Many organisations now choose to do their lobbying by generating pre-scripted "click and send" standard e-mails. The amount of emails of this nature has increased significantly in recent years. Due to the large amount of this type of email I receive, I am not able to respond to them individually. However, you can read my response to some of the most popular recent e-mail campaigns below.

Last week, there were a series of votes on alternative ways forward. I decided not to support any of them as I believe the deal already negotiated is the best way forward in delivering the outcome of the referendum and also acknowledges the closeness of that result, while putting the decision on whether to adopt future EU regulation changes in the hands of the UK Parliament (or in some circumstances the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly or Northern Ireland administration),

We will be asked again today to vote on some motions, most of which will be the same as last week. The main reason why I decided to vote remain 3 years ago was because I did not want to end up in a Norway style situation where we will adopt all the rules without a say. It would also require accepting full freedom of movement. That is why I won't support the so called Common Market 2.0 option.

Regarding the Customs Union, this hands over to the EU how we choose to do trade deals with other countries. There are always trade offs during these negotiations. More often than not, for the EU, agriculture and food get the priority over services. The UK economic output (Gross Value Added) is about 80% services.
Furthermore, not only do we have to adopt EU regulations - again without a say on what they are in the future - but it penalises us actually doing fairer trade with poorer countries around the world and we can see that with many fruits and everyday items we take for granted like coffee.

It is a very frustrating situation in Parliament at the moment. Yes, I do think Labour are trying to have it both ways by pretending they respect the referendum as they said they would in their manifesto but it is clear that Jeremy Corbyn wants to destabilise the situation to get another general election. In my own party, there are a small number of people either wanting to stay in the EU or think the deal is too much of a compromise for them.

As for a second referendum, the people supporting it are exclusively those who wanted to remain. I reiterate that ignoring the 2016 referendum would be wrong and would be the greatest insult to democracy that this country has experienced. I have always respected the outcome of the referendum and will continue to do so.

There is no fracking in Suffolk Coastal but where there is, there are regulators who monitor the operations according to what was agreed for the license.

The Energy Minister has made her views clear already on this, as expressed in the standard email that you have sent to me.

Thank you for contacting me about the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill, which will introduce legislation to replace the current system known as 'Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards' (DoLS).

As you may be aware, DoLS is an assessment currently carried out on people who lack the mental capacity to make their own decisions about their care, for example because they are living with dementia. However, the current system is broken and is ultimately failing to provide vulnerable people with the protections they need. More than 48,000 people have been waiting more than a year for an assessment and I agree with my ministerial colleagues that we urgently need to act to tackle this injustice.

That is why the Government has brought forward a new system, known as 'Liberty Protection Safeguards', which will become law through the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill. These reforms will introduce a simpler, streamlined process that is essential to tackling the backlog of vulnerable people waiting for an assessment, but, crucially, robustly upholds the rights of the individual at all stages. Giving more power to the individual, the new Safeguards ensure their thoughts and feelings are taken into account throughout.

As you may be aware, the Bill is currently making its way through Parliament. The Bill builds on the Law Commission's three years of engagement with vulnerable people, carers, local government and providers.

I know there has been some concern over the role of care home managers in this system. Care home managers, as in the current system, will continue to play a role in identifying a need for safeguards, as well as playing a role in flagging when someone has objections to their arrangements. The Minister for Care has made clear that care home managers will never be responsible for authorising arrangements or conducting reviews. This will rightly be the sole duty of responsible bodies such as local authorities or hospitals.

For people with long-term progressive conditions, starting the process from scratch every year can be cumbersome and unnecessary. The Liberty Protection Safeguards model therefore triples the maximum authorisation length from one year to three years, as recommended by the Law Commission. This will only be granted to people who have already received two prior assessments and authorisations and whose circumstances are unlikely to change. Every authorisation will also be supported by a programme of reviews which can take place regularly within an authorisation period to ensure that the care arrangements in place remain appropriate for the individual.

I hope this reassures you that the Government is steadfastly committed to improving this system and ensuring the rights of those affected are robustly protected throughout.

Thank you for contacting me about support for pubs.

I recognise the crucial role that pubs play in the social and economic life of our nation, as well in helping to promote responsible drinking, which is why I am encouraged by the support which the Government has made available to pubs.

Through the Asset of Community Value scheme, communities can list facilities of local importance, including pubs. This means that if a pub owner wishes to sell up, the community has six months to come up with a plan and funding in order to try to save it. There are now around 2,000 pubs across England listed as assets of community value.

