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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, 29 May 2014


Now that the dust is settling on the dramatic events of last week, I offer a few reflections.

I find it encouraging that the British electoral system is robust enough to offer stability during periods of turmoil, but fluid enough to allow new parties to emerge or old ones to re-emerge and do well. UKIP certainly did well in the EU and local elections last week and the main parties will ignore the message sent at our peril. Our system allows for evolutionary change as we have clearly witnessed over the past two hundred years. This is unlike the USA where there has always been an entrenched two party system or other less stable countries like Egypt and Thailand where change comes through coups d'état rather than the ballot box.

With modern mass media it is even more possible in the UK for a political leader to capture public imagination and support and to come to power. I see that as a positive.

My second observation is that the turnout was only 34% and therefore not necessarily a prediction of the outcome of the next general election where turnout will be around 70%. Nonetheless those who did vote demonstrated their desire for change especially over the EU and immigration. It is interesting to see that ring wing parties did well in many established EU member states, a reflection of public concerns over the way the EU is run.

Finally, and although some of the language and attitudes are racist and unpleasant, I completely agree that we have to put in place a far more robust immigration policy, both in terms of people coming here to work and to claim benefits. We also have to overcome the alleged human rights impediments to sending foreign criminals back where they came from.

The reality is that immigration policy cannot be dramatically altered if we stay in the EU, because the very essence of the Union is the right to work and live in any member state. It is possible that the rules of the EU will be substantially changed on this, but unlikely. So we stand at the crossroads and have to decide: in or out.  We have to have a referendum to settle this for the next generation.  This is clearly what most voters want and in a democracy that must prevail.

This is set to be a key policy debate in the run up to the next general election.

posted by Gary @ 09:41  



Thursday, 22 May 2014


I am glad that we live in a tolerant country, but:

I am also very glad that we deported Abu Hamza to the USA so that a New York court this week could find him guilty of terrorist related activities. He assisted in the abduction of 15 innocent people in the Yemen many years ago and tried to build a terror camp in the USA. I hope that he receives a very long sentence and serves it out in full.

Similarly, I am also glad that Abu Qatada was finally deported last year by the government to Jordan to face terrorism charges over there. We should be very tough indeed in defending our country and wider world against people who stir up or take part in terrorist activities.

On top of all that, I am equally as glad that the possible extremist infiltration into schools in Birmingham is being robustly investigated. There should be no no-go areas for British justice or our way of life in any part of this country.

It is possible to be tolerant and tough at the same time. We must be tolerant of diversity including racial and religious diversity. Indeed, we should actually welcome it. Some of the tone and content of the language we have heard in recent weeks has been unpleasant bordering on sickening. We do not need to go down that vile path.

British history is full of examples of immigrant groups who have made their home with us and strengthened our nation. Would we have any straight roads but for the Romans? Would we have any decent cuisine but for the Normans? Would we have any decent sports players but for our friends from the Caribbean?

But there are some basic lessons that we simply have to learn. First, no more unsustainable mass immigration as we suffered from 1997 to 2010 from which we have still not caught our breath. Second, people coming here to live should learn the language and assimilate. If you don't want to, don't come. Third, although freedom of religion is crucial, freedom to promote acts of terror must be dealt with by the full force of the law. Zero tolerance for extremism.

If we implement these three simple rules, we should continue to be a tolerant and free nation for the next two millennia, as we have been since Julius Caesar first did his veni, vidi, vici thing all those years ago.

posted by Gary @ 08:57  



Thursday, 15 May 2014


This week Parliament prorogued – meaning that this year's session came to an end. It all starts again on 4th June with the state Opening of Parliament and a new Queen's Speech. This will set out the legislative programme from now until 31st March 2015 when parliament will be dissolved until the general election on 7th May 2015. It looks set to be the closest election for 40 years, with the outcome uncertain, possibly a coalition led either by David Cameron or Ed Miliband. A handful of marginal seats will decide it.

I cannot imagine that the next 12 months will be action-packed with new legislation, partly due to the difficulty of reaching agreement within the coalition. We seem to have run out of things that we agree about! It is also true that in the run up to an election, thoughts for most of us turn more to the constituency that the great institution at Westminster and so the gravitational pull is away from London.

The difference these days is that the timetable is set out well in advance now that we have five year fixed term parliaments. We are no longer waiting for the Prime Minister of the day to fire the starting gun. This makes it more certain, but possibly less exciting. It also condemns the voters to longer election campaigns. Sorry about that.

