Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Speaking at the Age UK Partner’s conference

I was delighted to earlier today speak at the Age UK Partner’s conference, which saw the publication of a number of crucial recommendations for improving care for older people, made by the Commission on Improving Dignity in Care for Older People :

I look forward to the further consideration and developments of the Commission’s recommendations over the next couple of months, in advance of the Government’s expected white paper on adult care.  This is an issue that must be tackled, and one I will continue to work on with ministers as the white paper is drawn up.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Congratulations to the Rural Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Partnership

I am delighted that the Rural Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Partnership, chaired by Bert Biscoe, has been invited to take part in the Government's Rural and Farming Network:

It is vitally important that Ministers are made aware of the issues that are of importance to rural communities, issues too often neglected by the last government.

Surviving and Thriving in 2012

I am delighted to support Community Alive Falmouth (CAF)in their  ‘Surviving and Thriving in 2012’ campaign, a six week programme of activities highlighting issues around poverty, wealth and fairness.
CAF is an informal network of local community organisations committed to supporting each other and celebrating the rich diverse community we have here.
Many of the organisations have offered time and inspiration to assist the message that though we are in ‘difficult times’, we can together offer information and support to reduce the need for money and increase social wealth.  Falmouth Library foyer has been the host for 5 weeks information displays and Friday afternoon ‘drop-ins’.
I have attached  CAF’s programme for recent and upcoming events below for those of you interested in attending:
The Programme:
From Poverty and Homeless Action Week:  28th Jan to 5th Feb to Fairtrade Fortnight Feb 27th to March 11th 
25th Jan: The programme started with a Fal Energy Partnership at The Poly; an evening of information on how we can we can become energy independent and wealthy here in our part of Cornwall
30th Jan to 5th March:  5 weeks exhibition and ‘drop-ins’ in the Falmouth Library foyer.  Each week has a specific theme with information about the current situation locally and globally and solutions already available here.  The themes being:  Fuel, Food, Finances, Friendship and Fairness.
‘Friday Drop-ins’.
Members of the Community Alive team have been attending  the display on Friday afternoons from 2:00 to 5:00pm with local ‘specialists’ to explain how their organisations play their part in the community and what they have to offer to help the area thrive and assist cash strapped residents.    Debt advice, energy advice, links to positive projects, and ‘Seed Swap’.
 Feb 27th to March 11th 
Fairtrade Falmouth events for Fairtrade Fortnight: 
Sat 25th Feb:The Moor.   ‘Mad Hatters Fairtrade Teaparty’   10:00 –3:00pm
Tues 28 Feb: All Saints Church, Coffee Morning 10:00 -12:00noon
Fri 2nd March: Falmouth Council Chambers  Fairtrade Tasters 2:00 to 4:00pm
Sat 11th March:  Methodist Chapel: Fairtrade Tasting Party 10am -12noon
Sat 11th March: Foyer Phoenix Cinema: Wine&Chocolate Tasting  3pm - 8pm
5th March
The high point of the 6 weeks is to be a Free Feast for 5th March as part of the St Piran Day activities.   This will be a  Free Food Sharing Celebration at the  Falmouth Methodist foyer after the St Piran Dance on The Moor.  The CAF will provide basic food – hevva and saffron cake with other food from local residents, especially favourite and cultural recipes.   Falmouth is a diverse community and we wish to show this through food and sharing the wealth of our extended community.   Recipes from the event will be collated, a blog developed and in time a book produced.   Clothing suggested: black and white and gold!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Local Work Experience Success

On the eve of the Employment Minister’s visit to Truro and Falmouth tomorrow, I thought I would share you with some encouraging statistics on Work Experience that I have received from Jobcentre Plus in Devon and Cornwall.
Work Experience has been a huge success in West Cornwall. Since the programme was fully rolled out in May 2011, Jobcentre Plus has achieved 350 Work Experience job starts with 42% of these resulting in employment (62% with the host employer and 38% with an alternative employer).  Jobcentre Plus have a number of local and national employers that support the programme, some using it as a tool to run alongside recruitment plans.

Jobcentre Plus itself have achieved 100% job outcomes for those participating in  work experience with themselves.  They currently have 2 young people who they are working with to develop competencies for our future recruitment plans.  For others they have arranged fulltime jobs and apprenticeships with employers that would simply not have happened without this work experience..

