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.


31 JUL 2018

Brexit and Health

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about Brexit and healthcare.

I understand your concern on this matter and you may be interested to look at the inquiry the Health Select Committee, which I chair, held on the topic of Brexit – medicines, medical devices and substances of human origin. You can find out more about this via the following link: https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/health-committee/inquiries/parliament-2017/brexit-medicines-substances-human-origin-17-19/

My view is that Shortages of medicines, blood products and other vital medical supplies weren't on the side of the Brexit bus. But if there are no arrangements in place governing important mutual recognition arrangements then many of the seamless aspects of complex supply and safety checks will simply cease to be in place. No deal Brexit is about far more than tariffs and World Trade Organisation rules, it will have far reaching and irreversible consequences.


30 JUL 2018

Sex Worker Safety

Thank you for taking the time to email me about commercial sexual exploitation.

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

The Government is committed to protecting those selling sex from harm and enabling the police to target those who exploit vulnerable people involved in prostitution. It is also very important to ensure those who want to leave prostitution are given every opportunity to find routes out.
Government and Parliament should be fully informed on this issue before considering any changes in policy or legislation in this area. It is therefore very welcome that the Government has recognised the compelling arguments for commissioning research into the nature and prevalence of prostitution in England and Wales. The Home Office has provided £150,000 to fund this research, which is being carried out by the University of Bristol. The final report is expected in the spring next year.
There are different approaches to prostitution around the world, including New Zealand and in Scandinavia, as well as recent legislative developments in Northern Ireland. However, the Home Office has not yet seen unequivocal evidence that any one approach is better at tackling harm and exploitation. The law around prostitution in England and Wales focuses on tackling harm and exploitation caused to those involved.
Ministers have assured me that they continue to meet and engage with experts, academics, the police and those who sell sex themselves to further their understanding on the issues around prostitution.
The Home Office continues to monitor the impact in the US of the recent change in legislation there brought in by the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) and will assess the lessons learned from that approach, and approaches elsewhere in considering any change to legislation in the UK.


23 JUL 2018

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 I hope you will find the following information on this topic from the Treasury of interest:

As announced at the 2017 Autumn Budget, tax on beer, cider, wine and spirits have again be frozen. This follows the removal of the beer duty escalator in 2013 and the unprecedented cuts and freezes in beer duty since then, as well as the removal of the duty escalator for spirits, wine and cider in 2014. When the beer duty escalator was removed in 2013, duty was simultaneously cut by 1p. This was followed by further 1p cuts in both 2014 and 2015, and a freeze in 2016.

I do believe that pubs are often at the heart of the local community, in fact I was delighted to open the Tally Ho at Littlehempston which has reopened due to the support and dedication of the villagers. In addition, as you may know I have been a long-time proponent of minimum unit pricing for alcohol, for which there is a strong evidence base, and will continue to press for this to be introduced, as I feel this would also be beneficial to pubs.


23 JUL 2018

Protect Bakeries

Thank you for taking the time to email me about protecting bakeries and the 'honest crust' campaign. I understand your concern on this matter and I hope the following information on this topic from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is reassuring:

The UK offers some of the best food produce in the world, and it is agreed that consumers have a right to be informed about the products they buy. Longstanding EU regulations ensure that the labelling and advertising of food must not mislead the consumer.
Pre-packaged loaves must display a full ingredient list, whereas loaves sold at the point of production are exempted for the express purpose of reducing unnecessary regulatory burden on small businesses and bakeries, while still retaining essential, relevant information. These requirements, together with guidance on terms such as 'hand-made', 'Farmhouse' and 'home-made', already provide robust protection to consumers against misleading practices. If, however, a consumer thinks they are being misled by bread labelling, it is suggested to either approach the business selling the bread directly or seeking advice from the local trading standards office.
The regulations also define a list of approved additives and their conditions of use. Additives are restricted in sourdough breads. The Bread and Flour Regulations 1998 include some limited definitions such as of wholemeal, but their focus is on fortifying white and brown flour with certain nutrients, mainly for restorative purposes.
There are no current plans to introduce a legal definition for sourdough, but the baking industry itself may consider agreeing a code of practice on how a product should be composed in order to be described as a UK sourdough bread.


23 JUL 2018

Fracking

Thank you for taking the time to email me about planning practice and fracking.

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

Shale development has the potential to deliver substantial economic benefits to the UK economy and for local communities where supplies are located. The Government remains committed to protecting the environment and ensuring that shale exploration happens safely.
A consultation has been launched to consider whether the early stages of shale exploration should be treated as permitted development, and in particular the circumstances where this might be appropriate. This would allow early exploratory work to proceed without requiring planning applications, although planning applications would still be required for fracking.
Other measures include strengthening community engagement by consulting on the potential to make pre-application consultations a statutory requirement, and launching a new £1.6 million shale support fund over the next two years to build capacity in local authorities dealing with shale applications.
A new Planning Brokerage Service for shale applications will also be created, to provide guidance to developers and local authorities on the planning process in order to speed up decision making. Furthermore, to simplify the complex UK regulatory regime for shale gas, a new Shale Environmental Regulator will also be set up, to act as a single coherent face for the public, mineral planning authorities, and industry. These measures will help speed up decision making on shale applications, whilst protecting our environment and ensuring that the voices of local communities are heard.


18 JUL 2018

Rohingya Children

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the plight of Rohingya children.

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

More than 700,000 Rohingya have fled into Bangladesh in the last year, and urgently need food, shelter and medical help. Those who have stayed in Burma also need immediate help.
The UK is a leading donor to the humanitarian effort in Bangladesh, having committed £129 million to help since last August. UK assistance has ensured that more than 391,000 children under the age of seven have been vaccinated, 450,000 people have benefited from support to make their shelters more resistant to heavy rain, and UK aid will ensure 250,000 people will continue to have access to safe water through the rainy season.
The UK is supporting 30 'child friendly spaces' to support children with protective services and psychosocial and psychological support, and 19 women's centres will offer a safe space, psychosocial support and activities to women and girls.
The UK has also provided £1 million to the Red Cross and £2 million to the World Food Programme to provide assistance in northern Rakhine.
It is vital that the perpetrators of these atrocities are brought to justice. The UK continues to work with international partners to support those building evidence and testimony for the victims of the violence in Rakhine.
The UK has made it clear that there must be a credible, transparent and impartial investigation. It is imperative that the Burmese authorities show that the Commission of Inquiry announced can deliver accountability for the perpetrators of atrocities. If not, the UK Government will consider supporting international routes to justice.


17 JUL 2018

Breast Cancer

Thank you for taking the time to email me about breast cancer patients and breast reconstruction surgery in the NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area.

I wrote to the CCG on this topic and have now received the following reassuring response:

Thank you for your letter dated 26 June 2018 about our policy on breast reconstruction following breast cancer surgery, following your meeting with Breast Cancer Now.

I can confirm that the two Devon Clinical Commissioning Groups do not restrict breast reconstruction surgery following cancer treatment. It is offered as standard practice.

As a commissioner we routinely review our commissioning policies and have no plans to introduce a policy that will restrict reconstruction surgery following cancer treatment.

I trust this offers you reassurance on our position.


17 JUL 2018

Abortion Northern Ireland

Thank you for taking the time to email me.

I am afraid I will not be able to attend the meeting concerning abortion in Northern Ireland tomorrow due to prior commitments, but I appreciate you flagging it up with me.


17 JUL 2018

Incineration Tax

Thank you for taking the time to email me about a tax on incineration.

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

Without urgent action to cut demand, plastic production is likely to reach 34 billion tonnes by 2050, the majority of which will end up in landfill or polluting the world's continents and oceans. Re-using and recycling plastics is critical.
The Government recently ran a consultation on whether the tax system or charges could help reduce single-use plastic waste. During this consultation, a number of respondents suggested the potential for a tax on incineration in order to increase levels of recycling. The Government is currently analysing all the suggestions, and will then announce its proposals to deliver the right environmental outcomes.
More broadly, the new '25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment' commits the Government to working to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste. A plan is currently under development for a deposit return scheme for single use drinks containers. The Government is also working with developing nations to tackle pollution and reduce plastic waste worldwide.


12 JUL 2018

Breast Cancer

Thank you for taking the time to email me about breast cancer and the drop in event being held on this matter on the 17th of July.

