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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, 24 July 2014


Parliament rose for the summer on Tuesday of this week. It did not come a day too soon. London this year was even hotter and stickier than usual and everybody was beginning to wilt under the intensity. We return in the first week of September, so we now have five weeks now to recharge batteries and prepare for a full-on outworking of democracy from the autumn onwards. In other words, once the party conference season is in full swing, the election campaign for next May will effectively have begun.

What do we MPs do during recess? For the first few days I like to carry out some of the visits that there is not time to do during term time and get all of the paperwork and e-mails up to date. But every year we notice that once the schools break up nobody is much interested in contacting their Member of Parliament, thank goodness, so we tend to slip into summer time working for four weeks, just ticking over. I find it a good time to sit under a tree and read and think about the big picture issues that we don't get a chance to consider properly during the hurly-burly. One thing I am wrestling with this summer is how to try and achieve a measure of unity in this region over the future of our railway, when there are so many differing views. As I drive our P registration horse lorry up the M5 over the next few weeks while Jan competes on her horse, I shall ponder these things.

More MPs than usual have announced that they are standing down at the next election, especially those who came in from other disciplines.  I anticipate that others will follow suit over the next few weeks. I will not be one of them as I am still loving this job. The role has changed from when I first started and for many younger families, the pressures of living in two places, the unrelenting and immediate media spotlight for a modest financial return (compared to most professional jobs) seems to be taking its toll.  If this trend continues, we will end up with an unrepresentative Parliament full of professional politicians who have never had a proper job. 

I also like to read some history over the summer. There is nothing new under the sun and we can learn so much from the mistakes and successes of our forefathers.

posted by Gary @ 09:33  



Thursday, 17 July 2014


Most of this week at Westminster has been spent on putting in place a new legal framework for making sure that companies which operate the systems by which we all communicate electronically, have to retain it for a set period of time.

It is necessary in the fight against terrorism to help detect and disrupt the plans that our enemies deploy to attack us. The previous legal framework which was contained in a 2006 EU Directive has recently been declared invalid by the European Court of Justice, so we are moving quickly to ensure that all companies that maintain communications records of British citizens are in no doubt that they have to keep them safe and allow our secret services to look at them if the need arises.

I have supported the government in this attempt to shore up our law. I realise that we have to balance civil liberties and security and that enabling government to look at stored communications data contains certain risks. But sadly we live in a world where there are people out to destroy us. That risk has got worse since the setting up of the new Jihadists state in north Iraq. Most terrorists have to communicate across national borders and it seems that telephones and e-mails are still the primary means of sharing their plans.

On my recent China trip, I remember talking to a young Chinese student who was convinced that her government was looking at every e-mail she sent. She was probably right. I do not want that situation in the UK and it certainly not what is proposed by these new laws.
They simply force EE or BT or Google to store my communications for a number of years so that if I am proposing to blow up Devonport Dockyard it will help to track me down.

I have little doubt that the majority of my constituents are very keen to make sure sufficient security measures are in place. I have been in many meetings over the years when constituents have expressed the view that they would like more CCTV in shopping and town centres, and not less. We understand the slight intrusion on personal liberty, but are prepared to accept it to make ourselves safer from attack.

Similar principles apply with data retention. There are risks to our individual freedom, but the risks to personal safety are far higher if we do not have robust laws in place.

posted by Gary @ 10:46  



Friday, 11 July 2014


Two weeks ago I had the privilege of viewing the fabulous new facilities built in Devonport Dockyard to help rehabilitate and treat wounded or sick ex-service personnel, including those with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Known as the Endeavour building this £24 million project is one of the most impressive new buildings I have ever visited. It was built from funds raised by the Help for Heroes charity which has sprung up from nowhere to become one of the most dynamic and best supported causes in the country. There is a huge gymnasium, magnificent swimming and hydrotherapy pool, consultation rooms and refreshment areas. Almost alongside it is a stunning new residential block where people might live while they are undergoing treatment and support, and also where families may stay while visiting participants of these facilities. The whole complex reeks of excellence and quality. This is very much as it should be, supporting those who have given so much in defending their country.

The facilities are run jointly by Help for Heroes and the Ministry of Defence, and the staff I met were utterly dedicated to their cause. I was pleased to learn that people who might have left the services years ago, but who now start to exhibit symptoms of PTSD are very welcome to participate in the help available in the Endeavour building. There has been a slight increase in the number of ex-servicemen who have sought help at my surgeries in the past 12 months, struggling with life due to things they experienced whilst serving in the forces. Although years ago, we might have poo-pooed such "weakness" we now recognise this as a proper medical condition, and when you think about some of the events these brave young men and women have witnessed first-hand, it is hardly surprising that it might make an impact.

There has been a welcome sea change to our armed forces since the time I have been at Westminster. The new covenant with the military is a step in the right direction. If we want the best fighting forces in the world, we have to look after them better, and their families, while they are serving and when they have left.

It would be great to finish this column by suggesting that soon the need to invest so much in our military will be a thing of the past. Sadly, looking at the state of the world today, that is far from the case.

posted by Gary @ 10:23  



Thursday, 3 July 2014


"We live in a decaying age. Young people no longer respect their parents. They are rude and impatient. They frequently inhabit taverns and have no self-control." Not my words; they come from an inscription found in a 6000 year-old Egyptian tomb.

Maybe you agree with the following: "Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers." It was uttered by Socrates in ancient Greece.

How about this: "I think morals are getting much worse... There were no such girls in my time as there are now.
When I was four or five and twenty my mother would have knocked me down if I had spoken improperly to her". These words were spoken by 60 year-old Charlotte Kirkman in 1843, as part of an investigation into the bad behaviour of contemporary youth. Lord Ashley, speaking in the House of Commons in the same year, argued that "the morals of the children are tenfold worse than formerly".

Past generations, then, have been consistently convinced that the "youth of today" were guilty of moral decline. 

I had a look around the art exhibition at Plymstock School last week and spoke to the pupils whose spectacular art was on display. They have just the same kinds of hopes and dreams as I had when I was 17. They were also polite and respectful, like most youngsters in our schools. I am optimistic about the next generation.

The ancients moaned about the youth of their day who in turn when they reached maturity complained of their progeny. We should learn from this and encourage the next generation to reach their full potential.

posted by Gary @ 09:19