Shortly before Parliament rose for the Christmas recess, I was delighted to have been appointed as a member of the House of Commons' Environmental Audit Committee, which scrutinises Government policy for its impact on the environment.
Unlike most Select Committees, Environmental Audit has a cross-departmental remit, which means we can hold government departments, ministers and public bodies to account from across Whitehall.
Nearly all legislation or policy will have an impact on the environment, and it is the Committee's job to hold ministers and civil servants to account as well as recommending what could be done to help the environment.
Much of our environmental legislation now comes from the EU, so I'm glad to be on a Committee which will play an important role in overseeing the environment and the polivies of government.
With cold weather setting in across the county, it is likely that more potholes will begin to appear on our roads, and that’s why I welcome the £1.8 million pothole repair fund for Cornwall as announced by the Chancellor in November's Autumn Statement. This will repair 35,000 potholes across Cornwall, and a highways maintenance grant worth £20 million will also be provided in 2017/18.
The Chancellor also announced £1 million for the Cornwall Air Ambulance Trust which is trying to buy a second helicopter. This new air ambulance is key to ensuring emergencies in Cornwall are tended to quicker and that more peoples’ lives are saved.
The Treasury also recognised the need for greater support for rural businesses, and I was delighted to hear that from next April, the Rural Settlement business rate relief scheme will be doubled from 50% to 100%. This means many pubs, shops and petrol stations in villages around North Cornwall will be able to get all their business rates waived.
It was also in recent weeks that the High Court ruled in favour of making main residency conditions for new builds houses, which I know is a hot topic in North Cornwall.
Earlier this year St Ives put their Neighbourhood Development Plan to a local referendum, which stipulated that second homes could not be built. This was immediately appealed by a property developer, but this challenge has been ruled against in the High Court.
Although such a condition cannot apply to existing homes, this will hopefully help local people buy new homes and will also set a precedent for other parishes and towns to have a similar condition in their own Neighbourhood Plans, many of which are now considering this.
Already the Government has introduced an extra 3 per cent stamp duty for second homes which will be used to fund more affordable homes. This includes the £20 million self-build fund for the South West which I lobbied for earlier this year.
There are villages all around Cornwall's coast which have seen a surge in second home ownership, and although we welcome people to come and stay in our beautiful county and their spending, local communities have felt left behind and ignored. It's time that we bring some balance to our current housing policy, which unfortunately hasn't been addressed for decades.
I was delighted to welcome the Prime Minister to Cornwall in October to discuss the county's future. Theresa May recognises the challenges facing Cornwall, such as transport links, education funding and economic development, and her visit was a great opportunity for elected representatives and the business community to constructively discuss how we can address these issues.
Hot off the decision to choose Heathrow for airport expansion, Theresa May wanted to highlight how such a big project would benefit Cornwall. A third runway and a new Terminal Six will allow Heathrow to serve more destinations, and Cornwall Newquay Airport is on that list.
Shortly afterwards I wrote to both the Chancellor and the Transport Secretary urging them to address transport funding in the South West. The region currently receives the second lowest in the country, and I highlighted the need for a second railway line in Devon.
Although it's vital that we make Dawlish more resilient, we also need a more resilient rail network, and having only one main route feeding Cornwall isn’t good enough. By creating a through line between Exeter and Plymouth via Okehampton, this would open up more rural communities in Devon and North Cornwall and would also serve as an additional line should the mainline at Dawlish ever be closed because of storms or maintenance.
During the autumn I sat on the Public Bill Committee for the Digital Economy Bill which will introduce a Universal Service Obligation of at least 10Mbps for broadband and a reformed Electronic Communications Code which will make it easier for phone operators to increase and enhance their mobile coverage across rural areas.
The Bill will also tackle nuisance calls, with directors of companies becoming directly accountable. On top of this, the Government has announced the closure of a loophole where companies can file for bankruptcy in order to avoid fines for nuisance calls. Maximum fines themselves will also increase to £500,000.
