments concerning abortion in Northern Ireland yesterday.


10 JUL 2019

Local Electricity Bill

Thank you very much for taking the time to contact me about the Local Electricity Bill.

I would support the bill but that no new private member's bills have a chance of passing in this session but would of course be good to have ready to go after the next Queens speech especially for a member who is drawn in the top 20 of the ballot.


08 JUL 2019

Refugee Family Reunion

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about refugee family reunion.

As you know a debate was held on this matter last month and you may like to read the transcript, including the Minister's response, you can do so via the following link.

I am glad that the Immigration Minister, Caroline Nokes MP, provided reassurance that the government recognises the importance of family reunion and that their policy provides safe and legal routes to bring families together. She highlighted that over the past five years the UK has granted over 26,000 family reunion visas to family members of refugees in the UK. There are also separate provisions in the rules that allow extended family to sponsor children to come here. Where there are serious and compelling circumstances, refugees can sponsor adult dependent relatives living overseas to join them when, owing to age, illness or disability, that person requires long-term personal care that can be provided only by relatives in the UK.

Lastly, you may be interested in the following briefing from the House of Commons Library on this topic.


08 JUL 2019

Idlib Syria

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about the situation in Idlib in Syria.

I understand your concern on this matter and this was raised in the House last month, you can view the exchange here.

I am glad that the Minister for the Middle East took the opportunity to reiterate that these attacks are a clear breach of international law, and to call on the regime and Russia in the strongest possible terms to cease them and end the suffering of those in the Idlib governorate.

You may also like to view the UK's humanitarian aid response to the Syria crisis and you can do so here.


08 JUL 2019

Social Housing

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about social housing and the spending review.

I understand you feel that the government needs to build more social homes and you may like to view the transcript of a debate that was held on this topic last month, you can do so via the following link.

I was reassured that in the debate, the Minister responsible for housing stated that the government recognised the need for more social rent homes and highlighted that in 2017 they announced an additional £2 billion of funding for the affordable homes programme ​to deliver social rent homes in areas of high affordability pressure. This funding should deliver at least 12,500 social rent homes in high-cost areas, in a move to support families struggling to pay their rent.

Lastly, you may be interested in the following House of Commons Library briefing on this topic.


08 JUL 2019

Open Doors

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the Open Doors campaign concerning the persecution of Christians around the world.

I understand your concern on this matter and I know that Jeremy Hunt has said there needs to be a "sea-change" in how the UK treats worldwide anti-Christian persecution. This matter was also raised with him in the House earlier this year and you can view the exchange via the following link

You mention the recent review carried out on this topic and you can find out more about this here.


05 JUL 2019

Assisted Dying

Thank you for taking the time to email me.

I read your comments with interest but I am afraid I was unable to attend the debate in parliament yesterday concerning assisted dying as I had a long standing commitment in the constituency.

I can assure you that I will continue to listen to views on both sides of this debate and you may like to read the transcript from the event in the House, which includes the Minister's response:

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2019-07-04/debates/EFD57ADB-AE18-4D6B-9DA8-CCDDF99D1D0A/AssistedDying


03 JUL 2019

Support For Buses

Thank you for taking the time to email me about support for local bus services and the drop in session that was held yesterday by the Campaign for Better Transport, unfortunately, I was unable to attend due to prior commitments.

As the MP for a rural area I completely understand the need to protect local bus services and I have often liaised between constituents, the council and transport companies about this. I have also presented petitions to the House of Commons concerning retaining certain bus routes.


02 JUL 2019

Pension Credit

Thank you for taking the time to email me about those who are not claiming Pension Credit despite being eligible.

I understand your concern on this matter and I know the government have clarified that they are looking to work with stakeholders such as Independent Age and Age UK to discuss pension credit take-up across Great Britain.

You can find out more about eligibility for Pension Credit here: https://www.gov.uk/pension-credit/eligibility

You can also visit your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau for a full benefits check: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/benefits-introduction/what-benefits-can-i-get/

Lastly, you may find the following briefing on this topic from the House of Commons Library of interest: researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-8135


01 JUL 2019

Public Ownership of Water

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about the public ownership of water.

You ask if I will 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.

