Monthly Archives: November 2015

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Rory Stewart heralds the protection of Cumbrian Police

Rory Stewart has commented on the Chancellor’s announcement in yesterday’s Spending Review, that police will be protected from any cutbacks. ​”​I am absolutely delighted with th​e ​result. I hope people understand how much work has gone into this debate. I’m delighted that I and John Stevenson were able to play a role in making Cumbria’s case on the spending formula. And were able with colleagues to make the case for National Security in a difficult era. Cumbria ​Constabulary continues to face many challenges, operating in the most sparsely populated areas of England, with a testing geography. But I’m delighted that we were able – as I hoped – to make a clear case and provide some security in the future.​As the Chancellor said, “The police protect us; we need to protect the police​.””

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Rory Stewart MP welcomes historic Spending Review and praises Chancellor’s commitment to Cumbrians

Rory Stewart MP has praised the Chancellor’s commitment to Cumbria in ​yesterday’s historic Spending Review and Autumn Statement, and in particular its commitments on Cumbria’s Police, its Natural Environment, and National Defence and Security. It is a budget in which the government has yet again delivered on its promises to the British people to protect economic and national security. Public spending plans set out in the Review mean that Britain will reach a surplus of £10.1bn in 2019/20 – higher than forecast in previous Budgets, and meaning that the country will be out of the red and into the black.

In an increasingly dangerous and unstable world, Rory also welcomed the continued commitment of 2% on national defence spending​ ​following his own lobbying of government of this when he was Chair of the Defence Select Committee in 2014-15.

Speaking outside the chamber after ​yesterday’s announcement​s​, Rory Stewart said: “This is a historic Spending Review because we are at last able to show Britain headed for a surplus, which means that we can focus on strengthening our vital services, investing in people and infrastructure, and protecting the most vulnerable​ ​through our welfare reforms​. ​Once again the Chancellor has shown his commitment to Cumbria and Cumbrians. In recognising our ageing demographic and the needs of an elderly, but more active, population, he has announced the biggest real terms rise in the basic State Pension as well as investment into social care funding. For our younger constituents, the biggest house-building programme of any government since the ‘70s will be introduced, ensuring that young people have access to housing and setting a target of 400,000 new affordable homes by the end of the decade. Cumbrian families will be supported by the largest-ever investment into free childcare, helping all the many stay-at-home mothers who will be supported back into work by supporting them – from 2017 – with free childcare for 30 hours per week for three and four-year-olds.​ ​As a Defra Minister I was particularly pleased to hear, too, that our landscapes will continue to be protected, with spending on our National Parks and forests maintained.“

Prior to the Spending Review Rory had emphasised to Ministerial colleagues the need for protecting FE spending on behalf of Cumbria’s colleges, on the need to reassess the schools Funding Formula, for the extension of the Small Business Rate Relief scheme for SMEs, and on the need to extend Enterprise Zones up to Carlisle and the northern part of Cumbria. On all counts, Cumbria has seen wins.​ ​Rory continued: “Protecting small Cumbrian businesses, recognising the potential for Carlisle as an Enterprise Zone, and making sure that our wonderful further education colleges are supported, all means a stronger, brighter, safer future for
all generations of​ ​Cumbria​ns.”

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WORKING TOGETHER TO PROTECT UK LANDSCAPES

Environment Minister, Rory Stewart, has welcomed plans to enhance the UK’s natural landscapes through closer ties between the National Association of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (NAAONB) and National Parks England (NPE) at a conference today to celebrate the most beautiful parts of our country.

The signing of an accord between the two organisations will see them work together to raise awareness of the value of our world class Protected Landscapes and the benefits for public health. By creating closer ties the organisations can also share their local knowledge, marketing and conservation expertise, potentially giving a further boost to the £11 billion already generated from rural tourism each year.

Commenting on the importance of developing economic opportunities for rural communities through the conservation of our heritage and natural landscapes, Environment Minister Rory Stewart said:

“Our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks are vital to rural life. They protect and care for some of our most cherished landscapes. I am delighted that these two organisations will now be working even more closely together.

“It’s vital we protect the distinctive character and natural beauty of our stunning landscapes, from the evocative heathland of the Somerset Quantocks to the patchwork pastures of the Howardian Hills in North Yorkshire, so they can continue to be treasured by future generations.

