Author Archives: Stephen Gilbert MP

Stephen Gilbert MP writes…It’s time to let Britain fly

Often the debate on airports expansion in London and the South East focuses on Britain’s connectedness with the wider world and our increasing need to be able to easily reach far flung emerging market destinations such as Brazil and China. That need is no doubt critical if we are to build a stronger economy in the future, but there’s one important aspect of the debate that often gets neglected – Britain’s internal domestic connectivity and the need to link places like Newquay, Inverness and Liverpool to our thriving capital city.

Indeed I believe this important aspect of the debate goes to the very heart of how the regions and nations of the UK could benefit hugely from airports expansion in London and the South East if done in the right way.

As the MP for Newquay and St Austell I know all too well how important our air links are with London. This is equally the case for regions all across the UK. Domestic routes between London and the regions are a vital economic driver. In my constituency Newquay Airport brings over £50M to the local economy every year and my local airport’s links with London airports are a fundamental driver of its commercial success. If ever we lost our links with London, then the very viability of the airport itself could potentially be put at risk.

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Opinion: Shale Gas exploration – Why a cautious approach is the right one.

Many Liberal Democrats will, like me, have read with wry amusement the reaction of the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph and some Tory MPs to the local opposition to Cuadrilla drilling in Balcombe in Sussex and the potential of fracking in their area given their previous hysterical support for fracking and shale gas.

Clearly there are a number of groups who are taking the opportunity to mount a vigorous campaign against fracking with, for example, the publication of a map of a “licence to frack” raising fears of fracking taking place across the country. In fact the so called …

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Stephen Gilbert writes … Liberal Democrats should be proud of the Energy Bill

Energy-bills-006The Energy Bill will, today and tomorrow, be  going through its Report Stage and Third Reading in the Commons.  Ed Davey set out clearly on Lib Dem Voice why this is so important for decarbonising our power sector and keeping on the lights at an affordable price for consumers.  As a party we should be pleased that there is general cross-party support for the bill as it is vital that we maintain as far as we are able cross party consensus to provide the certainty for investors for our transition …

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Stephen Gilbert MP writes… Equal marriage is now a litmus test for Cameron

Marriage ring - License Some rights reserved by jcoterhals May has been a good month for equal marriage. Minnesota became the 12th American State, plus DC, to allow same-sex couples to marry and France became the 9th country in Europe (the 14th around the world) to introduce this landmark change. Millions of gay and lesbian people are now able to marry the person they love.

This week, in Britain, the debate returns to the House of Commons. I have no doubt that a significant majority of MPs are in …

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Stephen Gilbert MP writes… Equal marriage: a step towards a fairer society

So, there we have it:  equal marriage for same-sex couples in the civil law and the chance for religious groups to choose to offer same-sex religious marriage if they want to.  It’s another step toward equality in front of the law for the LGBT community. The community has come a long way in the 43 years since the Stonewall riots in New York City.

And the Liberal Democrats have led the way in the UK. We were the first party to commit to a policy of civil partnerships, in a Private Members Bill, and at our conference in 2010 we were …

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Stephen Gilbert MP writes… Welcome news for park home residents

We all deserve a safe and secure place to live. But all too often for the 160,000 people living in park homes up and down the country the reality fails to live up to the utopian dream offered in the marketing brochure.

For those readers not familiar with the term, a ‘park home’ is a static caravan. Usually found grouped together in modestly sized communities (2,000 of them in all) often by the coast or in areas of natural beauty. This ‘peaceful’ life primarily attracts the retired, the elderly and the infirm – often seeking more peaceful surroundings to live out …

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Stephen Gilbert MP writes… The Pasty Tax is unfair, unworkable and unenforceable

There’s an awful lot that we, as Liberal Democrats, should be proud of in this year’s budget: the uplift in the personal allowance that takes almost 2million of the lowest earners out of income tax; the support for small businesses to help stimulate growth and create jobs; and measures to give a helping hand to aspiring home owners.

But, there’s one measure which I’ve been unable to accept. Not just because it’s politically unpopular, but also because I believe Osborne has – on this occasion – got it wrong. I’m talking, of course, about the VAT extension to hot food dubbed …

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Steve Gilbert MP writes…Government must wake up to the flood insurance risk

In 1952 a flood ripped through the Devon village of Lynmouth wrecking scores of homes, taking the lives of dozens of people and costing millions in rebuilding work. In 2010 Cornwall was hit by flash-flooding with hundreds of homes and businesses devastated across the south of my constituency.

