Monthly Archives: September 2018


Rory Stewart MP with Chris Kaighin

Rory has chaired a meeting with representatives from Natural England to discuss the restoration of Bolton Fell Moss and plans for its reopening.

Bolton Fell Moss, a lowland raised bog in North Cumbria, has been subject to major restoration works since 2013. Prior to this, it had suffered as a result of large scale extraction of peat, which denuded its surface and raised concerns about its condition. But the peat works had been a major local employer and Mr Stewart challenged the decision to buy out the peat works and the effect on the local economy.

Natural England is currently in the process of having the site categorised as a National Nature Reserve, which would make it open for public access.

Mr Stewart met with Keeley Spate and Chris Kaighin from Natural England at the Carlisle Conservative Club and was encouraged by the update on the project that he received. The three discussed the need to involve the local community in the drawing up of plans, as well as the importance of incorporating the interests of farmers and workers into future decisions. As a keen walker himself, Mr Stewart was interested in discussing the integration of trails, in addition to making full use of the history of the area. The possibility of linking this local history to that of Hadrian’s Wall was also raised. Rory suggested various ways of generating income from the restoration and closed the meeting by promising to put Keeley and Chris in touch with local representatives who could be of assistance.

Commenting on the meeting, Rory said “It’s a very exciting time for North Cumbria, with the Forgotten Lands project and the Borderlands Growth Deal, and it was good to meet with Keeley and Chris to discuss Bolton Moss Fell. I still have significant concerns about the way in which the peat works were closed. But I am delighted that Natural England are now focused on making the most of the site for the local economy and the visitor economy in the future. The key will be to make it accessible and attractive to the public.”


Rory Stewart MP at Penrith JobCentre

Rory has welcomed the latest unemployment figures, which show a fall to the lowest rate in more than four decades, and shows Penrith and the Border as having one of the very lowest rates of unemployment in the country.

In the North West, 3,446,494 people are now in work, an increase of 267,494 since 2010. In Penrith and The Border, the number of people who are unemployed has fallen further, with a total drop of 34% since 2010. This reflects the high growth rate in Cumbria, and the dividend from a digital revolution in Cumbria, which, following the MP’s national leadership on rural broadband, has seen super fast broadband expand from about 7 per cent in the county when he was first elected in 2010 to almost ninety per cent today.

Nationally, the number of people in employment now stands at 32.4 million, an increase of 261,000 over the last year and 3.35 million since 2010, while unemployment stands at 1.36 million, a decrease of 95,000 over the past year and of 1.14 million since 2010. Youth unemployment has fallen to its lowest rate since records began, while wages have continued to rise faster than prices.

Welcoming these figures, Rory said: “This is great news, both for Penrith and The Border and for the country. These figures are testament to the success of our businesses, the Government’s economic stewardship and the vital work done by the staff in our Jobcentres. I would like to pay a huge tribute to them for all that they do. I am also delighted that our broadband investment is continuing to underpin the strong growth in the Cumbrian economy.”

Esther McVey MP, Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions, said: “We now have the lowest unemployment for forty years and we are continuing to see real terms wage growth. I’m especially proud that our youth unemployment rate is at a record low, falling by over 45% since 2010 – opening up career opportunities for our next generation. We continue to back businesses to create good jobs and opportunities in every part of the country and for all ages. With over three million more people in work since 2010 – that’s 1000 more people into work each and every day.”


Rory has praised Eden Valley Hospice following a recent visit to see its new outdoor area and hear an update on its future plans.

Professor Patricia Livsey, the Chief Executive of Eden Valley Hospice and Jigsaw, welcomed Mr Stewart to the Hospice and gave him a briefing on its recent work, before conducting him around the premises. They admired the new outdoor area, before touring the communal areas, stopping to speak to and thank members of staff. Rory and Professor Livsey spent much of their time in the Jigsaw Hospice, which cares for children, and has seen major improvements since Rory’s last visit. A multi-sensory room has been installed and the interiors have been redone, the latter in large part as a result of donations from individuals and businesses. Rory and Professor Livsey discussed the Hospice’s funding situation and the place of such institutions within the care system as a whole. As he left, Mr Stewart took time to thank the volunteers who staff the welcome desk.