I am pleased that the £3.6 million 'More than a Pub: The Community Business Support Programme', launched in 2016, is helping to support communities across England to own their local pub. On top of this, the Government continues to support the work of the Pub is The Hub initiative to help landlords diversify and provide essential services, such as village shops and post offices, in order to improve the sustainability of their pub.

To further support pubs, the Chancellor announced in the Autumn Budget 2018 a freeze on beer, cider, and spirit duties, a decision which I welcome. The Spring Budget 2017 also provided a £1,000 discount on business rates bills in 2017 for pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 – 90% of pubs in England - and I was pleased to see this extended in the Autumn Budget 2017 for a further year, through to March 2019. In addition, a one-third discount to business rates for pubs and bars with a rateable values below £51,000 was introduced in 2018.

Thank you for contacting me about consumer credit and payday lending.

I am committed to ensuring that more households can manage unexpected costs through affordable credit. Tackling the problems caused by high-cost credit requires a comprehensive approach. That is why the Government wants to both encourage the growth of the social lending sector as an alternative to high cost credit like payday loans and ensure that the existing payday lending sector is effectively regulated.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) established, reformed and toughened rules governing payday lending in 2015, which included a holistic cap on the total cost of payday loans, so that no payday loan consumer should have to pay back more than twice what they borrowed. In addition, the FCA is consulting on a further package of regulatory reforms for the high-cost credit market. The Government believes that more can and should be done to build on this progress.

That is why measures were outlined in the recent Budget to make credit even more accessible and help people manage problem debt. The Budget proposed a 'breathing space scheme', which would allow for a 60 day protection period from debt recovery action by creditors. The policy, the finer details of which are currently being considered in a public consultation, is intended to allow people time to work out a path to consistent pay-back of debt.

The Budget also announced the introduction of a pilot scheme for interest free loans. There will first be a feasibility study carried out by the Government in collaboration with banks and debt charities.

Credit Unions are another key pillar of the affordable lending sector; a new pilot prize-linked savings scheme, also announced at Budget, will enable them to build their capital and expand their lending activities.

The Government is cracking down on unlawful lending, or 'loan sharks'. There are around 300,000 people in Britain who are in debt to loan sharks and important steps are being taken to help them. In April 2018, £5.5 million of funding was announced for investigations into illegal lenders and for prosecuting them, as well as assisting the victims.

Thank you for contacting me regarding leaving the European Union and the suggestion for a further referendum.

I understand your strength of feeling on this matter but there has already been a referendum, the UK is leaving the EU next year and there will not be another referendum. When a decision of constitutional significance is made, it is important that democratic processes are followed. That is why Parliament gave the British people the final say on the UK's membership of the EU and why the result must be respected, even if you disagree with it.

The ballot paper presented voters with an unambiguous choice to remain in the EU or to leave. The consequences of either decision were communicated by campaign groups through a variety of print, audio-visual and digital media. The Government also sent a document to every household in the UK on the benefits of staying in the EU.

As in every election, it was up to the electorate to judge the merits of the different arguments and over 17.4 million voters decided to leave the EU. Both main political parties also pledged in their manifestos at the General Election 2017 to respect the EU referendum result and these parties received over 80% of the vote.

MPs from across the political spectrum voted 494 to 122 in favour of invoking Article 50 in 2017. The exit negotiations are now well under way and MPs will vote on the deal.

Thank you for contacting me about road safety.

Every road user has a responsibility to behave safely and with consideration for others as set out in the Highway Code. A cycle safety review is examining ways in which responsible cycling can be better encouraged, alongside other measures to ensure motorists are reliable road users. The Government is clear that whether addressing cyclists or motorists, policymakers need to keep in mind that cyclists are among our most vulnerable road users and that cycling is a mode of transport to be encouraged.

The Highway Code clearly sets out rules for cyclists on equipment, clothing and the use of lanes and crossings. There are currently a range of offences available to deal with cyclists who cause harm to pedestrians or other road users. Sections 28-30 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 include dangerous or careless cycling and cycling while under the influence of drink or drugs, which carries a maximum penalty of £2,500. At the most serious end of the scale, manslaughter or wanton and furious driving can be charged.

Every pedal cycle must have efficient brakes and the Pedal Cycle (Construction and Use) Regulations 1983 stipulate that every pedal cycle on the highway should have two braking systems.

While the UK has some of the safest roads in the world, the Department for Transport (DfT) is always looking at ways to make them safer and that is why the Department for Transport are consulting on the recommendations produced by the cycle safety review. This includes a proposal to introduce new offences of causing death or serious injury while cycling and other changes to some existing cycling offences, further work on guidance on cycling and walking infrastructure and improvements to the Highway Code.

