Frequently Asked Questions

During this election I have attended thirteen public meetings and spent countless hours knocking on doors talking to people face-to-face. I have also tried my best to answer the hundreds of emails I have received, but with no paid staff and such a short time available, I simply haven't been able to respond to everyone individually.

The most commonly asked questions are listed below.

I am very sorry if this means your question hasn't been answered before you cast your vote: I have read them all and will get in touch with you directly over the next few weeks.

Regardless of the outcome of the General Election, I will continue to hold regular public meetings around South East Cornwall so that you can share your concerns and hold your elected representatives to account for their actions.

I challenge all the other candidates to take this pledge.

If you would like to receive regular updates about my work, please sign up for my newsletter.

 

What do the Lib Dems stand for?

Are the Lib Dems just interested in stopping Brexit? What are your core values?

Answer:

 

In practical terms, being Liberal means giving people as much freedom as possible to reach their own personal potential, recognising that nobody can truly be free if they don't have the health, education or money to make the choices available to others. That's why we're so passionate about supporting the NHS and the education system, and ensuring that the economy, tax and welfare system don't trap anyone in poverty.

Colin Martin addresses protesters at a rally against prorogation of Parliament

Being Democrats means we fight for decisions to be made as close as possible to the people they affect, because we believe local residents know their towns better than council officers in Truro or civil servants in London, and we believe front-line professionals like teachers and nurses understand the needs of the people they serve better than the politicians who sit at the top of Government. Some issues require national cooperation (it wouldn't make sense for Birmingham to have its own Navy!) and some require international cooperation (because air pollution and fish don't pay attention to lines on maps), so despite being fans of localism, we also believe it's important for the UK to be part of the EU and the UN.

The values are summarised below in the preamble to the Liberal Democrat constitution, which you can read in full on the Liberal Democrats website.

Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full. We aim to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity. We believe that the role of the state is to enable all citizens to attain these ideals, to contribute fully to their communities and to take part in the decisions which affect their lives.

Your opinion on shooting

I am emailing you as a general election candidate for my constituency to ask for your views on shooting.

Shooting plays a key role in the economy and management of the countryside. The ‘Value of Shooting’ report (2014) shows that:

- Shooting supports the equivalent of 74,000 full time jobs in the UK
- Shooting is worth £2 billion to the UK economy (GVA)
- Shooting is involved in the management of two-thirds of the rural land area
- 600,000 people in the UK shoot live quarry, clay pigeons or targets
- Shoot providers spend nearly £250 million a year on conservation

For further information on the benefits of shooting click the link below:

http://basc.org.uk/value_of_shooting_infographic

Given this, I would be grateful if you would answer the following two questions:

1. Do you support sustainable shooting conducted according to the law and the current codes of practice?
Yes / No / Don’t Know

2. If elected, will you join the All Party Parliamentary Group on Shooting and Conservation?
Yes / No / Don’t Know

I will be letting the British Association for Shooting and Conservation know about your reply. They represent over 155,000 British shooters and will be letting their members and others know where MPs stand. If you’d like to expand on your views, please do, and BASC will make arrangements for people to find out about your views in detail.

Thank you in advance for responding to these questions.

Answer:
As a Liberal, I believe people should have as much freedom as possible, so long as they take responsibility for the consequences of their actions.
Therefore I am not opposed to shooting where it is conducted in a legal, responsible and sustainable manner. Indeed, in an age of intensive agriculture, I believe that game has the potential to be a more ethical source of food than some of the meat we find in the supermarket.
I would hope that any responsible shooter or game-keeper would keep an open mind when legitimate concerns about animal welfare or the impact of the industry on the natural environment are raised. As an MP, I would aim to build an open and honest relationship with all the interest groups which affect South East Cornwall. I am aware that some APPGs have an excellent reputation for balanced debate, whilst others lean uncomfortably close to becoming one-sided lobbying groups. If the APPG on Shooting and Conservation behaves like the former, I would certainly hope to be involved; but if it tends towards the latter, I would keep more of a distance.
Best wishes
Colin

Legalisation of cannabis

Before I make my mind up who to vote for in the forthcoming General Election I would appreciate if you could let me know your stance concerning the legalisation of Medicinal Cannabis.

Answer:
In November 2018, medicinal cannabis was legalised in certain circumstances, but access remains very difficult, with fewer than 100 prescriptions issued in the first six months. This is clearly wrong. If a drug is legal and the patient can benefit from it, there should not be unreasonable barriers in the way.
The broader topic of legalisation for recreational use is too big to do it justice in a quick email, but broadly I think that the whole criminalisation of drugs has been counterproductive: We spend billions punishing people in ways which seem to drive them further into despair, whilst failing to treat the underlying pain which caused them to turn to drugs in the first place. Worse still, the creation of a black market incentivises criminals to drive up demand, rewards them with huge profits and pushes addicts towards crime to fund their habits.
I think we have a lot to learn from other countries where drug use has been seen as a public health issue rather than a crime.

Should I vote for you or Labour to get rid of Sheryll Murray?

I am troubled by the approaching dilemma of whether to vote for you or the labour candidate.
Like so many people I am a liberal moderate ( with green tendencies ) and of course pro- remain but what I want most is Tories out of power.
With you and Mr Derrick standing,  there is no chance of getting Mrs Murray out of office, which seems such a waste at an unprecedented election opportunity
Please can you consider the greater cause of weakening the Tories and that one of the two of you should stand down , I have of course emailed him too in the interests of fairness .
I presume you are talking with the local greens to stop them standing anyone which would reduce the chance even more ( despite their worthy cause)
Many thanks for reading this

Answer:

 

The dilemma you face is one that is shared by millions across the country due to our bizarre First Past The Post voting system. I hope that one day we will get a government which delivers proportional representation so that people can vote for their first choice, not the least-worst of the two front-runners.
In the meantime, the Liberal Democrats, Greens and Plaid Cymru have agreed not to oppose each other in 60 key seats. Unfortunately Labour have a policy of never entering into any such deals. They have, however, stated that Camborne, Truro and St Austell are their top three targets in Cornwall, so it is clear that they know internally that they cannot win in SE Cornwall. And yet, such is the faith of their activists in the power of Jeremy Corbyn that they continue to tell voters that they are going to win here.
Whilst it is true that in 2017 they just beat us to second place, their candidate has barely been seen in Cornwall since then, whereas I have been very active across the constituency, using my platform as a Cornwall Councillor to highlight the issues of NHS under-funding and road safety on the A38, whilst campaigning to cut the Tamar Tolls and take bold action to tackle the climate emergency. The Lib Dems poll ratings have almost doubled since 2017 whilst Labour have fallen by around 10%. So whilst we were almost neck-and-neck last time around, it is crystal clear that the Lib Dems are the only party that can challenge the Conservatives in South East Cornwall.
Whilst there is obviously a wide range of political views in South East Cornwall, the "centre of gravity" is the moderate centre-right. Most people dislike the extreme behaviour of the right-wing Conservative Government, but they are even more horrified at the idea of a hard-left Labour Government. The only way to beat the extreme-right here is to pull together in the centre. Supporting the Labour party just scares centre-right voters into supporting the Conservative.

Please #StopTheNastiness

I have been very concerned to witness the growth of an increasingly hostile form of debate in Parliament.

Not only is it off-putting to many members of the public, I think it leads to decision-making which lacks empathy and respect for the needs and wishes of the people politicians are meant to represent.

I am emailing to ask if you will sign the #StopTheNastiness pledge which has been created by Compassion in Politics and a number of other civil society organisations. By signing this pledge you commit to:

  1. Not use language or behaviour that incites hate or contempt.
  2. Treat those you disagree with respectfully. No name-calling or violent language. 
  3. Call out hate. 
  4. Promote kindness and compassion. 
Answer:

 

I don't usually sign pledges because, however much I want to achieve something, the number of seats won by each party in an election can limit one MP's power to achieve a change.

