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.

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.


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

Call: 0207 219 7164


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