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

It is important that every effort is made to continue raising awareness of breast cancer, and tackle this disease, which has taken so many lives over the years.
In 2015, Public Health England launched Be Clear on Cancer, a national scheme which has significantly improved awareness of breast cancer in women over 70, who account for roughly 1 in 3 cases of breast cancer. This has contributed to improved diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. There is significant variation in breast cancer survival rates across different regions and demographics. Public health campaigns like Be Clear on Cancer can make a significant difference when it comes to raising awareness and understanding cancer and its early symptoms throughout the whole country.
Breast cancer survival rates have improved remarkably over the last 40 years, and this is testament to the efforts made to raise awareness of cancer, promote healthy lifestyles, and boost funding into tackling this disease.
Ministers are making great efforts to improve cancer services, and ensure that the NHS provides some of the world's best cancer care. The NHS has launched the National Cancer Programme which is committed to offering uniquely tailored cancer treatment to all patients with breast cancer by 2020 It is working closely with Health Education England and Macmillan Cancer Support to understand the best ways developing and implementing cancer services by the same date.
Women recovering from breast cancer treatment must receive the most appropriate support and care. Cancer patients are offered a unique, personalised recovery plan, which takes into account their physical and medical needs, as well has addressing the help they may need at home. It is essential that this care is unique to each patient, and that it properly addresses whether women recovering from breast cancer treatment require additional care and support after they leave hospital.
These developments will significantly improve patient experience and quality of care. The NHS is implementing the independent Cancer Taskforce's recommendation that all breast cancer patients shall receive access to a Clinical Nurse Specialist, or other key workers. This will enable greater detection of any recurrence or secondary breast cancer, and enable a quick and effective return to care.
This is part of the NHS's ambitious wider strategy to improve cancer outcomes, and save 30,000 lives per year by 2020. Great progress is being made. In 2017, there were 21 million diagnostic tests for cancer, and nearly 2 million people were seen by a specialist for suspected cancer, double the amount in 2010.


12 JUL 2018

People's Vote

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

As Parliament will now not have a meaningful vote on Brexit I am supporting a People's Vote. Whilst I am encouraged that the Prime Minister has come forward with a pragmatic approach there is no guarantee that this will be accepted either by the EU or hard Brexiteer MPs who might seek to block a deal.

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


10 JUL 2018

Tier 2 Visa Strike

Thank you for taking the time to email me about migrants and the right to strike.

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

It is the case that a Tier 2 sponsor is required to report, to the Home Office, any migrant they sponsor who is absent from work for ten or more consecutive working days without permission. This should be done within ten working days of the tenth day of unauthorised absence.
The Home Office has also said that if a Tier 2 migrant is absent from work without pay for 4 weeks or more in a calendar year, their leave may be curtailed. Paragraph 323A of the Immigration Rules defines the circumstances where a Tier 2 migrant's leave may be curtailed. There are exceptions to this, including maternity or paternity leave. These rules do not prevent Tier 2 migrants from taking lawful strike action.
If the Home Office is notified of more than 4 weeks unpaid absence by a sponsor in a year, consideration will be given to the migrants leave being curtailed under the Immigration Rules. It is welcome that the Home Office will always consider the individual circumstances before deciding whether to take curtailment action.


09 JUL 2018

Education Funding

Thank you for taking the time to email me about education funding.

My understanding is that funding has not been cut, the problem is that it is not keeping pace with rising costs and pupil numbers. I hope the following from FullFact may be of interest: https://fullfact.org/education/spending-schools-england/

Nonetheless, I think it is important to acknowledge the pressure on schools and I have met with the Education Minister to discuss this in person and with local heads and the director of public health to discuss mental health and education.


05 JUL 2018

Civil Service Pay

Thank you for taking the time to email me about Civil Service pay guidance.

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

The public sector pay cap was never intended to be a permanent or long-term solution, and it is no longer a requirement that public sector pay rises be limited to one per cent if Departments are able to find efficiency savings.
In 2018 to 2019, Departments will be able to make average pay awards within the new range of one to one and a half per cent. This is not a cap and individuals may receive a higher or lower award than this. As each workforce is different, departments will now be able to determine pay awards for their workforces according to their needs and resources. Departments can offer higher pay awards where this can be afforded.
All civil servants deserve to be rewarded for they work they do, so that the public sector can continue to attract the brightest and best. Though difficult decisions were made on pay restraints, the pay cap, which formed part of the Government's long-term economic plan, helped to get this country's finances back under control at a time when the UK had the largest deficit in peacetime history.
Colleagues in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have also introduced the National Living Wage, which over the last two years has delivered pay rises to millions of workers, many of whom were our lowest-paid civil servants. Any increases in pay due to National Living Wage will be in addition to average awards higher than the one to one and a half per cent range.


05 JUL 2018

Torture and Rendition

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about a public inquiry into UK complicity in torture and rendition. I understand your concern on this matter and hope the following information on this topic from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is of interest:

The independent Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) recently published two reports examining allegations of UK involvement in mistreatment and rendition.
It is important to note the context in which the Government, including the security and intelligence agencies, and the armed forces, were working in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. The UK responded to the tragic events of 9/11 with the aim of doing everything possible to prevent further loss of innocent life. With the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that UK personnel were working within a new and challenging environment, for which, in some cases, they were not prepared. The Government has acknowledged that it took too long to recognise that guidance and training for staff was inadequate, and too long to understand fully and take appropriate action on the risks arising from the UK's work with international partners.
The Government has clearly stated that it will give further consideration, both to the conclusions and recommendations of the ISC reports, as well as to calls for another judge-led inquiry, and the Government will update the House of Commons by the end of August on these issues.
We can and should be proud of the work undertaken by our intelligence and security personnel, often in the most challenging of circumstances. It is right that they should be held to the highest possible standards. Changes made in recent years allow the UK to protect our national security and to maintain our global reputation as a champion for human rights across the world.


03 JUL 2018

Trade Bill

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

I can confirm that I have signed Jonathan Djanogly's amendments on this.


02 JUL 2018

Community Buses

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

I read your comments with interest and I realise how important community transport is in a rural area such as this one I understand how much of an impact changes could have.

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

The Department of Transport's letter of 31 July was a clarification of the principles to have regard to when permits are granted under existing legislation. Namely, that groups which continue to use permits must either be those which are not primarily transport providers or those which operate exclusively on a non-commercial basis.
Prior to this clarification, two transport operators, one a community transport group using a permit and the other a commercial operator, could be subject to very different treatments in law. Despite similarities between the two operators, the community transport group vehicles would be subject to less stringent MOT tests and could be driven by less qualified drivers.
This disparity has become the subject of potential legal action and hence the clarification of the law surrounding permits. The Department for Transport is seeking to help any affected operators to be compliant, in particular by taking a pragmatic approach to enforcement as the sector adjusts to the clarification. However, the Parliamentary under Secretary of State, Jesse Norman, has assured me that many local community transport operators should not be affected by the Department's clarification. Indeed, he believes that it is likely to affect larger operators in what may in effect be commercial operations.
Looking forward, the Department for Transport are consulting on detailed changes to guidance, so that operators and the general public have the opportunity to air concerns and share ideas. However, there is no intention to replace the entire present permits system, which is generally working well. Ministers are keen to ensure the continued success of the non-commercial community transport sector, and the continued safety of passengers, whilst allowing the road passenger transport sector to compete on a fair basis for commercial contracts.
The Government has a proud record in supporting community transport operators, including through launching the £25 million Community Minibus Fund (CMF) in 2014 where over 400 vehicles have already been delivered to local charity and community groups.

I would like to reassure you that I have already made direct representations to the Transport Minister, Chris Grayling about the integral role that community transport play in rural communities


28 JUN 2018

Mental Health Units

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about the use of force in mental health units, and Steve Reed's Private Member's Bill.

I am afraid that I am unable to attend the bill reading on the 6th of July as I have prior commitments in the constituency. However, I hope the following information on this topic from the Department of Health is of interest:

Inspired by the death of Olaseni Lewis, one of Mr Reed's constituents, in a mental health unit in 2010, this Bill seeks to enforce that mental health units record all uses of force, develop written policies about the use of force, commit to reducing the use of force in all instances, record its use when it occurs, and provide patients clear information about their rights. Furthermore, any eventual death must be reported to the Secretary of State, and independently reviewed.
This Bill is being supported by the Government. Health Minister, Jackie Doyle-Price, acknowledged that for too long the use of force has been seen as the norm in health and mental health institutions, and that this Bill will be instrumental in changing this culture.
Also, in October 2017, the Prime Minister announced that the Government would embark on a comprehensive review of the Mental Health Act, which has remained unchanged since the 1980s. The review will be led by Professor Sir Simon Wessely, former president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and he will consider the needs of all users of mental health services and their families, and improve the system's support for those during a mental health crisis, with a particular focus on reducing the use of force under the Act, and ending the disproportionate rates of detention of ethnic minority patients.


28 JUN 2018

Vehicle Emissions

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the APPG Inquiry into Alternative Ways to Lower Vehicle Emissions.

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

Motorists should not be overburdened with the responsibility of improving air quality and tackling climate change. It is crucial that we strike a fair and sustainable balance between keeping the cost of living as low as possible for ordinary hardworking people whilst meeting our obligations towards environmental protection.
It is important to remember that despite significant improvements in air quality over recent decades, air pollution is still having an impact on people's health. Air quality is the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK. In addition, the UK has challenging legal obligations in relation to NO2 limits and we are required to achieve compliance in the shortest time possible.
As a result, Ministers have directed sixty-one local authorities to develop local plans likely to achieve compliance. It is for local authorities to determine the measures that will enable them to comply with legal NO2 limits in the shortest possible time, and charging is just one possible measure. Local authorities are also able to bid for additional money from a £220 million fund to minimise the impact of local plans on individuals and businesses.
More widely, action is being taken to drive forward innovation in the vehicle industry which results in clean, affordable technology. Ministers have set out a clear mission to put the UK at the forefront of the design and manufacturing of zero emission vehicles and for all new cars and vans to be effectively zero emission by 2040.
Fuel duty in 2018 will remain frozen for an eighth successive year which will save the typical driver £160 a year on average. This shows a commitment to help hardworking people as we transition towards a clean economy.