Eden Valley Hospice opened in 1991, with its children’s extension built in 1998. Since his election in 2010, Rory has been a committed supporter of its work, and that of other such institutions across Cumbria. He has held several fundraising events for it over the years and, in 2014, led a successful campaign that saw the Chancellor of the Exchequer agree to provide financial support for Hospices by refunding their VAT. He keeps well abreast of developments in the sector and is pledged to support these vital public services.

Commenting on his visit, Rory said “It was a very great pleasure to visit the Eden Valley Hospice and to be reminded once again of the amazing work that they do. It was a very moving experience to see and hear about the care that is done with so much love, thought and compassion. We owe the staff of Eden Valley Hospice and, indeed, of all our hospices a profound debt of thanks and they deserve our gratitude and admiration”.


Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 10.11.02

Rory appeared on Question Time last night, alongside Theo Paphitis, Chris Leslie, Julia Hartley-Brewer and Faiza Shaheen. Watch it here:


Our nation only works, our families are only safe, our society is only possible, because of the courage of our police officers, fire officers, prison officers, ambulance workers, and the hundreds of thousands of people who work in emergency services. But they are facing a horrifying rise in violence. And that is why we have backed a bill to protect them.

Emergency workers serve long hours, in the most challenging circumstances out of a sense of public duty. Without their courage, and intelligence and dedication, our society would be far, far worse. They protect us from crime, from fire, from life threatening injuries. And I see in my role as Prisons Minister how our prison officers have to deal every day with violence, with suicides, with drugs, while working to turn around the lives of some of the most difficult people in society – ultimately protecting us all from crime.

But every hour of every day an emergency worker is punched or spat at, and some have become targets of sexual assault. They are often assaulted by the very people they’re trying to help. Prison officers are assaulted by prisoners, firemen have been assaulted simply for trying to put out a fire, nurses have been assaulted by their patients. This is an assault on the precious fabric of society. An assault on an emergency worker is an assault on all of us.

There were over 26,000 assaults on police officers last year. There were 18,000 assaults on NHS staff and more than 9,000 assaults on prison officers, the highest on record.

We must respond. We have already improved training and equipment. For example, in prisons, we’ve introduced body scanners, CCTV cameras and body-worn cameras and trialling the use of pepper spray and we’ve increased staffing in prisons – we had 3,500 more prison officers than we had three years ago. But it’s still not enough.

We have to punish people who assault our emergency workers more severely. By doing so we will acknowledge the disgusting nature of the crime, demonstrate our support for our public servants, and deter future assaults. So we are doubling the sentence for assaults on emergency workers. And we will be working closely with police and CPS to make sure that this new law doesn’t just remain on the statute book but that it helps keep emergency workers safe and free to do their vital job in protecting the public.

We expect that there will be now be 15,000 prosecutions next year for this horrifying behaviour. And we expect these prosecutions to deter anyone who considers assaulting an emergency worker. Because we owe our emergency workers the most profound debt of gratitude. They are – speaking personally – the group I am most proud of in British life. Our message to potential attackers is clear. Being drunk isn’t an excuse. Being in a hurry isn’t an excuse. Being angry isn’t an excuse.

This government will do everything it can to protect the brave people who dedicate their lives to protecting the public.

First published in The Huffington Post on 13 September 2018.


The Cumbria Transport Group held a meeting at the A.W. Jenkinson Truck Stop in Penrith on Friday to discuss issues facing the industry, at which the keynote speech was given by Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and The Border.

The meeting, which principally focused on truck stops and their importance as spaces for rest and rejuvenation for drivers, brought together representatives from businesses and institutions across Cumbria, including SP Training, Jelf, Fleet Legal, Butterworths Law and Carlisle College. Attendees enjoyed a varied programme of talks before Mr Stewart addressed the meeting.