You may be interested to read the transcript of a speech by Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, at the Water Industry Forum, entitled: What future for water? Three challenges for the industry: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/what-future-for-water-three-challenges-for-the-industry

In it he states that he does not think the fundamental issue is whether water companies remain privatised or are taken back into public ownership: the fundamental issue is what will deliver best for the public and the environment.

The future of the water industry was also considered in a debate in the House at the start of this year and you may like to view the transcript via the following link: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2019-01-22/debates/93097112-7B8E-459A-BE5A-530A7D3EA826/WaterIndustry?highlight=public%20ownership%20water#contribution-61074940-177F-4D64-8FDE-9780AC7A706A

Lastly, the following briefings from the House of Commons Library on this topic may be of interest:

researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CDP-2019-0008

https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-8325


27 JUN 2019

Abortion Ruling

Thank you for taking the time to email me.

I agree that the case you raise involving Justice Lieven is clearly a distressing one. However, this is a legal matter and it remains the case that MPs cannot interfere with the courts.


27 JUN 2019

Audiology Services

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about NHS audiology services.

I am afraid I was unable to attend the Action for Hearing Loss event on this matter on the 26th of June due to prior commitments. Nonetheless, I understand you have concerns about how local audiology services are commissioned and you may be interested in the following document published by NHS England:

Commissioning Services for People with Hearing Loss: A framework for clinical commissioning groups: https://www.england.nhs.uk/publication/commissioning-hearing-loss-framework/

You can also find out more about the work of the audiology department at Torbay Hospital here: https://www.torbayandsouthdevon.nhs.uk/services/audiology/


26 JUN 2019

Obesity Health Alliance

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about the Obesity Health Alliance parliamentary reception on the 3rd of July.

Unfortunately, I have prior commitments at that time and will be unable to attend. However, I am glad that the government ran a consultation on proposals concerning mandatory calorie labelling in food served outside the home at the end of last year. I know many are keen to see the government's response on this and once it is published you will be able to view it here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/calorie-labelling-for-food-and-drink-served-outside-of-the-home

I have always been supportive of measures that improve our general public health and would personally be keen to see mandatory calorie labelling in food served outside the home.

In addition, the Health and Social Care Select Committee, which I chair, actually held an inquiry in to childhood obesity and you can view the report we produced here: https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/health-and-social-care-committee/inquiries/parliament-2017/childhood-obesity-inquiry-17-19/

In the report we fully endorse the calls for a 9pm watershed on high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) food and drink advertising.


25 JUN 2019

Macmillan Cancer Report

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the launch of Macmillan Cancer Support's new report, 'Cancer - A Costly Diagnosis? Stories of the Financial Impact of Cancer' on the 9th of July, unfortunately, this clashes with a meeting of the Health and Social Care Select Committee, which I chair, so I will be unable to attend.

Nonetheless, due to my medical background I can assure you that I understand well the physical and emotional consequences of cancer.


25 JUN 2019

Adults with Eating Disorders

Thank you for taking the time to email me about waiting times targets for adults with eating disorders.

I read your comments with interest and I agree that the announcement that a four-week waiting time target for adult eating disorder treatment will be piloted, in line with those introduced for children and young people, is a promising step.

I realise you would like to know when the pilots will take place and the 'Clinically-led Review of NHS Access Standards' Interim Report, published in March 2019, states that NHS England will test four-week waiting times for adult and older adult community mental health and it is expected that eating disorders will be included in this.

The proposals will be field tested at a selection of pilot sites across England, before wider implementation. Alongside the field testing, engagement will take place across the health service before making recommendations to the Government and full implementation beginning spring 2020.

You may also be interested in the following briefing from the House of Commons Library covering the topic of Eating Disorders Awareness Week:

researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CDP-2019-0055/CDP-2019-0055.pdf


25 JUN 2019

Guide Dogs

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the issues faced by assistance dog users and the Guide Dogs charity event that was held in Parliament on the 19th of June.

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the event due to prior commitments, however I understand the concern on this matter and have been saddened to hear about those who have been refused a taxi ride or to enter a business due to their assistance dog, this is unacceptable and illegal.


25 JUN 2019

Let Refugees Learn English

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about helping refugees to learn English.

I understand your concern on this matter and I agree we should do all that we can to support refugees in this endeavour, in order to allow them to better integrate in to society and allow them to find jobs and make friends more easily.