28 JUN 2018

Antartic

Thank you for taking the time to email me about establishing an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary.

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

The UK is one of the leading proponents of establishing a Marine Protected Area in the Weddell Sea. On our behalf the Government will be advocating strongly for its adoption at the meeting this October of the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.
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.
Closer to home, plans have now 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.
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 lasting until 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.


26 JUN 2018

Saudi Arabia Arms Sales

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

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

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

The Government takes its defence export responsibilities extremely seriously and operates one of the most robust export control regimes in the world. All export licence applications, including those for Saudi Arabia, are rigorously assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria.
These strict criteria take account of all prevailing circumstances at the time of application and includes human rights and international humanitarian law considerations. The Government does not issue export licences where there is a clear risk that the goods might be used for internal repression, in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law, or where the export would provoke or prolong conflict.
Saudi Arabia has publicly stated that it is investigating reports of alleged violations of International Humanitarian Law. This is an important process and the UK is fully behind thorough investigations into all allegations of violations of International Law. Finding a political solution to the conflict in Yemen is the best way to bring long-term stability and peace talks are a top priority.

By adhering to the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, the Government will continue to ensure that UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia are not used for internal repression, violating international humanitarian law, or for provoking or prolonging conflict. The Government has committed to keeping the situation under continual review, as it does with other countries.


26 JUN 2018

CETA

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada.

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

CETA, which provisionally came into force in September 2017, has removed 98% of tariffs and other barriers which British businesses face at the border, when trading and investing in Canada. What is more, estimates suggest that the agreement will, per annum, increase British exports to Canada by £676 million and boost UK GDP by £730 million. This is a boost for our industries, jobs and growth.
The Investor Court System (ICS) protects investors, both large and small, from discriminatory or unfair treatment by a state. The EU has not yet formalised the detail of how the ICS will work and it is not yet in force. The UK Government, in developing an independent trade policy for when we leave the European Union, is looking at a variety of investor state dispute systems which will form the basis of the UK's own investor protection model. A dispute system will protect UK businesses trading in Canada as well as Canadian businesses trading in the UK. The UK has such provisions in over 90 agreements already in place between the UK and other countries, and there has never been a successful investor state dispute settlement claim against the UK, nor have potential claims affected the Government's legislative programme
The Government is absolutely committed to protecting the NHS. There is nothing in CETA that will put the NHS at risk. CETA specifically protects the Government's right to regulate and this includes the UK's public health sector. The NHS is protected by specific exemptions in all EU trade agreements, including CETA. As we leave the EU, the UK will continue to ensure that rigorous protections for the NHS are included in all trade agreements it is party to.
Likewise, CETA does not weaken EU environmental standards, nor hold back action on climate change. CETA protects the right of the parties to regulate and would not prevent either side from introducing new environmental and low carbon legislation in order to achieve environmental goals. It specifically prohibits parties from waiving or derogating environmental laws to encourage trade and investment.
Finally, on parliamentary scrutiny, the Government has made absolutely clear that Parliament will have a vital role to play in our future trade policy. The Department for International Trade's White Paper committed to ensuring scrutiny and engagement that is inclusive, meaningful and transparent.


26 JUN 2018

Heathrow

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the 3rd runway at Heathrow.

I did vote to support this expansion and I hope the following information on this topic from the Department of Transport is of interest:

The Government's decision to support a new runway at Heathrow in the proposed Airports National Policy Statement (NPS) is a momentous step for our country. Heathrow expansion will deliver a boost of up to £74 billion to the economy and ensure the UK maintains its position as a global leader in aviation.
This will be the first full length runway in the south-east since the Second World War, which sends a very clear message that this country is open for business. Forecasts show that by the mid-2030s all five of the London's major airports will be at full capacity. Expanding Heathrow will not only improve connectivity in the UK itself, but will also better connect the UK to long haul destinations in growing world markets, boosting trade and creating jobs. Heathrow will be privately funded and that the costs will not be met by the taxpayer. It is also important to remember that expansion would create tens of thousands of local jobs.
The NPS has taken into account public and industry feedback. The action taken by the Government to ensure local communities and the environment are protected is welcome. The NPS includes a legally enforceable ban on scheduled night flights for 6.5 hours, at least an hour longer than the current ban in operation. It is also positive news that the NPS includes a world class package of up to £2.6 billion of compensation and mitigation measures to help those most affected by expansion. Development consent will only be granted if the Government is satisfied that UK air quality obligations are not breached.


26 JUN 2018

Divest Parliament

Today I wrote the following to the Chair of IPSA:-

I am writing to you after meeting with constituency members of the Divest Parliament campaign.

I would like to express my view that my pension funds are invested in renewable energy projects rather than in fossil fuels.

I think this would indicate and reinforce the government's commitment to tackling climate change.


25 JUN 2018

Votes at 16

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

I have been a long-time supporter of votes at sixteen and so will not need further convincing and this is reflected in my voting record on this matter.


22 JUN 2018

Diabetes Day

Thank you for taking the time to email me about diabetes and blood glucose testing.

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

It is extremely important for people with diabetes to be fully supported in maintaining their blood glucose levels.
The latest set of National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines were published in February 2016. I understand that NICE recommended some circumstances where continuous glucose monitoring (that use disposable sensors) can have benefit over and above current methods of self-monitoring of blood glucose but advised that they are generally no more effective than current methods of self-monitoring.
More information can be found on the below webpage:

https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/dg21

Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are primarily responsible for commissioning diabetes services to meet the requirements of the local area. In doing so, CCGs need to ensure that the services they provide are fit for purpose, reflect the needs of the local population, are based on the available evidence, taking into account national guidelines. This should include consideration of access to continuous glucose monitoring for people with Type 1 diabetes who might benefit from it. Thus flash monitoring systems such as the FreeStyle Libre system may not be immediately available throughout the entirety of the NHS in England.

Some individuals are already tested for diabetes under the NHS Health Check. Prevention, good management and patient education are key to preventing complications of diabetes, such as amputations.


22 JUN 2018

World Refugee Day

Thank you for taking the time to email me about World Refugee Day.

I am glad that the UK remains a country at the forefront of providing humanitarian assistance and shelter to those in need and I hope the following information on this topic from the Home Office is reassuring:

The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need our protection. Between April 2014 and June 2017, the Home Office received 97,454 claims for asylum and decided over 64,000 of these within 6 months. However the Home Office recognises there is more it needs to do and it continues to work with NGOs to look at ways to ensure that those seeking asylum have their decisions dealt with efficiently and effectively.
Those in the asylum process may be under severe emotional pressure, which is why the Home Office provides relevant information to asylum claimants throughout the process, including signposting to any support they may require. All asylum claimants are provided with a comprehensive leaflet that sets out what to expect at the asylum interview, the possible outcomes of the asylum claim, how to obtain legal advice to support their claim, details of support organisations that might be relevant, rights and responsibilities of asylum seekers, and information about asylum support and how to apply.
Asylum seekers do not need to work whilst their claim is considered as they are provided with accommodation and support to meet their essential living needs if they would otherwise be destitute. But they are encouraged to undertake volunteering activities. Volunteering provides a valuable contribution to their local community and may help them to integrate into society if they qualify for protection. Those granted refugee status or humanitarian protection, including those who are resettled to the UK, have immediate and unrestricted access to the labour market. Asylum seekers are not allowed to work in the UK unless their claim has been outstanding for at least 12 months through no fault of their own. This policy is designed to protect the resident labour market to prioritise access to employment for British citizens and those lawfully resident here, including those granted refugee status.


22 JUN 2018

Pet Theft

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

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

To their owners, pets are cherished members of the family, so to steal one from a loving home is a particularly vicious crime. To tackle it I favour rigorously enforcing existing laws, and a number of offences can be used to prosecute these cases.
Where the offence charged is theft, the maximum penalty under the Theft Act 1968 is seven years' imprisonment. In addition, while a stolen pet may not necessarily have been mistreated, where it has been offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 of animal cruelty or failure to meet an animal's basic needs carry a maximum of six months imprisonment or an unlimited fine, or both; legislation is being brought forward to increase punishments for the most horrific acts of animal cruelty to five years. Courts also have the power to ban an offender from keeping animals in the future.
It is for the courts to decide the right sentence in individual cases, and a new sentencing guideline on theft came into force at the beginning of February 2016. The body responsible did consider suggestions that there should be a separate guideline on pet theft but concluded that aggravating factors, such as emotional distress caused to the victim, already enable the courts to impose appropriate sentences.
With regard to compulsorily scanning microchips, it is already considered the best practice for stray pets to be scanned when received by vets and rescue centres. Guidance from the British Veterinary Association also advises veterinarians always to scan animals brought into their surgeries for the first time.


21 JUN 2018

Global Justice

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the Global Justice campaign.