“I congratulate our AONBs and National Parks for coming together to combine their efforts to keep our connection with the character of our natural landscapes as rich and rewarding as it always has been.”

National Parks and specific AONBs take in a huge variety of landscapes from mountain tops to coastal estuaries, with their managing bodies working to protect their innate beauty, and deliver economic benefits for their local rural communities.

There are 46 AONBs in the UK, covering 18% of our countryside. Our 15 National Parks cover over 36% of England, Wales and Scotland, generating over £4bn every year and bringing 90 million visitors to enjoy our countryside each year. Both of these spaces play a vital role in connecting people with nature for our health and wellbeing. This is a key priority for the government as set out in its vision for an Open Environment which puts inspiring and improving our children’s understanding of nature at the forefront of our work to promote the countryside.

The conference to promote these protected spaces also comes just weeks after the Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss announced that an additional 188 square miles of land across Cumbria and Lancashire will be protected, following the decision to extend two of England’s most iconic National Parks the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District.

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EU DAIRY SUPPORT PAYMENTS COME EARLY FOR UK FARMERS

EU support payments to help hard-pressed UK dairy farmers manage cash flow problems will start arriving in bank accounts from today (Monday, 16 November 2015) – two weeks ahead of schedule, Farming Minister George Eustice has announced.

The first payments have been made to over 10,000 farmers across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – three-quarters of all eligible farmers and amounting to almost £19.2 million. Payments will continue through November and December.

The UK government secured £26.6 million in support from the European Commission in September – the third largest support package among Member States – to help dairy farmers affected by the current global volatility in milk prices.

UK ministers agreed to pay a flat rate linked to milk production and for the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) to pay out the money on behalf of the administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as England.

The flat rate for dairy farmers in England, Scotland and Wales is just under 0.176p per litre. In Northern Ireland it is just under 0.226p per litre in recognition that Northern Irish farmers have been suffering from some of the lowest prices across Europe.

UK Farming Minister George Eustice said:

“It’s been a tough year for dairy farmers grappling with low prices for the milk they produce. We fought for, and secured, one of the largest support packages amongst EU countries and the RPA has pulled out all the stops to start making these important payments two weeks earlier than planned. I hope these payments will now provide some much needed relief for dairy farmers across the UK.

”In addition to this short-term support, our work to increase the long-term resilience of the industry continues, including introducing a fairer tax system, pushing for clearer labelling of British dairy products and setting up a futures market for dairy.

“We are also working with the industry to open up new export markets and only last week, dairy businesses from across the UK were out in Shanghai exhibiting their wares as part of the Secretary of State’s trade mission to promote Britain’s high-quality dairy produce to the Chinese.”

Any dairy farmer in England who receives a letter from the RPA and is asked to register on the Rural Payments system or to provide up to date bank account details, is urged to call the RPA’s helpline on 03000 200 301 as soon as possible. Farmers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland who are not registered will be added to the Rural Payments system using information provided by the devolved administrations.

Meanwhile, the RPA is on track to make full payments on Basic Payment Scheme 2015 claims as soon as possible within the payment window, making the majority of payments in December and the vast majority by the end of January.

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RORY STEWART MP NOMINATES EDEN CHEF FOR NATIONAL AWARD

Rory Stewart MP has nominated Head Chef, Steven Pott from the Stoneybeck Inn, Penrith for a national award.

Rory invited people on Facebook and Twitter to vote for their favourite pub chef in Penrith and The Border, and after receiving the most votes, Steven will now be put forward for the Parliamentary Pub Chef of the Year award.

The British Beer & Pub Association and the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group launched the awards in partnership with Nestlé Professional, and asked for all MPs to nominate a pub chef in their constituency renowned for their great food.

With a national shortage of pub chefs, earlier this year the BBPA, in conjunction with the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) and the Perceptions Group launched the Pub Chef Passion initiative, including a short film aimed at promoting the pub chef as a career option. This award seeks to build on that work, and encourage young chefs towards a career in the pub trade. Pubs are also vital to the local economy in every part of the country, offering valuable and flexible employment, with around 900,000 UK jobs dependent on the trade.

“Pubs, as an industry, are of huge importance to our constituency, its communities, and both the local, and national economy. This County has many, many outstanding chefs and I am delighted to nominate Steven for this prestigious award.”

