Many organisations now choose to do their lobbying by generating pre-scripted "click and send" standard e-mails. The amount of emails of this nature has increased significantly in recent years. Due to the large amount of this type of email I receive, I am not able to respond to them individually. However, you can read my response to some of the most popular recent e-mail campaigns below.

Parliament has taken another step in the journey of leaving the EU with the European Union Withdrawal Bill passing to the next stage to receive full scrutiny. The legislation is designed to transfer all EU law into UK law – ensuring a smooth transition with legal certainty for businesses, consumers and investors.

Much EU law is already incorporated. These are the laws that stem from what is called an EU directive, which we tailor according to our legal system. Some of this may need to be tweaked as, for example, we will no longer have a European regulator for something but will have a UK or England only regulator and we need to change the name within our law. There is another type of EU law called regulations, which apply automatically in exactly the same way everywhere. All of these need to be brought into law before we leave in March 2019.

Some constituents contacted me asking me to vote against the Bill and the timetable motion, further delaying the Brexit process. I believe eight days on the floor of the House is sufficient to consider this straightforward Bill which is absolutely crucial to provide the continuity Britain needs to function and make a success of Brexit.

The Withdrawal Bill delivers what the British people voted for – control over our own laws after we leave, outside the control of the European Court of Justice.

Thank you for contacting me about environmental standards for after we leave the EU.

I am the Environment Minister and I am proud of our Conservative Government's ambition to make this the first generation that leaves the environment in a better state than we found it, as set out in our 2015 and 2017 manifestos.

The EU Withdrawal Bill will give the government powers to put into our laws any current EU legislation which isn't already in our law. The government is pulling together its 25 year environment plan which will provide a blueprint for taking forward improvements in our environment, including that of rivers.

I agree that our rivers are a vital part of our natural heritage. I share your concern about river pollution from sewage, but I am glad to say that action is being taken to prevent it.

Since privatisation, around £9 billion has been invested reduce pollution from sewage treatment. In England, between 2015 and 2020, water companies are investing over £3 billion to improve their sewerage infrastructure. When things have gone wrong, our regulator Ofwat has taken action, evidenced by the recent fine of over £20 million levied against Thames Water in March in response to six cases of avoidable sewage pollution, following an Environment Agency investigation.

The Environment Agency is also responsible for issuing licenses for water abstraction. In making these decisions the Agency is guided by regional river basin management plans, which set out how all interested parties work together to improve the water environment of the area. Collectively they set out how at least 680 waters will improve by 2022, benefitting from around £3 billion of investment.

Given our longstanding record on enhancing the environment, I am pleased to be in a role that continues to champion stewardship of our precious natural resources and habitats.

Thank you for contacting me about Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Kamal Foroughi.

I can assure you that Ministers and officials continue to make representations on all consular cases involving British nationals in Iran, including Mr Foroughi's and Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's, at all levels with the Iranian Government.

On 17 February the Foreign Secretary discussed Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case with the Iranian Foreign Minister and I am pleased that her family have confirmed she has legal representation. However, the fact that Iran does not recognise dual nationality makes progress difficult. Most recently, the new Minister for the Middle East raised Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case in a telephone call with the Iranian Foreign Minister on 21 June.

I very much share your concern for Mr Foroughi. It is vitally important that we continue to uphold the human rights of all the citizens in Iran with our international partners. Please be assured that I will continue to follow both of these cases closely.

Thank you for contacting me about the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, the worst fire tragedy since the King's Cross fire in 1987. The response of residents themselves and those people who have provided help, compassion and support has once again shown the fantastic spirit of London and the best of Britain. I also pay tribute to the firefighters and paramedics who responded selflessly.

I completely understand the shock, concern, anger and frustration that exists as a result of this. The Prime Minister has ordered a full, judge-led public inquiry and a criminal investigation has also been established.

I understand that there has been considerable concern about the response of the local council. It is a long-standing convention that councils have to ask for help from other councils or the government when handling situations like this and it took three days for that to be triggered. The Grenfell Tower Recovery task force was set up in the aftermath of the tragedy to ensure a coordinated response. It is chaired by the Prime Minister and includes representation from a number of government departments. The government is working with the local authority to ensure that people who lost their homes in the disaster are rehoused in the local area at the earliest opportunity. The government is also working with local authorities, housing associations, fire and rescue services and fire safety experts to ensure that all similar buildings are checked and that residents are assured of this.