I can assure you that everyone who comes to my constituency surgery can do so, safe in the knowledge, that their case with be dealt with in complete confidence.


21 JUN 2018

Motor Neurone Disease

Thank you for taking the time to email me about Special Rules for Terminal Illness (SRTI) and people with Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

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

MND is a terrible condition for people to go through, and it is crucial that people who suffer from terminal conditions like this should receive as much support as possible.
The SRTI procedure helps deliver this goal by allowing people with terminal illnesses to be fast-tracked without the need for a face-to-face assessment. There are, however, safeguards in place to help make sure everyone is treated fairly, including people with MND.
Given how unpredictable terminal conditions such as MND can be, there is some flexibility in the eligibility criteria for SRTI. Medical professionals are asked what they believe to be a "reasonable" expectation of how long someone is expected to live. The six month rule is very much a guideline, and medical professionals do not face any punishment if the patient lives longer than six months. Someone who lives longer than six months will still be able to receive their benefit and will not need to be reassessed until up to three years after their initial claim.
Sadly, a third of people suffering from MND pass away within a year of their diagnosis and over half within two years. But people with MND who are expected to live significantly longer than six months will have to go through the work capability assessment process. Under these circumstances, they would be able to be covered by the Severe Conditions Criteria which would usually exempt them from further face-to-face reassessments.


21 JUN 2018

Meaningful Vote

I fully realise the strength of feeling on this issue and that is because Brexit has such far reaching consequences. It continues to be the most divisive of issues across families, communities and within both main political parties.

This vote was not about whether we leave the EU; that was decided by the referendum, but about the arrangements that will be in place after we leave and whether Parliament should have a Meaningful Vote.

Last week the Prime Minister undertook to address the concerns of those of us who felt that the EU Withdrawal Bill did not adequately address the role of Parliament in having a Meaningful Vote in the event of a No Deal outcome to the negotiations. The discussion that followed led to a position that seemed satisfactory to both sides but the government then altered the agreed wording. This is why the House of Lords returned the originally agreed draft for further debate to the Commons

One argument advanced by the government was that putting an amendable vote on the face of the Bill would encourage the EU to toughen its negotiating stance as it would consider that we believe a No Deal Brexit is to be avoided at all cost.

But the reality is that a No Deal Brexit would be extraordinarily damaging both for ourselves and our EU partners. No member state of the EU would want this. It is just as likely that they would consider that we had made sound contingency plans to deal with the problem a No Deal would cause.

Having listened to the evidence of the impact of a walk away, no deal Brexit on individuals, communities and businesses, I could not support a situation where Parliament has no mechanisms to help to deal with this scenario.

I know the Prime Minister is seeking a good deal and I hope that she is successful in achieving this. I fear however, that we are up against the reality of Brexit and the limited options on offer if we wish to continue to benefit from free and frictionless trade with our nearest and most important trading partners. The dangers go beyond the consequences for our economy and it is worth looking at the many reports from Parliamentary Select Committees which have been taking evidence on this over the course of this Parliament.

I believe it would have been in our best interests to have been able to reduce the risk of Hard Brexit and voted for the amendment. Parliament rejected this by a majority of 16 votes and once the bill receives Royal Assent it will become an Act of Parliament.


20 JUN 2018

NHS Funding

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the 38 Degrees campaign regarding NHS funding, this is a topic firmly on my radar as a former GP and I have attended many meetings and been involved with many organisations and groups campaigning on future funding.

I do support a long term and ambitious uplift to funding of the NHS and I feel that this should take a whole system approach to the NHS, social care and public health. I can assure you that this remains central to my work as your MP.

I have met in person to discuss NHS funding with the Prime Minister, the Chancellor, the Secretary of State for Health, the Head of the NHS and I am working with the MHCLG Committee on social care issues. I have also written to the Chancellor as you can see via the following link

I have had many other meetings in parliament about NHS funding and you can view more details about some of these via the following links:

http://www.drsarah.org.uk/in-parliament/news-and-speeches/nhs-clinical-commissioners/2722

http://www.drsarah.org.uk/in-parliament/news-and-speeches/larwood/2613

I have also spoken in parliament about this as you can see via the following links:

http://www.drsarah.org.uk/in-parliament/news-and-speeches/social-care/2497

http://www.drsarah.org.uk/in-parliament/news-and-speeches/health-and-social-care-budgets/2222

The Speaker's Lecture I delivered on the NHS may also be of interest

You may also be interested in the following articles I wrote on this topic:

http://www.drsarah.org.uk/sarah's-blog/political-courage-is-required-and-determination/2533

http://www.drsarah.org.uk/sarah's-blog/nhs-funding/2522

The Health Select Committee which I chair is also undertaking an inquiry in to the long term funding of adult social care.

Health and social care are irrevocably intertwined and I was pleased to be part of the Citizens Assembly on the future of social care in Birmingham


19 JUN 2018

NHS Funding Announcement

Thank you for writing to me about this week's announcement on NHS spending.

I welcome this uplift and the recognition that it needs to be accompanied by a long term plan which comes from the NHS itself. I have no doubt that the Health and Social Care Committee will want to examine this in further detail especially as it does not currently cover the important areas of public health or social care.

I think the PM's speech is worth reading in full and I will now be working to help to find agreement on the 'who and how' of paying for this much needed increase.

The full text is here


18 JUN 2018

Business Rates

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

Personally, I do think we need a root and branch review of the business rates system so it can better reflect modern trading practices and I hope the following information on this topic from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government is reassuring:

Small businesses are the backbone of local economies and the Government has responded to the number one ask of businesses in the recent Budget by announcing a new package to reduce business rates.
As announced by the Chancellor in the Autumn Budget 2017, the Government has brought forward a planned switch from RPI to CPI by two years, to April 2018, worth £2.3 billion in reduced business rates over five years. Ministers have also listened to the concerns expressed about the five yearly revaluation system and after the next revaluation in 2021, future revaluations will take place every three years.
The business rates system can be a substantial cost, particularly for some smaller companies and those most affected by the recent revaluation have been supported. In 2016 the Government set out cuts in business rates benefitting all ratepayers which will be worth almost £9 billion by the end of this Parliament. An additional £435 million was made also available last year to support businesses most affected by the recent revaluation.
On a final note, the Government remains committed to allowing local authorities to keep more of the money they raise locally, with an aim of ensuring that local authorities retain 75 per cent of business rates from 2020-21. To test aspects of this system, ten new areas have been selected for business rate retention pilots in the 2018-19 financial year.

You can also view the Minister's response to the recent debate on this issue here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/search/MemberContributions?house=Commons&memberId=3935


18 JUN 2018

Demolitions at Khan al-Ahmar and EDM 1169

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about the demolitions at Khan al-Ahmar and the related EDM, number 1169.

I realise you would like me to sign EDM 1169, however like many MPs I do not sign any EDMs no matter how worthy the cause. This is because EDMs now cost a huge amount per year to administer and have no chance of changing the Law. They are in effect petitions which only MPs can sign. They have also been superseded by online petitions which can be on any issue for which the Government or Parliament is responsible and any which receive 10,000 signatures will receive a response from the Government. Those petitions which reach 100,000 signatures will almost always be debated in Parliament – unless it is an issue which has recently been debated. There are also concerns that EDMs may give a false impression that action is being taken.

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

Colleagues in Government raised strong concerns with the Israeli authorities over the demolitions at Khan al-Ahmar and repeatedly called on the Israeli Government to halt these demolitions. A British official from the UK Consulate General in Jerusalem visited Khan al-Ahmar to show British support for the community.
Demolitions and evictions of Palestinians from their homes cause unnecessary suffering; call into question Israel's commitment to a viable two-state solution; and, in all but exceptional cases, are contrary to international humanitarian law.
The international community must redouble its efforts to support a comprehensive peace agreement that delivers an independent Palestine alongside a safe and secure Israel, and the Foreign Secretary shares this view. A two-state solution brought about through agreement is the most effective way for Palestinian aspirations of statehood to be met.


18 JUN 2018

Arthritis

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

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

To help clinicians to identify the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and make prompt referrals to specialists, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published guidelines in 2009. This best practice guideline sets out the signs and symptoms of the disease and emphasises the need for early diagnosis, with urgent referral to a specialist rheumatologist on suspicion of RA. The commissioning of arthritis services, including the establishment of arthritis clinics, is the responsibility of local areas, taking account of the needs of the local population.
The national clinical audit of rheumatoid and early inflammatory arthritis published its latest report in July 2016 and assesses the quality of care by specialist rheumatology services. The report showed significant improvements in patient experience and the time taken to receive treatment, although there are areas where further improvement needs to be made. The report makes a range of recommendations, including improving the training and awareness and amongst GPs, and it encourages all participating organisations to reflect on their own performance and consider what more could be done.
NICE has published best practice clinical guidelines for the treatment of arthritis which highlight the importance of self-management, and lifestyle advice to help patients manage their condition, and live as independently as possible.
The Work and Health Unit has been established to lead the drive for improving work and health outcomes for people with health conditions, like arthritis, as well as improving prevention and support for people absent from work through ill health and those at risk of leaving the workforce. The Unit will seek to do this by improving integration across healthcare and employment services as well as supporting employers to recruit and retain more people with long term health conditions.