TV chef, food writer and owner of three gastro pubs, Paul Merrett will judge along with a panel of industry experts, and the winner will be announced in the New Year.

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RORY STEWART PAYS TRIBUTE TO THE HUMBLE HEDGEHOG

On Tuesday 10th of November, Rory, as Environment Minister ‎responded to a parliamentary debate on hedgehogs, believed to be the first substantial parliamentary consideration of this prickly subject since 1566. The debate was introduced by Oliver Colvile MP, a self-proclaimed “hedgehog champion” keen to draw attention to the decline in hedgehog numbers, and predation by badgers.

Rory discussed our changing scientific understanding of the Hedgehog from Aristotle through the sixth century cleric, Isidore of Seville – who believed hedgehogs carried apples and grapes on their spikes, through medieval clerics who believed their five teeth symbolised sin‎, to farmers who feared hedgehogs drank milk from the teats of recumbent cows. He counselled against believing that we yet fully understand their eccentric behaviour – from “self-anointing” with saliva to hibernating in summer in hot countries. He said that their conflicts with badgers and arctic tern, showed the difficulty of striking a balance between the needs of different species – many of which have vocal public champions. He finished by paying tribute to “eccentric citizen scientists” from Oliver Colvile to the great hedgehog enthusiast Hugh Warwick for their contribution both to our public love of nature and our scientific knowledge.

Rory, however, rejected Mr Colvile’s assertion that the hedgehog should become our national symbol. Rory argued that the majestic, courageous and proud lion is a better reflection of Britain and its place in the world than an animal which when confronted with danger, rolls over into a little ball and puts its spikes up, and sleeps six months of the year.

If you would like to watch Rory’s speech, you can do so here: http://goo.gl/EOkI6d

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NEW BIOSECURITY FIVE POINT PLAN AND BOVINE TB INFORMATION HUB LAUNCHED TO HELP FARMERS PROTECT HERDS FROM TB

New tools and advice to help farmers protect their herds from TB have been unveiled as part of a new campaign to help eradicate bovine TB, Farming Minister George Eustice announced today.

Defra, the Animal and Plant Health Agency, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, the National Farmers’ Union, the British Cattle Veterinary Association and Landex have come together to promote action and help famers and vets protect herds from bovine TB.

All advice on bovine TB from government, farming experts, leading vets and agricultural colleges is now available from one single website.

www.TBhub.co.uk is the ‘go-to’ place for British beef and dairy farmers to find practical advice on dealing with bovine TB on their farm, covering everything from biosecurity measures to understanding trading rules.

The cross-industry campaign will also promote a new Bovine TB Biosecurity Five Point Plan to improve disease prevention on farm and in the cattle trade. Recommended actions include asking for a herd’s TB history before buying cattle and taking steps to minimise wildlife access to cattle, their feed and their housing.

From the end of November, posters featuring the set of industry-endorsed actions will be on display in Animal and Plant Health Agency offices, vet surgeries and cattle auction marts. Copies will be sent to farmers around the country, together with regular surveys to track progress.

Speaking at Hartpury College, Farming Minister George Eustice said:

“We are making good progress in eradicating TB from England through our 25-year strategy – reducing the risk of disease entering a farm is a crucial element if we are to end the devastation it causes for farmers and rural communities.

“There are simple and practical ways for farmers to reduce risk to their herds and neighbouring businesses from bovine TB which are set out in this new action plan approved by vets and farming experts.

“I encourage all cattle farmers to visit the new TB hub and think about the actions they could take to make a difference to improving the security of their herd – with outbreaks often costing thousands of pounds, it makes sense to take action now.”

Neil Blake, President of the British Cattle Veterinary Association, said:

“Bovine TB is a hugely challenging and emotive issue for farmers. As vets we are witness to the herd health, emotional and financial impacts on a daily basis.

“Biosecurity and risk based trading are important in the management of all infectious diseases whether that is BVD, Johne’s disease or bovine TB. These new initiatives are an important part of the 25-year strategy to eradicate bovine TB,

“Combining wildlife controls with biosecurity and risk based trading will allow us to make significant inroads in the fight against bovine TB.”

