Articles

Sugar Tax

In the budget last week the Chancellor unveiled a new tax on sugary drinks, pledging to use the takings to provide more sports funding for schools. Some saw this policy, including some of my colleagues as “nanny statism at its worst” but I disagree. 

BLOG: Commonwealth

Sometimes the Commonwealth is seen as a relic of the past. I argue passionately that it is nothing of the sort. The test is always the same – would we invent the Commonwealth today? The answer is that we would. It is an important organisation for the present and the future.

BLOG: The EU Referendum. My Personal View.

Like many of my Conservative colleagues I am a Eurosceptic. And like many of them I have been reconciling the views of my constituents, my loyalty to the Prime Minister, my dislike of many European institutions and my belief as to what is ultimately in the best interests of our country at this time.

Doctors Strike

Exmouth Journal Junior doctors already work seven days a week, playing a vital role in our NHS and doing a fantastic job delivering excellent care for patients. The Government’s reforms are intended to improve patient safety and properly reward – not penalise – NHS staff, ensuring safer working hours and delivering a truly seven-day health service. We know that’s what doctors want too, so it is extremely disappointing that the BMA chose unnecessary industrial action, which helps no one, in place of negotiation. Quite frankly, it used the unwell in a nationalised health service as bargaining chips. Its operations also bordered on dishonesty. It published a fake pay calculator on its website, wrongly suggesting the pay would go down.

Tax Evasion (and Avoidance)

Exmouth Journal Last week a smaller than planned demonstration of about 30 or so people took to the streets of Sidmouth to protest against corporate tax avoidance. Among the crowd were members of the public service union Unison and sellers of the Socialist Worker newspaper.  Those that organized the event had taken to Facebook to rally troops for the march, which is somewhat ironic considering Facebook itself has been condemned for paying just £4,327 in Corporation tax in 2014, despite handing out £35.4 million in share bonus to UK staff. It is now refusing to pay the British taxman a penny more.

BLOG: Tax Evasion (and Avoidance)

I don’t want to underestimate one of the most challenging areas of Government at the moment, that of tackling tax evasion, particularly at a time when we are struggling to get the public finances back on track.

BLOG: The Case for Cutting Subsidies on Renewable Energy

The removal of subsidies on renewable energy is causing concern up and down the South West where the industry has thrived. This policy adjustment has alarmed many because of climate change fears. But Britain, is not casting away a bright future, which includes renewables, it is just facing harsh realities about the future. Here, I want to outline the other side of the argument, the Government side that often gets drowned out by the emotions of the issue.

BLOG: “Silent on East Devon Issues” in Parliament?

My detractors are very good at perpetuating the myth via media platforms that I do not speak up for local issues in Parliament. This is mischief making on their part or perhaps a misunderstanding of a Minister’s role. Comments such as: “I really hope that East Devon’s MP, Hugo Swire, will back the residents of Devon in the House of Commons local government settlement debate next month and speak and vote against it.” is typical of this misunderstanding. If I did this I would be standing at the dispatch box contradicting Government policy, which would be strange as I am a member of the Government.

Floods

Exmouth Journal The Christmas recess was dominated by the flooding that hit the UK due to extreme rainfall. The blame was then allocated between four recipients: extreme weather, budget cuts, green priorities and land management.

Devolution

Exmouth JournalIsn’t it strange that those who clamour for greater local democracy immediately complain when that prospect becomes a reality? Is it a fear of being held accountable locally? They don’t need to be quite so frightened about our devolution plans for local Government.