Despite tight public finances, the Government has actively supported the NHS' own plan for the future. That is why it is increasing NHS spending by a minimum of £8 billion in real terms over the next five years.


18 JUN 2018

Unpaid Work

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about unpaid work periods.

Personally, I think we need to further crack down on the unpaid internships which effectively exclude those from less advantaged backgrounds to some of the best opportunities, and which usurp real jobs.

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

Trial periods can offer many benefits to employers and potential employees, and generally an employer does not have to pay for a trial shift so long as it is truly a trial. However, businesses are encouraged to agree payment or expenses, if any, for a trial shift in advance. This way potential employees can enter into a contract with the employer and thus have the right to be paid anything that is agreed.
The UK's flexible labour market gives our businesses a competitive advantage internationally, and works for the majority of the population. That said, exploitation is unacceptable and the Government has provided more support to crack down on unfair practices.
More broadly, in response to the Matthew Taylor review, new measures will be introduced to prevent undercutting by unscrupulous employers who try to game the system, by clearly defining who is employed and who is not. The Government will take further action to ensure unpaid interns are not doing the job of a worker, as well as requiring employers to clearly set out written terms from day one of the employment relationship, and to extend that to all workers.


18 JUN 2018

ONE Campaign

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about the UK's support for vaccinations for the world's poorest.

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

Good health is valuable not only in its own right, but in contributing to the prosperity and stability of developing countries, lifting people out of poverty. Immunisation is one of the most cost-effective ways of improving living standards, health and economies: for every £1 spent on immunisation, £16 is expected to be gained through direct savings on medical treatment costs and lost productivity caused by illness or death. Incredibly, when the broader economic and social benefits of helping children stay healthy and grow up into productive adults are taken into account, the return on investment rises to £44 for every £1 invested.
Vaccination is key to reducing childhood deaths from preventable diseases: vaccines administered in 41 of the world's poorest countries between 2016 and 2030 are expected to prevent 36 million deaths. That would not be possible without the UK's continued support through organisations such as Gavi, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and the World Health Organisation.
The UK is the largest investor in Gavi: since its creation in 2000, our investment has helped support the immunisation of 640 million children, preventing nine million deaths. The Government's has continued to support for Gavi's work: between 2016 and 2020, the UK is investing £1.44 billion in Gavi, which will directly enable 76 million children to be vaccinated and will save 1.4 million lives. Gavi's success in bringing down the cost of vaccines, making them more affordable for the world's poorest countries, also means our aid budget goes further. Since 2011, GAVI has enabled a 43 per cent reduction in the total cost of immunising a child, from $33 to $19.


14 JUN 2018

ME and EDM 1247

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about ME and EDM 1247.

I understand you would like me to sign EDM 1247, however like many MPs I do not sign any EDMs no matter how worthy the cause. This is because EDMs now cost a huge amount per year to administer and have no chance of changing the Law. They are in effect petitions which only MPs can sign. They have also been superseded by online petitions which can be on any issue for which the Government or Parliament is responsible and any which receive 10,000 signatures will receive a response from the Government. Those petitions which reach 100,000 signatures will almost always be debated in Parliament – unless it is an issue which has recently been debated. There are also concerns that EDMs may give a false impression that action is being taken.

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

There is currently no cure for ME/CFS, there are treatments that may help to ease symptoms, although no one form of treatment may suit every patient. Patients should be involved in decision-making throughout every stage of their care. Furthermore, patients should be offered information about local and national self-help groups and support groups for people with ME/CFS and their carers.
Research into this area is vital. The Medical Research Council (MRC) and the National Institute for Health Research welcome high quality applications for research into all aspects of ME/CFS. ME/CFS research is a current MRC priority area and so far over £2 million has been invested into this research area.
The majority of services for people with ME/CFS are the responsibility of local clinical commissioning groups. To assist diagnosis, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) produced clinical guidance on the diagnosis, treatment care and support of children and adults with ME/CFS.

NICE is currently reviewing these guidelines. This process will require thorough and careful consideration, and NICE expect to publish new guidelines on ME/CFS in 2020. These new guidelines will take into account patients' concerns about the PACE trials and the effectiveness of some existing recommendations.


13 JUN 2018

Cancer Services

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about improving outcomes for cancer sufferers.

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

The Government is working with the NHS, charities and patient groups to deliver the cancer strategy developed by the independent Cancer Taskforce. It has committed to ensuring that by 2020, everyone urgently referred with a suspicion of cancer will receive either a definitive diagnosis or the all-clear within four weeks. The Government is supporting this by investing up to £300 million a year by 2020 to increase diagnostic capacity. NHS England has also announced a £130 million fund to modernise radiotherapy across England. Furthermore, the Government invested over £1.2 billion to the Cancer Drugs Fund which has helped over 95,000 people to access the life-extending drugs they need.
Early diagnosis of cancer is key and that is why the Government has run a series of Be Clear on Cancer campaigns in order to raise public awareness of the symptoms of cancer.
The Government is working closely with experts in this field to fulfil its ambition of achieving world-class cancer outcomes. Health Education England is developing a cancer workforce strategy, in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support, among others, to ensure that all cancer patients receive access to specialist nursing staff throughout the course of their treatment and recovery. This workforce plan includes a significant increase in the diagnostic workforce, such as the recruitment of radiologists and endoscopists, who will be instrumental in ensuring the NHS meets its ambitions to offer timely and accurate diagnoses to suspected cancer patients.


13 JUN 2018

End Homelessness

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the Crisis report "Everybody In" on how to end homelessness.

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

There is much overlap between the ideas Crisis have raised in their recent report and the Government's plan to end rough sleeping by 2027.
The recent launch of a £28 million pilot of Housing First, providing some of England's most entrenched rough sleepers with stable, affordable accommodation and intensive wrap-around support. The impact of this pilot will be evaluated to inform any wider roll out of the Housing First approach.
On the issue of social housing, recent statistics which show that more than three times as much council housing has been built since 2010 than in the previous 13 years. The £9 billion Affordable Homes Programme will also help deliver more social housing.
Working together with leading experts on homelessness, the Government will achieve the aim of halving rough sleeping by 2022 and eliminating it altogether by 2027.


08 JUN 2018

Israel Arms Trade

Thank you very much for taking the time to contact me about an arms embargo on Israel.

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

The Government takes its defence export responsibilities extremely seriously and operates one of the most robust export control regimes in the world. All export licence applications, including those for Israel, are rigorously assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria.
These strict criteria take account of all prevailing circumstances at the time of application and includes human rights and international humanitarian law considerations. The Government does not issue export licences where there is a clear risk that the goods might be used for internal repression, in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law, or where the export would provoke or prolong conflict.
Under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, countries have a right to defend themselves, and a properly regulated arms trade can help countries to meet their defence and security needs.
By adhering to the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, the Government will continue to ensure that UK arms exports to Israel are not used for internal repression, violating international humanitarian law, or for provoking or prolonging conflict. The Government has committed to keeping the situation in Israel under continual review, as it does with other countries.


08 JUN 2018

Brexit and the Environment

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the future of the environment post Brexit.

I understand your concern on this matter and I have signed the following amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill on this topic:

"Maintenance of environmental principles etc.

(1) The Secretary of State must, within the period of six months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed, publish a draft Bill consisting of—

(a) a set of environmental principles,

(b) a duty on the Secretary of State to publish a statement of policy in relation to the application and interpretation of those principles in connection with the making and development of policies by Ministers of the Crown,

(c) a duty which ensures that Ministers of the Crown must have regard, in circumstances provided for by or under the Bill, to the statement mentioned in paragraph (b),

(d) provisions for the establishment of a public authority with functions for taking, in circumstances provided for by or under the Bill, proportionate enforcement action (including legal proceedings if necessary) where the authority considers that a Minister of the Crown is not complying with environmental law (as it is defined in the Bill),

(e) such other provisions as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.

(2) The set of environmental principles mentioned in subsection (1)(a) must (however worded) consist of—

(a) the precautionary principle so far as relating to the environment,

(b) the principle of preventative action to avert environmental damage,

(c) the principle that environmental damage should as a priority be rectified at source,

(d) the polluter pays principle,

(e) the principle of sustainable development,

(f) the principle that environmental protection requirements must be integrated into the definition and implementation of policies and activities,

(g) public access to environmental information,

(h) public participation in environmental decision-making, and

(i) access to justice in relation to environmental matters."


08 JUN 2018

Brexit Amendments

Thank you for writing to me to let me know your views and I assure you that I will be sitting in and listening carefully to both full days of debate next week.

My own views are already on record as opposing a hard, walk-away Brexit.


06 JUN 2018

National Deaf Children's Society Campaign

Thank you for contacting me about the National Deaf Children's Society Campaign.

