I hope you have all had a great Easter break. I was very lucky to be back home in North Cornwall and next week I will tell you about some of the interesting visits I had in the constituency. Back in Westminster following the Parliamentary recess, we announced new rules to clamp down on business practices that stifle competition – protecting consumers’ hard-earned cash while levelling the playing field for businesses that trade fairly. Consumers deserve better than to visit highly-rated businesses only to find poor service, and businesses deserve protection from rogue traders that undermine them – so it is right that we reform the rules to end unfair business practices. That is why we are introducing new reforms to crack down on stifling business practices, which will make it illegal to pay someone to write or host a fake review, easier for consumers to opt-out of subscriptions, and create new safeguards for customers’ money in prepayment schemes. These reforms will ensure consumer protections keep pace with a modern, digitised economy while allowing competition to thrive – meaning better products, greater choice, and lower prices.
Residents and visitors can enjoy cheaper trips after the launch of a cut-price bus fare pilot in Cornwall. Ticket prices across the county have been reduced by between 20% and 40% to encourage more people out of their cars and on to public transport. The four-year scheme, which is backed by the government, will measure what impact lower fares have on the number of cars on the road. It is hoped it will make it easier for Cornish people to get around and tempt visitors to visit the county’s beaches, moors, towns, and attractions by bus rather than car. I was very pleased to represent the Government at the launch event and gave a speech. Transport for Cornwall has set a goal of increasing bus usage by 10% and is using a £23.5m grant from the Department for Transport to fund the initiative, this is an extremely important programme for North Cornwall.
I’m also very pleased that the Online Safety Bill returned to the House of Commons – the first legislation of its kind in the world protecting children from harmful content online. For too long, platform growth has been prioritised above all else, leaving children exposed to harmful and inappropriate content online. That is why we have committed to do more to protect children online through our world-leading Online Safety Bill. Under the Bill, for the very first time, platforms will be required under law to protect children and young people from all sorts of harm, from the most abhorrent child abuse to cyberbullying, to accessing pornography. The Bill will also protect freedom of speech by ensuring social media companies can no longer arbitrarily silence or cancel those they do not agree with - without any need for explanation or justification. Our manifesto promised to make the UK the safest place in the world to go online while protecting freedom of speech.