I feel that the Work Experience programme opens doors for young people and provides them with an opportunity to develop transferable skills and a real taste of employment.  Local employers are continually impressed with those undertaking this activity on a voluntary basis, and I believe that gaining this sort of work experience can only be a good thing in enhancing a jobseeker’s long term and sustainable employment chances.

Progress on restoring bus transport for Penair students

I am pleased that First and Cornwall Council have responded to the representations made by  George Eustice and I, that called for an urgent resolution to the unacceptable situation whereby a large number of Penair students were left without bus transport to their school:

I will continue to closely monitor the situation.

Pensions, Apprenticeships, Small Business and more...

This week in Parliament I welcomed the Government’s increase of the state pension. For a large part of my adult life I have campaigned for a fairer and better deal for older people and their families. Like most people I was disgusted by the last Labour government’s treatment of pensioners, best illustrated by the 75p rise in the state pension. This week I honoured my manifesto pledge to improve the state pension with a 5.2% rise. This is the largest cash increase in the history of the state pension. Other important benefits to support people with disabilities and to assist those looking for a job were also increased by 5.2%.It is very important to me that the most vulnerable people in our society are protected from the very difficult financial situation we inherited.

I also joined Business Questions to support the point made by the Institute of Directors (IoD) that we should stop talking down the economy. Confidence in our economy is vital to our recovery and sustainable growth. A report for the IoD last week warned of the dangers of the constant ‘gloom and doom’ about the economy and stated that it was at odds with how most businesses now feel about the future.

The Federation of Small Businesses also published the results of ‘Voice of Small Business’ Member Survey 2012. The survey was conducted in November 2011 and had more than 11,000 responses and follows on from the previous Member Survey as the most extensive research into the small business sector during the downturn. The Member
Survey looks at the views of small businesses on an array of issues. 54.2% of small businesses in Cornwall are looking to grow over the next 12 months. Nationally businesses in the computer and related areas, engineering and manufacturing sectors expect an increase in full-time staff in the next 12 months.

These survey findings are borne out by the response from local businesses to my campaign to recruit 100 new apprentices in 100 days launched last week. Thank you to the companies who contacted me and those who are meeting with Cathie Kessell, the Cornwall co-ordinator for the National Apprenticeship Scheme. If you would like to know how you and your business can benefit from apprenticeships please contact Cathie 01752 754122
Finally, I am pleased to have been selected to join the Science and Technology Select Committee which is an important Parliamentary body responsibility for scrutinizing government policy in these areas.  There are a range of important institutions in my constituency from the Peninsula Medical School and the School of Dentistry to the Environment and Sustainability Institute, located at Tremough along with University College Falmouth and the University of Exeter, whose work is helpful in informing Government policy. I am also a board member of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, which commissions independent academic research to support the work of Parliament.
I look forward to this new parliamentary role, and to continuing to play my full part in ensuring that the best possible evidence is used when making policy.

Rotary Club leads fight to end Polio!

As a member of the Falmouth Rotary Club, I am a passionate supporter of the End Polio Campaign, which has been led by Rotary all over the world for quite some time now.  I was pleased to meet Bill Gates in Parliament last year to promote the campaign, and think the BBC article and video linked to below really sums up what an enormous impact this campaign is having on underprivileged areas of the world:

For more information our local Rotary district and the important work they do, please see:

Friday, 24 February 2012

Westminster Faith Debates Pt2

I would encourage you to take a look at the next in the ongoing series of Westminster Faith Debates, titled, ‘What’s the Place of Faith in Schools?’

As always, I think these debates are important ways to talk about topical subjects that bear great relevance on modern-day society.

Success for local pupil...

Following on from my post yesterday on St Piran's Day, a highlight of my involvement this will be presenting Oliver Beaumont, a Year 2 student at Truro School Prep, with a certificate and a framed print of his winning ‘bold and striking’ design for a poster competition to help promote this year's St Piran's Day Parade in Truro. 

Oliver’s design can now be seen in shop windows and on noticeboards around the city.
The competition, run by the organisers of the city St Piran's Day Parade, was open to pupils in the Truro area.
They said they had been so impressed with the response that they had now decided to hold an exhibition featuring all the designs.
Elizabeth Stewart, who is co-ordinating this year's parade, said: "We were overwhelmed by how many students entered the competition, and how much time and effort had gone into the designs.
"It seemed a shame for only one of them to be seen in public, so we're putting on an exhibition so that people can see them all."
The parade takes place on March 5, starting at Waterfall Gardens at 1.15pm before making its way through the streets to High Cross, where I will be presenting Oliver with his prize.
The exhibition will take place in the Truro Town Council Municipal Buildings from Tuesday until March 8.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

St Piran's Day 2012!