However, the #StopTheNastiness campaign really is in the hands of every individual MP and candidate. I totally agree that the tone of political debate has taken a turn for the worse in recent years, and I think MPs should seek to lead by example.

I cannot guarantee to be perfect, but I will try my best to keep these commitments. I think that this is a set of values I have embodied in my time as a Cornwall Councillor, and if I ever fall short of these ideals, I hope you will feel able to challenge me and hold me to account.

Will you cut taxes for the lowest earners?

If you know anyone on minimum wage why don't you propose to raise income tax threshold to  40x£8.21 x52 that is £17000 +  not £12500

Answer:
I am proud that the Lib Dems in government from 2010 to 2015 won the fight to increase the income tax threshold from £6,475 to £10,000 and pledged to increase it further to £12,500 was in our 2015 manifesto.
But without collecting taxes, we cannot afford to pay for public services, which are particularly important to low-income households, so as well as increasing tax-free allowances, I think it's also important to push employers to pay decent wages.
In 2010, the Conservatives wanted to introduce "regional pay", meaning that doctors, nurses, teachers, Police and everyone else in the public sector would be paid less in low-wage areas like Cornwall. Blocking this was a massive victory for the Lib Dems, but one which is rarely remembered these days. From 2013 to 2017, Lib Dems on Cornwall Council increased the wages of all employees to the "Foundation Living Wage" and since I was elected to Cornwall Council in 2017 we have started to extend this contract to all of our service providers. This means that all care workers funded by the Council now earn at least £9.30 per hour instead of £8.21. This will be rolled out to cover the refuse collection workers on their new contract next year, and by 2021 it will cover everyone working in Council-funded roles (even if they are not directly employed by the council).
The private sector has started to respond to this, with several large employers now offering £10 per hour to try and attract staff away from the Council. This all means more money in the pockets of Cornish workers, and more income tax to fund public services.
The Lib Dem manifesto also calls for a 20% premium on the minimum wage for anyone on a zero-hours contract.
Finally, I would also like to see a reform of Universal Credit to reduce the withdrawal rate, so workers keep more of the money they earn.
The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies has said that if the Conservatives keep their promise not to increase Income Tax or VAT, they will not be able to keep their promises on spending, and the Labour party's claim that "only the top 5% of earners will pay more" is misleading because there will be lots of other tax rises apart from income tax. The IFS also says that Lib Dem policies will have the biggest benefit for the lowest earners.
Only the Liberal Democrats are being honest in saying that if everyone wants better public services, everyone will have to do their bit to pay for them.

Assisted Dying: will you support a government enquiry?

As a prospective constituent of yours, I'm asking for your views on the issue of assisted dying.

Like 84% of people in this country, I believe that terminally ill, mentally competent adults should not be forced to suffer in their final months, but instead have the option of a peaceful death on their own terms.

This year two high-profile cases have shown that the existing laws on assisted dying are causing huge problems for dying people, their families and public servants. In February, Ann Whaley was interviewed under caution by police for helping her husband of more than fifty years, who had motor neurone disease, to have an assisted death in Switzerland.

In September, Mavis Eccleston was acquitted of the murder and manslaughter of her husband Dennis, who had end-stage bowel cancer. Mavis and Dennis, who had been married for almost fifty years, attempted to take their own lives together. Mavis survived but was then charged with murder. Mavis and her family faced over a year of distress and anxiety, while police and prosecutors spent considerable resources to bring the case.

A law that regards Mavis and Ann as criminals for simply acting out of love is a law not fit for purpose. We need to fully understand what harms the blanket ban on assisted dying is causing.

If elected as my MP, would you support a government inquiry into the state of the law?

Compassion is not a crime.

Answer:

 

As this is a matter of personal conscience, there is no formal party policy on this issue, so I cannot say how my colleagues would vote. Personally, I am broadly in favour of allowing people to choose how they die, and the current system means that assisted suicide is available to those who can get themselves to Switzerland, but not to those who are too poor or ill to manage this journey alone. So from the perspective of liberty and equality, the same option should be available to all.

However, it is also the responsibility of government to ensure that individuals are not simply responding to a lack of investment in health and social care. That feeling of 'being a burden' haunts many people, not being valued members of our communities and neighbourhoods, has to be challenged. Discussions in the media which focus on the cost of the health service and the cost of social care mean that the social investment in people is always ignored. If individuals are unable to care for themselves or their close family or friends then government has a duty to step in and provide good quality services. 

Before voting to allow assisted dying, I would need assurance that those individuals who are considering planning their own deaths are also appropriately protected from the influence of others. 

This is an issue which demands the highest level of compassion, clear debate and extremely well-crafted legislation. I would therefore welcome a Parliamentary inquiry. 

Why don't you respect the outcome of the 2016 Brexit Referendum?

Why won't you accept that you lost the 2016 referendum and support the will of the people who voted to leave?

How can your party call yourself Democrats if you want to ignore the result of a massive democratic vote?

Answer:
I believe an MP should represent the interests of the whole community, not just those who voted for them, but also those who voted against them. It's not about one side winning or losing, and I certainly don't want to turn the clock back to a point where 17.4 million people were unhappy and wanted change. My biggest frustration when I speak to Leave voters is that most of the changes they want (more money for the NHS, smaller class sizes, higher wages etc) could be delivered without leaving the EU, and Brexit will actually make many of them worse.
  • If you voted to leave because you wanted to put more money into the NHS, but Brexit ends up taking money away from the NHS, does that respect your democratic vote?
  • If you voted to leave because you wanted to help Cornish fishermen, but Boris Johnson gives away our fishing rights in exchange for something to help big businesses elsewhere, does that respect your democratic vote?
  • If you voted to leave because you wanted freedom from laws passed in Brussels, but Boris Johnson ends up agreeing to follow those laws, does that respect your democratic vote?
  • If you voted to leave because you wanted to help Cornish Farmers, but Brexit ends up undermining their businesses by allowing low-quality imports from the USA, does that respect your democratic vote?
  • If you voted to leave because you wanted to cut immigration, but Boris Johnson allows immigration to continue rising, does that respect your democratic vote?
Although Boris Johnson says we will "Get Brexit Done" by the end of January, he still needs to negotiate the future relationship between the UK and Europe. At a recent hustings, I asked Conservative Sheryll Murray if she would vote to support that future relationship if it was bad for Cornwall. Her response staggered me: She won't be voting on it at all as the Withdrawal Agreement gives the Prime Minister the sole power to negotiate and sign the future relationship without any further vote in Parliament! 
I see the role of an MP as being to stand up for the interests of their local community, but she has such trust in Boris Johnson's promises that she has given him a blank cheque for which we will all have to pay the price...

What are your views on fox hunting?

 

I am asking this to find out your views of fox hunting, like the majority of the British public, I care deeply about animal welfare and support the Hunting Act 2004 which bans fox hunting in England and Wales.

There have been many attempts to both weaken and repeal the ban. However, the last election showed that it is time to move on from these threats and secure the future of the hunting ban.

85% of the British public support the ban on fox hunting, including 81% in rural areas (Ipsos Mori, 2017).

With wild animals still being chased and killed by hunts despite the ban, there is also growing recognition of the need to close the loopholes open to exploitation by those who act against the spirit of the law.

Polling of the British public shows that 79% of those who expressed a view support making hunting foxes when ‘trail’ hunting illegal whether intentional or otherwise. 74% of those who expressed a view support prison sentences for illegal hunting. (YouGov, 2019)

A briefing on the issues can be read at the following address:
www.league.org.uk/election-briefing

As a voter who treasures British wildlife and the natural environment, I would really appreciate it if you could take a moment to fill out this survey to help inform voters of your views.

Survey: www.league.org.uk/candidate-survey

Answer:

            I too care deeply about animal welfare. Broadly speaking I support proper enforcement of the existing law, and whilst I am open to the idea of tightening up loopholes if they are being abused, my priorities are stopping Brexit, tackling the climate emergency and getting a fair share of funding for Cornwall's public services, including wildlife crime investigators. If time in Parliament is limited, I would want to deal with these issues first.       