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

It is important that young people with disabilities can access the services they need for a good education. The system for identifying and meeting the needs of all children with special educational needs and disabilities is designed to deliver the right support where it is needed. The Department for Education is investing more than £25 million in projects to help children with special educational needs access excellent support. This builds on work with charities such as the National Deaf Children's Society, as part of the National Sensory Impairment Partnership, to produce a wide range of support to early years, schools, post-16 providers and local authorities to support children and young people with sensory impairment.
The high-needs budget for pupils with special educational needs is a record £6 billion. Every local authority will see a minimum increase of 0.5 per cent per head in 2018-19 and 1 per cent per head in 2019-20. Underfunded local authorities will receive up to 3 per cent per head gains a year for the next two years and overall, local authorities will gain 4.6 per cent on average on their high needs budgets.


04 JUN 2018

Tier 2 and NHS

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the tier 2 visa issue, this is something that I have raised in Parliament directly with the new Home Secretary Sajid Javid and I will shortly be meeting with him to discuss this further.

I have also raised this with fellow select committee chairs and know that the chair of the Home Affairs Committee, Yvette Cooper MP is leading on this and will be liaising with me about further Parliamentary action. I strongly support the BMAs view that these restrictions should not apply to NHS staff.


31 MAY 2018

Al Quds and Hezbollah

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

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

Peaceful protest is a vital part of our democratic society. It is a long-standing tradition in this country that people are free to gather together and to demonstrate their views, however uncomfortable or repugnant those can be to the majority of us. However they must do so within the law. Protesters' rights need to be balanced with the rights of others to go about their business without fear of intimidation or serious disruption to the community. Rights to peaceful protest do not extend to violent or threatening behaviour, and the police have the necessary powers to deal with such acts.
Hezbollah's beliefs are outrageous, disgusting, and should be condemned at every opportunity. The UK Government has long held the view that elements of Hezbollah have been involved in conducting and supporting terrorism and, as a result, proscribed Hezbollah's External Security Organisation in 2001, and in 2008 proscription was extended to include the whole of Hezbollah's military apparatus, namely the Jihad Council and all the units reporting to it. Hezbollah's military wing is also designated in the UK under the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc. Act 2010. Funds or economic resources owned, held or controlled by Hezbollah's military wing in the UK therefore can, and will, be frozen.
A decision to proscribe an organisation is done on the recommendations submitted by law enforcement agencies, security services here and intelligence services overseas. However it is crucial that we constantly monitor these groups and individuals involved in them, and review the use of proscription as a means to take action where we see fit.


31 MAY 2018

Cladding and Affordable Housing

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about cladding and affordable housing.

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

The Government's recent decision to fund cladding removal will not reduce the number of affordable homes built between now and 2022.

The Government has announced it will meet the costs of remedial cladding work on social housing high rise buildings, estimated at £400 million. With remediation work already begun on 65 per cent of buildings in the social sector identified as having Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding, the Government's funding will speed up this important work. This will help to prevent another tragedy like the Grenfell Tower fire from happening again.

While the £400 million will come from the Affordable Homes Programme in the short-term, the Government has been clear that this temporary withdrawal from the fund will be fully reimbursed for the 2021-2022 financial year. This will ensure that no money will be lost from the Affordable Homes Programme, which remains at over £9 billion. As such, the Programme will provide the same number of affordable homes and will continue to build on the Government's success of delivering 357,000 affordable homes since 2010.

This decision will help speed up essential fire safety work on high rise buildings whilst protecting the over £9 billion in funding allocated for affordable homes.


31 MAY 2018

Torture Guidance

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the consolidated guidance on detainees.

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

The current consolidated guidance, published in 2010, sets out the principles for the interviewing of detainees overseas and the passing and receipt of intelligence relating to detainees.
Following the recommendations of Sir Mark Waller, the then Intelligence Services Commissioner (in his 2016 report on the Government's responsibilities in relation to partner counter-terrorism units overseas), the Government is working to identify what, if any, further changes could be made to the consolidated guidance. Please be assured that the Government has engaged with both the Intelligence Services Commissioner and Investigatory Powers Commissioner, to whom the Prime Minister has passed oversight of the guidance. In addition, the views of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament have also been sought in the context of their current inquiry into detainee matters. The updated guidance paper will be made public and laid before Parliament once it has been finalised.


31 MAY 2018

Universal Credit

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the Gingerbread campaign on Universal Credit.

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

Universal Credit is bringing fundamental change to the welfare system. The previous system incentivised working only 16 hours a week or less, preventing people from reaching their potential in work. Universal Credit frees people from those limits and lets them keep more of what they earn. Studies show that under Universal Credit, people are moving into work faster and staying in work longer than under the previous system.
Key to the design of Universal Credit is the monthly assessment periods. Payments are made monthly in arrears to mirror the world of work, making the transition to working life easier. As you know, from February 2018 the seven-day waiting period has been removed. For those individuals who think they may face difficulties before their first payment, an advance payment can be requested. Any household that needs it will be able to access a full month's payment as an advance within five days of applying, and the repayment period will be doubled to 12 months, regardless of the level of advance taken.
The introduction of the National Living Wage is delivering a pay rise for millions of low paid workers. People are keeping more of what they earn due to increases in their income tax personal allowance, saving a basic rate taxpayer up to £1,000 a year. Over 3 million jobs have been created since 2010, making it important to focus resources on helping those in work. The Universal Credit taper rate has therefore been reduced to 63p to ensure claimants keep more of what they earn.


31 MAY 2018

Live Export

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about live exports and I agree that live exports to slaughterhouses abroad causes unnecessary suffering.

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

All animals deserve to be respected and cared for at every stage of their lives. The UK has some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world, and the Party's General Election manifesto included a commitment to take early steps to control the export of live farm animals for slaughter once we leave the European Union.
The six-week call for evidence launched by the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, on improving animal welfare in transport and controlling live animal exports is welcomed. The Farm Animal Welfare Committee has also launched a review into the existing welfare standards for animals during transport.
The call for evidence lasted six weeks and sought views from across industry, charities and the general public on how the Government might raise standards of animal welfare during transport
Although much of the discussion to has focused on the export of live animals for slaughter, all options for future improvements in this area are being considered.
Acting on live animal exports forms part of the Government's programme of reforms to cement the UK's position as a global leader in animal welfare as we leave the EU, and deliver a Green Brexit. Other measures include making CCTV mandatory in slaughterhouses, increasing the maximum sentence for animal abuse from six months to five years and writing the principle of animal sentience into UK law.


31 MAY 2018

EDM 1140

Thank you for taking the time to email me about EDM 1140.

I understand you would like me to sign EDM 1140, however like many MPs I do not sign any EDMs no matter how worthy the cause. This is because EDMs now cost a huge amount per year to administer and have no chance of changing the Law. They are in effect petitions which only MPs can sign. They have also been superseded by online petitions which can be on any issue for which the Government or Parliament is responsible and any which receive 10,000 signatures will receive a response from the Government. Those petitions which reach 100,000 signatures will almost always be debated in Parliament – unless it is an issue which has recently been debated. There are also concerns that EDMs may give a false impression that action is being taken.

I hope the following information on this topic from the Ministry of Justice is reassuring:

The number of whiplash claims has been too high for too long, and is symptomatic of a wider compensation culture. This is being put right through the Civil Liability Bill, which will ensure that whiplash claims are no longer an easy payday and that money can be put back in the pockets of millions of law-abiding motorists.
In 2017 the insurance industry identified 69,000 motor insurance claims that it considered fraudulent. The Government's reforms seek to reduce and control the costs of whiplash claims and to disincentivise people making fraudulent or unmeritorious claims. The level of compensation paid out for such claims is, in the Government's view, out of all proportion to any genuine injury suffered, especially when balanced against its effect on the price of premiums paid by ordinary motorists.
The measures in the Bill relating to whiplash will therefore address a number of issues. They will introduce a ban on settling whiplash claims without medical evidence, discouraging fraudulent claims and encouraging insurers to investigate claims properly. They will also provide for a new system of fixed tariffs for payments for pain, suffering and "loss of amenity" in whiplash claims. This will give claimants proportionate compensation while controlling the costs of claims.


31 MAY 2018

EDM 1219

Thank you for taking the time to email me about EDM 1219.

I understand you would like me to sign EDM 1219, however like many MPs I do not sign any EDMs no matter how worthy the cause. This is because EDMs now cost a huge amount per year to administer and have no chance of changing the Law. They are in effect petitions which only MPs can sign. They have also been superseded by online petitions which can be on any issue for which the Government or Parliament is responsible and any which receive 10,000 signatures will receive a response from the Government. Those petitions which reach 100,000 signatures will almost always be debated in Parliament – unless it is an issue which has recently been debated. There are also concerns that EDMs may give a false impression that action is being taken.

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

The UN Security Council recently visited Burma, where the UK's Permanent Representative to the UN made representations to senior members of Burma's government on the treatment of the Rohingya. Additionally, on 3 May, the British Ambassador to Burma met the Commander-in-Chief of Burma's military and urged him to accept an inquiry with international involvement into the human rights violations carried out against the Rohingya.
The UK is a staunch supporter of the ICC and the UK Government remains committed to working with all its international partners to secure justice for what has taken place in Rakhine. We are awaiting a decision from the ICC on whether it has jurisdiction over the deportation of the Rohingya from Burma to Bangladesh, on the basis that Bangladesh, unlike Burma, is a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the ICC.
The UN Security Council could refer Burma to the ICC, but there is currently insufficient support on the Security Council, and Ministers have been clear that a vetoed attempt at a referral would undermine our position.


