The Government is leading the way in a number of areas of animal welfare such has developing a ban on live animal exports, puppy smuggling, keeping of primates and livestock worrying. Another such initiative is the ban on ivory imports. In 2018 the Government banned the sale of elephant ivory, after holding a consultation in which 80% of respondents supported the proposal. Now the Environment Department is holding a consultation on whether the sale of ivory from other animals - hippopotamuses, narwhals and walruses - should be banned. Take part by going to https://consult.defra.gov.uk/communications/extending-the-ivory-act-to-other-species/
This takes me nicely to the current and very important celebrity on Scilly, Wally the Walrus, whom I saw on his pontoon on Tuesday. This young animal is enjoying the best of the fish the waters around Scilly have to offer and, in return, providing a great subject for conversation and interest on Scilly. My reason for the visit to Scilly was to meet with Prince Charles and introduce His Royal Highness to members of the Local Transport Board and our plans to deliver a new set of vessels to serve the passenger and freight demand alongside improvements to the harbour and other infrastructure.
The plan, submitted to Government, will cut the carbon footprint of the sea-going link and significantly improve the service including providing step-free access for passengers from start to finish. I also had the opportunity to visit the school and enjoy the eco exhibition meeting both pupils and staff. Living on a tiny island makes the need to care for the natural environment a very real thing whether it is protecting biodiversity, reducing waste or harnessing natural energy. The visit included an update on housing plans which I have been closely engaged in from the outset of my work as the MP.
Attracting the workforce needed and ensuring residents can stay and make a life for themselves is only achieved if adequate and suitable housing is available. On Scilly the challenge is far greater than on the mainland and we are all too aware how acute the situation is here. It seems progress is being made on Scilly although people will be more reassured when the construction starts.
Increasingly the NHS App is becoming a subject of contention especially after 500,000 people were advised to self-isolate in a day earlier this month. The app works, using Bluetooth technology and a special algorithm that determines when your phone has been within 2 meters for 15 minutes or more of someone who has tested positive to the virus. It is obviously a smart way to manage the spread of the virus which is important. However, when full schools close (as has been the case in West Cornwall), business can’t function or critical services are compromised, the question has to be asked about how long this technology is needed now that the vaccine has been successfully deployed and we are learning to live with coronavirus. I hope the Government continually monitors the situation and is prepared to change their position when necessary.