My views on policy and legislation in Parliament
I am very clear that government is of the people, by the people, for the people and the people have spoken. It would be entirely wrong to not accept the result of the referendum simply because one does not want the outcome. The recent Brexit policy announcement of the Labour Party, however, appears to show that they are willing to ignore the voting public. By refusing to set a limit on the transitional arrangements after we leave the EU, Labour are leaving the door open for a transitional period that essentially becomes permanent, completely contradicting the referendum result.
Labour policy on Brexit removes any certainty whatsoever that British laws will be free of the interference of European courts and, fails to provide the certainty that business in the UK want and need, and removes any possibility of us taking back control of our borders. I do not believe this is what people voted for in 2016 when the country voted to Leave, and so I could never support it.
Yet in representing this city my central driving motivation is to improve the life chances of our most vulnerable, our local thriving economy, and to help us truly fulfil that incredible potential we all know Plymouth, and all who live here, have. I will always have this commitment close to heart as I continue in office.
I therefore hope that you can be assured of my profound commitment to honouring the result of the referendum and the will of the people of Plymouth whilst, at the same time, remaining absolutely dedicated to improving the life chances of all those in Plymouth. With respect to the Repeal Bill, I am confident that a way will be found that prevents these two commitments from conflicting.
As I am sure you are aware, this motion passed by a vote of 320 to 301 on Tuesday 12 September. Unfortunately I was not available to vote on this motion as I was in France on a charity bike ride in aid of Help for Heroes.
The motion was not to “bypass” the Committee of Selection as has been suggested, but to alter the way in which the Committee interprets paragraph (2) of Standing Order No. 86 of the House of Commons which states that “the Committee of Selection shall have regard to the qualifications of those Members nominated and to the composition of the House, and shall have power to discharge Members from time to time and appoint others in substitution for those discharged”.
The effect of the motion’s passing is that when the Committee of Selection nominates Members of Parliament to sit on Parliament’s various committees, the Committee of Selection shall interpret the above paragraph so that where a committee has an odd number of members the Government shall have a majority, and where a committee has an even number of members the number of Government and Opposition members shall be equal.
It is the norm for the governing party to have a greater number of members in committees than that of other parties as the governing party typically commands a majority in the House of Commons. As the Conservative government now commands a working majority, this motion has not been passed in an attempt to “bypass” anything but to ensure that the standard make-up of committees reflects the way in which the current Government conducts its business in the House of Commons.
Vote on the House of Lords proposed amendments to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill
I absolutely support the need for the rights of European Citizens in the UK to be clarified and protected and I understand the worry that this must be causing many at present.
These rights, and importantly also those of UK citizens living in the EU, need to be negotiated and secured. That said, the House of Lords amendments did not, in my view, cover the full extent of those required negotiations.
This Government has a difficult task ahead to negotiate all terms of our exit from the EU and it is vital that this is not restricted by narrow legislation in any way.
This does not diminish my support for UK citizens living in uncertainty in the EU or vice versa. However, the focus must now be to press forward to secure the best possible terms across the board.
Bees and the use of neonicotinoids
I totally agree that bees and other pollinators play a vital role and am supportive of the action this government has taken to protect these creatures.
I take on board your concerns that this may not continue beyond Brexit but would stress the strong contribution this government made to reviews conducted by the European Commission on this matter and whilst decisions are made currently at European level, I would hope that a sensible approach would continue in the years to come.
Suggested amendment to the Hunting Act
As you will probably be aware, prior to the voting on this being postponed last Summer, I had been balloting my constituents via an online voting system and planned to vote in accordance with the majority. The results of that Direct Democracy poll seem to suggest that the majority of people would be against any amendments and therefore that is how I would, and will in future, vote on the subject.