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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, 25 September 2014


I well remember the night back in 1980 when Jan and I drove from London to start my new job as a solicitor, back in our beloved Devon after several year's legal training in the City.  Most of our worldly possessions were crammed into the car, with Jan pregnant with our first child. Our Simca Estate (did anyone else ever own such a car?) got slower and slower as we approached Plymouth as if symbolically reflecting the one-way nature of our journey. Destiny. We drove the section of the A38 between Deep Lane and Marsh Mills at a stuttering 25 MPH in the dead of night, looking out over the bright lights of Plymouth, only for our car to expire outside our first home in West Hill Road Mutley, never to go again. We had arrived.

I think of that dramatic journey every time I travel down that same stretch of road. It is about to be transformed by the Highways Agency. Because Merafield Bridge, the bridge that carries Haye road over the dual carriageway, has concrete cancer it is going to be replaced at the cost of £6 million. Initial planning suggests the construction work might take 70 weeks.

I raised with the Highways Agency recently the concerns of the local business community and others that this project might greatly impact the main thoroughfare into Plymouth and hurt our local economy. In particular I wanted to know that the Agency will do everything possible in placing this contract to keep disruption to an absolute minimum.

The Highways team are very aware of the possible impact on us all and have been consulting Plymouth Council actively. Haye road, which is after all the main route between Plympton and Plymstock, should be largely unaffected. The A38 itself will become four lanes rather than six for the duration of the project, but the modelling by the Highway Agency suggests that the works will cause little or no delay to the A38 travelling public.

The contract has not yet been awarded and the team is currently looking at further options to shorten the duration of the works and increase the number of lanes available. This is welcome news but of course I will maintain close contact. We get used to the infrastructure that surrounds our lives and significant disruption is always troublesome.

It is also important that the gateway to Plymouth sends a strong signal that we remain open for business.

posted by Gary @ 12:00  



Thursday, 18 September 2014


Recent scenes of would-be immigrants at Calais trying to crash their way into Britain has stirred up many different emotions. Some of you have contacted me to say how sorry you feel for these desperate people and why don't we take them in – others have raged at the very prospect of accepting them. Most of these plucky migrants are from African countries like Sudan and Somalia where life is cheap and living standards are wretched.

The EU rules are very clear that people seeking asylum, which is presumably what these refugees from misery are seeking must apply within the borders of the first EU country in which they land. In this case that is probably France, although some of them will have made their way up through Italy. The British government is pressurising the French government to do more to process their applications in France, as happens with the vast majority.

Some of the migrants appear insistent that they wish to come to the UK, probably because of language similarities or because they have relatives already here. The tabloids will tell us that they want to come to Britain because our benefits are better and we are a soft touch. That is simply not true – the way that the major European nations processes asylum seekers and illegal immigrants is broadly similar.

Some think that immigration is only a problem for Britain. This also is nonsense. In 2010 France had 11% of its population who were born abroad (including plenty of Brits) the vast majority from outside the EU. At our last census (2011) our percentage of non-white British was 13%, but this included many people who were born here (second and third generation) (like Leona Lewis and Theo Walcott) but whose ancestors were from overseas.

Germany is the second largest immigration capital of the world (after the USA) with 19% of their population of non-German origin.

I put myself in the shoes of a person living in (say) Somalia. Somebody offers, for a payment, to get me into a wealthy European country so that I can find work and send money home to keep my kids alive. What would I do?

We are a small island. I believe we have taken too many immigrants in recent years and I support reducing the numbers. But let us never forget that we are talking about fellow human beings and do all we can to encourage improvements in their own countries.

posted by Gary @ 10:41  



Thursday, 11 September 2014


Next week the future of the United Kingdom will be determined by the Scottish referendum. After months of a steady lead for the NO vote, the gap has narrowed and the outcome is too close to call.  A YES vote will be the end of a highly successful 300-year old political union. The impact will be almost as great for the remainder of the United Kingdom as it will be for the Scots.  I hope and pray that sanity will prevail and that the majority will vote to stay in the Union.

Two points strike me very firmly however, based on this experience. The first is that if the Scots stay with us, just giving them more powers (devo-max) is not sufficient to deal with the democratic and constitutional muddle in which we find ourselves. We do not just need a settlement for Scotland, but for the whole of the UK, including England. It is time to debate moving to a more federal structure, with a Parliament for England alongside the structures already in place in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh, no doubt with enhanced powers for each. Over this would sit some kind of Federal government to tackle non-devolved matters including foreign policy and taxation.

Our unwritten constitution has done very well in bringing us to this point, but if more devolution is to be given, more clarity and balance must accompany it, alongside a fairer deal for England.

My second observation relates to the European Union. If after 300 years many Scots still yearn for independence, what chance does the EU have of achieving ever closer political union in the long term? In 100 years or so, historians may well look back on the EU and decide it was a well-intentioned experiment that worked for a while, but policy-makers at the centre went too far in insisting on central control, neutering national sovereignty and in the end the people groups rebelled and broke away, hopefully without violence.

Some EU supporters might point to the success of the USA in becoming one coherent country. But this was different: more a case of virgin states of settlers coming together in very early days of a great adventure, with a shared vision and esprit de corps from the beginning.

Europe is made up of mature sovereign states, all with their own national pride. In the long run they will not be bullied by a foreign power. Just ask the Scots.

posted by Gary @ 09:09  



Thursday, 4 September 2014


Earlier this week the Prime Minister announced new measures to try to tackle the unacceptable threat of young British men leaving our shores to fight for an extreme Islamist state and then returning here to continue their battle against our values.

Parliament legislated last year to strip British citizenship from people of dual nationality if they pose a threat to our country and we intend to use those powers robustly. However, it is illegal under international law to render people stateless, so we cannot take citizenship away from those who are only nationals of this country. It is clearly counter-productive to try to uphold international law and values by breaking international law, and it would be a mistake to trash the core principles that make us a great country just to tackle this immediate problem.

The new menace of jihadists leaving our shores and returning to do harm is not just a challenge for the UK. We seem to have about 500 young extremists so far who have gone, France and Germany each have a similar number.

The Prime Minister announced on Monday that we will seek to introduce a targeted discretionary power to allow us to exclude British nationals from the UK. These proposals must be practical and will probably involve some kind of interment while a person seeking to return is being investigated. I am confident that the majority of my constituents support the toughest measures possible.

Many of us feel strongly that those who have grown up in the UK (or France or Germany) and who have benefitted from the freedoms and opportunities that we have worked so hard to secure and who then seek to undermine or destroy those values should be punished most severely. Young radicals should be free to leave us if they want to set up some kind of medieval Islamic state, but we cannot allow them to come back and start undermining our cherished democratic freedoms.

Where is all of this going to end? We cannot stress often enough that most Muslims are as sick of this lunatic minority as the rest of us. They have been vocal in their condemnation of the conduct of ISIL. It is crucial that we do not tar all British Muslims with the same brush.

At the same time, national security is paramount and we should be ruthless in hunting down, prosecuting and imprisoning all so-called British jihadists. The Wisdom of Solomon is required.

posted by Gary @ 14:29