I am pleased that the government has announced it will publish an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) strategy for England this autumn. The strategy will contain a range of cross-government measures to support the government's commitment to building "strong integrated communities". It builds upon the proposals set out in the Integrated Communities Strategy green paper and responses to the consultation. You can read both of these via the following links:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/696993/Integrated_Communities_Strategy.pdf

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/integrated-communities-strategy-green-paper


25 JUN 2019

Child Refugees

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about the situation for child refugees.

I understand your concern on this matter and I am of course happy to meet any constituents who wish to discuss child refugee resettlement with me in a constituency surgery.

You may also be interested in the Government's response to the Unaccompanied Child Migrants Report published by the Home Affairs Committee following their inquiry on this topic. You can read it via the following link:

https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/home-affairs-committee/news-parliament-2017/unaccompanied-child-migrants-government-response-17-19/


25 JUN 2019

Seasonal Workers

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about the Seasonal Workers Pilot Scheme.

I understand you would like to see the numbers for the scheme increased and this turned in to a fully functioning scheme and I have had discussions about this with local farmers and the National Farmers Union.

This issue was actually raised in the House of Commons on the 20th of June and you can view the full transcript via the following link: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2019-06-20/debates/27FCAE94-A12C-47D7-9280-876C99A1F342/SeasonalAgriculturalWorkersPilotScheme

I know that the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Robert Goodwill MP, stated that the Government have introduced a new immigration pilot scheme for 2019 and 2020 to enable up to 2,500 non-European economic area migrant workers to come to the UK to undertake seasonal employment in the edible horticultural sector. DEFRA and the Home Office will evaluate the outcome before taking any decisions on future arrangements.


25 JUN 2019

Invest in Deaf Children

Thank you for taking the time to email me about more funding for deaf children's education.

I understand your concern on this matter and realise you would like to see more funding pledged for this in the Spending Review., I would also be happy to see this prioritised by the new cabinet when they are appointed.

A debate was held on this topic at the end of last year in Westminster Hall and you can view the full transcript via the following link: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2018-09-13/debates/95BAE0F2-0F29-4F5B-8C2E-72D0D81DF65D/DeafChildren'SServices?highlight=deaf%20children#contribution-482BECD8-150F-44A8-8041-E3CF0DEF6209

I know that in the debate the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi MP highlighted that the Department has committed £23 million of additional funding to support local authorities to conduct strategic reviews of their SEND provision and are investing ​£265 million of additional capital funding specifically aimed at helping local authorities to develop provision for children and young people with education, health and care plans.

You may also be interested in the following briefing from the House of Commons Library concerning deaf children's services:

researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CDP-2018-0192/CDP-2018-0192.pdf


24 JUN 2019

Saudi Arabia Arms Sales

Thank you for taking the time to email me.

I 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 to arms sales.

I know that Campaign Against Arms Trade have won a legal challenge over the government's decision to allow arms sales to Saudi Arabia and judges have said licences should be reviewed but would not be immediately suspended. I am pleased that the International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has said the government will not grant any new licences for export to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners while the implications of the judgment are considered. However, I realise that the government will be seeking permission to appeal against the judgment.

Thank you for getting in touch and I will be following developments in this area closely.


17 JUN 2019

TV Licences for the over 75s

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the BBC's decision to means test free TV licences for the over 75s.

I appreciate your concern about this and that this will be particularly hard on those who just miss the threshold for pension credit.

Over 190,000 people took part in the BBC consultation, the largest the BBC has ever run, and there was a small majority who wanted to change the concession and many who felt strongly that the concession should continue. There was little support for abolishing the concession.

I realise many will be deeply upset by this change and I think the government should now look at what extra support it can give to those who will now struggle with affordability.

I hope the following information on this topic from the BBC provides some reassurance and helps to clarify the situation about who will already be eligible for a free licence after the changes come into force:

First the BBC has taken how we implement this new scheme very seriously. We know it's a big change for people and we want to make it easy and simple.

Television Licensing will be writing to all over 75 households – nobody needs to do anything now – their free licence will remain in place until 31 May 2020.

We've announced the decision a year in advance to give people time to think about it and then prepare. We are very conscious that we need to make this easy and accessible to all.

We are going to provide more telephone support and personal contact through outreach visits to community centres, for example, because we appreciate this group may need and want more support.

