Statement in Parliament 14/10/2015

I listened intently to the shadow Secretary of State’s response to the Secretary of State. He suggested that the devolution agreements so far had been imposed on local communities by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I can only speak from our experience in Cornwall, which is of a rural area that has advanced a significant way into the nuts and bolts of the detail of a deal. We are way beyond aspiration. I believe that there will be a Cornwall deal.

I assure the House that that deal comes in response to the long-standing desire of the Cornish people for a greater say in key decisions and greater control over the delivery of public services such as transport, health and economic regeneration. Cornwall Council, health leaders and the six MPs have been intensely involved in the development of the Cornwall deal with the Secretary of State, not the Chancellor, and it does the good people of Cornwall and all those who have worked so hard to get where we are today a disservice to suggest that it has been imposed from the top down by the Treasury.

As a Cornwall MP, I have good reason to welcome the Bill. Our keenest challenges in Cornwall and on the Isles of Scilly are addressing the wage gap with the rest of the UK and bringing meaningful integration between health and social care. Cornwall should no longer accept its low-wage economy. Our low wages harm people’s ability to access the housing they need, encourage an exodus of young people as they seek well-paid jobs elsewhere, reduce the money that people have to spend in our town centres and hamper efforts to provide well-resourced community facilities and services.

What the Bill allows and the Cornwall deal achieves is a greater resolve than ever before to tackle the well-documented deprivation in Cornwall. They provide the tools to address low wages by giving local elected representatives and business leaders the necessary powers, tools and resources to create the skills and jobs we need. In Cornwall and on Scilly, we welcome that and relish the opportunity to use the expertise and goodwill that exists locally to sort out the problem of our low-wage economy.

More than ever, we need the meaningful integration of health and social care in Cornwall and on the Isles of Scilly. The current scene is confusing and wasteful, and patients are not getting the care and support that they need and deserve, and that could be available to them. The Cornwall deal brings all those who are concerned around the table. Already, work is being done to understand how services can be integrated, patient care improved and resources concentrated where they are needed most. The deal builds on pioneering work that is already taking place to integrate health and social care, particularly by the Penwith pioneer project in my west Cornwall constituency. It is my belief that the Bill will increase the pace of the development of integrated services.

Finally, Cornwall Council has led the way over recent years in devolving responsibilities to town and parish councils. The problem is that there seems to be a habit of devolving responsibilities with no funds attached. There is an appetite among town and parish councils to take on services so that they can be delivered closer to home. I would welcome it if the Government took the lead, through the Bill, in enabling local councils to cluster together, if they choose to do so, to take on services and receive the funding that they need to deliver them for the people they serve.