In early November I had a very interesting and constructive meeting with former Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon and representatives of the Coastal Producer Organisation to discuss the future of our fishing industry post-Brexit.
Small-scale fisherman have been hardest hit by the EU's quota system. They represent 77% of Britain's fishing fleet, yet they have access to just 4% of the quota. The CPO has been set up as a result to give small-scale fisherman – with boats under 10 metres – a louder voice in Europe.
Sticking with fishing, I was delighted to visit the Racehorse Inn in North Hill which was taking part in Seafood Week in aid of the RNLI. It was a great way to raise money for such a worthy cause while promoting the fantastic seafood that can be had in Cornwall.
This included the Cornish Oyster Eating Championship which included crab meat from Padstow, mussels from Porthilly and lobsters from Port Issac. My colleague in Parliament, Johnny Mercer, also attended and it was fantastic to see so much support for the RNLI whose volunteers do amazing work saving lives in Cornwall and around the UK.
During the conference recess I travelled to Taiwan with a group of MPs to meet with Taiwanese ministers and officials to discuss how we can strengthen trade ties with the UK and to promote ‘Cornwall Plc’.
As a guest of the Taiwanese Government who organised the trip, it was a great opportunity for me to represent North Cornwall and promote the brilliant things the Cornish people make and the county as a holiday destination.
I sit on the Taiwanese-British All Party Parliamentary Group which aims to strengthen trade and political ties between Taiwan and the UK, and this trip comes at an important juncture as Britain starts to engage in more trade talks with countries around the world to grow our export markets.
On the trip I was joined by the Minister of State for International Trade, Greg Hands, who met with his Taiwanese counterpart to discuss closer trade ties. By having backbench MPs there like myself, we were able to meet with ministers, officials and business representatives to promote the UK as well as our own constituencies.
I wanted to promote Cornwall's fantastic food and drink sector which has grown a lot in recent years. With the Duchy much more well known around the world thanks to TV programmes like Doc Martin and Poldark, Cornwall has a very good opportunity to not only attract more visitors from overseas, but also to export more of its products to other corners of the globe.
The fish and shellfish that we land in Cornwall is very popular abroad already, and by finding new buyers this will make the export market more secure and beneficial for a number of producers in North Cornwall. I also hope the trip will be a catalyst for selling more of our goods to Taiwan and other countries, particularly our most popular food and drink like pasties, fudge, chocolate, cider, wine and ale.
By exporting Cornish goods to more places around the world, people will become more familiar with Cornwall which will hopefully attract them to come and visit and contribute to our economy.
Some important announcements were subsequently made at the Conservative Party Conference which I welcome, particularly the Prime Minister's update on Brexit and the Chancellor's commitment to EU-funded projects.
Theresa May confirmed that in next year's Queen's Speech, she will introduce the Great Repeal Bill to nullify the European Communities Act 1972 which currently enshrines our membership of the EU into UK law. This will be repealed once we have left the EU after the Article 50 negotiations, which should hopefully conclude in Spring 2019.
The Chancellor Philip Hammond also gave his commitment to multi-year EU-funded projects which will likely require central government money after Brexit. He has already guaranteed funding for projects signed off by this year's Autumn Statement, but this announcement goes
further by committing to other long term projects which will likely require government assistance during and after Brexit.
I'm keen to see a regional funding model implemented so that Cornwall can continue to receive investment but without the hoop jumping and bureaucracy that comes from Brussels, and I know the Cornwall LEP and Chamber of Commerce want this as well.
Earlier this month I ventured out on to Bodmin Moor with the Redwings Horse Sanctuary to process over 160 wild ponies for passporting and microchipping.
The Bodmin Moor Commons Council, RSPCA, Animal & Plant Health Agency, and trustees from the Elise Pilkington Charitable Trust - who funded the operation - were also present to make sure ponies can be chipped and tracked to ensure their welfare.
There have been many unfortunate incidents of ponies being neglected on the Moor and it's great to see so much joined-up work between agencies, organisations ad local representatives to make sure these animals are looked after and that owners can be held to account.