Last year, over 3,000 farms were affected by new breakdowns of TB in England, with each breakdown costing an estimated £20,000 to the taxpayer and over £10,000 to farmers. An estimated 50% of breakdowns in low risk areas are caused by purchased animals.

The bovine TB biosecurity drive gets underway as over half of England is on track to become officially TB free within five years thanks to tighter cattle movement controls, badger vaccination and controlled culling in areas where the disease is rife.

The campaign was launched today at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire, where students are taught about the importance of on-farm biosecurity.

Chris Moody OBE, Chief Executive of Landex, said:

“Today, I have written to our 41 member agricultural colleges and universities in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to kick-start a biosecurity education drive across the country.

“Working together with Government and the farming industry, we can educate current and future generations of livestock keepers on the merits of biosecurity to help eradicate bovine TB from the UK.”

The campaign was launched today at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire, where students are taught about the importance of on-farm biosecurity.

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Step forward for affordable flood insurance

Up to half a million households in high flood risk areas are one step closer to affordable flood insurance as the regulations for Flood Re come into force today.

Marking a significant milestone towards protecting people at flood risk from spiralling home insurance premiums, Floods Minister Rory Stewart has signed the regulations, following approval from Parliament.

This means the Government has now provided Flood Re with necessary powers that will enable insurers to provide affordable flood insurance to at-risk homeowners across the UK.

Floods Minister Rory Stewart said:

“Flooding can devastate people’s lives and homes and while nothing can take away the distress it can cause, having access to affordable insurance will give people peace of mind.

“Flood Re will for the first time ensure access to affordable flood insurance for people regardless of where they live.

“Today marks an important step for Flood Re as the regulations come into force and it give it the means to protect people from spiralling insurance premiums.”

Brendan McCafferty, CEO of Flood Re said:

“We are delighted that the Government has now put into effect the legislation, agreed by Parliament that gives Flood Re its statutory underpinning. Flood Re’s work with the insurance industry, regulators and others will continue. We are working towards an operational start in April 2016 and look forward to delivering on our commitment to helping insurers provide consumers with access to affordable flood insurance.”

The PRA is considering this application as part of its routine regulatory duties. Following authorisation, Flood Re will determine when it is ready to provide cover. Flood Re is working towards April 2016.

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RORY STEWART MP LAUNCHES HIS ANNUAL PENRITH AND THE BORDER PRIMARY SCHOOLS CHRISTMAS CARD COMPETITION

As the Christmas season again approaches, Local MP Rory Stewart has written to all primary schools in his constituency to ask pupils to design a Christmas card which reflects the spirit of Christmas in Cumbria. The winning design will be chosen from one of over 60 schools across the constituency, and will form the cover of Rory’s official Christmas card, to be sent out around the constituency and nationally.

Schools are invited to choose their own two best designs that they would like to be entered into the competition. The pupil who produces this year’s winning design will win a £50 book voucher. The competition closes on Monday 30th November.

Rory said: “I am delighted to be launching my Christmas card competition again, and always look forward to this time of year. Previous years’ entries have always received very high praise, and I have no doubt this year’s entries will again be of a very high standard. I am wishing everyone the best of luck, and look forward to seeing some fantastic works of art.”

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RORY STEWART WELCOMES DELAY TO CUMBRIAN POLICE FUNDING DECISION

Following another meeting between Rory Stewart and the Home Secretary Theresa May, the Minister for Policing Mike Penning has confirmed that changes to the way Government money is allocated to police forces in England and Wales will be delayed.

This welcome announcement comes after Rory met with both the Home Secretary and the Minister for Policing with John Stevenson MP to stress the importance of Cumbria’s unique needs and the strain that such cuts would inflict on Cumbria’s hardworking police force.

Rory urged the Minister to demonstrate the Government’s ongoing commitment to ‘rural proofing’, to ensure that the geographically huge and sparsely populated meadows, hills and valleys of our Cumbrian Constituency are not subjected to models designed for urban areas.

Speaking following the Government’s decision to delay changes, Rory said: “I feel this shows the importance of focusing on Cumbria and Cumbria’s unique needs and in particular on the details of the funding formula. I am delighted that the existing formula will continue in place for another year while we look very carefully at the particular needs of rural forces.”

The Government has halted the process for 2016/17 and will consult further with Police and Crime Commissioners.