What political action do you support in response to climate change?

I am emailing to ask you to sign Friends of the Earth's Climate Action Pledge and commit to putting climate first when voting in parliament, if elected.

Please use this link to record your pledge.
https://act.friendsoftheearth.uk/act/take-climate-action-pledge#p:consti...

The climate crisis is a huge election issue which must not be ignored. At 1 degree of warming we’re feeling and seeing the alarming effects of climate breakdown – from people fleeing their homes due to extreme flooding to forest fires around the world.

The next parliament will have a responsibility to show leadership on the defining issue of our generation. All candidates must demonstrate that they're committed to taking decisive action in parliament to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deal with the climate crisis at every opportunity.

Please take Friends of the Earth's Climate Action Pledge and show that if elected you'll make the climate crisis a deal-breaker in how you vote in parliament.

 

Answer:
I am absolutely committed to taking bold action on climate change. I have demonstrated this in my own household, in my local community and in my role as a Cornwall Councillor. I supported the Council's Climate Emergency Declaration, I have been actively contributing to various elements of the Cornwall 2030 net-zero action plan and I voted against creating a spaceport at Newquay.

I think about responses to climate change in three broad, but inter-related areas; personal, regional and national. On a personal level I have bought an electric car and have the first 'Vehicle to Grid' charger in Cornwall. I am aware of how fragile many of our towns and villages are from the dangers of flooding and landslides.  Regionally, I have been working hard as a Cornwall Councillor to support local plans for a carbon neutral economy, tree-planting programmes and ensuring that sustainability is at the heart of policies. Some areas of Cornwall are heavily polluted because of previous policies about transport and location of services, so I remain critically engaged with these changes. In terms of national legislation there is drastic need for immediate change. Everything that government oversees, arranges and sets in place needs to have climate change as a reference point, as transport, education, health, farming, industry and foreign policy all connect strongly with climate change. There is not a single part of government or society which will be unaffected by climate change. So, I will build on my local cross-party approach by seeking to form alliances with other MPs who agree with creating Citizen's Assemblies to help focus on necessary solutions. As your representative I fully support more people getting involved and having the influence to hold organisations to account about climate change. 

The Liberal Democrat party has made five priority-promises in terms of national policy:

1. An emergency programme to insulate all Britain’s homes by 2030, cutting emissions and fuel bills and ending fuel poverty.

2. Investing in renewable power so that at least 80 per cent of UK electricity is generated from renewables by 2030 and banning fracking for good.

3. Protecting nature and the countryside, tackling biodiversity loss and planting 60 million trees a year to absorb carbon, protect wildlife and improve health.

4. Investing in public transport, electrifying Britain’s railways and ensuring that all new cars are electric by 2030.

5. We will set a new legally binding target to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2045 at the latest.

In terms of economic re-structuring, we will provide an additional £12 billion over five years specifically to develop greener power generation and support reduction of carbon emissions. We will act to expand community and decentralised energy, supporting councils to develop local electricity generation and require all new homes to be fitted with solar panels. The party supports investment and commitment to developing cutting-edge energy technologies, including tidal and wave power, energy storage, smart grids and researching the use of hydrogen. As politicians we will ensure that the National Infrastructure Commission, National Grid, the energy regulator Ofgem, and the Crown Estate work together to deliver our net zero climate objective.

However, I have a policy of not signing pledges because they undermine the principle that MPs are elected to act as representatives, not delegates. Committing to a phrase as broad as "I'll make the climate-crisis a deal-breaker in how I vote in Parliament" would inevitably end in cries of betrayal.
What should I do if Boris Johnson is five votes short of a majority and offers to hold a Brexit referendum in six months, followed by a fresh general election? Should I only say yes if he agrees to change his climate target from 2050 to 2030? If I make that a deal-breaker, we may end up with another General Election in February, delivering a Conservative majority, a hard Brexit and no change to the climate target. 
I hope you can see from my track-record that I am the greenest candidate in this election, even though I will not be signing this pledge.

What would you do about welfare standards for farmed animals?

As one of my Parliamentary candidates, I want to urge you to support a number of policies that will improve the lives of millions of farm animals in the UK.

If elected as my next MP, I hope that you will work to promote high standards of farm animal welfare. In particular, I would ask you to help ensure that the next Parliament legislates to:

BAN UK LIVE EXPORTS FOR FATTENING AND SLAUGHTER:
Every year, around 25,000 British sheep and calves are sent overseas to be slaughtered or fattened. They suffer long, arduous journeys, and may then endure conditions that would be illegal in this country. This is an inhumane and unnecessary trade: alternatives to live exports are available, such as raising calves in the UK for rose veal. Any ban would only affect trade between the UK and other countries; it would not stop trade within the UK, or between island communities and the mainland. I hope you will be a strong voice for a ban on live exports for slaughter and fattening.

BAN THE USE OF CAGES FOR ALL UK FARM ANIMALS:
Despite well-established, economically viable alternatives, over 16 million laying hens and sows are confined to ‘enriched’ cages or farrowing crates every year in the UK. The science shows that their welfare is severely compromised in these systems.

Several European countries have already banned caged systems, and the UK should do the same. This position is supported by a petition in the previous parliament that secured over 107,000 signatures. I hope you will support the campaign to ‘End the Cage Age’. [1]

PROTECT BRITISH FARMING AGAINST LOW-WELFARE IMPORTS, SUCH AS CHLORINE-WASHED CHICKEN AND BEEF FROM HORMONE-FED COWS:
In the negotiation of future free trade agreements, it is essential that British farmers are not undermined and that our animal welfare standards are protected. In order to do this, it should be a legal requirement that imported food products meet UK standards. Without such safeguards it will be very difficult to strengthen UK animal welfare standards. Please commit to protecting British farmers from being undermined by trade deals by ensuring we do not permit the import of products produced to welfare standards lower than those required by UK law.

REFORM THE SUBSIDY SYSTEMS TO SUPPORT HIGHER WELFARE FARMERS:
I would welcome a commitment to introduce subsidies that deliver genuinely higher standards of welfare, rather than area-based payments (as is currently the case under the CAP). Taxpayers’ principal role should be to provide funding for public goods that the market cannot, or can only partially, deliver, such as high environmental and animal welfare standards.

BAN THE ROUTINE PREVENTATIVE USE OF ANTIBIOTICS THAT PROPS UP CRUEL FACTORY FARMING:
The EU has taken steps to end the routine, prophylactic use of antibiotics in farming from 2022. This is great news, as antibiotics are often used irresponsibly in intensive farming to ‘prop up’ systems that would otherwise make animals ill. I urge you to commit to ensuring the UK also implements this ban, whatever the outcome of Brexit, to protect the efficacy of antibiotics for both human and animal medicine.

INTRODUCE MANDATORY, METHOD OF PRODUCTION LABELLING FOR ALL MEAT AND DAIRY PRODUCTS:
Labelling eggs to inform consumers about how they were produced was followed by a significant increase in the percentage of sales from free range farms. I believe that mandatory method of production labelling of meat, milk and dairy products, like that required for eggs, should be introduced – this should cover all products, from those produced intensively to those produced to the highest standards. Give consumers the chance to make an informed choice for higher welfare!

PROTECT ANIMAL SENTIENCE IN UK LAW AFTER BREXIT:
The UK Government said they would recognise animal sentience after Brexit. As things stand, if the UK leaves the EU, there will be a gap in the statute book. I urge you to commit to introducing legislation in the next Parliament that will recognise animals as sentient beings who are able to feel pain and experience joy. A petition on the parliament website, demanding that sentience legislation is brought forward immediately, was backed by over 40 NGOs and closed in August having secured over 100,000 signatures. I hope you will join in supporting that call.[2] 


Answer:

As someone who lives in a rural South East Cornwall I know how important farming is for the local area and for the wider community of people living in England. I am broadly supportive of all the policies you listed above, but I have a policy of not signing specific pledges before elections as this would prevent me from refining the details of these commitments to make them more effective and workable. However, I have pledged that if I am elected as an MP, I will hold regular public meetings so that anyone can raise issues of concern or hold me to account for my record in Parliament.

