Articles

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. 

Autumn Statement

Express & EchoThe rabbit out of the hat last week came from George Osborne when he announced he would not after all introduce the changes to tax credits. This was roundly welcomed by those campaigning against the changes. But the Autumn statement also showed the South West as a winner. Maybe the Chancellor was in payback mode for the region coming good in the General Election. Who knows?

Tax Credits

Express & Echo George Osborne will stay on course as regards reforms to tax credits but will now help in the transition. A rethink on the House of Lords is also underway which is crucial because in seeking to derail a key component of the Government’s economic policy it has not only defied tradition, it has defied democracy.

Housing

Exmouth Journal One of the most emotive issues I deal with as a local MP is the issue of housing. Where to build or where not to build new houses always raise the temperature in our communities. And why wouldn’t it? We live in some of the most beautiful countryside in Britain and none of us want to spoil it. As an MP, I have no authority to intervene in planning decisions, which are made by local authorities, but as a member of the Government I will support a policy framework, which desperately needs to be modernized.

Business Rates

Exmouth Journal One of the eye-catching announcements at the Conservative Conference was one of real change at local level. We’re going to allow local government to keep the rates they collect from business and give councils the power to cut business rates to boost growth. Fixing the current broken system of financing local government will be a huge boost to local growth, help attract business and create jobs. 

Movement Politics

Express & EchoIt’s quite difficult coming up against the appeal of Jeremy Corbyn. He comes across as something of a saint. After all we are just members of the ‘nasty’ establishment; a ‘rich elite’, soulless, cruel, pro austerity. But politics is a much more sophisticated process than followers of an idealism allow it to be because, as anyone who is at the sharp end of it knows, what it really is, is a struggle of competing forces.

Jeremy Corbyn

Exmouth Journal In the film ‘Being There’ an unsuspecting and sheltered gardener becomes an insider in Washington politics and a potential president. The Jeremyn Corbyn story sometimes feels a little like as if it’s following a not dissimilar narrative. Mr Corbyn looks like a rabbit caught in the headlights. Why is this? He is clearly a decent man with a clear sense of principles – none of which I would necessarily agree with – so why is he attracting acres of negative publicity? Probably because this man is auditioning to be our next Prime Minister. 

Syrian Refugees, Assisted Dying and Labour

The big story across Europe continues to be the refugee crisis and will remain so for a long time to come. Only on Monday I was in Geneva addressing the UN Human Rights Council on issues including Syria. Please be assured we continue to be at the forefront of the international response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria - including as the second biggest bilateral donor of humanitarian aid, having already pledged £1 billion. Some £60 million of the additional funding will also help Syrians who are still in Syria.  Britain is a moral nation and we must and will fulfill our moral responsibilities. 

End of Term

Parliament shut down last week, with MPs mostly heading back to their constituencies. I meanwhile headed off on a ten day foreign office trip to South East Asia. It’s more difficult to travel as a foreign office minister these days as we only have a slim majority and it’s important to be on the ground to get our legislation through.