30 MAY 2018

Abortion NI

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about abortion in Northern Ireland.

I trust all women and will be voting for equal rights to abortion for women in Northern Ireland. This will now depend on whether Parliament is given the opportunity to vote on a cross Party amendment. The Speaker decides whether amendments are allowable/in scope & can be debated.

I would vote to support an extension of abortion rights to all women across the whole UK. As this is a devolved issue, if an amendment is not accepted by the Speaker, then there should at very least be a referendum in Northern Ireland on this issue. The Domestic Violence Bill is being proposed as an opportunity to bring amendments on abortion rights, but also a danger that some will use this as an opportunity to erode women's rights.

I will strongly oppose any threat to women's right to access safe termination of pregnancy. I would support a change to current legislation that demands two doctors need to support the grounds for the termination of pregnancy. Whilst it is a healthcare issue, I think it is paternalistic to insist both need to be doctors.


30 MAY 2018

Don't Block Brexit

Thank you for writing to me about the result of the referendum and the key debates and votes that lie ahead on the EU withdrawal bill as well as the customs and trade bills.

I will be respecting the decision to leave the EU but do not agree that the referendum delivered a mandate for a walk-away, no deal Brexit on WTO terms. That would have far reaching adverse consequences that would leave individuals and families poorer if businesses were unable to trade and collapsed or moved abroad as a result.

I hope that we will be able to remain in the EEA and EFTA in order, like Norway, to regain control of our fishing grounds whilst retaining the benefits of full access to the single market. I also feel that we need an effective customs union to allow frictionless trade and safeguard peace in Northern Ireland.

I do not agree that campaigning for a deal that keeps us closely aligned in a trading relationship with the EU is an attempt to frustrate Brexit. I was struck during the campaign by how many people told me that they had voted to join a 'common market' not a political union and wanted to return to that situation. I recognise that the majority have voted to leave the political union of the EU but would urge you to look at the mounting evidence from cross Party Select Committees which sets out just how damaging it would be for us to leave with no deal.


21 MAY 2018

Iran Nuclear Deal and EDM 1251

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about the Iran Nuclear deal and EDM 1251.

I understand you would like me to sign EDM 1251, however like many MPs I do not sign any EDMs no matter how worthy the cause. This is because EDMs now cost a huge amount per year to administer and have no chance of changing the Law. They are in effect petitions which only MPs can sign. They have also been superseded by online petitions which can be on any issue for which the Government or Parliament is responsible and any which receive 10,000 signatures will receive a response from the Government. Those petitions which reach 100,000 signatures will almost always be debated in Parliament – unless it is an issue which has recently been debated. There are also concerns that EDMs may give a false impression that action is being taken.

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

The Iran Nuclear deal is the product of 13 years of tireless diplomacy, and it is working, with Iran having reduced its stock of enriched uranium by 95 per cent. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed nine times that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal, most recently in February.
The IAEA inspection regime agreed as part of the deal is one of the most extensive and robust in the history of international nuclear accords. It remains a vitally important way of independently verifying that the deal is working and that Iran's nuclear programme is exclusively peaceful.
The Foreign Secretary has been clear that the UK Government did its utmost to prevent this course of action by the US. From the moment that President Trump's Administration took office, the UK made the case for keeping the Iran deal at every level.
The UK Government is working hard to maintain the deal following the 8 May announcement of US withdrawal.


21 MAY 2018

Tenant Fees Bill

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

I understand your concern about 'default' fees and I hope the following information on this topic from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government is of interest:

This Bill, which will abolish letting agent fees for renters, cap tenancy deposits, and save tenants between £25 and £70 per year, is "welcome news for private renters". On the particular issue of default fees, these concerns are unfounded.
Default fees are payments required from tenants in the event of a default by the tenant, for example, a late payment or a lost key. While the Bill protects the rights of landlords and agents to charge default fees, it is also clear that these fees must not exceed the loss suffered by the landlord as a result of the default.
Where a landlord or agent charges a default fee in excess of the loss suffered by that default, local authorities will be able to subject them to a fine of up to £5,000. Repeated breaches of this protection for renters will be considered a criminal offence, with penalties including even higher fines and a ban from acting as a landlord or agent for at least one year.
That said, with regard to the cross-party Select Committee, which provided pre-legislative scrutiny for the Bill, clear guidance needs to be provided on what type of fee, and how much, constitutes a reasonable default fee. As such, the Government has committed to produce guidance regarding the legislation, including on what constitutes a reasonable default fee.
The Bill will make renting fairer and more affordable for tenants by reducing the costs at the outset of a tenancy, as well as improving transparency and competition in the private rental market.


21 MAY 2018

NHS Funding

Thank you for writing to me to support a long term and ambitious uplift to funding of the NHS.

I feel that this should take a whole system approach to the NHS, social care and public health and assure you that this remains central to my work as your MP.


18 MAY 2018

EEA

Thank you for writing to me about the EEA.

I have long supported this as an option following Brexit and have made this clear to colleagues in Government. I feel that a no-deal walkaway Brexit would be harmful to our economy and I would personally like to see us opt to be part of EEA / EFTA alongside an effective customs arrangement that ensures as frictionless a border as possible.

This would also allow us, like Norway, to regain control over our coastal waters.


18 MAY 2018

Nuclear

Thank you for taking the time to email me about nuclear power and the proposed nuclear power station in Wales.

I understand your concerns on this matter, however I do think that nuclear power should remain part of our energy mix. I am also supportive of the renewable energy sector and would personally like to see more investment in tidal power in a region like the South West.

I hope the following information on this topic from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy of interest:

The Government has been working closely with the developer, Horizon Nuclear Power, which is owned by Hitachi, on their proposals for building a new nuclear plant at the Wylfa site on the Isle of Anglesey. Ministers are still in discussions with the developer on their financing plans, but cannot discuss the details publicly as they are commercially confidential.

While nuclear power remains a crucial part of the UK's energy future, the Government has always been clear that this must be delivered at the right price for consumers and taxpayers. This principle runs through all engagement with any new-build developers.

Ultimately, nuclear power will play a vital part in the long-term energy mix of the UK. It provides a low-carbon, home-grown source of electricity, that will power millions of homes and businesses for decades to come. It is vital that we build an energy infrastructure that is not only clean, but also reliable, in order to secure our energy future.

Of course, the Government remains committed to a long-term, low-carbon future in all areas of electricity generation. Government support has driven down the cost of renewables and electricity capacity in the UK has quadrupled since 2010. The UK now has enough solar to power almost 2.7 million homes and is the most attractive market in the world for investment in offshore wind.


17 MAY 2018

ME Awareness Week and EDM 1247

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about EDM 1247 and ME Awareness Week.

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

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

While there is currently no cure for ME/CFS, there are treatments that may help to ease symptoms, although no one form of treatment may suit every patient. Patients should be involved in decision-making throughout every stage of their care. Furthermore, patients should be offered information about local and national self-help groups and support groups for people with ME/CFS and their carers.
Research into this area is vital. The Medical Research Council (MRC) and the National Institute for Health Research welcome high quality applications for research into all aspects of ME/CFS. ME/CFS research is a current MRC priority area and so far over £2 million has been invested into this research area.
The majority of services for people with ME/CFS are the responsibility of local clinical commissioning groups. To assist diagnosis, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) produced clinical guidance on the diagnosis, treatment care and support of children and adults with ME/CFS.
You may be interested to know that NICE is currently reviewing these guidelines. This process will require thorough and careful consideration, and NICE expect to publish new guidelines on ME/CFS in 2020. These new guidelines will take into account patients' concerns about the PACE trials and the effectiveness of some existing recommendations.


16 MAY 2018

Levenson

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about the 'Leveson' amendments to the Data Protection Bill.

I am afraid I was absent for the vote as I had a long standing commitment to chair a select committee visit to Amsterdam. Nonetheless, I hope the following information on this matter from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is of interest:

The proposed amendments to the Data Protection Bill would have threatened the free press by trying to introduce Section 40 and reopen the Leveson inquiry, albeit in relation to data protection. This would undermine high quality journalism, and have a significant negative impact on local press, which is already struggling. The amendments were contrary to the 2017 Conservative Manifesto. The Manifesto stated that we would not be proceeding with Leveson 2 and would repeal Section 40.
The Government wants to ensure the press is well-regulated with high standards, albeit with their freedom protected. Tough new data protection laws will apply to journalists from 25 May. The Bill protects the confidentiality of sources and supports well run investigative journalism, but does not give journalists a free hand. Journalists must secure the information they hold, must assess risk when processing data, and must notify the Information Commissioner of any serious data breaches. A new Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) code of practice for journalists will set clear data protection expectations and the ICO will conduct a statutory review of media compliance with the new law over the next four years. If the media has not changed its ways and abuses the trust Parliament is placing in it, then this review will expose that.
After conducting a thorough consultation on the Leveson inquiry, the Government determined that that reopening the Leveson Inquiry is not in the public interest, and that Section 40 is no longer necessary.