It is essential that we produce as much of our own food as possible for our own health, to reduce food miles and to make sure that the food we eat is produced by responsible farmers. So, the broader context of farming is that it is part of our response to climate change, being connected with local food producers and behaving sustainably. I am aware that there are increasing numbers of people making specific choices about what they eat, whilst some people are also facing financial hardship and cannot afford decent, nutritious food for their families. For me, food pricing and food production is as much part of social justice as education, health, transport, social care and democracy. Animal welfare is one of the social challenges with how food is produced, and as a person who is committed to reducing animal suffering, I welcome the chance to advocate on this issue. 

The Liberal Democrats have made seven pledges in our 2019 Election Manifesto in connection with animal welfare:

1. Ensure that due regard is paid to animal welfare in policy making.

2. Introducing stronger penalties for animal cruelty offences, increasing the maximum sentencing from six months to five years, and ensure that the National Wildlife Crime Unit is properly funded.

3. Banning the sale of real fur, ending the use of primates as pets, clamping down on illegal pet imports and establishing an independent regulatory body for horse welfare to prevent the abuse and avoidable deaths of racehorses.

4. Improving standards of animal health and welfare in agriculture, including banning caged hens, and promoting the responsible use of antimicrobials.

5. Investing to produce workable vaccines and more effective testing to develop safe, effective, humane, and evidence-based ways of controlling bovine TB.

6. Minimising the use of animals in scientific experimentation, by funding research into alternatives.

7. Working within the EU to ensure that future trade agreements require high environmental and animal welfare standards, and legislating to ban the importing of hunting trophies where the hunting does not contribute to environmental protection.

 

What are your views about abortion and fertility?

FROM PRO-LIFE CAMPAIGNERS:

As an MP would you commit to the following? 

1) Stop discrimination against baby girls by supporting a law change to clarify that sex-selective abortion is illegal.
2) Bring UK law closer to the laws in the majority of EU member states by lowering the gestational time limit for abortion.
3) Support women in the workplace by backing policies designed to end pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

Further information on these policies and independent polling showing strong support from the public for each is available here: https://righttolife.org.uk/bothlives.

I care very deeply about these issues and, with it being likely that these three policies will be brought up in the next parliament, where you stand on them will affect my vote.

 

FROM PRO-CHOICE CAMPAIGNERS:

I live in your constituency and, in advance of casting my vote in the General Election, I am writing to ask that you pledge to support women’s reproductive choice if elected as my local MP.

I am asking you to support the commitments in the British Pregnancy Advisory Service’s (BPAS’s) ‘My Pledge, Her Choice’ campaign. From contraception and abortion to ensuring the best possible outcomes in pregnancy for women and their babies, we need our next Member of Parliament to support women’s health and wellbeing across their reproductive lifetimes.

I – and bpas – are asking you to commit, if elected, to:

  1. Support further moves to decriminalise abortion in England and Wales in line with previous cross-party parliamentary bills and amendments, including the Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill 2017.
  2. Ensure women can access the full range of contraceptive options in the way most convenient for them, including from local pharmacies.
  3. End inequalities in access to NHS treatments for infertility to allow all women access to three full cycles of IVF in line with NICE guidelines.  
  4. Support calls for the government to enact recommendations to fortify flour with folic acid to protect pregnancies, sparing many women every year from the painful decision to end a wanted pregnancy following a diagnosis of a neural tube defect like spina bifida or anencephaly.

Polling shows that we are a pro-choice country, with 70% supporting the right of a woman to have an abortion if she does not want a child. This level of support is common across voters for all political parties. I understand that votes on abortion are undertaken on a free vote basis in parliament, and as a woman’s right to choose is important to me, I want to know that any candidate I vote for would support this right in law, even if they would not choose it for themselves.

I hope that you share my belief that women should be able to access contraception and IVF care locally and for free, and that we as a country should do everything we can to avoid women receiving a devastating diagnosis of a serious or fatal foetal abnormality as the result of neural tube defects.

Answer:

I would like to see fewer abortions, and for those which do take place to be carried out at the earliest possible time. I support the principle that abortions should not be allowed just because a parent would prefer a baby of one particular sex. 

However, I do not believe that abortions are reduced by making legal abortion more difficult. I think this just makes a distressing event more traumatic and leads to more abortions being carried out unsafely without proper medical support.

Rather, I believe abortions can be reduced by making it easier to avoid unwanted pregnancies, providing good nutrition and health care during pregnancy and providing better support for parents to raise a family.

Likewise, one way to ensure the NHS can afford to fund IVF for all who need it is to give more women the opportunity to have a family at a younger age, rather than feeling like they have to work until their late thirties before being able to afford to have children.

I support equal rights and non-discrimination in the workplace, and the Liberal Democrats have proposed to extend free child care to cover all children from 24 months old for 35 hours a week, 48 weeks a year. Childcare will also be available free of charge from just 9 months old if the parents / guardians are in work. This will give all parents more freedom to raise a child without worrying about how to cover the cost of child care. 

Additionally, in England, Liberal Democrats will argue for ‘baby boxes’ in England, as advocated by the Royal College of Midwives, to provide babies and parents with essential items to help with health and development. 

Whilst I understand your commitment to fighting for equal rights for all, I have a policy of not signing pledges which might limit my ability to respond to policy proposals or interpret legislation in the future. If you have particular issues to raise about individual concerns I will be a compassionate, approachable and communicative MP. 

How would you support the NHS?

Nearly 1 million people have signed the petition from Keep Our NHS Public calling for our NHS to be kept out of a US trade deal. I’m urging you to sign this pledge to make that happen.

"I pledge to protect our NHS from trade deals with new legislation which ends privatisation"

Thank you so much if you've already signed. This means that I can trust you to protect our health service.

We’ve been told that it’s ‘not on the table’ - but words are not enough.

Because the NHS in England has already been opened up to private companies, it is vulnerable to automatic inclusion in trade deals. We know that 18% of the NHS’ budget is currently spent on contracts with private providers. Companies like VirginCare are already providing NHS services.

84% of us support a publicly owned NHS. As things stand, the only way to protect our NHS is by introducing new legislation which reverses existing privatisation. Here’s a short briefing explaining why this is the case. 

My family and friends, your potential constituents, rely on the NHS. I care deeply about it. I’m writing today to ask you as a candidate to be my MP, please will you pledge to do all you can to protect the NHS from a trade deal?

 

Answer:

              

              I know that every one of us relies on the NHS to provide us with compassionate, professional medical attention which is free at the time we need it. As Vice Chair of Cornwall Council's Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee, I have been working for several years to ensure that local services are being managed appropriately and effectively. My first-hand experience of how national decisions impact on local services will inform my actions as your MP. 

I have signed the petition because I believe that it gives a strong message to future policy makers on a single issue and this is something I can fully commit to. I am an active member of Keep Our NHS Public, which is the organisation which created the petition. I host the Cornwall branch meetings in Lostwithiel, which happen every two months. I use this forum to talk with other concerned members of the public so that I can honestly advocate on behalf of the community. 

I have raised concerns about contracts being opened up to private providers and called for the requirement to include private companies on short-lists to be removed. Service Commissioners should be free to award contracts to public-sector organisations without fear of being sued by private companies. I have challenged Sheryll Murray face-to-face on this issue and she refuses to offer this protection from the private sector.
I know that we've got a great team of leaders in place across Cornwall's NHS at the moment. The cooperation and collaboration between senior managers far better than it was three years ago, and this is what has kept our local system afloat in the face of sustained under-funding. Any major restructuring of the health service would throw all these influential relationships into turmoil, just when they are in a positive place.  This is one reason why I am opposed to Labour's plans for a top-down restructure. The NHS is an organisation full of committed professionals who need to be truly represented and trusted, not micro-managed from Whitehall.
My hesitancy about major change is supported by the NHS. These are their recommendations to Government and Parliament for an NHS Bill
https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/BM1917-NHS-recommendations-Government-Parliament-for-an-NHS-Bill.pdf  

 

Do you support the Brain Tumour Charity?