His speech focused on the Cumbrian economy and the challenges and opportunities that it currently faces. Mr Stewart began by giving a brief survey of the economy, and discussed the immense variety of businesses across Cumbria and the importance of tourism. He outlined the benefits that ultrafast broadband can bring, detailing his efforts and the improvements that he has pushed since his election in 2010, while also offering his observations on the importance of the transport and logistics industries to the local and national economy. Following his speech, questions were taken from attendees, which focused upon the challenges faced by the industries and the state of local roads, particularly the A66. The difficulty of attracting young people, and consequent employment shortages, was raised repeatedly, while the threat posed by internet businesses to local high streets was also discussed.

Speaking after the event Mr Stewart said: “It was a very great privilege to address the Cumbria Transport Group and I am extremely grateful to them for inviting me to do so. It was invaluable to hear insights from so many local entrepreneurs, pioneers and businesspeople and I will ensure that their suggestions are heard at Westminster. Transport and logistics are vital to our economy and I would like to thank them again, for all that they do”.


Rory Stewart MP with Garry Stephenson

Rory visited G&S Specialist Timber in Stainton on Friday for a meeting to discuss the impact that the Offensive Weapons Bill will have on the business.

This bill, which is designed to limit the availability of offensive weapons and, as a result, combat knife crime, contains new restrictions on the online sale of bladed articles and their delivery. It has passed its first and second readings in the House of Commons and is currently in committee stage, during which amendments can be submitted for Government consideration. G&S Specialist Timber, which employs over 20 people and sells specialist carving and woodturning tools, does the majority of its business online and regularly ships bladed tools to businesses and craftsmen in Britain and worldwide. As a result, this legislation, if passed in its current form, will have a significant detrimental impact upon the business and others like it.

Wishing to express these concerns to Rory, Garry Stevenson, the founder of the business, arranged a meeting and a tour of the premises. Mr Stewart sympathised with Mr Stevenson and made several suggestions about what can be done. He also offered to arrange a meeting with the minister concerned, in an attempt to find a counter proposal that satisfied both parties. Afterwards, Rory visited the Alpaca Clothing Co., which is run by Joy, Mr Stevenson’s wife, and expressed his admiration for them and their businesses.

Rory said, “The fight against knife crime is a serious one and, although I share the Government’s strong desire to ensure that offensive weapons do not end up in the hands of criminals, I am nonetheless concerned at the impact it will have on businesses like Garry’s. We need to approach this sensitively, ensuring that these measures are implemented in such a way that we combat the scourge of knife crime while also ensuring that small, local businesses, like Garry’s, do not unnecessarily suffer in the process”.


Rory Stewart MP with Stuart Eastwood

Rory visited Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life in Carlisle Castle to tour the ‘Lest We Forget’ exhibition and learn more about Cumbria’s military history.

Mr Stewart met with Stuart Eastwood, the curator, and the two toured the Museum together. Rory was shown around the permanent collection, which features items spanning three centuries. Many of them were donated by Cumbrians and include regimental badges, medals, uniforms, portraits, weapons and photographs. Mr Stewart was then shown the ‘Lest We Forget’ exhibition, which focuses on the act of remembrance, its origins and its transformation over the years since the First World War. The two discussed the exhibits and the commemoration of remembrance. As they left, Rory wrote a message in the visitors’ book.

Mr Stewart, who held a short limited commission in the Black Watch and has a longstanding interest in military history, was very taken with the displays and commended Mr Eastwood on the museum’s work in educating new generations about the sacrifices of their predecessors.

Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life has been in Carlisle Castle since 1932 and in its present location in Alma Block since 2014. This location has sufficient space for both the display of the Museum’s extensive permanent collection and for the staging of temporary exhibitions. ‘Lest We Forget’ is the latest of these, many of which have focused on foreign campaigns in which Cumbrians have fought.

Commenting on his visit, Mr Stewart said “It was wonderful to visit the Museum of Military Life and see their latest exhibition, which is well worth a visit. Institutions such as these are vital for reminding us all of Cumbria’s proud military history and heritage. ‘Lest We Forget’ was most thought provoking and I very much look forward to returning in due course. I would like to thank Stuart and all the staff for all that they do”.