In the 50-odd years between the two events most parts of our country were hit by floods at some point. Over five million people in the UK are now at risk of flooding from …

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Steve Gilbert MP writes… Church opposition to gay marriage is “intolerant, out of touch, and wrong”

Another Sunday and another set of intolerant and out of touch comments from senior Church leaders who have set their face against the Coalition plans for equal marriage. It’s clear that some parts of the Church are on a collision course with Parliament and the people. But, rather than showing themselves to be modern defenders of values we all share, they are showing how out of touch they are with British society today and the institution they seek to protect. They are also plain wrong: extending marriage to same-sex couples will not undermine the institution; it will renew and reinforce …

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Stephen Gilbert MP writes… Park home residents must be looked after properly

For us all, the home we live in is one of the most important factors in how we live our lives. Whether it be a house, a flat, shared accommodation, or – as it is for almost a quarter of a million people in the UK – a ‘Park Home’.

Park Homes are modern, bungalow-style residential properties usually sited on private estates. The park home industry is a billion pound business. There are over two thousand park home sites within the UK, primarily but not exclusively centred in rural areas like my constituency in Cornwall.

For the vast majority of the quarter …

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Stephen Gilbert MP writes: How do we deal with the high prevalence of suicides in the LGBT community?

We all know how the following story works. Governments use stats to demonstrate the problem. And then they give us their answer. The more shocking the figures, so it goes, the greater the need for bold action. But too often we don’t consider the human impact of these figures.

Let me give you an example. This week I learnt that every two hours one person dies as a result of suicide in England. It is truly harrowing to think that each and every day, so many people feel they have nowhere else to turn and end up taking their lives. We …

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Stephen Gilbert MP writes: UK housing policy in crisis

Last year I was probably the only MP to be elected while still living with my parents. Of course, I’d moved out of home and, like many others, had to move back again. It’s a symptom of the fact that housing policy in the UK is in crisis. We have millions of people languishing on social housing waiting lists, first-time-buyers priced out of the market and in private rented sector tenants facing increased rents with decreased security of tenure and standards.

Let’s be clear: Governments of all hues have failed on housing and, frankly, the Coalition has barely begun to acknowledge …

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Stephen Gilbert writes… “Supporting People Funding” – for the most vulnerable in our society

We are all just a few steps from being homeless. We know that we will get older. Some of us may end up in abusive relationships. All of these things can happen through no fault of our own.

When this happens, surely we deserve a chance to turn our lives around. That is what Supporting People funding has been there for. It provides for local services, delivered by housing providers and community groups, supporting some of our most vulnerable people. It’s helped over one million people live …

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Stephen Gilbert MP writes: True LGBT equality finally on the horizon

Today’s announcement, that religious settings are able to hold civil partnerships, is a huge step toward achieving the Liberal Democrat policy of full equal civil marriage and partnerships for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the UK.

I’ve always believed that equality is a black and white issue. You’re either equal or you are not, there’s no grey area and no room for ambiguity. And, despite the real achievements over the last decade, the LGBT community is still not fully equal in the eyes of the law.

This wouldn’t be considered acceptable if we were talking about ethnic …

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Stephen Gilbert MP’s maiden speech

The second maiden speech republished here this weekend after Michael Crockart’s, as Lib Dem Voice continues a tradition started on Cix of reposting maiden speeches for the comment of interested parties.

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for allowing me to speak here today for the first time. I am delighted to follow Jonathan Edwards, and I share his determination to secure a Robin Hood tax on international financial transactions. As it happens, I had the pleasure of knowing his predecessor from my time studying in Aberystwyth, and I am sure he will be a worthy successor.

St Austell and Newquay is …

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Opinion: A very modern problem – Cornwall Council, Sita UK and the incinerator

PFI has created a very modern problem – how should councils manage relationships with contractors when they stretch over decades and involve multi-million pound sums but also remain responsive to political change, advances in technology and moving priorities? It’s a problem that has come to the fore in Cornwall.

In 1998 consultants outlined a vision for Cornwall’s waste management that included incineration. In 2002 a waste plan was adopted by the council. In 2006 the council appointed a contractor, Sita, to run the contract in a £400 million 30-year deal. In 2008 Sita submitted a planning application to build an incinerator in …

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    We don't necessary need to defeat Daesh anytime soon. Airstrikes are right in principle, so I think the argument that airstrikes alone won't defeat Daesh...
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