Previous Posts



Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 28 November 2013


The prospect of thousands of Romanians and Bulgarians coming to the UK after 1st January 2014 looms large on the horizon. I receive many e-mails about it. I share the concerns of those who contact me.

I get more e-mails about immigration than any other subject. We are still reeling from the now well documented policy of the previous government to allow mass inward migration, resulting in 3.2 million people between 1997 and 2010 coming to these shores to live.

To make matters worse migrants were encouraged to come with no pressure to integrate or learn our language. No thought was given to the impact on our welfare systems or jobs, or social cohesion.

Immigration can bring huge benefits and has, both to our culture and to our economy. Most immigrants work hard and pay taxes and bring new energy to our shores. But it has to be on a scale and over a period that can be readily absorbed. 

We have started to get immigration under control, with a tough target of reducing net immigration dramatically by 2015 and we are on track. However, we are members of a club called the European Union and club rules stipulate that people from all member states have the right to live and work, and in certain circumstances, claim benefits in any other member state. We obtained a derogation from this responsibility when Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU way back in 2007, but that comes to an end in 2014. We are told that they are preparing to come here in great numbers, although we do not know if this will happen. Many Eastern Europeans have already left their country of birth to settle in other EU countries.

Challenges like this are undermining public confidence in the EU. It is one reason why so many people now want a referendum on EU membership. There is a bill going through the House right now to write into our law that there must be a referendum before December 2017. That is one way of solving the problem, but it is a drastic one.

In the meantime the government is urgently looking at extending the period of time for immigrants before which benefits can be claimed from three months to twelve months. Our coalition partners do not agree with this approach and it would mean a big punch up with Brussels, but I think this is a fight worth having.

posted by Gary @ 09:06  



Thursday, 21 November 2013


As I have reported before, we are about to see new house building on a major scale spring forth all over the urban fringe of Plymouth to provide homes for our young people in the South Hams and Plympton and Plymstock. People often ask me where will all these people work? It is a good question, but there are answers.

First of all it is important to recognise that our local economy is doing well. Unemployment, one of the main barometers of the economy, is falling. It has dropped further in my constituency to 1.2% and average salaries in this area now exceed £530 per week. Many of the major companies dotted around our industrial and business parks are experiencing strong order books, especially those who are exporting. This is all good news.

There are also large chunks of land at Langage designated for business use, waiting for the economy to turn up in order for commercial buildings to be built thereon which can accommodate more jobs. This moment edges closer.

By far the brightest prospect on the horizon in terms of creating new jobs is the proposed Plymouth city deal. This is a bid being made to government by all local councils, from Cornwall to Somerset, backed by the University of Plymouth, local business leaders and all local MPs.  The focus of the deal is Plymouth-based but will benefit the entire region. It is a combination of new powers from government, and some cash and the release by the MOD of more of South Yard in the Naval Base to create a new centre of marine technology, sitting alongside Marine Projects.

This will be a hub for exploring many different kinds of marine related technology including how to harness wave and tidal power to create energy.

Much lobbying has taken place and it is gratifying to see all our councils working together with each other and the Local Enterprise Partnership to try and make this a reality. Words are cheap, but my own view is that if we can successfully land this project it will be the single most important thing our city has achieved after we secured the maintenance of the Trident fleet in the early 1990's. This has created and sustained many thousands of well-paid jobs over the years and still does so.

Plymouth City Deal would be in the same bracket. So we are all working like mad to make this a reality.

posted by Gary @ 09:43  



Thursday, 14 November 2013


I get a lot of e-mails from constituents complaining that we are wrong to spend so much on overseas aid. I have not yet had anybody complaining about the fact we are spending over £5 million in our initial support to the people of the Philippines following the destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan.

All of us have been horrified at the scenes of utter devastation on our TV screens and cannot imagine what those people have been through. When my office was flooded last year it was a minor irritation and disruption – these folks have had their homes, their livelihoods and their families swept away. We all believe we should do all we can to help them.

The UK government have made up to £5 million immediately available to provide crucial humanitarian aid for 500,000 people including temporary shelter and access to clean water. We have also sent advisers into the country to help co-ordinate the international relief effort. There have been so many disasters in the past where the countries of the world have been ready to help, but the organisation of the host country has been poor. In a crisis, we Brits are pretty good at organising things.

In addition to governmental help it is good to see all of the major international charities stepping up to the plate, including Shelter Box in Cornwall providing their emergency shelter equipment, and I know many people will be giving freely to support these charities.

I have puzzled over why so many people are unhappy with our level of foreign aid. It remains under 1% of all government spending and even if it was stopped completely and poured into UK health or education would we really notice the difference?

Perhaps the biggest problem facing the west is the pressure of mass migration, now and in the future. All developed countries face this because living standards in the west are currently so much better than they are in the two thirds world, the developing world. Long term solutions are necessary, and one of them is to help them improve living standards in their own countries. 

Aid to India and China is being phased out by 2015. We are much more robust about how our aid money is spent in Africa, avoiding corrupt governments. There are some success stories, like Ghana, and others will follow.

Emergency aid and long term development all have the same goal. We should support them both.

posted by Gary @ 13:57  



Monday, 11 November 2013


What a difference a policy change makes. For most of my career to date there had been at least one lively campaign running at any one time to save a post office somewhere in the constituency. The previous administration had a definite policy to close those, often in rural locations with the smallest footfall.

In the run up to the 2010 elections a clear promise was made by my own party to halt this programme of post office closures and to keep the network we inherited open. This decision recognised the community role played by many post offices in bringing local services to the community, especially to those who might otherwise be isolated. This is particularly important to the elderly for whom a trip to the post office can be a daily or weekly lifeline.

The keeping of this promise required a significant sum of money to be paid over to Post Office Limited, the company that is responsible for keeping the network alive and also for running the larger post offices like the huge one in Old Town Street Plymouth. Most of the smaller post offices are run by individuals as their private business, and have been for years. The government is also looking to find ways to increase the range of services that the post office can provide. The post office is a very trusted brand so the scope for this is strong.

On Friday I very happily cut the ribbon for the opening of the refurbished post office in Glanville's Mill Ivybridge. It is a family run business and the new design and layout is a partnership investment between the family and the Post office Limited. I am sure that this will pay dividends and that usage will increase, to the benefit of all. The new shop looks fabulous.

In many of the very smaller rural post offices the people employed to run the services are not paid a fortune and have to rely on the success of their retail side to make a satisfactory living. This is often easier said than done and wherever possible we should support those who have taken on this commercial risk.

In this Parliament there have been no campaigns to keep a post office open. If for any reason the existing sub post-master wishes to close, the company advertises for a new one. This has happened several times in some of the rural locations, always successfully.

Mission accomplished.

posted by Gary @ 16:06