In order to save time and resources, for any campaign based correspondence Karen receives she will now be placing a copy of her response on her website, rather than replying to each individual piece of correspondence.

I can assure you the Government is committed to an NHS that is there for everyone who needs it, funded from general taxation and free at the point of use. TTIP will not affect how the NHS decides who is best to provide its services.

Negotiators from the United States and the European Union have confirmed that it will continue to be for EU member states to make decisions about whether and to what extent they involve the private sector in the provision of public services. The EU's chief negotiator on TTIP has stated that EU countries will continue to be free to decide how they run their public health systems. A letter from the EU trade Commissioner, Celia Malstrom, to the former UK Trade Minister, Lord Livingston, confirming this is published here:

Any investment provisions included in TTIP will strike the appropriate balance between protection for UK investors abroad, and ensuring the Government is not prevented from acting in the public interest in areas such as public health and the NHS.

This partnership would be the largest bilateral trade agreement in the world and would bring significant economic benefits in terms of jobs and growth, with the potential to deliver £10 billion to the UK economy each year.

03 AUG 2015

Bees and Neonicotinoid Emergency Authorisation

A decision has recently been made to grant an emergency authorisation for two neonicotinoids to treat oil seed rape crops.

The Expert Committee on Pesticides recommended that an application for these treatments should be approved, covering no more than 5 per cent of the national crop and only on seeds to be sown this summer and autumn.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has applied the EU's precautionary ban on the use of neonicotinoids in full, and makes decisions on pesticides only once the regulators are satisfied they are safe to people and the environment. Based on the evidence, it has followed the advice of the Expert Committee and the Defra Chief Scientist that this limited authorisation should be granted to cover areas where crops are at the greatest risk of damage by pests.

The facility to allow strictly controlled, targeted uses of pesticides under an emergency authorisation is an integral feature of precautionary bans. The Committee had recommended rejecting an earlier application because the proposed use was not targeted closely enough at areas in the greatest need, but concluded that this revised application was sufficiently controlled and limited to warrant approval. The UK's approach stands in contrast to other EU countries such as Denmark, which has issued unrestricted emergency authorisations for the same use of neonicotinoids.

Bees and other pollinators play a vital role in the security of our food supply and the quality of our natural environment. I welcome the work the Government has done over the last few years to understand and protect them, most recently through the National Pollinator Strategy. It will contribute fully to the European Commission review of the evidence about the impact of neonicotinoids.

20 JUL 2015

Illegal Puppy Trafficking

I share your concern about this crime, and am grateful to the Dogs Trust for highlighting the issue recently. Responsibility for stopping illegal movement begins in the country where puppies are born, so the Chief Veterinary Officer has written to the authorities in the countries highlighted in its report to remind them of their duties.

A new EU pet travel regulation in force from 29 December 2014 introduced further measures to strengthen enforcement. A new-style passport will be harder to forge, new rules apply when more than five animals are moved together and all EU countries must carry out compliance checks. A 12-week minimum age for rabies vaccination will assist compliance checking and restrict the movement of very young animals.

There is a robust checking regime for pets travelling here. Every pet travelling with its owner on an approved route is checked for compliance with the travel regime and the UK Border Force carries out a wide range of checks on vehicles arriving in the UK.

It is important to recognise that we cannot expect the Government to defeat this problem by itself. As individuals, we need to take care not to fuel demand for these poor creatures by providing a market for the unscrupulous people who exploit them. Government advice is very clear: people who buy a pet are responsible for knowing where it comes from and, if it is found to have been imported illegally, will be held responsible for any necessary quarantine and veterinary fees.

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17 JUN 2015

Supermarkets throwing away edible food

Like many of my constituents, I am concerned about the issue of the destruction of edible food since it is wrong that anyone should go hungry at the same time as surplus food is going to waste. Preventing food waste is an objective the Government is working on, together with food retailers and the food industry. I am pleased that Parliament had the opportunity to discuss the issue recently in a Westminster Hall debate.

Ministers have backed several rounds of the Courtauld Commitment, a voluntary agreement to limit waste, which 90 per cent of the food manufacturing and retailer sector have signed up to. The process has seen the amount of redistributed surplus food double between 2011 and 2013.

Separately, a voluntary agreement within the hospitality and food services industry was launched in 2012. Over 170 signatories and supporters have signed up to an ambitious set of targets both to reduce the amount of food waste they produce, and to manage it better by recycling and sending food for anaerobic digestion to produce energy.

The Government also continues to work closely with industry to help them forge closer links with redistribution charities across the whole supply chain.

I am convinced the Government is taking all reasonable steps to tackle this problem, but I will continue to watch this issue very closely. I will not, however, be signing EDM 66. I have a policy, alongside many other Members of Parliament, of not signing any EDMs since I believe that they are a very expensive but also ineffective tool, and I feel that there are far more productive and effective ways to raise an issue.

10 JUN 2015

Neonicotinoid Insecticides and Bees

Due to other commitments I'm not able to attend the Friends of the Earth and 38 Degrees event called 'The threat to bees from pesticides' on 17 June. However, I entirely agree with you that bees and other pollinators play a vital role in the security of our food supply and the quality of our natural environment. I welcome the work the Government has done over the last few years to understand and protect them, most recently through the National Pollinator Strategy.

I have been assured that the Government is keeping evidence on neonicotinoids under close, open-minded scrutiny and will restrict their usage if the evidence shows the need. However, like a number of other EU governments it does not consider that the scientific evidence supports the recent Europe-wide restrictions.

Its current assessment suggests that, while we cannot exclude the possibility of neonicotinoids affecting bees in the field, this not normally likely to occur and so the risk to bee populations is low. That is why I take the view that the Commission's response is neither sensible nor proportionate.

The European Commission has given an assurance that further field research can be done, and this is welcome because, as everyone interested in this issue has acknowledged, the evidence is incomplete. The Government is therefore leading further work to clarify this issue, which will form part of the Commission's review of this decision in 2015.

01 JUN 2015

Seal Culling

This issue has attracted considerable attention recently, and I appreciate that a number of my constituents are concerned about it. It is lawful to kill a seal if it is deemed to pose a threat to fishing operations, in accordance with the Conservation of Seals Act 1970. I am not aware of any current plans to change this position.

I would very much prefer to see non-lethal means of controlling seals being developed so that culling will no longer be thought necessary. I understand that such methods are already in use, and a representative of a Scottish aquaculture organisation recently stated that seals are only shot as a last resort. Culling though is sometimes necessary to prevent damage to fishing operations.

I was pleased to see news in January that the seal colony on Blakeney Point in Norfolk has seen record growth in recent years, and is thriving. Apparently there was some concern that the population growth there might lead to calls for a cull, but the National Trust, which controls the property, has confirmed that there would be no need for this to be considered.

Important Message


Stepping down


Redditch has been my home for nearly 20 years and it has been a huge honour to have represented its great people for the past seven.

Sadly due to ill health I have decided not to stand for re-election. There is nothing more important or rewarding than helping people, however I need to be fully fit to be able to undertake the job properly.

I am immensely grateful to all the fantastic people I have met during my time as a Member of Parliament and want to say a huge thank you for all of their support.

Redditch deserves strong and stable leadership. Every vote for Theresa May and your local Conservative, Rachel Maclean, on 8 June will strengthen our hand in negotiations to get the best possible deal for Brexit and beyond, leaving Britain stronger and better off for the future.


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