After the end of the summer recess, two important Bills came before MPs to make changes to taxation and broadband. The Finance Bill was passed to clamp down on tax evasion, while the Digital Economy Bill had it second reading to enhance broadband delivery.
The Conservative Government has vowed to clamp down on tax avoidance and illegal tax evasion, with more than 25 measures being introduced to raise an extra £16 billion by 2021. The tackling of loopholes and illegal tax evasion in the last Parliament alone is expected to raise £12 billion by this year.
Within the Bill I also voted to make sanitary products exempt from VAT. This issue received a lot of attention last year in Parliament, however at the time, there was no legal scope to zero-rate sanitary products because of EU law.
With the EU set to loosen its grip on VAT law early next year, the Government has legislated to exempt sanitary products once it is legal to do so. In the meantime, the Treasury has been donating all VAT proceeds to women's charities, which this year stood at £15 million.
I spoke in the Commons to welcome the Digital Economy Bill which will bring in a Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband and a new Electronics Communication Code to enhance the provision of both landline and mobile broadband.
The USO is expected to be 10Mbps which would be a minimum statutory requirement for broadband customers. I highlighted the current situation in North Cornwall where customers are paying for 10Mbps but only getting something along the lines of 0.5Mbps, which is simply unacceptable.
The new Code will also change the way service providers can enhance their delivery of broadband, with mobile companies being given more freedom to modify their masts so they can boost their range or upgrade them to 3G and 4G internet.
This will not only benefit local people but also visitors who expect mobile phone signal and broadband when on holiday. It will also mean more rural areas can become contactable which will make people safer if they need to contact the emergency services.
I have been asked to sit on the Public Bill Committee which will meticulously scrutinise it, and I'm looking forward to being a part of this Bill and contributing to its development.
The final week of Parliament before the summer recess saw some important votes and meetings take place before MPs headed back their constituencies for a few weeks.
As promised in our election manifesto, we held a vote to renew Trident. The current programme runs until around 2030, and due to the extensive planning and resourcing that needs to be done, a vote had to be taken this year.
Although MPs including myself voted overwhelmingly to renew our nuclear deterrent, it's important to also note that the same motion included a caveat to reduce our nuclear stockpile by the mid-2020s. This means we remain committed to multilateral disarmament while having an effective deterrent.
My South West colleague and recently appointed International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, held a meeting with MPs to outline what the goals are for him and his new department.
Already since the Brexit vote, South Korea, Canada, the US, Australia and Pakistan have revealed intentions for free trade deals with Britain, and it will be the job of Liam and his new department to negotiate such deals leading up to our exit from the EU. Only 9% of UK companies export and I want to work with North Cornwall businesses to tie up those links with other countries who wish to import our goods.
In August I went along to the annual Launceston Show to meet with the NFU, agricultural businesses and food producers. Despite the odd bit of rain, the show was very good and I had constructive discussions with farmers in the NFU tent.
Rightly, they are concerned about a post-Brexit future, and it's vital that we get clarity from the Government for a 'British Agricultural Policy' to address subsidies, sustainability, skills and promoting British produce at home and abroad as we draft trade deals with other economies.
Farmers have my full support and I will be their voice in Parliament.
Sticking with farming, after the Show I met with South West Water and the Westcountry Rivers Trust to learn more about their Upstream Thinking project, which aims to clean up our rivers by changing the way farmland is used upriver.
We visited one farm near Werrington which, through match funding from South West Water, has built new slurry pits to stop it washing into the Ottery River. Not only does this help the wildlife, but it also makes the water cleaner for South West Water.
This level of investment, which would be difficult to get from a bank, means the farmer can modernise their farm, become more productive and self-sufficient and help the environment.
The Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee also published its report on "Establishing world-class connectivity throughout the UK", concluding that BT must invest more into its Openreach division which oversees the installation and maintenance of cables.
BT say that investment is 30 per cent higher than two years ago, but the Committee still argue that more needs to be done. This year the Government will also bring forward its Digital Economy Bill which will introduce a statutory obligation of at least 10Mbps for every household.