The BBC has also started running an information campaign on radio and will continue to communicate widely so that people know about the new arrangements.

The BBC is aware that individuals may prefer a family member or representative to deal with the TV Licence on their behalf and those mechanisms are already in place in TV Licensing.

For those who will now have to pay we recognise that to pay the whole amount up front may be difficult so we will introduce a new payment plan so that people can make smaller payments – around £6 every fortnight – so spread out over the year which we hope will make it easier for people.

There have been a number of stories where people have raised concerns about how they are going to comply with the new arrangements. We are going to make it as easy as possible for people to pay and make sure we support them during the transition. We have a higher compliance rate than other countries and as we have set out clearly enforcement action of any kind is always a last resort for the BBC.

For those on pension credit, people will just have to provide evidence of receipt of pension credit – such as a letter – passporting is a tried and tested way to do this used by the public and private sectors.

We've written to charities and older people's groups to work with them to make this as easy as possible for everybody and also look at how to make sure people are aware of how they can get a free TV licence via Pension Credit.

We think that working together it is likely that pension credit take-up will rise.

We will also be encouraging people to contact DWP if they think they are eligible for Pension Credit and how other organisations can support them in their applications.

That will be a good thing. New pension credit claimants could get around £2500, as well as then other benefits, including a free TV licence.

I think it is very important that government does everything possible to improve the awareness of pension credit as so many people continue not to claim this important benefit.

Information about Pension Credit can be found at the following website .


14 JUN 2019

Healthy Start Vouchers

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about Healthy Start vouchers.

I understand you would like to know what steps the Government is taking to ensure proper investment in the Healthy Start scheme and I have written to the Health Secretary enquiring about this.


13 JUN 2019

Protect the Ocean

Thank you very much for your email concerning plastic in the oceans and I do understand your concerns about marine pollution.

I realise you are concerned about the use of plastics and I share your concern on this matter and was pleased to visit Salcombe Primary School to see their work as a Plastic Free School. In addition, I recently met with the Plastic Free Totnes group to hear about their endeavours, you can find out more about their campaign at the following website: https://www.transitiontowntotnes.org/2018/06/plastic-free-totnes-campaign/

I am delighted that plans have been set out to create 41 new Marine Conservation Zones across the UK, safeguarding almost 12,000 square kilometres of marine habitats and marking the most significant expansion of the UK's 'Blue Belt' of protected areas to date. The proposed protections, announced on World Oceans Day, will cover an area almost eight times the size of Greater London.

No new activities deemed damaging, such as dredging or significant coastal or offshore development, will be allowed to take place in these areas. Existing harmful activities will be minimised or stopped to allow important habitats to recover. Rare or threatened marine habitats and species that will be protected include the short snouted seahorse, stalked jellyfish and peacock's tail seaweed.

Some 50 zones had already been designated around England in 2013 and 2016 as part of the Blue Belt. This third and final tranche will be designated within 12 months of a consultation that closed on 20 July, bringing the total area of protection to over 32,000 square kilometres. Considering other types of marine protected area, the total sea area under protection will amount to around 220,000 square kilometres, meaning almost two fifths of English seas would be protected.

The UK leads the world on marine protection and is on track to deliver over 4 million square kilometres of protected ocean around the UK Overseas Territories by 2020. Together with existing Marine Protected Areas around the British Indian Ocean Territory, South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands and within the British Antarctic Territory, more recent developments have seen new and planned enhanced protections in waters around Pitcairn, St. Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.

You may also like to look at the government's 25 Year Environment Plan and you can do so via the following website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/25-year-environment-plan

I actually visited a local business earlier this year who are making a difference in marine conservation, reducing bycatch and plastic waste in our oceans. You may like to read more about their work: https://www.fishtekmarine.com/

I do think the government is taking positive steps to protect our marine environment and you can find out more about what is being done here: https://www.gov.uk/environment/marine-environment


13 JUN 2019

Humanist Marriage

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the legal recognition of humanist marriages in England and Wales.

I am supportive of this and have written to the Lord Chancellor. I do hope this is of some help.


07 JUN 2019

Child Citizenship Fees

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about child citizenship fees.

I understand your concern on this matter but I must be honest and say that as immigration and nationality fees were only recently reset at the end of March, I do not think they will be changed again soon. However, I was pleased to note that the price of nationality registration as a British citizen for children did not increase.