The Brain Tumour Charity has published its Manifesto for Change and I’m calling on all my Prospective Parliamentary Candidates to pledge their support in three key areas where change will have the biggest impact:

  1. DATA – Make sure charities can access the patient health data they need to transform lives through research. Candidates should commit to ensure all research charities have access to health data free or at cost.
  2. EQUAL ACCESS - End the postcode lottery to ensure equal access to the best treatments and care. Candidates should commit to eradicating differences in the quality of care offered to people diagnosed with a brain tumour, ensuring every UK neuroscience centre provides treatment of the highest standard.
  3. NHS WORKFORCE – Make sure the NHS has enough staff with the right skills to ensure brain tumour patients have the best standards of treatment and care. Candidates should commit to increased investment to enable the NHS to train and employ more neurological staff, ensuring everyone diagnosed with a brain tumour has access to a Clinical Nurse Specialist.

The Brain Tumour Charity has published its Manifesto for change and I urge you to find out more here: thebraintumourcharity.org/GeneralElection2019

I hope that you’re willing to stand up for people with brain tumours and our call for change. Please demonstrate your support by signing The Brain Tumour Charity online pledge: https://thebraintumourcharity.eaction.org.uk/agree

Answer:

 

When I'm not being a politician, my day-job is driving around South East Cornwall to teach maths and science at home to children who are too unwell to attend school. Several of my students have suffered from brain tumours and other forms of cancer, so I am absolutely aware of the pain and suffering that this awful disease can cause both to patients and their families.

Many charities do great work in this area so I support the principle that data should be made available to them, rather than treated as an "asset to generate profit" by private companies.

I am also extremely concerned that patients in Cornwall are missing out on essential treatments for all kinds of conditions because NHS Kernow has not been allocated the correct amount of funding: I have uncovered evidence that we are receiving £109 million less than the "NHS Fairer Shares" formula says we are due. I have also met with the Chief Executives of NHS Kernow, RCHT, CPFT and Derriford who all agree that workforce is their number one concern, even above funding.


I have a policy of not signing pledges which are beyond my personal control to deliver: the success of this campaign will depend on how many successful candidates share these aims, but I hope you can see that I am very much in favour of the goals of the Brain Tumour Charity.

The Friends of the Earth pledge - why haven't you signed?

I am emailing to ask you to sign Friends of the Earth's Climate Action Pledge and commit to putting climate first when voting in parliament, if elected.

Please use this link to record your pledge.
https://act.friendsoftheearth.uk/act/take-climate-action-pledge#p:consti...

The climate crisis is a huge election issue which must not be ignored. At 1 degree of warming we’re feeling and seeing the alarming effects of climate breakdown – from people fleeing their homes due to extreme flooding to forest fires around the world.

The next parliament will have a responsibility to show leadership on the defining issue of our generation. All candidates must demonstrate that they're committed to taking decisive action in parliament to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deal with the climate crisis at every opportunity.

Please take Friends of the Earth's Climate Action Pledge and show that if elected you'll make the climate crisis a deal-breaker in how you vote in parliament.

 

Answer:
           I am absolutely committed to taking bold action on climate change. I have demonstrated this in my own household, in my local community and in my role as a Cornwall Councillor. I supported the Council's Climate Emergency Declaration, I have been actively contributing to various elements of the Cornwall 2030 net-zero action plan and I voted against creating a spaceport at Newquay.

I think about responses to climate change in three broad, but inter-related areas; personal, regional and national. On a personal level I have bought an electric car and have the first 'Vehicle to Grid' charger in Cornwall. I am aware of how fragile many of our towns and villages are from the dangers of flooding and landslides.  Regionally, I have been working hard as a Cornwall Councillor to support local plans for a carbon neutral economy, tree-planting programmes and ensuring that sustainability is at the heart of policies. Some areas of Cornwall are heavily polluted because of previous policies about transport and location of services, so I remain critically engaged with these changes. In terms of national legislation there is drastic need for immediate change. Everything that government oversees, arranges and sets in place needs to have climate change as a reference point, as transport, education, health, farming, industry and foreign policy all connect strongly with climate change. There is not a single part of government or society which will be unaffected by climate change. So, I will build on my local cross-party approach by seeking to form alliances with other MPs who agree with creating Citizen's Assemblies to help focus on necessary solutions. As your representative I fully support more people getting involved and having the influence to hold organisations to account about climate change. 

The Liberal Democrat party has made five priority-promises in terms of national policy:

1. An emergency programme to insulate all Britain’s homes by 2030, cutting emissions and fuel bills and ending fuel poverty.

2. Investing in renewable power so that at least 80 per cent of UK electricity is generated from renewables by 2030 and banning fracking for good.

3. Protecting nature and the countryside, tackling biodiversity loss and planting 60 million trees a year to absorb carbon, protect wildlife and improve health.

4. Investing in public transport, electrifying Britain’s railways and ensuring that all new cars are electric by 2030.

5. We will set a new legally binding target to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2045 at the latest.

In terms of economic re-structuring, we will provide an additional £12 billion over five years specifically to develop greener power generation and support reduction of carbon emissions. We will act to expand community and decentralised energy, supporting councils to develop local electricity generation and require all new homes to be fitted with solar panels. The party supports investment and commitment to developing cutting-edge energy technologies, including tidal and wave power, energy storage, smart grids and researching the use of hydrogen. As politicians we will ensure that the National Infrastructure Commission, National Grid, the energy regulator Ofgem, and the Crown Estate work together to deliver our net zero climate objective.

However, I have a policy of not signing pledges because they undermine the principle that MPs are elected to act as representatives, not delegates. Committing to a phrase as broad as "I'll make the climate-crisis a deal-breaker in how I vote in Parliament" would inevitably end in cries of betrayal.
What should I do if Boris Johnson is five votes short of a majority and offers to hold a Brexit referendum in six months, followed by a fresh general election? Should I only say yes if he agrees to change his climate target from 2050 to 2030? If I make that a deal-breaker, we may end up with another General Election in February, delivering a Conservative majority, a hard Brexit and no change to the climate target. 
I hope you can see from my track-record that I am the greenest candidate in this election, even though I will not be signing this pledge.

People's un-payable debts - what is your policy?

There are 11,300 people struggling with debt in South East Cornwall. Levels of personal debt in the UK are higher than ever and many people are relying on credit to buy food and cover their basic needs. 

There is a whole industry preying on some of the UK's poorest families, with punishing interest rates and rip-off charges. Once people fall into the debt trap it can be almost impossible to get out. 

Despite this, the government is not doing enough. Earlier in 2019 the Financial Conduct Authority reviewed the rules around debt and did virtually nothing to stop rip-off lending. Please take action to end the debt trap. Will you support Jubilee Debt Campaign’s call for a cap on interest and charges? And if elected, will you put pressure on the Treasury to hold an urgent inquiry?

Answer:

                The Jubilee 2000 third-world debt campaign was the first issue that got me involved in politics. 

I am glad that some progress has been made against payday lenders in recent years, but there is clearly a long way to go. I am happy to support the call for a cap on the cost of borrowing and would welcome an inquiry to identify the scope for providing greater protection to borrowers.
As a maths teacher, I would love to see changes in the curriculum to allow more teaching of budgeting and personal finance. This would mean all young people would be better equipped to manage their own finances, and know which questions to ask, in today's world.

Will you support the countryside

As my next MP will you pledge your support for the following pledges?:

- Delivering full digital connectivity to the countryside by 2025.
- Mandatory country of origin food labelling to ensure a level playing field for British farmers after we leave the EU.
- Tackling crime in rural areas by introducing fair funding for rural policing.
- Opposing unjustified restrictions on firearms and punitive increases in the cost of licences.
- Making Post Offices the front office of government through the expansion of personal and business banking services, so protecting a vital service to rural communities.