I am delighted to be able to attend the St Piran’s Day celebrations in Truro this year.  St Piran’s day is always a real highlight on the calendar, including the excellent parade, which involves many of the schools from the Truro area, and deserves to be recognised as an important part of Cornish culture.
For more information see the link below:

Defending the Work Programme...

The letter below is from the Employment Minister to Polly Toybnee in response to her wholly unjustified attack on the Work Programme. I am delighted to be welcoming Chris into my constituency next week for a packed schedule visiting Jobcentre Plus and their providers, including the excellent Jobcentre Plus facilities in Truro.

‘Dear Polly

I read your article last night supporting the militant campaigners who are trying to destroy the Work Experience scheme and  I thought would write to explain to you what you are actually opposing and supporting protest against.

The Work Experience scheme works like this.

After a young person has been unemployed for typically twelve weeks, the Job Centre Plus adviser will sit down and talk through different job options and possible sectors where they might be interested in working and where there might be jobs available.

Say they express an interest in care, for example, Job Centre Plus will then offer them a possible short term work experience placement of between 2 and 8 weeks with an organisation in the care sector. If they are interested, and we have an appropriate placement available, then we will send them to meet the employer. If they get on, and the young person wants to do the placement, they will start with that organisation. If things don’t work out, they have an automatic right to leave the placement within the first week. If they pull out after that, in order to protect the employer and the time they have committed to the placement, then we will investigate what has gone wrong, and if they have no good reason for leaving then they can face the same sanction as someone who does not turn up for their fortnightly signing on interview. We only sanction a tiny proportion of people, since this is a voluntary scheme and the situation almost never arises.

In the case of the retail sector, someone who is placed with one of the big retailers, like Tesco, will be there because they have expressed an interest in working in the retail sector but have little or no experience of it.

So far our experience has been that a significant number of placements turn into jobs, with the employer getting to like the young person and keeping them on. We have had cases of jobs being offered within days.

Where there is no job available, we have often seen people get a job with a similar employer very quickly. So for example, I was in the north-west recently and talked to a Job Centre Plus adviser who had managed to place a number of young people who had done work experience with one retailer, with another who had vacancies.

As you will have seen, so far around half those doing placements have come off benefits very quickly afterwards.

This is the scheme the protestors, who you are supporting, are trying to destroy.

It’s proving to be one of the best and quickest ways to help young unemployed people into jobs in the face of a frequent reluctance by employers to hire someone with little or no experience.

I appreciate that you are strongly opposed to many of the reforms that we are pushing through, and that we will generally disagree. But writing an article backing the destruction of one of the most effective schemes we have for helping young people get into work at a time when we have a real problem with youth unemployment defies my comprehension. Particularly when you have so often called for action to tackle youth unemployment.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling’

Cornwall Celebrates! (pt2)

I have received a further weekly update from the Cornwall Development Company highlighting Cornish successes in the last week, which I thought I I should share with you – Truro and Falmouth businesses again feature heavily!

·         Cornish company Frugi has been named the best selling British childrenswear brand by leading trade title Childrenswear Buyer Magazine.
·         Trispen-based cake topper company, Cake Top Characters, has beaten thousands of UK businesses to win Mr Site’s Website of Year 2011.
·         The One Eyed Cat in Truro has been ranked seventh out of the country’s 30 Best Places for Brunch, by The Times newspaper.
·         Export Cornwall announce Cornwall’s first Export FairCornwall’s first ever export fair will take place at Kingsley Village on March 22nd. The Export Cafe will host country specialists and representatives from embassies in China, Russia, USA and Europe, who are hot footing it to Cornwall to take part in the event.
·         The (offshore) winds of changeThe Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) is investigating whether it could use Wave Hub, the world’s largest wave energy test site, to accommodate floating offshore wind turbines as part of a demonstration project valued at over £25 million.
·         Superyachts shortlisted
Pendennis Shipyard has had three of its projects shortlisted as finalists in the World Superyacht Awards.  Hemisphere, Christopher and Akalam are all in the running and the winners will be announced in Istanbul on 5th May.
·         Cornish Vineyard goes mobile
Bob Lindo from Camel Valley Vineyard appeared on the
Alan Titchmarsh Show on ITV at 3pm today– and he took a vineyard with him!
·         Destination, Destination, Destination….Cornwall has been nominated as the UK’s Best Destination in the 50+ Awards. The winners will be announced and the prizes presented at the 50+ Awards Gala Reception on 13 June at London’s Olympia.
·         Dragon tweets about Cornish buntingBBC Dragon Theo Paphitis’ Small Business Sunday (#sbs) helps businesses promote their products and services to a wider audience. Out of thousands, Theo chose Delabole-base Just Bunting as one of six favourite tweets to share with over 225,000 of his followers on twitter.