This issue was raised in Westminster several times last year as you can see via the following links:

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2018-10-23/debates/B354EE36-28BB-45ED-A6EA-9846CC39594D/ChildCitizenshipFees

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2018-09-04/debates/5A44F907-7F59-46F2-A015-8AE28CB16237/BritishCitizenshipFeesChildren?highlight=child%20citizenship%20fees#contribution-A60A55D9-9BCF-4030-812D-A581EE2297F4

Lastly, you may find the following briefing from the House of Commons Library on this topic of interest:

researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CDP-2018-0196#fullreport


28 MAY 2019

Hamas

I unequivocally oppose the shelling by Hamas and the abuses of human rights on both sides of this terrible dispute.


28 MAY 2019

Environment Bill

Thank you for contacting me about the draft Environment Bill.

Draft clauses to be included in the Environment Bill on environmental principles and governance have now been published. These draft clauses will be central to the new Environment Bill and will place environmental ambition and accountability at the heart of government. I am encouraged that these clauses are only part of a broader Bill, which will include legislative measures to take direct action to address the biggest environmental priorities of our age: air quality, nature recovery, waste and resource efficiency, and water resource management. Of course, more detail on all policy areas is due to be published in due course.

I'm sure you will be pleased to see that the Bill introduces a new requirement for the Secretary of State to prepare an Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP); a "plan to improve the natural environment". These are to cover a period of no less than 15 years and are applicable to England only. Further, Clause 8 requires the Secretary of State to "prepare annual reports on the implementation of the current environmental improvement plan", which are to be laid before Parliament. I hope we can agree that this provides the juncture through which the Minister is fully held to account in a constructive and direct manner. This annual scrutiny will maintain the pressure on the Government to act in a careful and considered manner throughout the year.

The draft clauses also place our 25 Year Environment Plan on a statutory footing and introduce a set of environmental principles that will be used to guide future government policy making. As the Bill makes its journey through Parliament, I intend to give my support to amendments that make provision for the independent setting and monitoring of robust statutory targets for natures recovery.

The draft clauses set out how a new system of green governance will be created, establishing an independent Office for Environmental Protection, to ensure we succeed in leaving the environment in a better condition than we found it. I will also consider amendments that strengthen this principle.

I do hope that I have reassured you that I am fully committed to protecting our environment for future generations. I believe that his Draft Bill is a good start and I will be sure to follow its progress through Parliament closely and seek to amend where necessary.


28 MAY 2019

Pregnant Women in the Workplace

Thank you for taking the time to email me about prohibiting making employees redundant during pregnancy, maternity leave and the period of six months from the end of pregnancy; and for connected purposes.

This was a ten-minute rule bill and as such would not lead to legislation but does raise awareness in the House of Commons and I was pleased to see it went unopposed. I know however that some campaigners for maternity rights have concerns that there could be unintended consequences to Maria's proposals. Evidently, I do not think any woman should be discriminated against by their employer during pregnancy or maternity leave.

You can view Maria Miller MPs presentation of the bill here.


28 MAY 2019

Arthritis Debate

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about the debate held on arthritis on the 22nd of May, unfortunately I was unable to attend due to prior commitments.

However, I understand how debilitating arthritis can be and I do think the government is taking action to support those with such conditions in the work place. You can view the full transcript of the debate and the Minister's response here.


28 MAY 2019

Global Fund

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about The ONE Campaign's mission to raise awareness of the life-saving work of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

I am very supportive of the great work of the Global Fund and I am glad that the Minister for the Middle East (Alistair Burt) confirmed in the House earlier this year that the UK is considering the Global Fund's investment case ahead of determining our contribution to a successful sixth replenishment, and senior UK attendance at the Global Fund's sixth replenishment conference in October 2019 will be determined in due course.

You can find out more about this here:


28 MAY 2019

End the Cage Age

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the End the Cage Age campaign, which calls for a ban on all caged farming.

I understand your concern on this matter and I am afraid I was unable to attend the walk-in session on this matter on the 22nd of May due to prior commitments. Nonetheless, if the petition on this topic is debated in parliament then I will endeavour to attend.