In particular will you commit to support hunting, shooting and fishing; oppose any further restrictions; and take an evidence-based approach to any amendments to legislation affecting these activities.

Answer:

      As someone who has been campaigning on rural issues for over a decade, I am broadly supportive of all these issues. However, I have a policy of not signing specific pledges from campaigning organisations as they prevent me from using my judgement as an elected representative when examining the details of each case.

 

- Digital connectivity: It is wrong of the Government to shift its focus to rolling out full-fibre gigabit broadband (starting in big cities) when it still hasn't delivered its previous election pledge of a "Universal Service Obligation" which was meant to deliver 10Mb broadband to every home and business in Cornwall. Thanks to EU investment, many of us enjoy great broadband connectivity, but due to the Government's failure to fund its previous promise, 4,000 properties in Cornwall still have less than 10Mb. Of course I support faster speeds, but this should start with those who haven't even had basic broadband yet, not leaving rural areas until last again.

 

- Labelling: We must not allow British farmers to be undercut by lower-quality competition from elsewhere. I support a clearer labelling system which shows where food has been produced (not just finished or processed), but please don't be fooled into thinking that this will be an adequate safeguard if we leave the EU. The entire rural economy will be on the table in the post-Brexit negotiations and I simply do not trust Boris Johnson to protect our community if it gets in the way of his other priorities.

 

- Rural crime: As with so many areas of public services, the funding given to our Police totally fails to acknowledge the extra resources required to patrol a rural area. I have a track record of campaigning for fairer funding and it is clear that our current MP has been ineffective in this role. It is frankly offensive that after cutting our Police numbers for the past decade, she is now expecting to be re-elected on a promise to replace just part of what was lost.

 

- Firearms and country sports: As a liberal, I believe that any restrictions on personal freedom should be justified by evidence, not based on prejudice. In my experience, responsible sportspeople are happy to accept regulation where it can be shown to improve the sustainability of their activities.

 

- Post Offices: The only period in the past 20 years when Post Office closures were reduced was when the Liberal Democrats were in Government from 2010-2015 and we provided a fund specifically to support the rural branch network. Both Labour and the Conservatives have presided over continued declines in the network. In 2017 I successfully fought for a part-time service to be re-introduced at Lostwithiel Community Centre after the full-time branch closed down. More recently I was part of the successful campaign to force Barclays to reverse its decision to ban its customers from withdrawing cash at Post Office counters. I am keen to see more services being made available at local Post Offices and to do so at a price which makes them financially sustainable.

Benefits for people with terminal illnesses

I’m writing to ask you as an election candidate in my constituency to pledge to ensure everyone who is terminally ill can access welfare benefits quickly and sensitively.

Instead of making memories with loved ones, dying people are being forced to live in financial uncertainty and waste precious time filling in forms and attending benefits assessments. Many die before the process is complete.

Like Rob, who was diagnosed with terminal leukaemia. At 21, he had to fight for the benefits he was entitled to, and died having still not received them. Rob’s dad Philip described his son’s experience of the benefits system as a ‘living nightmare’.

Only people who are told they have six months or less to live can access the benefits they need quickly and easily. Yet many have terminal illnesses that are too unpredictable to make this call. Every day, 10 people die while waiting for the benefits they need.

Marie Curie and the Motor Neurone Disease Association are calling for a change in the law so that anyone with a terminal illness can access the benefits they need, when they need them.

Answer:

          The measure of a society can be seen in the way it cares for its most vulnerable members.

On that basis, the UK is failing miserably. The time taken for people to receive the benefits to which they are entitled is far too long. Five weeks for Universal Credit is already too much, but I know from my experience of supporting several disabled people to claim Personal Independence Payment that it can take months or even years to get what's due.

The involvement of private companies as middle-men in this process simply adds to the delay and removes any possibility of flexibility and humanity from the process. Everyone should be promptly and accurately assessed for the benefits they need, and the system should have the flexibility to act extra-fast when a doctor says this is necessary.

Do you support IR35 and the Loan Charge?

As a candidate to be the MP for my constituency I would welcome your opinion on the IR35 Off Payroll Tax and whether you would support or fight against its introduction into the private sector.

Answer:

I believe it is important that we are able to distinguish between genuine and ‘bogus’ self-employment. But the proposed government changes have so far caused much uncertainty, bureaucratic burdens and financial hardship for legitimate independent contractors working for the private sector.

 

Some contractors are facing substantial cuts in their take-home pay. Many public sector bodies appear not to be acting on a case-by-case basis to implement the new law, but are instead issuing blanket rulings or even banning contracts to personal service companies all together.

 

Although there are some cases where personal service companies are being used to avoid taxes, the IR35 reforms are the equivalent of using a hammer to crack a nut. HMRC is clamping down aggressively on this form of avoidance but harming too many genuinely self-employed people in the process.

 

Speaking in a debate on tax avoidance following the publication of the Paradise Papers, former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said that the Government should not be prioritising scrutiny of the self-employed while ignoring measures to clamp down on the tax avoidance practices of corporations and the lax practices of some British Overseas Territories.

 

Liberal Democrats would end retrospective tax changes like the loan charge brought in by the Conservatives, so that individuals and firms are treated fairly and review recent proposals to change the IR35 rules.

 

If the Government is so serious about clamping down on tax avoidance, then it has selected the wrong place to start. Liberal Democrats want to reform IR35 in a way that does not penalisze the self-employed or reduce the flexibility of our labour market. We want a system that is decent and flexible.

 

Palestine: which actions would you support?

Justice for Palestine is an extremely important issue for many people in our constituency. As a candidate standing to represent me in Parliament, please fill in this online survey to show your views on several topics relating to Palestine. There are 5 questions, and it only takes a few minutes to complete.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign will be publishing the responses of all candidates on their website ahead of the General Election.

 

Answer:

              I support a negotiated peace settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on two states living in peace and security alongside one another. As a Liberal Democrat I cannot condone continued use of military force on either side. I do not support Hamas’ rocket attacks and other bombing of Israeli civilians and hospitals. Equally, I do not support Israel’s continued policy of illegal settlement expansion. Both of these actions ultimately undermine the possibility of a two-state solution. Currently I believe that recognition of the independent State of Palestine, and confirmation of precise national borders of Israel are an essential step towards living peacefully as neighbours. 

Israel and Anti-Semitism: what are your thoughts?

Two of the issues that you will have to deal with if you are elected are the UK’s attitude to Israel and antisemitism.

I would, therefore, be grateful if you will confirm that you will sign the Pledge for Israel.

It reads as follows:

If elected to the United Kingdom Parliament I Pledge…

To oppose the extremists who challenge Israel’s right to exist.

To support the right of people in the United Kingdom to enjoy Israeli culture and promote business, educational, religious and other connections with the Jewish State without fear of discrimination, boycotts, harassment and/or intimidation.

To support those who genuinely seek to promote and establish a permanent, just and comprehensive peace between Israel and its neighbours.

To celebrate the fact that Israel is a free society and parliamentary democracy that extends to all its citizens the right to practise their religion and have access to religious sites in Jerusalem.

To support the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.

To encourage HM Government to promote trade with Israel that will increase investment and jobs for people in both countries.

 

Answer:

             These are two related aspects of how we behave towards each other. I am appalled at the stirring up of racial and religious hatred in the political arena. Anti-Semitism has become a catalyst to also stir up hatred towards other groups.  It is a mark of disrespect as my politics is as much about listening and thinking, as taking action and persuading other people to take action with me. 

As you might know by now, I do not sign up to any pledges because I feel that they limit my ability to respond to policies, and unpredicted circumstances, in the future. I sincerely believe that there is a solution which international diplomacy and peace-brokers could help to facilitate, but both sides in this historic and current conflict need to accept that peace is the most important goal. As America is changing its policy towards Israel and Palestine, the UK may also need to respond in a new way to different decisions made by other powerful nations. 

I accept that members of groups might use the signing (or not signing) of pledges as a way of deciding who to vote for. In the spirit in which I support and recognise your aims for Israel, and its neighbours, I hope that you will support and recognise my reasons for not signing any pledges. 

