Parliamentary sketch – Gagged badgers fuel the moving goalposts

Posted on: 25th October 2013

So, the Government won’t be putting anywhere in Cornwall forward for a road fuel rebate this time. Ministers have got this one wrong.

I was pleased to have helped secure the fuel duty rebate for the Isles of Scilly last year. But I still feel the case for extending it to parts of Cornwall remains strong. But the Government is only looking at forecourt prices; not wider rural transport disadvantage.

Ministers should take account of the lack of an affordable public transport alternative to the private car – a competitively priced wrap-around service comparable with urban areas. They also fail to understand that the comparative time, cost and distance involved for those on the mainland travelling to work, college, and basic services, etc, puts most of Cornwall at a significant disadvantage to its urban counterparts.

Rural folk have no choice other than to have a car. High taxes on fuel add to that disadvantage. The taxes they struggle to pay then helps to subsidise public transport in our cities. That’s why I will continue the campaign and present petitions to Parliament in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, I note that badgers are accused of “moving the goalposts” by, presumably, deliberately reducing their population numbers to make it harder for marksmen to shoot them in Somerset and Gloucestershire! With such accusations flying about, a fear that the innocent will be caught in the crossfire!

I did ask Defra Secretary – Owen Patterson – whether badger numbers had also fallen in other areas which the Government monitors. He assured me that they had; something I know not to be true! Is it he or the badgers who are misleading Parliament (and moving goal posts)?

Talking of which, I was pleased to attend a public meeting in Penzance last Friday on the “Lobbying Bill”/”Gagging Law”. This was organised by the campaign group 38 degrees and was well attended by local people opposed to this Government Bill.

I was concerned that 38 degrees had set up a public meeting after I had already agreed with their analysis, voted against the Government but had ignored my neighbouring Tory constituencies where the MPs had voted the legislation through! Curious?

We all agreed that we want to take big money out of politics. I also think most reasonable people think it’s wrong if groups with a party political objective can disguise themselves as non party political but with an aim to use money and influence to target their political opponents or particular candidates without being accountable. That’s what needs to be stopped.

But the Government has got this one wrong. Genuine charities and genuine campaign groups genuinely concerned about promoting and debating real policy rather than targeting political parties and candidates must be free to speak to out.

You can contact Andrew George by email: His constituency office can be contacted at Trewella, 18 Mennaye Road, Penzance, Cornwall, TR18 4NG. Telephone: 01736 360020.

Andrew George MP
Kernow a’n West ha Syllan
West Cornwall and the Scillies
Kwartron Porthia
Constituency of St Ives
Tel: 01736 360020
Fax: 01736 332866

22nd October 2013