Lastly, you may be interested in the code of recommendations and guidance for laying hens, meat chickens, ducks, turkeys and other birds bred on farms from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/poultry-on-farm-welfare


28 MAY 2019

Junk Food Advertisements

Thank you for taking the time to email me about Cancer Research UK's campaign to restrict junk food ads on tv before 9pm, as well as similar restrictions online.

I understand your concern on this matter and the Health and Social Care Select Committee, which I chair, actually held an inquiry in to childhood obesity and you can view the report we produced here:

In the report we fully endorse the calls for a 9pm watershed on high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) food and drink advertising.


28 MAY 2019

Independent Housing Regulator

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the creation of a new independent housing regulator. I would be supportive of this.

I understand your concerns about ensuring the safety of people's homes following on from the Grenfell tragedy. For information this is the link to the government's response

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/grenfell-tower


22 MAY 2019

Medicinal Cannabis

Thank you for writing to me about this issue and I agree that it is important which is why the Health and Social Care Select Committee has recently been holding hearings about medicinal cannabis and will soon publish its findings.


22 MAY 2019

Minimum Income Requirement

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the Minimum Income Requirement, which means that British people who earn less than £18,600 a year cannot be joined in the UK by a partner from outside the European Economic Area.

I appreciate your concern on this matter, however I know that the Supreme Court has upheld the lawfulness of the minimum income requirement for spouse visas, which is set at a level where partners would not immediately need state support on arrival.

The Supreme Court agreed that it strikes a fair balance between the interests of those wishing to sponsor a spouse to settle in the UK and of the community in general. The Home Office must regularly review this threshold.


21 MAY 2019

Torture

Thank you for taking the time to email me about Freedom from Torture's campaign and I am supportive of the principles of this.

I agree that there is no place for torture in the modern world and that the UK should be a safe place for those fleeing torture.

You may find the briefing from the House of Commons Library concerning the immigration detention of victims of torture and other vulnerable people of interest.


20 MAY 2019

Children In Conflict

Thank you for taking the time to email me about children living in war zones.

I understand your concern on this matter and realise you would like to see a new Protection of Civilians Strategy created.

The issue of protecting children in conflict areas was raised in the House last year and in this debate it was highlighted that the UK's aid strategy commits 50% of our aid to fragile states and regions. In such places, protecting children is a policy priority. I hope you will also be pleased to hear that the UK has signed the safe schools declaration, underlining our important political support for the protection of schools during military operations and in armed conflict. You can find out more about this here.

In addition, at the end of last year The Department for International Development announced its commitment to match funding raised through War Child's appeal to support children in the Central African Republic traumatised by war. You can find out more about this via the following links: https://www.warchild.org.uk/sites/default/files/link-files/department_for_international_development_war_child_appeal_match_funding_winter_2018.pdf

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/lord-ahmad-and-carey-mulligan-international-community-must-work-together-to-ensure-that-children-in-conflict-zones-have-a-real-chance-to-reach-their


16 MAY 2019

Abortion

Thank you for taking the time to email me.

I will be continuing to support women's human rights in Northern Ireland and elsewhere to access safe legal abortion.


15 MAY 2019

Human Rights Defenders in Columbia

Thank you for taking the time to email me about Human Rights Defenders in Colombia.

I understand you would like me to sign EDM 2232 on this matter, 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, you may be interested to know that the progress of the Colombia peace process was raised in the House of Commons last month and you can view this here.

There was also a debate held on Women's Human Rights Defenders in which those in Colombia were specifically mentioned, you can view the transcript, including the Minister's response here.

You may also like to look at the following information about Colombia and the UK Human Rights Fund, one of the aims of which is the protection of human rights defenders through legal assistance to community leaders and developing self-protection and collective protection measures.

Lastly, the following statement by Ambassador Karen Pierce, UK Permanent Representative to the UN, at the Security Council Briefings on Colombia, made last month, highlighted concerns about the safety of Human Rights Defenders.


09 MAY 2019

Dementia Fund

Thank you for writing to me about this campaign. I do not however feel that this would lead to a sustainable long-term solution for the problems facing those living with dementia or other long-term conditions that are more likely to need social and residential care.

The Health and Social Care Committee conducted a joint inquiry with the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee alongside a citizen's assembly and came to a different conclusion about the best way forward. You can read the report here 

I will continue to press the Prime Minister to publish the overdue Social Care Green Paper and to bring forward sustainable long-term funding for social care.