I support the rights of both Israel and Palestine to exist as states, equal neighbours with the right to live in peace and security.

Nobody should face discrimination, harassment or intimidation for any reason, especially race or religion. However, in a free society, individuals and organisations should be free to boycott companies who they believe to be acting against their values (for example, I boycott Nestle for their inappropriate promotion of infant milk formula in developing countries and I boycott Trago Mills because of the owner's stance on Brexit). Nobody should boycott a company simply for being Jewish or Israeli, but it is legitimate to boycott companies which operate on illegally occupied land.

I am concerned that not all residents of Israel enjoy equal rights. Freedom of religion is great, but equal access to housing, education, health and civil-service employment are also essential in a just society.

I fully support the IHRA definition of anti-semitism and would always challenge anti-semitism if I witnessed it.

I am in favour of international trade, but financial return is not the only bottom-line that matters. Trade should also be used to improve human rights and environmental sustainability.

What about general animal welfare?

Like many voters, I care deeply about animals. I am very keen to ensure that progress is made in improving animal protection, and I would really like to know more about my candidates’ views on this subject. 

Please could you take a moment to fill in this short questionnaire? https://animalaid.org.uk/election2019

The answers will be sent to Animal Aid (https://animalaid.org.uk), who will display the results on their Vote for Animals website. Please also take a moment to reply to this email and let me know how you have answered.

I do hope that you will seize this opportunity to help improve protection for vulnerable animals in the UK.

Answer:

                I am in favour of increasing animal welfare and preventing animal suffering. 

As a Liberal Democrat MP I will argue for animal sentience to be enshrined in UK law so that due regard is paid to animal welfare in policy making. I will work with other MPs to introduce stronger penalties for animal cruelty offences, increasing the maximum sentencing from six months to five years, and ensure that the National Wildlife Crime Unit is properly funded.

Our party policy is to ban the sale of real fur, end the purchase and keeping of primates as pets, to reduce illegal pet imports. I will support the establishment of an independent regulatory body for horse welfare to prevent abuse and avoidable deaths of racehorses.  The use of animals in scientific experimentation will be formally re-considered, with funding made available for alternative scientific practices. I will continue to work with MEPs from other nations within the EU to ensure that future trade agreements require high environmental and animal welfare standards. I will advocate for legislation to ban the importing of hunting trophies where appropriate.

Preventing Brexit is essential in order to position Britain as a regional and global leader in improving animal welfare.  So action to stop Brexit is not instead of action on animal welfare; the two actually go together.

Tortured people have no-one to advocate for them, will you?

I am deeply concerned that the rights the United Kingdom have championed and fought for over the past few decades are now being eroded.

This general election, I am asking you to publicly protect the rights of torture survivors and asylum seekers by signing Freedom from Torture’s declaration to make the UK a safe place for people fleeing torture and to stand against those who condone it.

You can sign it here: http://bit.ly/2OTcWqQ

Specifically, I ask you to pledge to the following:

1. Be proud to offer safety to people forced to flee their homes because of torture.
2. Ensure a fair system that gets decisions on asylum claims right first time. The people making decisions about peoples' lives must not reject them unfairly and send them back to torture.
3. Give people who have been tortured the chance to rebuild their lives and become part of our society. To do this, it must help them access therapy, healthcare, education, legal support and a safe and secure home.
4. Not lock-up people who have already suffered terrible abuse. Survivors of torture should never be detained for immigration purposes.
5. Stand up to governments and our leaders when they commit or enable torture or turn a blind eye to it. Torture destroys peoples' lives. We believe that trade agreements should never take priority over people’s rights. Nothing can ever justify torture.

In light of recent allegations of torture abroad and the attempts by our politicians to cover it up, I want my MP to lead the way in standing up for human rights.

I want to live in a country that believes in compassion and fairness. A country that is certain that torture is always wrong and stands up against it worldwide. A country that is always on the side of people who have survived or are facing torture.

Please join me in the fight defending our values and standing up for the rights of those who have suffered at the hands of torturers across the world.

Answer:

              

                  I am strongly committed to protecting human rights, including opposing the use of torture and supporting refugees from torture and other human rights violations from around the world.

As your MP I will advocate for decision-making on asylum claims to be dealt with by a new body, which would make decisions and administer individual migration applications.  This would separate it from the Home Office, where it has become subject to heavy politicisation. Civil service staff would have different training about immigration decisions, with emphasis on proper diligence and prompt judgements. This new body's performance targets would be based on a low level of appeals not the number of refusals which would generate a very different working culture. 

I will campaign for the closure of seven of the nine remaining UK detention centres and insist that detention becomes an absolute last resort. I am committed to healing and integrating survivors of torture, who could become influential advocates for fairness and justice in our country.

I will work to end the use of torture throughout the world. I would ask for a full inquiry into the UK Government’s involvement in torture and rendition. I could never prioritise trade or industry over human rights. I am committed to upholding the Human Rights Act and preventing any UK withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Most importantly, by preventing Brexit, the UK will also remain a regional and global leader in the fight for human rights.

Do you support trade democracy?

Whatever happens with Brexit after this election, I want to know that any new UK trade deals - including with the US - won’t damage the livelihoods of people living in poverty around the world.

If you are elected, please will you support:

• Impact assessments on all new trade deals so we know how they will affect people and planet
• Parliament to debate and vote on any new deal.

Answer:

I am still holding out a hope that Brexit can be avoided, but if it does go ahead, we must make sure all trade deals are properly scrutinised by Parliament.

It has been remarkably difficult to find out whether the "2021 deal" will require a meaningful vote in Parliament: Sheryll Murray said at the NFU hustings that there would not be any vote at all after the Withdrawal Agreement Bill is signed. In other words, a Conservative majority on Thursday will give Boris Johnson a blank cheque for the EU negotiations on the long-term deal.
Impact assessments of the triple-bottom-line seem like an eminently sensible idea.

What are your plans for our trees?

It’s now over six months since our Parliament declared a climate and environment emergency, but no plan to address this has been made. I want my MP to take decisive action, and ensure natural solutions are used to tackle the problem.

Native woods and trees are home to more than 25% of our most threatened species. They capture and store carbon in vegetation and soils, tackle pollution, fight flooding and provide shade.

On top of the vital role woods and trees play in combating climate change and restoring and protecting nature, they bring a wealth of benefits to our lives and communities - woods and trees make us happier and healthier.

To get my vote, I want you to make some simple promises:

  1. More trees: a major uplift in native tree cover backed by more funding, including for restoring and managing our woodlands for the future.
  2. Better protection: protection for our irreplaceable ancient woodland and trees, implemented right across government. Protection should apply to major infrastructure projects like HS2.
  3. Action on climate change and nature: world leading environmental legislation, governance and funding to fight the nature and climate emergency.

If you are elected you could help create a UK rich in woods and trees, harnessing nature’s potential to store carbon and create havens for wildlife. Our oldest and most valued trees and woodlands need a secure future, and we need a major uplift in tree cover through planting and natural regeneration. This must be backed up by stronger environmental legislation and accountability and the resources required to make a real difference.

Answer:

First of all, although Parliament voted to declare a climate emergency during an opposition day debate when most Conservatives were not present, this has no impact on the policy of the Government which has not declared an emergency and does not even have credible plans to meet its own inadequate target of eliminating net carbon emissions by 2050.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto calls for bold action on climate change, including planting 60 million trees per year. However as a Cornwall Councillor, I have already shown my support for the Cornwall Climate Change Action Plan which aims to make Cornwall carbon-neutral by 2030, including planting an 8,000 hectare "forest for Cornwall" in multiple sites across the area.

It's also important to remember that some types of land are better suited to tree planting than others. Peat bogs and even pasture land can lock up huge amounts of carbon in the soil, and taking land out of use for food production can lead to increased food miles or even deforestation elsewhere, so we must think carefully where all these trees will be planted.

