Steve Double MP speaks out against cross Cornwall-Devon constituency in Parliament

Steve Double, Member of Parliament for St Austell and Newquay has today spoken out against controversial changes to constituency boundaries that could result in a Parliamentary seat split between Cornwall and Devon.

Speaking in the Private Members’ Bill, Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendments), on the concerns of people across Cornwall, Steve said:

“As I know the Minister is aware, this issue provokes strong feelings for many people in Cornwall, myself included….”

“I acknowledge that for many people outside of Cornwall this reaction may make little sense. Many people simply view Cornwall as another English county.”

“But we Cornish pride ourselves in being different, un-English even, unique!”

“So it is not surprising that people who do not share our pride and passion in our county and Cornishness do not appreciate the way we feel.”

“Because the truth is this is a feeling – it is emotional….”

“Like many, I had hoped that the protected Minority Status afforded to the Cornish people would provide a basis for a legal challenge.”

“There was great joy when in 2014 the Cornish we recognised under the Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.”

“This we were told gave us the same recognition as the other Celtic people of the UK. However, it appears that this does not apply when it comes to Parliamentary boundaries. Whilst the boundary commission have recognised and maintained the borders of Scotland and Wales while drawing up the constituencies, the same respect has not been shown to the Cornish border….”

“After years of feeling ignored I have been proud to be a part of a Government that has at last started to deliver what the people of Cornwall need.”

“But that does not take away from a deep sense that this proposal for a cross border seat with Devon is wrong.”

“And no one should under estimate how strongly many people in Cornwall feel about this issue.”

“It is no real surprise that people who do not share the way we feel find it difficult to comprehend how strongly we feel.”

“It somehow stabs at the very core of the way we feel about our county as Cornish men and women. We feel it is challenging our identity.”

“That in-built deep sense of Cornish independence is provoked by the thought of our border being crossed. Even though it is only a line on a map – it symbolises something far deeper in the Cornish psyche.”

“Cornwall is unique so how can we expect others to understand.”

“We accept others will not understand. We accept others will not agree with us. But what we cannot accept is our views not being respected.”

“And so Mr Speaker - the only way to prevent a seat that straddles the Cornish border is to change the legislation….”

Summarising, Steve said:

“So Mr Speaker I find myself in the position of supporting this bill.”

“The measures it contains in amending the existing legislation give the best opportunity for enabling Cornwall to not have to share a seat with Devon.”

“It is something that I personally believe is the right thing for me to do and I also know it is something that many of the residents of St Austell and Newquay, the constituency I represent, will want me to do.”

Steve concluded by asking the MP who had brought forward the Bill Pat Glass, to consider putting an amendment to the Bill, as it proceeds, to make a special case for Cornwall, under the terms Special Minority Status that the Cornish enjoy, to protect the traditional Cornish Parliamentary boundaries.

Commenting after the debate, Steve said:

“I have always said that I am a Cornishman first and a Conservative second. As MP I can use my position to speak up and vote in Parliament where I think I can best affect change. This is one of those occasions when I believe that speaking up for Cornwall is the best thing to do even if it means disagreeing with the Government and so that is what I have done.”

“I will continue to keenly follow this Bill as it progresses and do all I can to support it.”

The full video of Steve’s speech can be found here:

http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/4fe6b85b-ca7f-42fd-a948-648864e95ecb?in=13%3A00%3A47&out=13%3A13%3A00