I'm delighted that the Conservative Party has ushered Britain's second female Prime Minister into Number 10. Of course the qualities of the person should be more important than their gender, but I nevertheless still welcome this milestone in British politics.
Theresa May, who is state educated and has been one of our longest serving Home Secretaries, is known for her steely resolve and perseverance which will be vital tools in negotiating a deal with Brussels.
I know that people in Cornwall will be concerned about EU funding following the referendum, and this was top of my list when talking with party leader candidates about what they planned for our country. Although EU funding in Cornwall is set to end by 2020 anyway, all of Cornwall's MPs want to see a replacement implemented which will see less hoop-jumping.
We discussed it at length in recent meetings with the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Cornwall Council, with the LEP also updating us on its Growth Deal 3 project which will see millions of pounds invested in Cornwall by central government until 2020.
Cornwall has already secured £198m from Growth Deals 1 and 2 which have been implemented in the last few years which aim to create 4,000 jobs and 6,000 new homes in the county.
In June I went to Stepper Point to meet with the Coastwatch organisation who monitor the Camel Estuary. During the watch, we observed kayakers, sail boats and fishing vessels, all of whom are kept safe by this fantastic organisation.
They are looking for volunteers to join the group, and I cannot recommend it enough for those who want give something back to the community and enjoy the fantastic views on offer from their HQ.
In Parliament I took part in the launch of the new All Party Parliamentary Group for Entrepreneurship, which will certainly help with my campaign to promote small business and tourism in North Cornwall.
I'm also keen to promote women in enterprise as we have some exceptional women running small businesses in North Cornwall, and I'm confident that they will inspire young school leavers to do the same and start their own enterprises.
The Federation for Small Businesses has launched a Women in Enterprise campaign and I have been championing this in the Commons.
In July, we remembered the sacrifice made to restore democracy as we paid tribute to the tens of thousands of soldiers who fell at the Battle of the Somme - the bloodiest battle in British military history. The stories from the trenches at that time are truly shocking and gives us all a reality check on modern life today.
I attended the Service of Commemoration at St. Petroc’s Church in Bodmin which was very moving and poignant, and I know people throughout North Cornwall also took part in services in their local communities.
In the last few weeks I've also welcomed Windmill Hill Academy, Tregadillet Primary School and Launceston College to Westminster, the latter of whom visited 10 Downing Street and met with David Cameron which was undoubtedly a memorable experience for all.
In May the Queen gave her annual speech to outline the Government's legislative programme for the next 12 months, including a Universal Service Obligation for broadband, a National Funding Formula for schools, and more power for communities over neighbourhood planning.
These three things are particularly important in North Cornwall. Even as superfast broadband continues to be rolled out, there will still be homes left out, and a commitment of 10Mbps of broadband enshrined in law will address this. Like water, electricity and gas, broadband is a necessity and every home should be connected.
Due to commercial sensitivity, my office is unable to know which areas will not be connected, so we have decided to create our own database. If you live in a broadband "not-spot", please contact my office on 01208 74337.
A National Funding Formula is also very welcome because it will address the current disparity in funding between urban and rural areas, with rural schools currently getting up to 50 per cent less funding than their urban counterparts.
I visited Altarnun, Tregadillett and St Stephen primary schools in May, and as with other schools in North Cornwall, funding is a main talking point. Schools in North Cornwall are losing out on extra staff and resources which our children are rightly entitled to for a good education.
I will also be pro-active in watching the new Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill, which aims to give communities more say over planning. I'm looking forward to getting my teeth stuck into this piece of legislation to stand up for communities in North Cornwall so they have a louder voice over.
The speech also included reform of the prison system to better rehabilitate prisoners to reduce re-offending levels, a push towards space travel - with Newquay in the running for a space port which would be fantastic for the whole of Cornwall – faster procedures for adoption, and new charges for overseas visitors who use NHS services.