16 MAY 2018

Mental Health Act

Thank you for writing to me about the Mental Health Act.

I should start by declaring a personal interest as my husband is Registrar of the Royal College of

Psychiatrists and involved in the review.

I do not sign any EDMs however worthy the cause as they have no impact on policy making but I assure you that I will be taking a close interest as Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee in the final recommendations and how they are implemented.

The Committee has recently published a response to the green paper on mental health and education which you can view here: https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/health-committee/inquiries/parliament-2017/transforming-young-peoples-mental-health-provision-inquiry-17-19/


15 MAY 2018

Refugee Children

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about refugee children and Lord Dubs amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill.

I understand your concern on this matter and I know the government position on the amendment is as below:

"The Government have been clear that when we leave the EU we will seek to maintain a close and effective arrangement, including practical co-operation with the EU and the member states on illegal migration and asylum. Combating illegal migration and having efficient and effective asylum systems will continue to be a priority on which we will work closely with our EU partners. As part of that arrangement, and subject to the negotiations, the UK will seek to agree with the EU a series of measures to enable unaccompanied children in the EU to join close family members in the UK or another EU member state, ​whichever is in their best interests. However, it is important to remember that any such agreement will require agreement and implementation by individual member states. After the outcome of the negotiations is known, we will bring forward the appropriate legislation as necessary."

You can view the full exchange here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2018-04-30/debates/8EB87728-0FFE-47BB-A2CA-26C1498F1548/EuropeanUnion(Withdrawal)Bill#contribution-D83C662A-EBB4-43DA-9E72-E40FDD8F37D0

In addition, I hope the following information on this matter from the Home Office is reassuring:

Britain has a proud record of helping the most vulnerable children who are fleeing conflict and danger, and the Government is committed to upholding this fine tradition. That is why its response to the migrant crisis has been to establish resettlement schemes from the refugee camps in the region. This allows support to be targeted to the most vulnerable people affected by the crisis, while not creating a strong incentive for refugees to undertake the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean. The UK has granted asylum or another form of leave to over 9,000 children in the past year, and over 42,000 since 2010.
In full accordance with section 67 of the Immigration Act, the Government has announced it will transfer the specified number of 480 children, who reasonably meet the intention and spirit behind the provision. This number includes over 200 children already transferred under section 67 from France. It does not however include children transferred to UK where they have close family here.
The Dubs amendment was never meant to be an open ended scheme. The legislation obliged the Government to consult local authorities on their capacity to care for and support unaccompanied asylum-seeking children before arriving at this number. Local authorities informed the Government that they had capacity for around 530 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children until the end of this financial year. Similarly the Government estimated that at least 50 of the family reunion cases transferred from France as part of the Calais clearance will require a local authority placement in cases where the family reunion does not work out.
The UK will continue to work closely with our European partners to meet its obligations under the Dublin regulation and accept responsibility for processing asylum claims where the UK is determined to be the responsible member state, ensuring that it is in their best interests to come here. But if the Dubs scheme is continued indefinitely the Government would be creating a semi-permanent scheme that would create an additional pull factor that will lead to more children taking the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean and put more children in the hands of unscrupulous people traffickers.


15 MAY 2018

Childline

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about Childline and the provision of mental health services for young people.

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

It is incredibly important to protect the health of children and young people in our society.
Approximately 10 per cent of 5 to 16 year olds have a clinically diagnosable mental health problem. Between 2015 and 2020, an additional £1.4 billion is being invested to transform children and young people's mental health; this money will support clinical commissioning groups and various national programmes, including improving crisis support and expanding the workforce.
The Children and Young People's Mental Health Green Paper is a joint enterprise by the departments for health and education, which sets out ambitious proposals to improve mental health services for children and young people, together with over £300 million of funding. This will incentivise and support schools and colleges to train designated leaders for their pupils' mental health, and introduce new mental health teams, both of which will ease pressure on NHS mental health services.
The Future in Mind report is being implemented to expand access to counselling in schools. This will see all areas in England draw up plans for the greater integration between mental health specialists, GPs and schools. Recent data suggest that 62 per cent of schools offer counselling services.
There is a continued commitment of £2 million a year to the NSPCC to assist with the running of Childline. Those growing up in Britain today experience a range of ongoing pressures and risks in a changing World, and Childline provides them with a safe, supportive and confidential space that empowers them to improve their wellbeing. Over the years, more than 4.5 million children and young people have sought Childline's help and last year more than 295,000 counselling sessions were provided to children and young people.


14 MAY 2018

Cancer and Young People

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about Personal Independence Payments and young people with cancer.

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

Cancer can affect all areas of a person's life, including finances. 83 per cent of people say they are financially impacted by cancer. It is a long standing principle of disability support that it is payable after a person satisfies the disability eligibility conditions for three months. This is to ensure that PIP supports those with long term disabilities which fall under the definition used in the Equality Act 2010. Before it was replaced by PIP, Disability Living Allowance also had this rule. It affects all claimants, not just young people, and there are exceptions such as in the case of terminal cancer.
People over the age of 16 who are unable to work due to an illness or disability can claim Employment and Support Allowance which has both contributory and an income-related strands. For cancer sufferers, a light touch evidence gathering process exists, to help determine eligibility. There is also a presumption that claimants receiving or recovering from cancer treatment will be placed in the Support Group.
More broadly, the Government spends over £50 billion a year supporting people with disabilities and health conditions, more than ever before; this is around 2.5 per cent of GDP and over 6 per cent of all Government spending.


14 MAY 2018

Carers Allowance

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about the fact that you cannot usually get Carer's Allowance if you receive the State Pension.

I understand your concern on this matter and the Health Select Committee, which I chair, is currently looking at the whole issue of funding for social care and that will include looking at the German system where family carers can receive extra benefits for care provided at home.


14 MAY 2018

Supporting Pubs and EDM 1233

Thank you very much for taking the time to email me about supporting pubs and the related EDM number 1233.

I realise you would like me to sign EDM 1233, however like many MPs I do not sign any EDMs no matter how worthy the cause. This is because EDMs now cost a huge amount per year to administer and have no chance of changing the Law. They are in effect petitions which only MPs can sign. They have also been superseded by online petitions which can be on any issue for which the Government or Parliament is responsible and any which receive 10,000 signatures will receive a response from the Government. Those petitions which reach 100,000 signatures will almost always be debated in Parliament – unless it is an issue which has recently been debated. There are also concerns that EDMs may give a false impression that action is being taken.

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

Through the Asset of Community Value scheme, communities can list facilities of local importance, including pubs. This means that if a pub owner wishes to sell, the community has six months to come up with a plan and funding in order to try to save it. There are now around 2,000 pubs across England listed as assets of community value.
The £3.6 million 'More than a Pub: The Community Business Support Programme', launched in March 2016, is helping to support communities across England to own their local pub. On top of this, the Government continues to support the work of the Pub is The Hub initiative to help landlords diversify and provide essential services, such as village shops and post offices, in order to improve the sustainability of their pub.
To further support pubs, the Chancellor's announced in the Autumn Budget 2017 a freeze on all alcohol duties for 2018. The Spring Budget 2017 also provided a £1,000 discount on business rates bills in 2017 for pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 - 90 per cent of pubs in England - and this was extended in the Autumn Budget for a further year, through to March 2019.


14 MAY 2018

Social Care

Thank you for contacting me about the campaign from Independent Age about the importance of social care.

You may be interested to follow the inquiry that I am chairing jointly with Clive Betts MP of both the Health and Social Care Committee and the Housing Communities and Local Government Committee in Parliament that is looking specifically at what should be in the Green Paper: https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/health-committee/inquiries/parliament-2017/long-term-funding-of-adult-social-care-17-19/

We have received a huge volume of evidence both in person and in writing including correspondence and we are also meeting with people using services and using a citizen's assembly to examine views about many of the options for improving funding and services. I hope to publish our report into this really important issue next month.

In the meantime I have been also pressing the government for an early resolution to the pressing issue of back pay sleep in shifts: http://www.drsarah.org.uk/in-parliament/news-and-speeches/health-and-social-care-access-to-social-care/2689


11 MAY 2018

ONE Campaign

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the ONE campaign and the Anti Money Laundering Bill.

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

The UK was the first G20 country to establish its own public register of company beneficial ownership and has committed to creating a new beneficial ownership register for overseas companies. At EU level, the UK went beyond the requirements of the fourth anti-money laundering directive in establishing a public register and supported the inclusion in the fifth anti-money laundering directive of a provision that will require all EU member states to have legislation in place to support publicly accessible registers by the end of 2019.
While it is true that the UK has power to legislate for the Overseas Territories, the Government only exercises these powers to legislate without their consent as a matter of last resort. It is only in the most exceptional circumstances that legislation is made for or on behalf of these jurisdictions without their consent.
The Government has recognised the strength of feeling on this issue and did not oppose the amendment. The Government has given assurances to the overseas territories that it will work very closely with them in shaping and implementing the legislation and any legal and logistical support they may need.


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