A new £5 million Grenfell Tower Residents' Discretionary Fund has also been made immediately available to help those who had to flee their homes. Every household whose home has been destroyed will receive a guaranteed £5,500 minimum down payment from the fund. This money could be used to cover loss of possessions, funerals and emergency supplies.

Investigations into other tower blocks is underway and many problems identified. In Camden, similar cladding was used in 2005 but considerably greater fire concerns have been raised and residents evacuated. This will take some time to get right but I can assure you that the Government is working with councils to address this issue.

Thank you for contacting me about sentencing for offences of animal cruelty.

I am pleased that we have a robust legal framework to tackle this vicious behaviour in the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal.

The courts must decide what the penalty should be for each individual case, taking into account its circumstances and the guidelines laid down by the Sentencing Council. Currently, in addition to the maximum penalty of six months' imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine, the courts can also disqualify offenders from keeping animals for as long as they consider appropriate.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is in regular contact with the Ministry of Justice in relation to sentencing policy for animal welfare offences, but I would note that current sentencing practice does not suggest that the courts are finding current sentencing powers inadequate.

Thank you for contacting me about ancient woodland.

Ancient woodland is a precious habitat and the National Planning Policy Framework already contains protections for it. It states that planning permission should be refused for development that would result in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats, including ancient woodland and aged or veteran trees elsewhere. This can only be overridden if the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location clearly outweigh the loss.

The recent Housing White Paper went further, announcing a proposal to clarify planning policy on ancient woodland and aged or veteran trees, upgrading their protection to the same level as the green belt. I have been assured that Ministers will consider everyone's views and develop this further.

As the Environment Minister, I am pleased that we are protecting and enhancing our woodland habitats. We continue to plant millions of trees such that England's woodland cover is at its greatest since the fourteenth century.

Thank you for contacting me about 21st Century Fox's proposed purchase of Sky.

Under the powers set out in the Enterprise Act 2002, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has a quasi-judicial role that allows her to intervene on the basis of specified media public interest considerations. These considerations refer to the need for there to be a sufficient plurality of media ownership, for the availability of a wide range of high-quality broadcasting and for those with control of media enterprises to have a genuine commitment to broadcasting standards objectives.

On 16 March 2017, the Secretary of State issued a European Intervention Notice on the grounds of media plurality and commitment to broadcasting standards. This decision was made after hearing representations from Sky, 21st Century Fox and many other third parties.

This decision will now trigger action by Ofcom to assess and report on the public interest grounds specified and for the Competition and Markets Authority to report on jurisdiction. They each have 40 working days to prepare and provide these reports, which means they will be sent to the Secretary of State by Tuesday 16 May. At that point, the Secretary of State will resume her decision-making role.

The question of whether someone is fit and proper to hold a broadcasting licence is a different consideration to those outlined in the Enterprise Act 2002 and sits with Ofcom. Ofcom had previously announced that it would conduct its fit and proper assessment at the same time it would consider any public interest test, meaning following the intervention decision, Ofcom will conduct its assessment within the 40 working days it has to report on the specified public interests.

Thank you for contacting me about neonicotinoid insecticides and bees.

Bees and other pollinators play a vital role in the security of our food supply and the quality of our environment. I welcome the work the Government has done over the last few years to protect them, most recently through its National Pollinator Strategy.

While we remain in the EU the UK will continue to meet its obligations under EU law, including restrictions on neonicotinoids. As part of the preparation for exiting the EU, Ministers are considering future arrangements for pesticides. Our highest priority will continue to be the protection of people and the environment and, taking the advice of the independent Expert Committee on Pesticides, they will base these decisions on a careful scientific assessment of the risks.

I have had a number of emails asking me to vote against the Article 50 Bill.

I voted for the referendum so the people of the UK could decide this pivotal issue.

I shared my views and I campaigned in the referendum.

The vote was to leave and as a democrat, I will be voting for the Bill which enables the UK to leave the EU.

Update: Amendments.

I will not be voting for amendments as all these seek to restrict the ability of the Prime Minister to trigger Article 50 and negotiate the best deal for the UK.

Thank you for contacting me about child refugees and the Dubs amendment.

The Government is undertaking the largest ever humanitarian response to the Syrian conflict. That involves welcoming 20,000 vulnerable Syrian nationals directly from the region in this Parliament and we have also pledged to resettle up to 3,000 vulnerable children and their family members from the Middle East and North Africa. Asylum or protection has already been given to over 10,000 Syrians since 2011. In the first nine months of 2016, more than 8,000 children were given refuge or remain to leave. According to EU figures, in 2016 the UK resettled the highest number of refugees than any other EU country. In addition, the UK is the second largest donor with £2.3 billion committed to the area which is supporting affected people with food, shelter, medical care and education.

