Many priorities require Government attention and reform. One such subject is taxation. Our tax system is one of the more complicated in the world. The real problem is that who pays what, when and why is not transparent. Subsequently administering taxes is costly and clumsy to say the least. Our tax system must be fair and raise the cash needed to fund public services. One tax I'm campaigning against is the business rate charge. For example a St Ives town-centre business can face a huge business rate charge because of the size and location of the building it occupies whilst an online company or out-of-town store enjoys reduced rates but can directly compete by offering home deliveries to residents and holiday-makers. This was evident at the meeting I hosted in St Ives on Friday between the Valuation Office Agency and business owners who have seen dramatic increases in their business rate charge. This Government has sought to address this problem with small business rate reliefs and rebates etc but it's clear that the charge needs to be scrapped in place of something that responds to the modern challenges faced by town centre businesses. In the meantime I will continue to challenge the Valuation Office Agency's figures on behalf of local businesses who have seen their rates increase.
I was pleased to welcome Philip Dunne, the Health Minister, to West Cornwall Hospital. The hospital is a place where staff, local GPs and other health workers are combining to put together new models of health and social care and it is a hospital that enjoys incredible support from our community. Philip met with a number of staff and toured the hospital which recently received £2 million of investment for a CT scanner and digital X-ray equipment. I know Philip personally as he and I have discussed efforts made by GPs and others to integrate services in West Cornwall. I want to be clear, West Cornwall Hospital has an important role as an urgent care hospital and there are many of us who continue to work together to ensure people can get the best care possible as close to home as possible.