09 MAY 2019

Beer Duty

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

I understand you would like to see a cut in beer duty and as you may know I have been a long-time proponent of minimum unit pricing for alcohol. I will continue to press for this to be introduced, as I feel this would be beneficial to pubs. A cut in beer duty would also benefit the off-licence trade and would not help to level the playing field for pubs.


09 MAY 2019

TV Licences Over 75s

Thank you for taking the time to email me about tv licenses for over 75s and the debate that was held on this matter, I am afraid I was unable to attend due to prior commitments.

I realise you would like to see free tv licenses for over 75s maintained and during the debate the Minister responsible highlighted that the Government and the BBC agreed back in 2015 that responsibility for the concession for the over-75s would transfer to the BBC in June 2020. As such, the future of the concession is entirely the BBC's decision and it is for the BBC to decide whether it wants to maintain the current concession or to take a different path. You can read the full transcript of the debate here.

The BBC ran a consultation on this topic and I do hope you were able to contribute to this before it closed on the 12th of February. The responses the BBC receives to the consultation they ran will help them decide what to do next and I know they will publish the outcome later this year. You can find out more about this here.


08 MAY 2019

Radiotherapy4Life

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about the Radiotherapy4Life Campaign.

I have recently met with the Secretary of State to discuss the need for greater capital investment in the NHS not only for vital new equipment but also for maintenance. The announcements on NHS England Spending do not cover capital and it will be essential for this to be addressed in the Spending Review.

I have also met with the chair of the NHS workforce review, Dido Harding and with Health Education England to discuss the workforce shortfall across the NHS which is also a serious threat to radiotherapy services.

Earlier this month I held a round table with a coalition of cancer charities to also hear their wider views on the NHS Long Term Plan for cancer and where I could best assist them.

As chair of the Health and Social Care Committee I cannot join individual health campaigns but assure you that the issues around radiotherapy will be raised in the committee's ongoing scrutiny of the ambitions on cancer within the Long Term Plan https://www.longtermplan.nhs.uk/online-version/chapter-3-further-progress-on-care-quality-and-outcomes/better-care-for-major-health-conditions/cancer/

An oral question was raised on this topic in the House at the end of last year and it was clarified that since 2016, the radiotherapy modernisation programme has seen £130 million of new investment to ensure that all new equipment can deliver advanced radiotherapy. You can read more about this here.

Access to radiotherapy was also raised in a debate concerning the Cancer Workforce and Early Diagnosis, you can view this and the Minister's response here.

Lastly, the following note from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology regarding advances in cancer treatment may be of interest:

https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/POST-PN-0598


08 MAY 2019

Fracking Regulations

Thank you for taking the time to email me about calls by the shale gas industry to weaken regulations governing earthquakes caused by fracking.

I understand your concern on this matter and I realise that shale gas explorations remains controversial. For the record, I am not in favour of weakening the restrictions.

At the start of this year the Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, Claire Perry MP stated the following the House after this issue was raised with her:

I have absolutely no plans to change the traffic lights system. The current fracking proposals being tested in Lancashire right now were developed with that system. The fact is that that system is working and being triggered even by micro-tremors; the hon. Gentleman will know that we have had some great evidence from the University of Liverpool as to how small the tremors actually are. If we are to take forward what could be a very valuable industry, it is only right that we do so with the toughest environmental regulations in the world, so I say again that there are no plans from the Government to change the traffic lights system.

You can view the government guidance on onshore oil and gas exploration in the UK regulation and best practice here.


02 MAY 2019

Climate Change

Thank you for taking the time to email me about climate change.

I do think that Extinction Rebellion have made a difference. It is likely that the government is not going to hit its own future targets in this area and I think it will need to set out its next steps addressing the need to do more to tackle climate change.

We need to encourage more people out of cars and onto public transport and invest in better cycle infrastructure as well as apply a 'polluter pays' principle to allow greater diversion of funding to less polluting ways to travel and shop.

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 it is also time 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.

You can view a statement on this matter from the Minister responsible for climate change here.

The following announcement from BEIS may also be of interest.

Following the publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) special report the government has written to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) asking whether further action is needed to meet the ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement. You can read more about this here.

