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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 October 2016


I greatly enjoyed visiting the sustainable traffic fair at Ivybridge on Saturday. Whether it is my age I am not sure, but I find myself increasingly supportive of these initiatives to promote modes of transport that are sustainable. Obviously, cycling or walking are very good for your health as well as planet-friendly as they do not gobble up finite resources.

Public transport has always been unsatisfactory in our area so it was good to see GWR and Citybus both present to listen to the views of local people. A few years ago Ivybridge train station was rarely used. Now several services a day stop there in both directions. When we get the new trains in 2018, several more trains a day will stop there. If you have never considered travelling from there, especially into Plymouth, it is worth looking at the timetable. I now regularly get off at Ivybridge if I am able to catch the 7.45pm from Paddington, which arrives at 11.10pm at Ivybridge, meaning I can be in bed before midnight.

I sat in the new BMW hybrid electric car – a snip at £104,000. But electric cars are coming and I suspect that many of us will gradually acquire them over the years. Electricity can be created sustainably. Once some bright teenager has discovered how to store electricity more efficiently than now – they will replace existing cars.

Cycling is a mode of transport that is undervalued in our part of the world. During rush hour in London there are literally hundreds of cyclists haring down the cycle lanes on their way to work and back. The key to this is safe joined-up cycle lanes, at which we have been slow to act. It is important to keep our local authorities focussed on these issues. The cycling community have been wonderfully patient.

I saw the new bikes with an electric motor and find myself tempted to acquire one. I need to get fit and cycling seems the best option. It would also enable me to go out with Jan on long rides on her new happy-hacker horse which joined us over the summer, the magnificent but slightly hairy Topsy.

I will never be an eco-warrior but I deeply respect the people who are. They have shifted public opinion in the right direction. Fossil fuels are running out and obesity is becoming a national epidemic. Why not crack two birds with one stone: get on your bike.

posted by Gary @ 09:03  



Thursday, 20 October 2016


The British people have voted to leave the European Union and leave it we shall. Probably in 2019. But the method of leaving is complex and the referendum did not settle this. There will be plenty of Commons debates about these matters ahead. It will dominate our lives like nothing since the original decision to join up in 1972.

Here are my current thoughts

1)    The British people have decided to leave. It was a vote for pain but nonetheless, we must accept that decision. We are just beginning to see the forerunners of that pain – with the low pound meaning that the cost of imported goods has risen and this will add to the weekly shopping bill and inflation. Uncertainty about our future is not helping investment decisions by some companies, so the sooner we provide clarity the better.

2)    The referendum did not decide whether we should remain part of the single market. That will be a matter for the negotiations. The EU has made it clear that if we want to end the free movement of people (immigration) we will not have full access to the single market which has helped many of our firms to grow and prosper. This is the big ticket item.

3)    I am fully persuaded that the final say on whether or not the negotiated deal is acceptable should be made by Parliament and not the government. It is what we are for – to hold the executive to account. If negotiations get under way next spring and the government reports to Parliament, say, in 2018 with the proposed deal and Parliament rejects it, we are up a creek without a paddle. Or even a canoe. Nonetheless, if there is not to be a second referendum on the outcome, it must be for Parliament to have the final say.

4)    The best way forward is for the government to set out a white paper on its negotiating approach and for Parliament to express a view before negotiations start. Some say this would mean showing their hand, but I can see no alternative if we are to avoid the potential disaster set out above.

5)    This issue is more important than party politics and already cross-party alliances are forming. I am consulting the businesses in my constituency about their views on access to the single market and when this is complete I will reach a view and let you know.

posted by Gary @ 09:23  



Thursday, 13 October 2016


Parliament returns this week and I start by chairing the Digital Economy Bill in committee. This will dominate my life for most of October and early November as MPs go through the lengthy bill line by line. Welcome back.

This bill seeks to introduce new laws to regulate the rapidly growing digital economy –which now so dominates our business and private lives. Even my own mother sends me e-mails and "highly amusing" clips from the internet. Thanks mum.

The bill will allow Ofcom, the communications sector's regulator, to financially penalise communications providers for failing to comply with licence commitments. It will also give them legal oversight of the BBC and not before time.

It will – and this is vital for our area – create a legal right to minimum Internet download speeds for consumers. Who would have thought that just a few years ago – access to internet speed a legal right! Accessing fast broadband speeds is bringing much prosperity to our far-flung region – and we must continue until every rural area is covered.

The Bill will also create an age-verification regulator to publish guidelines about how pornographic websites should ensure their users are aged 18 or older. The regulator should also be able to fine those which fail to comply.

This aspect of the Bill is vital. Sadly, addiction to pornography is becoming endemic in 21st century Britain. It is a massive, growing and profitable industry.  When I was a teenager sneaking a look at the magazines on the top shelf was about all we could do, but these days almost every type of pornography is available to all internet users, no matter how young. The safeguards are inadequate.

Every adult has the right to access this stuff and this Bill will not change that, although I would advise people to be on their guard. My help has been sought over the years by several constituents who were in danger of losing everything by accessing explicit images of children, and they all confessed that their attraction started by watching ordinary adult porn. This is a deep cess-pit with steep slides.

It is vital to try to prevent children from getting hooked on porn at an early age. This is not easy when smart phones are now in the pocket of every teenager and it takes about three clicks to be viewing this dangerous material.

The internet is almost impossible to regulate, but we have to try. We are.

posted by Gary @ 10:11  



Thursday, 6 October 2016


"What do you want for your birthday, dad?" I mumbled something about a new Jack Reacher book. My daughter fiddled with her smart phone for a few seconds. "Done. It will arrive on November 7th when released. Happy birthday," and left the room.

The last time I had a meal with my PR son in London at the end of the meal he whipped out his phone and pressed a few buttons. "Just ordering my Uber cab," he explained. Our conversation continued for just a few seconds and then: "Sorry Dad cab's just pulling up outside, thanks, bye."

Smart phones. All part of modern life, especially for those under 40 or older folk who have taken the time to learn these new skills.

There is no doubt about the wondrous new world of opportunity, instant service and adventure that this technology has ushered in. For the large part this is a positive thing and is fast becoming a way of life for the rising generation. Over 30 million Brits are on Facebook.
Social media is invading every aspect of private and public life. Most journalists now discover what decision makers think about a subject because they follow them on twitter.

But like all technology, there are drawbacks. The car – what a brilliant invention, but 2,000 people are killed on our roads every year, not to mention the small matter of pollution.

It is rare now to see a youngish person walk down the street in London who is not looking at their phone, pouring over their twitter feed.

In the lifts and corridors at the House of Commons, every researcher-type is instantly on their phones, scrutinising Facebook pages, catching up with breaking news.  Even in committee rooms and in the chamber, colleagues are viewing their phone and iPad screens constantly.

The problem with all this is that there is no escape. The excellent tool that has been invented is in danger of becoming our master not our servant. The sheer volume and pace of information cascading into our lives is unrelenting. With it comes pressure - to respond, to update, to challenge, to rebut. Stress.  

It was no surprise recently to learn that a rapidly rising percentage of young people are suffering mental health issues. This is doubtless in part due to the slavish adherence to the controlling voice of this plastic monster. 

It cannot be un-invented. But we must learn far better ways to master it.

posted by Gary @ 09:28