As you may be aware, the Government has already carried out a consultation on driving offences and penalties relating to causing death and serious injury. The Government responded by confirming proposals to increase the maximum penalty for causing death by dangerous driving and for causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs from 14 years to life. It also created a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving. These proposals are still under review by the Ministry of Justice.

It is important that all road users are responsible, including motorists. The Transport Minister, Jesse Norman, recently put forward measures to combat close passing, improve collision investigation and provide £100 million in new investment through the Safer Roads Fund. The DfT also has plans for a £500,000 pilot scheme offering driving instructors training to put cyclists' safety at the forefront of their minds when teaching new drivers.

More broadly, the DfT is working hard to double cycling activity by 2025 and each year reduce the rate of cyclists killed or seriously injured on English roads. That is why the DfT published its first statutory Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy last year. It sets out a number of actions, alongside £1.2 billion of funding that may be invested in cycling and walking in England over the period to 2021. A major programme of technical support to help 44 local authorities in England to develop their Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans has also begun. Furthermore, £7 million of government funding has been made available for new schemes aimed at improving road safety and creating more bike-friendly areas. There have been seven successful Cycle Ambition City bids for this funding.

You can read the Minister's reply to the recent debate, here: 

Thank you for contacting me about the Pensions Dashboard.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will be helping industry deliver a Pensions Dashboard.

The Pensions Dashboard will offer people the opportunity to access their pension information in a clear and simple form, bringing together an individual's savings in a single place online. The Government believes that an industry-led dashboard will harness the best of industry innovation and the DWP will continue to engage with industry on this model. Government will also protect pension savers and personal information by legislating where necessary. This will build on the 'Check your State Pension' online service for the State Pension.

Thank you for contacting me about puppies being smuggled across borders.

I share your concern about this crime. Responsibility for stopping illegal movement begins in the country where puppies are born, so the Chief Veterinary Officer has written to the authorities in highlighted countries to remind them of their duties.

An EU pet travel regulation introduced in 2014 has strengthened enforcement. The new-style passport is harder to forge, new rules apply when more than five animals are moved together and all EU countries must carry out compliance checks. A 12-week minimum age for rabies vaccination assists compliance checking and restricts the movement of very young animals. As the UK withdraws from the EU, there will be further opportunities to re-evaluate the rules.

There is a robust checking regime for pets travelling here. Every pet travelling with its owner on an approved route is checked for compliance with the travel regime and the UK Border Force carries out a wide range of checks on vehicles arriving in the UK.

Some of the Pet Advertising Advisory Group's minimum standards have become mandatory for online sellers as part of a swathe of reforms to the animal licensing system. The reforms make it illegal to sell puppies younger than eight weeks and require anyone breeding and selling three or more litters a year to apply for a formal licence. Anyone trading commercially in pets online must also be properly licensed.

Government advice to prospective owners is very clear: people who buy a pet are responsible for knowing where it comes from and if it is found to have been imported illegally, they will be held responsible for any necessary quarantine and veterinary fees.

Thank you for contacting me about remaining in the European Economic Area (EEA).

The single market is the most important element of the EU and the EEA. I strongly believe that remaining in it would be contrary to the wishes of those who voted to leave the EU in the referendum. The amendment passed in the House of Lords would force the Government to secure UK participation in the EEA. This would mean automatic membership of the single market. Freedom of movement would still apply and it would prevent us from having any more control over the number of people coming to this country. It would also mean continuing to accept all EU rules with little influence over them and no vote on the final legislation. To remain in the EEA would give us a worse deal than we have at the moment.

The Government has been clear throughout the negotiations that it will guarantee workers' rights, consumer protection and environmental protection. The EU (Withdrawal) Bill currently passing through Parliament will ensure that this happens and will transfer all EU law into UK law at the point of the UK's departure. I want us to continue trading with the EU as close partners, allies and friends.

My ministerial colleagues are seeking the best possible deal and I am confident that a mutually beneficial trade agreement will be reached.

Thank you for contacting me about family reunion.

I can assure you I strongly support the principle of family unity, and there is already a comprehensive framework for refugees and their families to be safely reunited in the UK. The present refugee family reunion policy allows immediate family members of those granted protection in the UK to reunite with them here. The family provisions in the immigration rules provide for relatives with protection in the UK to sponsor children when there are serious and compelling circumstances.