Finally, we must consider what will happen to the trees when they reach the end of their lives. If they are simply used as fire wood, we cannot simultaneously claim that they have offset other carbon emissions elsewhere. I think trees are great, but they must not be used as a way to fiddle the figures on unrealistic action plans. Currently each person in the UK emits around one tonne of carbon dioxide every five weeks through their consumption of fossil fuels. An average tree takes 100 years to lock up the same amount of carbon. To cancel out our carbon emissions through tree-planting alone, we would have to plant and maintain sixty billion trees in the UK!

Personally I am also opposed to HS2: I think this money could be put to better use upgrading and electrifying the current train lines, especially the Penzance to Paddington route (with a more storm-proof alternative to Dawlish).

Finally, high environmental standards often come at a cost, so it is important to get other countries to move in the same direction at the same time to avoid the environmental harm simply being relocated. This will be much harder to achieve if we don't manage to stop Brexit.

Do you support Fairtrade?

I am writing to you as the Liberal Democrat candidate for South East Cornwall to ask you to support Fairtrade.

Policies made in Westminster on issues like trade, climate, aid and human rights - to name just a few - can have a massive impact for people around the world, good and bad.

I'm writing to you because if you are elected, you'll have the chance to change these for the better. The farmers and workers who are affected by these policies don’t get a say and I want to speak up for them. That's why I support Fairtrade.

The Fairtrade Foundation is part of a global movement pushing to change the terms of trade and improve the livelihoods of farmers and workers in developing countries. Fairtrade works across political parties to support ambitious policy for international development and also acts as secretariat for the Fairtrade All-Party Parliamentary Group.

Will you pledge to support Fairtrade in Parliament if you get elected to be our MP in December? You can let them know that you are interested in being a Fairtrade champion by filling in this online form (https://bit.ly/2KZYfBp)

Answer:

                   As you have rightly highlighted, initiatives like Fairtrade are central to goals of creating sustainable, more evenly balanced, economies across the globe. I have supported Fairtrade for many years, and if I am elected as your MP I will continue to make sure that Fairtrade is prioritised in Parliament.

Liberal Democrat MPs introduced legislation into the House of Commons to create the commitment to spend 0.7% of GDP on foreign aid or Official Development Assistance (ODA). As a party our policy protects this commitment. By maintaining this, the UK could continue to help to reduce poverty, defend human rights, protect the environment and prevent violent conflict worldwide.

 

Take action to support unpaid carers

Ahead of the general election, I am writing to ask that you show your support for the millions of people across the country who are providing unpaid care for family and friends.

I hope that if you are successfully elected as the Member of Parliament for South East Cornwall, you will stand up for carers in parliament over the next five years.

Please click here to tweet your support for unpaid carers: https://ctt.ac/boHet 

Most of us will now provide care at some point in our lives. Yet, despite the numbers and the invaluable care they provide, carers are urgently in need of support and recognition. I wanted to share with you Carers UK’s ‘manifesto for carers 2019’ – which highlights the top priorities unpaid carers want to see delivered by the next UK Government.

Download Carers UK’s manifesto here: carersuk.org/manifesto19

Our social care system is near breaking point, and for too long unpaid carers have been holding the system together by providing care worth £132bn each year – that is equivalent to a second NHS.

It is simply not right that carers struggle financially because of their caring role - yet a shocking 1.2 million carers are living in poverty. Two thirds of carers providing substantial care pay towards the cost of care for their loved one. As a result of the financial strain, many are unable to plan for their own futures.

5 million people now combine paid work and caring but it can be a huge challenge, and an impossible one without support. Every day 600 people have to leave work in order to care.

We want a society that values and supports carers. The time has come for carers to get the respect they deserve. 

Answer:

I have experienced this situation first-hand when I had to quit my full-time job to care for a sick relative.

In my work teaching children who are off school with long-term health problems, I also see the importance and impact of parents giving up work to become unpaid carers.

And as Vice Chair of Cornwall Council's Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee, I am absolutely aware that the care system would collapse overnight without the priceless work done by unpaid carers.

I am proud that Cornwall Council now pays all its carers at least £9.30 per hour (significantly more than the minimum wage) but I believe that carers allowance should be reformed to support unpaid carers properly too. Here is an extract from the Lib Dem manifesto spelling out some of the changes we propose:

Carers are unsung heroes; we need to do more to help them. We will:

  • Introduce a statutory guarantee of regular respite breaks for unpaid carers, and require councils to make regular contact with carers to offer support and signpost services.
  • Provide a package of carer benefits such as free leisure centre access, free bus travel for young carers, and self-referral to socially prescribed activities and courses.
  • Raise the amount people can earn before losing their Carer’s Allowance from £123 to £150 a week, and reduce the number of hours’ care per week required to qualify for it.

Finally, I have been alarmed to hear from several carers in the past few days that they have been notified that their "Dependent Adult Increase" (worth about £38 per week on top of carers allowance) is due to be stopped in April 2020. Furthermore this "change in circumstances" will trigger a transfer onto Universal Credit, which has a reputation for long delays in payments, leaving people in financial hardship. It is absolutely outrageous that the government should be cutting support to carers at the same time as fighting an election claiming that "austerity is over".

Stand up for cycling and walking

Please pledge your support for an increase in investment in cycling and walking across the UK to at least 5% of transport spending next year, rising to at least 10% within five years.

Like many of your potential constituents, I am passionate about better cycling and walking conditions. I am therefore hugely disappointed that despite the efforts of nearly 200 MPs, who wrote to the Transport Minister about the urgent need for more investment in cycling and walking, we’re still waiting for them!

That’s why I’m asking you to pledge your support for increased investment for active travel over the next five years.

We’re facing climate, pollution, congestion and inactivity related public health crises, part of the solution to which is more money for cycling and walking to create healthier streets, towns and places which are better for people, communities and businesses.

Please stand up for cyclingwalking, and a healthier future, and pledge your support for an increase in investment in cycling and walking across the UK to at least 5% of transport spending next year, rising to at least 10% within five years.
Please pledge your support for an increase in investment in cycling and walking across the UK to at least 5% of transport spending next year, rising to at least 10% within five years at https://survey.cyclinguk.org/151168?token=4yIHS1wsM7vJWYbCrUYQ.

Answer:

Walking and cycling have so many environmental, health and social benefits that you'd have to be crazy not to want more of it. But sadly most funding for cycling and walking infrastructure is focused on big cities. The high hedges of Cornwall's lanes mean that for far too many people in our rural communities, the only safe way to leave the village is on four wheels. We need to change that by building far more dedicated footpaths and cycle paths.

On Cornwall Council, I have worked with Lib Dem colleagues to deliver new cycle routes in various places around the Duchy, including in the Looe Valley.

Long-term plans for improving safety on the A38 include creating new dual carriageways from Saltash to Trerulefoot and from Dobwalls to Bodmin. This may not seem like a cycle-friendly option, but of course it would remove 95% of the traffic from the old roads through Landrake, Tideford and the Glynn Valley making them, perfect for safe walking and cycling.

 

Liberal Democrats will invest in public transport, improving its reliability and affordability, reform the planning systems to reduce the need to travel and promote cycling and walking. We will:

  • Give new powers to local authorities and communities to improve transport in their areas, including the ability to introduce network-wide ticketing, like in London.
  • Implement, in cooperation with local authorities, light rail schemes for trams and tram-trains where these are appropriate solutions to public transport requirements.
  • Restore bus routes and add new routes where there is local need; we will provide £4.5 billion over five years for this programme.
  • Introduce a nationwide strategy to promote walking and cycling, including the creation of dedicated safe cycling lanes, increasing spending per head five-fold to reach 10 per cent of the transport budget.
  • Build on the successful Local Sustainable Transport Fund established by the Liberal Democrats when in government, and workplace travel plans, to reduce the number of cars – particularly single-occupancy cars – used for commuting, and encourage the development of car-sharing schemes and car clubs and autonomous vehicles for public use.
  • Amend planning rules to promote sustainable transport and land use.
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