Despite Adverse Economic Climate, Cornwall Council invests in Social Care

Cornwall Council has recently published its budget for the coming year.  While difficult decisions have been made, I am pleased to see that they have invested an extra £7 million in Adult Care and Support, which comes at a time when so many other councils are making cuts in this vital area.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Letter from the Prime Minister regarding Wind Turbines

Below is the reply that the Conservative MPs who wrote to the Prime Minister recently received. I think this is a step in the right direction!

Cornish Food goes National!

On Friday 17 February, I was pleased to be represented at the Tesco Cornish Food Sourcing event held at Skinners Brewery.  The Truro and Falmouth constituency as well as Cornwall as a whole produces many fantastic local brands of food and drink, and I think Tesco are doing a great job in marketing locally sourced goods, both at branches in the Southwest, and in some cases nationwide.

I was particularly impressed to see that some of the Skinners Cornish Ale varieties, such as Betty Stoggs, Healey’s Cyder Farm and Rowes Pasties, have been able to expand their distribution to a national level through Tesco, whereas smaller companies such as Fal Fish, Trevarrian Creamery and St Ewe Eggs, all of which employ constituents from Truro and Falmouth, have been able to distribute their products throughout the County and the Southwest region as a whole.

This is a impressive advertisement for Cornwall, growing its reputation as a specialist food provider, both for visitors, locals, and for those outside the county who can now taste what the rest of us have already experienced!

Excellent Article on NHS Reforms

I think this article from Stephen Bubb Chief Executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), published in the Times today, is an excellent summary as to why the coming NHS reforms are so important:

‘When facing great political turmoil, Catherine the Great once said, "a great wind is blowing and that gives you either a headache or imagination". The current debate on the Health Bill has certainly given the Government a headache. But is our political class responding to the challenges facing our health and social care system with sufficient imagination?

When I was writing the report for the Government on choice and competition as part of the Health Bill's listening exercise, I was struck by the fact that there is a great deal more consensus on the challenges facing health and social care provision in this country than the furore over the Health Bill would suggest.

Crucially, there remains common acceptance by all major political parties of the basic principle of a universal national health service, provided free at the point of use. Furthermore, there is also growing agreement that the current system cannot cope with the growing health needs of a changing population.

There are now 18 million people suffering from long-term health conditions in the UK. That number is growing. 21% of the population are now aged over 60. That proportion is growing. Medical advances, lifestyle changes and demographic shifts are growing demand for NHS services, but financial resources are limited.

Almost everyone agrees we have a problem when over 70 % of NHS funding is spent on treating long term conditions, usually in the most inefficient way there is: in hospital. And almost everyone agrees that if the NHS is to cope with these pressures it must shift resources towards preventative, patient led community based services which treat chronic conditions far more effectively and which act to pre-empt acute crises of ill health.

Might I also suggest that the majority of observers agree that to carry out this change effectively, the NHS must allow new providers with new ideas to break the bureaucratic stranglehold on service delivery. When in government, Labour's Andy Burnham- now shadow health secretary- spoke of his vision for a preventative and people-centred NHS which would allow the maximum freedom for local innovation. Much the same thing can be heard from Health Secretary Andrew Lansley today. And yet, to judge by the reaction that his bill has provoked, one would think that a centralised, bureaucratic and too often inefficient model of healthcare delivery is politically sacred and permanently untouchable.

Similar challenges face our increasingly broken system of social care provision; a problem which, as I suggested at the Health Summit at No. 10 on Monday, we have yet to tackle effectively. Successive governments have failed to address the issue of the growing numbers of frail elderly who are increasingly being treated (often badly) in hospital beds, when they should be receiving care at home or in high-quality residential homes. Due to the growing proportion of elderly members of the population, the system is creaking at the seams. We desperately need a political consensus to reform our social care system, and the current acrimonious debate on health is distracting attention from that necessity, as well as from the way forward proposed by the independent Dilnot Commission on social care provision.