While in London I attended a celebration to recognise the work of the Cornwall Community Foundation, which gives grants to community organisations and is a real asses to Cornwall.
I was contacted by the Kingfisher Nursery in Boyton last year who were facing potential closure due to lack of funding, however, after recommending them to the Foundation, they received a grant which has allowed them to stay open and continue looking after local children.
The event saw the launch of the Second Home Owners Scheme, where second home owners donate the equivalent of one week's rent. The scheme has raised over £30,000 which will be donated to local communities.
I also attended the Annual Cornwall Business Awards at St Mellion to celebrate the achievements of companies and entrepreneurs in the Cornish business community.
The evening really highlighted the high level of quality, imagination and dedication that can be found within Cornish businesses which certainly instilled confidence that Cornwall is full of talented and driven people who want to create and grow a business.
I was pleased to hear that the Government has made a U-turn on its policy to turn every school into an academy.
Since it was announced in the Budget in March, I was not been keen on the idea of forcing schools to become academies – especially those which had attained an 'Outstanding' rating from Ofsted. I informed the Government that I did not support the policy and would vote against it if brought before the Commons.
I understand the arguments for academies because of the independence that comes with them, but I could not vote for a policy which forced schools to change their status. The Government has said it has listened closely to concerns and that 'Good' and 'Outstanding' schools will not be forced to become academies.
I have visited many schools in North Cornwall in the past year and seen how they work well under different systems, from local authority control to academy trusts. The most important issue with school provision isn't the mechanism of delivery, but the benefits to the child.
Meanwhile, I spoke on the Housing and Planning Bill which was in 'ping-pong' stage as both the Commons and the Lords tried to agree amendments before Parliament rose for prorogation.
I welcomed and voted for an amendment to ensure greater protection of high value council houses, which under initial proposals, would have to be sold off to fund the extension of the Right to Buy scheme to housing association tenants.
This greatly concerned me because there are many council houses in coastal communities like Padstow, Boscastle and Port Issac which, through no fault of their own, have increased in value as local house prices escalate.
We need to make sure that local people can stay in their communities, and the Government will give local authorities more discretion over what they deem as "higher-value" homes.
There was also much debate on local democracy and neighbourhood plans which are gradually being implemented to properly plan the future of communities.
I made a point to the Housing Minister that planning inspectors need to be told to respect the wishes of local people when applications go to appeal which do not fit the locally agreed neighbourhood plan.
It's inevitable that towns and villages grow, but this needs to be in a measured way where local people can have confidence in the change that's occurring in their communities in North Cornwall.
I was also delighted to welcome two North Cornwall community shops to Parliament in the Countryside Alliance Awards - also known as the 'Rural Oscars'.
Padstow Farm Shop won the coveted Clarissa Dickson Wright Award for its work in farming, education, campaigning and conservation. Farm shops are fantastic because they enable communities to buy locally produced food which is fresh and of top quality, which in-turn gives more support to local farmers and strengthens local economies.
St Tudy Community Shop was also shortlisted for the Best Village Shop award, which is a great boost considering the shop has only just celebrated its fifth birthday since being set up by local people.
Early April saw the introduction of the National Living Wage, which gave 1.3 million people an immediate pay rise.
All those aged 25 and over received an instant 50p increase to £7.20 per hour. That means anyone who was working 37.5 hours a week on the minimum wage will now be £75 better off a month, or £900 in the next year alone. The Living Wage will rise every year to over £9/hr by 2020.
Businesses big and small are being supported through cuts to business rates and tax, which not only facilitate pay rises, but also make the UK a more attractive place to do business and promotes growth.
The 3 per cent extra stamp duty on second homes also came into effect. This means a second home in Cornwall costing £1 million will attract £73,750 in tax – an increase of £30,000.
This extra money will fund self-build projects which I lobbied the Chancellor for before the Budget.
After the Budget there was a lot of coverage of the proposed cuts to Personal Independence Payments (PIP).
I like other MPs was concerned about this, and I informed the government that I would be opposing the cuts. The proposals were subsequently scrapped the following week.
