I was shocked, sickened and angry when I learned of the murder of my colleague Sir David Amess. He had been an MP for a long time but he did not treat us newer intakes with anything but respect, humour and friendship. He certainly had little interest in point-scoring or self-promotion. I’ve learnt a lot from David and I will miss his presence around Parliament. I get the feeling that a lot of us will try and step up our efforts as backbench MPs in memory of him and, along with a resolute determination to maintain easy access for those we serve and represent, this will be a legacy to David that is worthy of the fine man he was.
His murderer has gained nothing unless myself and my colleagues retreat from face-to-face contact with those we work to serve. I have no intention of this. It is not possible to truly capture the beating heart of a constituency without spending as much time as possible out and about listening to concerns and seeing first-hand the challenges and circumstances people face each day. My understanding is that David was killed by someone who had made an appointment to see him. Cancelling drop-in events, public engagements and the routine parts of a job in the community will not stop someone who is intent on causing harm but it will undermine what is largely a free and open democracy.
Following Friday’s awful murder I don’t feel sorry for MPs. I have no reason to feel the risk to us is any greater. I feel for the police who hold the weight of responsibility for keeping everyone safe irrespective of who we are or what job we do. If the outcome of this is for our police to be charged with providing greater support to each MP the Government, Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables must ensure additional resources as I have no intention or desire to take existing resources away from where it is most needed.
I will act as responsibly as possible and, unless I’m told that I can not legally carry on with the drop-in events this autumn, I shall carry on making myself available as planned. Sir David’s death has been marked with tributes and a church service in Parliament - it is the least we can do for someone who did not have a gram of malice or hate in him. I pray God will hold David’s family especially closely as they live with this horrendous weight of loss.
On Thursday we hosted another of our Climate Focus events which have been taking place on Zoom from the start of this year. Given the seismic changes that will impact us all as Government policy drives down our carbon footprint these events are helpful to understand what is in and what is out when it comes to reducing our harmful impact on the planet. Thursday’s event, which provided Cornwall Spaceport and the CEO Melissa Thorpe with the opportunity to set out whether the spaceport hinders or helps our national and international move to net zero, was as thought-provoking as any and my plea to people on all sides of the argument is take a look at the recording before you take your judgment. The link on YouTube is here.
The long-awaited Heat and Buildings Strategy was launched this week. The 201-page document sets out how Government plans to meet the net zero emissions target in relation to our homes and the built environment and, if done properly, has the benefit of helping fuel-poor homes most of all. This is very important to me as our homes in West Cornwall and on Scilly are some of the most leaky of all and are expensive to heat.
To transition away from fossil fuel heating we will need to insulate effectively, increase the size of our radiators and, in many cases, upgrade the power supply to rural homes. Currently most of this expense is recovered over 7 years through the Government’s renewable heat incentive which ends in its current form next March. However, the upfront costs are prohibitive to most households so progress on existing homes is under par.
In my days as a builder all the homes and conversations I did used renewable heating or modern electric heating. To really decarbonise we must apply this to existing homes as well as new homes. The strategy states that 80% of homes heated by fossil fuels in England can accommodate a low heat system such as air-source which is great if we can find a way to ensure it is affordable to low-income households.