Regarding unaccompanied children in Calais and Europe, after working with local councils it has been established that 350 can be appropriately accommodated on top of the approximately 4,500 unaccompanied children already in local authority care. 200 have already arrived and another 150 will be welcomed. We do not want to help the traffickers by encouraging people to make perilous journeys, a view we share with France.

To suggest that the UK is not helping with this crisis is far from the truth as the above has demonstrated.

Thank you for contacting me about plastic microbeads.

I understand your concerns about the impact these ingredients can have on the marine environment and fish which is why the Government has announced plans to ban them from rinse-off cosmetic products.

The Government has launched a consultation on proposals to ban the sale and manufacture of cosmetics and personal care products containing harmful microbeads. It will also gather evidence on the environmental impacts of microbeads found elsewhere, such as in household and industrial cleaning products and consider what more can be done in future to tackle other plastics, such as microfibers, that also enter the marine environment.

Clearly there is an international dimension to this issue so I am pleased to say that the UK, along with several of our neighbours, is party to an international organisation known as the Oslo and Paris Convention for the Protection of the North East Atlantic. In 2014 its members agreed a regional action plan to address marine litter, one of its most important objectives. The plan includes international action on microplastics.

I understand that manufacturers are exploring natural alternatives to plastic microbeads, including nut shells, salt and sugar. These have the same exfoliating properties but do not threaten the environment, so the products containing them should perform just as well.

Thank you for contacting me about the Istanbul Convention.

This Government remains committed to tackling violence against women and girls and to ratifying the Istanbul Convention. As you will be aware, the previous Government signed the Convention in June 2012 and in most respects, the measures already in place in the UK to protect women and girls from violence comply with or go further than the Convention requires.

It is the case that further amendments to domestic law, to take extra-territorial jurisdiction over a range of offences, are necessary before the Convention can be ratified. I have been assured that the Government will seek to legislate when the approach to implementing the extra-territorial jurisdiction requirements in England and Wales is agreed and Parliamentary time allows.

Let me be clear that the UK continues to lead efforts at home and abroad to tackle violence against women and girls, end Female Genital Mutilation and combat early and forced marriage.

I was glad to be in attendance to vote for the Bill. The Government has made clear that it has carefully considered the Bill and supports its key principles, which place a duty on the Government to take all reasonable steps to enable us to become compliant with the convention and require the Government to lay before Parliament a report setting out the steps to be taken to enable it to ratify the convention. I should make clear that there are areas which the Government has said it will consider more fully in consultation with the devolved Administrations and return to at the later stages of the Bill.

Thank you for contacting me about future NHS funding.

The Government is committed to a tax-funded NHS, free at the point of use, wherever and whenever you need it. 

Despite tight public finances, the Government has actively supported the NHS' own plan for the future. That is why it is providing the additional £10 billion of investment per annum in real terms by 2020/21 - compared to 2014/15. The Government is investing nearly £4 billion of that just this year which, as the Chief Executive of NHS England has said, will 'kick-start' the transformation of provision. It will also ensure that by 2020, everyone will be able to access GP services at evenings and weekends.

On top of this, to secure the best value for taxpayers, the Government has introduced tough new financial controls to cut down on waste in the NHS, including introducing caps for agency staff and management consultants and introducing central procurement rules.

I know that the Government recognises the current pressures facing social care in local areas. That is why the Government is giving local authorities additional funding and flexibility so that they will have access of up to an additional £3.5 billion by 2020, providing a real terms increase in funding by the end of this Parliament.

In addition, the Government has taken steps in the recent Local Government Settlement to help in the shorter-term, making available almost £900 million of additional social care funding over the next two years. Money alone will not fix the problem and the Government is clear that far-reaching reform is needed to find a long-term sustainable solution which helps local authorities learn from each other to raise standards across the whole system.

You can read the Minister's response to the recent debate, here:

Thank you for contacting me about the Green Investment Bank (GIB) which was established by the Government to support green infrastructure and it has proven to be a pioneering venture into sustainable investment, committing £2.6 billion of capital to 79 green infrastructure projects across the UK since its launch.