The government is rightly pursuing its goal of having a more affordable welfare system, however, this needs to be done in a fairer way so that it is reformed for the next generation without hitting existing claimants who are merely following the rules.
I had this same stance on the proposed cut to Working Tax Credits last year, requesting that existing claimants be made exempt from any changes.
This cut was also vetoed, but we have brought in a lower benefit cap of £20,000 to stop welfare dependency and the frustration that taxpayers feel when they see benefit claimants receiving more money than what they bring home after a hard week's work.
The Government announced recently that it would be sending 27 million pro-EU leaflets to households at a cost of £9 million to the taxpayer, which I was angry to hear.
There is a hunger amongst the general public for more information on the EU, but a government leaflet should be impartial and include basic facts and figures so people can make their own conclusions.
During the Easter break I joined fellow MPs Steve Double and Sarah Newton to celebrate the opening of Cornwall Air Ambulance's newest facility - the Lady Mary Holborow Fundraising and Volunteering Building - in honour of their Chairman who has done much charity work throughout the Duchy.
The Air Ambulance is held with great affection by the people of Cornwall, who raise millions every year. The new building has been part-funded by the government's Libor fund, which takes money from misbehaving bankers and gives it to deserving charities.
In the past month I've been paid a visit by in Parliament by Lewannick, St Minver and St Kew primary schools who were all a delight to spend some time with and talk to about their visits to London and Westminster.
In January I wrote that a group of MPs had issued a critical report of BT, saying that not enough was being done to roll out broadband or provide sufficient internet speeds. The regulator of the communications industry, Ofcom, has now ruled that BT's Openreach division must open itself up to other internet providers. As the sole controller of cables and telegraph poles, Openreach installs and maintains cables on behalf of BT which then allows other service providers to use them.
Now though, BT has been told that it must open up its infrastructure and network so other service providers can install their own cables. This is a significant development, because it could mean that many rural properties which have previously been denied broadband could be connected by another service provider. I have long said that BT and Openreach has too much of a monopoly of this vital infrastructure, and this change will certainly free up the internet market.
It will also make service providers more accountable. Too long have people played ping-pong between BT and their service provider when complaining about a poor connection, and if service providers can install their own cables, then that makes them more accountable for the speeds they provide to their customers.
I've been approached by constituents who are concerned that an EU Brexit could stop funding in Cornwall. The day after the referendum, regardless of the result, we will still be a member and thus still receive funding. The referendum is not legally binding on our membership and it will take up to two years for us to leave once we invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which states that EU treaties do not cease to apply until the member in question has actually left.
The same applies to farm subsidies as well. On top of this, EU development funding is not infinite, and there is no certainty that we will continue to receive it after 2020 if the current tranche delivers its desired results.
March's Budget marked a turning point for me as North Cornwall's MP. Many constituents will know that housing is a passion of mine, and when I spoke with thousands of people before the election, the common theme was the provision of houses that local people can actually afford to buy.
In November I welcomed the extra 3 per cent in stamp duty on second homes, and I want to see this money recycled into affordable, self-build projects for Cornish people.
I quickly set about lobbying the Chancellor in person and via the Treasury, asking that the money be ring-fenced and used to fund housing through Community Land Trusts. I was not able to get this into the Housing Bill, so I was determined to get it into a Budget instead.
£20 million has subsequently been allocated for the South West, which will see Community Land Trusts fund self-build projects. The beauty of self-build is that the owners can put their name to it, they have the pride in building it from the foundations up, and it is a lot cheaper than buying a normal home.
A report has been published by MPs which has described the "dire" internet connections which customers across the UK are still facing. Led by Grant Shapps, the British Infrastructure Group's report has found that 5.7 million people still do not receive the minimum speed as stipulated by Ofcom.
