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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, 27 November 2014


For the first time since I was first elected 22 years ago, unemployment in this constituency has fallen below 1%.
Only 0.9% of our fellow citizens in Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge who seek work are without it. I recognise that not everyone is in the job of their dreams but it is encouraging nonetheless. We are on the right track.

It got me thinking about other statistics of this amazing constituency. If you are an accountant, you are about to become very excited. If you are not, you may wish to skip onto the car adverts. I am particularly indebted to the banks who compile and send MPs all kinds of interesting information.

32% of my constituents are over 60, and only 20% under 30. We have an ageing population. The cost of an average house here is £229,097, no wonder then that the average age of buying your first house has now risen to 38. Average monthly repayments are £472 with most people paying about 13% of household income on their mortgage. 321 houses were sold here in the past 3 months, which seems to me to reflect a growing property market.

Consumer spending has risen by 4% over the same period last year, suggesting that we are well on the road to recovery. Savings also grew by over 8% for people over 60, while at the same time those under 30 saw their savings reduce by 10%. This possibly reflects the salary freezes or miniscule pay increases that most people in work have had to endure in recent years, while retirement income has been largely protected. 54% of our employees earn more than the national average wage, which when you consider higher London salaries, is very encouraging.

Of our small businesses, 27% are in construction and real estate, only 2% in agriculture, and 22% in retail, which has seen turnover increase on average by 14% on the past 12 months.

This all speaks of an area slowly clawing its way out of the tough times and getting itself back on track, through sheer hard work. I realise that averages hide a multiple of truths and that there are many people suffering still and who have fallen on tough times. I know this because many people come and see me at my advice surgeries to discuss.

Since the bleak days of the 2008 crash we have made progress. Now we have to maintain and build upon it.

posted by Gary @ 14:20  



Thursday, 20 November 2014


Si vis pacem, para bellum. If you want peace, prepare for war!

We all want to live in a world of peace and harmony. Unfortunately the past 5,000 years of history suggests that human nature does not readily permit such an existence, although we continue to strive for it. As the ancient quote advises the best way to seek peace is to ensure that we have the ability to confront those who perpetrate terror.
As is obvious from most news bulletins, the world is just as uncertain and dangerous today as it ever was.

These thoughts were swirling around in my mind during my visit to 42 Commando at Bickleigh Barracks on Friday of last week.  My visit coincided with the 350th anniversary of the Royal Marines. They were established in in 1664 when Charles II was on the throne. They have largely been water borne and spent most of the Napoleonic Wars dressed in scarlet in the rigging of our ships of the line shooting officers on French ships.  From Trafalgar to Afghanistan, an impressive record of excellence.

Now back from Afghanistan (hopefully for good) it was fascinating to learn from the Commanding Officer of 42 Commando how his 3 companies are engaged in numerous activities both at home and abroad. These assignments include ship protection (largely against pirates) and more recently assisting in the efforts to combat Ebola in Sierra Leone. More young marines volunteered for that expedition than they had places for, which sums up the dedication of this elite force.

One of the reasons why our Royal Marines are so competent in battle is the rigorous training they undertake around the clock, in differing climates and terrains. Intensive combat groundwork in the Artic, in the jungle and in desert prepares them for most eventualities. They are taught to think for themselves and respond quickly to changing circumstances in battle.  I very much enjoyed talking to the young marines and listening to their experiences in their numerous roles. They were kind enough to let me have a go on some of the weapons. The tripod mounted machine gun – like a Gatling gun from a western movie – was easily my favourite. (Picture on website).

As an indicator of their fitness and toughness, 40% of all recruits to our Special Forces come from the Royal Marines. Morale was high.

I feel honoured to represent the area in which 42 Commando are based. And very, very proud.

posted by Gary @ 09:32  



Thursday, 13 November 2014


One of the jobs of a constituency MP is to receive incoming communications of concern from and decide what to do about it. This year more than in any year I can remember, we have had a large number of complaints about the noise and problems caused by fireworks. I need your help to decide what to try and do about it.

My resolve was stiffened by an e-mail on Monday from an ex-servicemen who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In a poignant e-mail he explained how unexpected loud bangs can take him right back to the horrors of Afghanistan. I had already received several calls from elderly people who had been disturbed by this years' fireworks added to which were the tales of terrified pets and horses.

It is odd, is it not that in this age where we face a significant threat from terrorists who wish to blow us up, that we still celebrate the deeds of somebody who wanted to blow up our Houses of Parliament. If somebody succeeded in doing this today, would we actually celebrate that fact? (Don't answer that.)

I am not suggesting for a moment that we should ban fireworks or abolish bonfire night, but I wonder if there is an argument for greater regulation. One night of anguish would be better than what we currently have namely, random explosions happening over the course of at least a fortnight. Should we let it go on so long? Should we now restrict our celebrations to official Bonfire parties like the ones we have in all of our communities?  Should we aim to further reduce the decibel levels of some of these extraordinary loud whizz-bangs that sometimes seem to shake to rattle the window frames?

I know from my casework that the number of autistic and Asperger's children in our midst is increasing and two characteristics of these troubled souls is that they hate loud noise and they hate uncertainty. So does my PTSD constituent. Have we reached the stage now where the pleasure experienced by fireworks at large in our communities is outweighed by the pain they inflict on a minority?

I seek wisdom from you. Is this a subject for a campaign for a change in the law, presumably after the next election, if I am returned? Should we restrict the use of fireworks to official, well-publicised events and ban them elsewhere. What do you think?

Please e-mail me at

posted by Gary @ 09:21  



Thursday, 6 November 2014


Parliament still has some way to go to recapture lost trust from the electorate following the 2009 expenses storm.

Our historic system is that the electorate hold us to account at a general election every 5 years. The view has arisen that for serious misdemeanours that period is too long and constituents need the power to remove malfeasant MPs sooner. I agree with that.

In the Queen's Speech the government brought forward a Recall Bill that we have been debating and voting on in recent weeks.

The Bill provides for a recall petition to be triggered if a Member is sentenced to a prison term or is suspended from the House for at least 21 sitting days. If either occurred, the Speaker would give notice to a petition officer, who in turn would give notice to parliamentary electors in the constituency.

A petition would then be open for signing for eight weeks. If at the end of that period at least 10 per cent of eligible electors (about 7,000 people) had signed the petition, the seat would be declared vacant and a by-election would follow. The Member who was recalled could stand in the by-election.

Last week I voted for an amendment (put forward by one of my colleagues) that did away with the first part of the Bill that limits recall to the narrow provisions set out above. If we are going to have recall at all I think voters should be able to trigger a by-election for any reason, including for example, if the MP does not visit the constituency or is very lazy. My predecessor used to come about twice a year and only to upset people! This is far from the most important law I will ever vote on, but if we are going to do it, we may as well do it properly.

The key thing in my approach is to make the threshold high enough to discourage vexatious political trouble-making, but low enough to make it possible to work in severe circumstances. I thought 20% of the electorate (14,000) signing a petition was about the right level. In this model, Parliament would have no prior say, it would simply be down to the electorate.

Sadly, this amendment was voted down and we are stuck with a Bill that does little to solve the problem of trust. I suspect we will return to this issue in the future. Trust has to be earned.

posted by Gary @ 10:41