The Independent Chair of the Bank, Lord Smith, has stated that attracting new investors is vital if the GIB is to fund its ambitious plans to double the size of its business, expand into new parts of the green economy and deliver more environmental benefits. Indeed, the Government has always been clear that the GIB was designed with a view to a possible transfer to the private sector. The company was designed to leverage the maximum amount of private capital into green sectors for the minimum amount of public money. Moving the company into private ownership is a natural development that further delivers this aim.

A two stage auction process was formally launched in March 2016 and while the detail of the sale process is commercially confidential, the Government has no interest in selling to an asset stripper. Potential investors have been asked to confirm their commitment to GIB's green values and investment principles and how they propose to protect them, as part of their bids for the company. In addition, the Government has approved the creation of a special share, held by independent trustees, to protect GIB's green purposes in the future.

Regarding the trade of ivory, I refer you to my contribution in the debate on February 6th.

Thank you for contacting me about the proposed takeover of Punch Taverns PLC by Heineken.

This is a commercial matter on which the shareholders of Punch will decide and then it will be subject to regulatory approval with appropriate scrutiny from the competition authorities. It would be useful to understand what evidence or reasoning you have regarding the role of micro-breweries and the existing operations of Punch Taverns. It would also be useful to understand how you think the craft brew culture is generating jobs and preserving a connection to our communities, here in Suffolk Coastal.

More broadly, I am a firm supporter of pubs here in the constituency and know they play an important role in communities across the UK. I am proud of the action taken to back pubs, including three cuts in beer duty and have no doubt of the Government's support for the British pub.

Thank you for contacting me about police animals.

Police support animals make a valuable contribution in the detection and prevention of crime and in maintaining public safety. Attacks of any sort on police dogs or horses are unacceptable and can be dealt with severely under the criminal law.

Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 an attack on a police dog or other police support animal can be treated as causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and the maximum penalty is 6 months' imprisonment, an unlimited fine, or both. The financial element of the penalty was raised in 2015 to unlimited from a maximum fine of £20,000. Similarly an attack on a police animal could be considered by the court as an aggravating factor leading to a higher sentence. Under some circumstances assaults on support animals could be treated as criminal damage which would allow for penalties of up to 10 years' imprisonment.

The Government has also requested that the Sentencing Council considers assaults on police animals as an aggravating factor as a part of their current review on guidelines for sentencing in the Magistrates' Courts, which includes animal cruelty offences.

Thank you for contacting me about the auctioning of spectrum.

Ofcom is the regulator of the UK mobile market with statutory duties, including the promotion of competition and efficient use of spectrum.

Ofcom recently launched a consultation on the upcoming spectrum auction. The auction consists of 2.3 GHz spectrum, which is already useable for better 4G services and 3.4 GHz spectrum which is unlikely to be useable for at least two to three years, but could help unlock a new wave of future services such as 5G.

I understand that Ofcom has introduced a cap that prevents any one company holding more than 45% of spectrum that can be used immediately after the auction, which it justifies as by the time 3.4 GHz spectrum is usable, other bands will become available and there is therefore no immediate necessity for action on competition grounds in respect of this spectrum.

Ofcom has been clear that its intervention has been minimal as it does not want to distort the auction by giving the smaller operators a price break through the weakening of competition. Furthermore, there are concerns it would provide a perverse incentive for smaller operators to under-bid in this and future auctions if they always expected intervention in their favour on grounds of lacking spectrum.

Thank you for contacting me about the audio-visual announcements on buses.

I do understand the benefits that these can bring to bus passengers and Ministers have encouraged bus operators and local authorities to invest in audio-visual announcement systems for their buses where possible. Previously, however, the systems to provide such information have been expensive to fit and maintain, so Ministers have supported projects to design innovative and low-cost approaches to providing accessible on-board information.

This Bill, currently progressing through the House of Lords, would allow 'enhanced partnership schemes' between local authorities and bus operators to require all buses within a local area to provide audible and visual next stop information. Authorities using the new bus franchising powers will also be able to place similar requirements on affected operators.

You may be interested to know that a Government amendment, which will allow the Secretary of State to require service operators to make such information available to passengers, is now also part of the Bill as Clause 17.

I know that the Government also intends to publish an Accessibility Action Plan for consultation by the end of the year, which will present its ambition for further progress on this agenda.


Thank you for visiting my website. It is my privilege to serve as your Member of Parliament for Suffolk Coastal. Please do get in touch using the contact form or email me (details below).






Parliament: House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, 

Call: 0207 219 7164


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