This is something we are all too familiar with in North Cornwall, and although BT and Superfast Cornwall are working hard to install fibreoptic cables, many people are still without a good connection. Statistics published in June last year by the House of Commons Library reveal that North Cornwall is ranked 455th out of 650 for superfast availability, which stood at 79% coverage. Worryingly, North Cornwall has the 87th highest percentage of people whose internet is below 2Mb/s. This is very slow, and the government's commitment for a 10Mb/s Universal Service Obligation by 2020 will be a huge boost to rural areas like North Cornwall.
In Parliament I recently asked the Department for Culture, Media and Sport about what they are doing to promote film production in Cornwall. Government minister Ed Vaizey revealed that Creative England, a publicly and privately funded organisation, has supported 51 film productions in Cornwall in the last two years which consisted of 439 shooting days and contributed £7.5 million to the Cornish economy. It is also supporting 13 production companies based in Cornwall. The 'Poldark Effect' will be a great boost for tourism in North Cornwall on top of the interest we receive from Doc Martin fans.
I also visited Heathrow airport to learn about how important the airport is to our economy and about their third runway proposals. As the airport is offering future links to Newquay Airport if expansion is granted, it's important to know how the airport would benefit the county.
The brand new Terminal 2 has hugely sped up air travel, with passengers being able to get from the front door to the gate in less than 30 minutes. Up in the control tower, I was able to get a good view of where the third runway would go alongside a new Terminal 6. With the airport currently running at nearly 100% capacity and being the UK's largest port, it's imperative that we continue to expand to remain internationally competitive. Modern aeroplanes are now much quieter and cleaner, and most of the pollution concerns stem from an increase in diesel cars. This is currently receiving further studies before a decision is made.
Back in the constituency I did a lot of door knocking for the Launceston by-election and met with many people who wanted to discuss local and national issues. It's great to be able to update constituents on progress in Government up until this point. While there I did a blindfolded walk with the Guide Dogs Association to get a better understanding of the obstacles faced by the blind and partially sighted on a daily basis.
Led by the Isaac the Labrador, it gave me a great insight into how much people rely on their four-legged friends to get about to perform tasks that we take for granted, such as walking to the shops. Last year I supported the Pavement Parking Bill to outlaw parking on pavements, and the government has said it will look into these proposals and other measures.
After New Year I publicly gave my backing to the ‘Out’ campaign for the EU Referendum. Alongside 5 other fellow MPs, I decided it was the time to set out why a British exit is the best option for us. Although negotiations are still ongoing, I do not think Brussels is offering us enough in order to properly renegotiate our relationship.
The EU has become integrated and federalised, to which the UK has little control over. We pay £350 million a week in membership - more than what we get back, we cannot control who comes here from member countries and subsequently have to discriminate against those from outside the EU - particularly Commonwealth countries, and we have little say over EU legislation which affects every man, woman and child in North Cornwall - notably the Common Fisheries Policy and Common Agricultural Policy.
Although some areas and industries do benefit from EU funding, my argument is that the UK could do this itself without being a member.
In Parliament I have stressed the case to the Health Secretary about the difficulty of booking GP appointments, describing how people who work in the week often have trouble booking appointments because they are either too busy at work or are unable to access a phone or get signal.
With the government pushing towards a true 7-day-a-week NHS where GPs would be open at weekends, I suggested priority could be given at weekends to those who were unable to get an appointment in the week because of work.
Jeremy Hunt welcomed this and described how the process of booking GP appointments was already being made easier for patients through the internet and phone 'apps'.
I also took part in an important debate on food security alongside fellow Cornish MPs, amongst others. Led by St Ives' Derek Thomas, the debate was aimed at highlighting how the UK could source more food from its own farmers, fisherman, factories etc. as well as ensuring these industries get a fair price for their goods.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has also announced that children will be given new methods to learn and test their times tables. Basic arithmetic is essential for everyone, and the government wants children to enter secondary school with much better mathematical skills which will help their development.
On top of this, she has also announced new measures to keep children safe online.Teachers will have the right measures in place to keep children safe from exploitation or radicalisation, and we will strengthen measures to protect children from harm online - requiring schools to have appropriate filters and monitoring systems while teaching pupils about staying safe online.