Apparently in this last session we completed over 22 acts of Parliament, one of them being the Children and Families Bill which received royal assent in March of this year. This aims to better protect vulnerable children and in particular paves the way for a more streamlined system for the fostering and adoption of children. These new speedier measures have now come into force and we should hopefully see the 4,600 children waiting for adoption find their way to new loving homes more rapidly. Hopefully we have swept away some of the more unnecessary obstacles that the previous system used to through into the path of those kind souls willing to give a child a life.

Of course important checks still have to be carried out, although I note that people have a child naturally receive no such vetting, which in too many tragic cases is all too evident. If you have a child you should look after him or her. If you cannot afford or are not capable of raising a child, do not have one. It is hardly rocket science.

posted by Gary @ 13:29  



Thursday, 8 May 2014


We are fortunate to live in a low crime area, although we have our moments and the occasional spike. In particular, over the years we have suffered sporadic outbreaks of anti-social behaviour from cohorts of drunken young people but mercifully this has subsided recently, due to the considerable skill and efforts of our excellent police force.
We are very fortunate to have such a dedicated and professional team locally.

The restructuring of the local force 3 years or so ago under the previous Chief Constable was not successful and now has largely been undone and more coherent arrangements are in place. We are even going to have our own CID once again in the rural part of the constituency, which I welcome. The numbers of burglaries and other acquisitive crimes has fallen in the constituency in recent years. But we need to keep our guard up and in particular watch out for unscrupulous people who target elderly and vulnerable people in an attempt to part them from some of their hard won savings.

I heard last week of one scam that we should all mention to our senior relatives, it goes something like this. A pensioner gets a phone call from a plausible sounding person purporting to be a member of the Metropolitan Police stating that they have somebody in custody who has been using the pensioner's bank cards. The person is advised to check with their bank by phone immediately. The call is placed in such a way that when the anxious pensioner tries to ring their bank, they simply re-connect to a different person in the criminal organisation behind the scam who pretends to be his bank and takes security details as banks always do. The phoney bank official then confirms that there has been unusual activity on the account and monies have been withdrawn and the customer is advised (wait for it) to go to their local branch and withdraw all of their cash from the account and bring it home, whereupon a taxi will come and collect it to take it to a safe place!

The pensioner thinks he is dealing with the Met and their bank – two organisations he trusts – and complies.  Over 3000 people have been caught in this way since 2011 and the average amount lost is £4000. One person lost £39,000.
The people behind the scam prey on the elderly and they are getting away with it. Please watch out.

posted by Gary @ 12:27  



Thursday, 1 May 2014


I thought it might be helpful to set out my thinking on HS2. I am not against the project as it will help the economy of the UK to improve the link between our major cities and provide additional capacity on the railway.

Having seen the impact of high speed trains in China I realise that this is probably the right thing to do over here, albeit 20 years later than we should. The problem with major infrastructure works is that they take so long to get from the design stage to completion, so in this case the first high speed trains will not start running until 2026.

It is encouraging that whilst £40 billion is being spent on HS2 over the next 20 years (roughly £2 billion pa) over the next five years £38.5 billion (i.e. £7 billion pa) is being spent on railway infrastructure that is not HS2.

So why abstain on the vote last Monday evening? Simply this: I am seeking to persuade the government that we need greater investment in the rail network of the far south west and I am trying to do so by both force of argument and other pressures, including voting intentions.

Once the main opposition party decided to back HS2 a few MPs rebelling no longer had the same impact as it was clearly going to pass through the Commons with a big majority, but one way to demonstrate seriousness at Westminster is in voting practice.

In July Network Rail is going to bring forward a report suggesting ways to improve our far south west rail resilience. It will include an exploration of additional or alternative routes to avoid the vulnerable stretch along the coast. Once we have sought to agree where this additional/alternative route should be, it obviously needs to be built which will take extra government funds. The current five year plan takes us to 2019. The target is to get the full cost of the new line included in the next Network Rail programme for the period 2019-2024.

That may sound a long way off but consider this: once the route is agreed there will be a tortuous planning process that will take several years. In China if something is in the way they just move it. Here, we have endless consultation and enquiries. It is unlikely that planning permissions would be sorted until 2020 at the earliest so the two periods combine.

The battle continues.

posted by Gary @ 13:44