What frustrates many of my members, the leaders of the country's charities and social enterprises, is that despite the consensus on both problems and solutions, the debate over reform focuses on the phantom of "privatisation".

We know that the majority of people who die in hospital want to be cared for at home or in a hospice, yet we fail to commission the charities that provide that care. This is a shocking waste. Many of the country's charities have a deep understanding of the problems that people and communities face, and do a superb job of providing vital community-based health care and much-needed assistance for patients in their homes. They know how to help patients to manage their own conditions. In such cases, supporting patients to manage their conditions through lifestyle, diet and exercise, is just as valuable as the work that clinicians do. Yet we continually fail to commission those charities that have the ability and drive to support patients in this way.

I fervently hope that our politicians can build on the common ground that exists on the need for health and social care reform, and find a way to take it forward. The positions of the Coalition and the Opposition differ more in emphasis than in substance. The Government is right to stress the importance of an open public service environment in which new providers can compete, innovate and offer users a real choice. However, it should place more emphasis on the end to which competition is the means: meaningful patient choice and user-led, community-based services that focus on effective intervention and prevention. The opposition, for its part, is right to emphasise the need for integrated, preventative services, but has forgotten that competition is a necessary first step to making that possible.

When we face the toxic combination of dramatic increases in demand for health care and dwindling resources, we must ask that the political parties focus on how the existing model can change to deliver effective health and social care that is based in the community rather than the hospital, is focused on prevention rather than cure, and places power and choice in the hands of citizens rather than providers. The change we need will never be achieved by leaving the current bureaucratic centralised systems in place. So how do we encourage the innovators with the imagination to do things differently?'

Somalia Conflict and Conference

I think the BBC article linked to below is a great summary of the Somalia conflict, and why a conference which the government is holding tomorrow is the right way to go in helping to start resolve this:

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Sarah Newton Backs Employment Plans for Young Unemployed People

This article by The Minister for Work and Pensions is a fantastic rebuttal of the recent criticisms aimed at the Government's employment programmes:

Westminster Faith Debates

Further to my previous post, I thought it may be of interest to you to see the video and podcasts for the Westminster Faith Debates, which I try to attend as much as possible while in Parliament.
Between 2007-2012 £12m was invested by two research councils, the AHRC and ESRC, in the largest-ever funded research programme on ‘Religion and Society’. In this series leading academics will present findings arising from that research, for response by public figures. Together they will open up debate about the place of religion in public life today.

Below is the link to the most recent Westminster Faith Debate, titled 'Religious Identities in Superdiverse Societies', below:

I believe this is an invaluable opportunity to discuss important faith related issues in the public eye, and am really pleased to be able to share this with my constituents.

Cornwall Celebrates!

I think the information below, given to me by the Cornwall Development Company, showcases some of the many positive things that are going on in the County at the moment, not least the fantastic successes highlighted below achieved by local businesses in the Truro and Falmouth constituency