I am delighted that Greta Thunberg was able to address a meeting of the APPG in Parliament. Sadly this clashed with an existing commitment to the EU election campaign for the South West. Remaining as part of a progressive EU will also be a more effective way of tackling climate change than will be achieved if we are driven by the ideology of Nigel Farage, UKIP and the right wing of the Conservative Party. Greta has had a remarkable impact.

I did attend and speak in the debate on climate change yesterday and you can view my contribution and the full transcript of the debate here.

Thank you for getting in touch and I can assure you that Change UK are listening to views on climate change.


01 MAY 2019

Relationships and Sex Education

Thank you for taking the time to email me about relationships and sex education (RSE) I am fully supportive of this and will continue to take a robust approach to the value of teaching about this in schools.

I agree that LGBT inclusive education should be protected and this topic was raised several times in a recent debate in the House on RSE. You can read the full transcript of the debate and the Minister's response here.

I am proud of the steps this country has taken in ensuring LGBT rights and equality and I was pleased to vote for same sex marriage,

On the wider topic of RSE, I do think that relationship and sex education should be compulsory. I would stress that it has to be first and foremost about relationships and of course to be age-appropriate. It is about far more than 'plumbing and prevention'.

I am concerned having listened to evidence given to the Health and Social Care Committee about the extent to which young people are gathering information about sex from pornography, which is often violent and distorts understanding of what constitutes as consent. In addition, it is clearly of paramount importance that future generations understand the danger of sexually transmitted diseases and how they spread but of course these issues need to be tackled with sensitivity.

I quite understand that many parents wish to broach these subjects with their children themselves. However, we should make sure all children receive the information they need to keep safe. On the matter of reducing unplanned teenage pregnancy, progress is being made on this and I think that it is important to make sure that we keep up the progress in this area.


01 MAY 2019

Homelessness

Thank you for taking the time to email me about homelessness. There is far more that could be done to tackle the underlying reasons that lead to homelessness and this serious problem is not only about rough sleeping but about those who are sofa surfing or in very insecure temporary accommodation.

The government strategy to combat homelessness references £100 million to tackle rough sleeping and more than 1,750 bed spaces and 500 new staff through the rough sleeping initiative. You can find out more about the rough sleeping strategy here.

Locally, Devon County Council was recently allocated £95,000 in support for care leavers at risk of rough sleeping in a 2019/20 grant determination by the Department of Education.

You may be interested to know that the government is currently running a consultation on how they can improve local accountability for the delivery of homelessness services, this closes on the 16th of May and you can find out how to contribute here.

There is of course further to go on affordable housing as well as prevention and early intervention when people at risk of homelessness are running into difficulties with debt, addiction or mental health problems.


01 MAY 2019

Cystic Fibrosis

Thank you for taking the time to contact me about Cystic Fibrosis (CF) drugs.

I understand your concern about sufferers being able to access life changing medicines and it is dreadful that families who could benefit are still waiting for access to medicines like Orkambi.

I have been trying to bring all sides together in the long running dispute about the cost of these drugs. There are mechanisms that could and should be used to reach an interim agreement and these were explored at the Health and Social Care Committee inquiry on this topic.

The Secretary of State for Health now needs to step in as set out in my letter following the Select Committee hearing.:


26 APR 2019

ESA65B Letters

Thank you for taking the time to email me about ESA65B letters concerning the DWP and GPs.

I appreciate this being brought to my attention but no issues concerning this locally have been raised with my office.

Thank you for getting in touch and if you know anyone who has been affected by this matter then please do encourage them to contact me.


26 APR 2019

Waspi Campaign

Thank you for your email.

I do understand the deep concerns about the changes to pensions and have met in person with many WASPI campaigners.

The cross Party Parliamentary Work and Pensions Select Committee looked at this issue in great detail. If you would like to see/read all the evidence they received and the final report that they published, you can find it all here.

During the review, the committee looked into all aspects of the pension changes. In one particular session, MPs took evidence from the then Pensions Minister, Baroness Altmann who explained very clearly why she felt that pension changes had to be made.

The Committee concluded that communications from DWP about the changes fell short.

In the final report the Committee asked the Government to consider an alternative option for women to access their pensions at a lesser rate but sooner.

The committee investigated this issue further in a separate targeted enquiry

I am sorry that the Government refused to accept the compromise suggested by the Work and Pensions committee.


See older posts (785 more)Loading...

See all posts (855)