Brush with success for Driftwood AleA Cornish ale has won the Campaign for Real Ale’s “Supreme Winter Beer of Britain” title. Alfie’s Revenge was last week named the UK’s best “old ale” and best overall winter beer for 2012 at the National Winter Ales Festival in Manchester.
Courtyard Deli is congratulated by Prime Minister
A Falmouth delicatessen is celebrating after winning the Local Business Accelerators competition. The Courtyard Deli won a nationwide campaign for a share of £15m of free advertising to help boost their business in 2012
 Olympic status for ambitious play on tin mining
A large-scale production that aims to combine the talents of professional actors, opera singers and local choirs for a celebration of Cornwall’s mining heritage has been given a prestigious award as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad programme.
 Camel Valley celebrates at Bollecine Del Mondo For the second successive year Camel Valley Vineyard's sparkling rosé has won the 'Best Sparkling Rosé in the World’ trophy at Bollecine del Mondo awards ceremony in Verona, as well as finishing second in the overall competition of the world's top 200 sparkling wines
Cornwall triumphs at Trip Advisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2012
·         Top 25 Spa Hotels in the UK
1st     St Moritz Hotel
2nd    The Scarlet
14th   Bedruthan Steps Hotel
·         Top 25 B&Bs and Inns in the UK
10th   No1, St Ives
·         Top 25 Trendiest Hotels in the UK
24th   The Scarlet
·         Cornwall Business Awards 2012 launched
·         Work completed on a state of the art business innovation centre at Tremough and is set
to welcome its first tenants
·         £800k Regeneration Boost for Newquay Harbour in Cornwall
·         Superfast Cornwall connects St Michael’s Mount.  Residents on the historic tidal island have just been connected to the latest technology capable of superfast speeds up to 40Mbps.
·         University aims for carbon neutrality with pioneering project - Plymouth University has been awarded almost £1 million to create a world first in environmentally friendly computer technology.
·         Research Instruments in Falmouth, which specialises in equipment for IVF treatment, is celebrating almost 50 years of growth.
·         Renewables firm lands contract to build ‘unique’ development in US - Cornish renewables specialist Mimer Energy has signed a joint venture deal to develop a £10 million geothermal scheme in Rhode Island, America
·         BBC Stargazing Live visits Cornwall’s Eden Project
Cornwall takes inventory of green house gases - The significant progress which is being made to reduce carbon emissions in Cornwall can now be accurately measured for the first time thanks to the publication of an inventory which details the levels of greenhouses gases being produced.
Superfast Cornwall roll out of the a flying start in 2012 - 59,000 homes and businesses across Cornwall now have access to superfast broadband and the programme is well on its way to reaching 90,000 premises by the end of March.
 Emphasis on value-added sees firm win back work from China - Manufacturer Arcol operates at the cutting edge of a global marketplace. The business manufactures power resistors for a range of sectors including automotive, renewables and medical and even sells to China in a reverse of the usual manufacturing trend.
 Firm that’s the perfect package for growth - A company that began life 14 years ago as a traditional joinery firm is now leading the way in international transit packaging for unusual and high value products. South West Packaging Cases Ltd, on Cardrew Industrial Estate at Redruth, has just achieved quality accreditation from the International Standards Organisation (ISO) to ensure it remains at the forefront of growing international market.
Goonhilly Earth Station (GES) secures commercial deal - The company which won a £6.7 million Regional Development Fund grant to transform the Goonhilly earth station into a satellite communications business and deep-space research science park has signed a contract with one of the World’s largest communications providers. GES, which took over the running of the site last year, has signed an undisclosed deal with SES to provide the Luxembourg-based satellite company with a variety of services from the Cornwall facility.
CUC expertise highlighted in Europe - The Combined Universities in Cornwall showcased its expertise in nurturing an innovative business culture at a conference in the Czech Republic.
BT broadband chief in Cornwall - Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is leading Europe with its “pioneering” roll-out of superfast broadband said Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director for next generation broadband, during a fact-finding visit to Cornwall.
 West could be global marine energy leader - The South West is poised to lead the World on wave and tidal power as the Government reveals the region as the UK’s first marine energy park.
School set for international mine games - Mining students from Cornwall are to compete against 40 teams from around the World at the international competition, to be held for the first time in Cornwall. 
 Sally Shalam’s Britain: Re-branding should be first resort for Skegness (Blog) - Cornwall is a master brand…sometimes it will also be about what you don’t have, rather than what you do. A lack of a motorway running through, for example, can be an advantage (look at Cornwall, look at Wales).

Monday, 20 February 2012

UK Energy Policy

I think this announcement from Friday is a step in the right direction...
This relates to the Long Term Energy Security Plan from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, due to be updated in May 2012

Setting the Record Straight...

I thought this deserved some attention due to my alleged involvement.  Thank you to all of my constituents who emailed me regarding this, and I hope this clears things up!

House of Lords recognises work of The Mission to Seafarers

As well as my previous comments on Shelterbox in the recent House of Commons Somalia debate, I thought you might also like to know that the great work of The Mission to Seafarers with victims of piracy was recognised by the Government in the House of Lords in a debate last week on Somalia.

During the debate, the Government's Foreign Office representative in the Lords, Lord Howell of Guildford, was asked by the Bishop of Gloucester whether he was aware of the work of MtS and if he would "consider engaging with MtS to develop a model of support for families of hostage victims?"

Lord Howell said that his suggestion seemed 'an excellent initiative and idea, and something that [the Government] will consider most carefully'. He went on to say that a Royal Navy ship will be deployed to the Combined Maritime Taskforce throughout 2012 as well as 'provide the operational commander and headquarters for the EU's counter-piracy operation'.

Piracy off the coast of Somalia has been high on Parliament's agenda in recent weeks following the publication by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee which looked into the problem. It reported that the Government was right to permit armed guards on British-flagged vessels, but noted that further work needs to be providing clear legal direction as to the use of weapons.