The policy is also clear that where an application fails under the rules, the Government will consider whether there are exceptional reasons to grant leave outside the rules. In addition, refugees with family members in the UK may be eligible for resettlement under the Mandate and Gateway Scheme.

The family reunion policy is designed to provide a safe and legal route for close, dependent family members to join their refugee family in the UK. This avoids the need for family members to make dangerous journeys in order to seek protection. I am immensely proud that under the existing family reunion policy, over 24,000 family reunion visas have been granted over the last five years. It is crucial that our efforts are concentrated on ensuring that existing resettlement schemes are used to full effect, and that the current rules work properly and effectively. This way we can help those who need it most.

Thank you for contacting me about the availability of Orkambi (lumacaftor-ivacaftor). I know many families affected by cystic fibrosis have placed a great deal of hope in this drug and believe particular care should be taken to assess its effectiveness.

I am aware that, following a public consultation, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published final guidance in July 2016 which did not recommend Orkambi for the treatment of cystic fibrosis. NICE concluded that, compared to the current standard of care, the benefit Orkambi offered did not justify its considerable cost. However, I understand that dialogue between NHS England and Vertex - Orkambi's manufacturer - remains ongoing.

I recognise that these are very difficult decisions to make. I can assure you that NICE only publishes final guidance on the use of a drug after very careful consideration of the available evidence and after thorough consultation. The Government believes, therefore, that it would not be appropriate for Ministers to interfere in its important work.

I understand that NICE plans to review its guidance on the prescription of Orkambi for cystic fibrosis in 2019. However, I know that NHS England and Vertex are continuing to negotiate over the cost of Orkambi for cystic fibrosis and my ministerial colleagues - though unable to intervene in this process - wish to see Orkambi approved for use at an appropriate cost to the NHS.

You can read the Minister's reply to the recent debate here:

Thank you for contacting me about medical cannabis.

I sympathise deeply with the difficult situation faced by Alfie Dingley and his family. The Policing Minister wants to explore every option and has met with Alfie's family to discuss treatments that may be accessible for him. No decisions have been made and any proposal would need to be led by senior clinicians using sufficient and rigorous evidence.

Cannabis, in its raw form, is not recognised in the UK as having any medicinal benefits. It is therefore listed as a schedule 1 drug under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001. This means that it is unlawful to produce, supply or possess raw cannabis unless it is for the purposes of research. Products must be thoroughly tested in the UK to provide the necessary assurances of their efficacy, quality and safety.

There is a clear regime in place that is administered by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to enable medicines, including those containing controlled drugs such as cannabis, to be developed, licensed and made available for medicinal use to patients in the UK, as happened in the case of Sativex. The Home Office will consider issuing a licence to enable trials of any new medicine under Schedule 1 to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001, providing that it complies with appropriate ethical approvals. Cannabis-based products should be treated in the same way as all other drugs, meaning that they should go through the normal testing procedures applied to any other medicines.

The Government continues to monitor the World Health Organisation's expert committee on drug dependence, which has committed to reviewing the use of medicinal cannabis. It will wait until the outcome of the review before considering any next steps.

Thank you for contacting me about executive pay.

The Government has announced its plans on corporate governance reform following a thorough consultation process. A key focus of these reforms will be to increase transparency around executive pay and shareholder control over it.

Previous reforms introduced by the Government in 2013 have gone some way to strengthening and increasing transparency in the UK executive pay framework, in particular the requirement to gain shareholder approval for executive pay policies every three years and the need to disclose the pay of each director as a single figure. However, I appreciate that executive pay has continued to be a key factor in public dissatisfaction with large businesses and a source of frustration to UK investors.

That is why action is being taken which will address concerns that a minority of companies are not responding adequately when they encounter significant shareholder opposition to executive pay proposals. Under new measures the Investment Association will name listed companies on a public register if 20% or more of their shareholders oppose proposals for executive pay package.

In addition, the Government will require listed companies to reveal the ratio between CEO pay and the average pay of their UK workforce. At the same time, remuneration committees will be required to engage with employees to explain how pay at the top relates to wider company pay policy. The Financial Reporting Council has also been asked to revise the UK Corporate Governance Code to extend the recommended minimum vesting and post-vesting holding period for executive share awards from three to five years to encourage companies to focus on longer-term outcomes in setting pay.

As the consultation findings highlight, the reforms introduced in 2013 already give shareholders sufficient power and oversight over executive pay and average executive pay increases have been broadly in line with inflation since then. The Government considers that further new powers in this area are unnecessary, given that only a relatively small number of companies have experienced significant shareholder dissent on pay in recent years.

Thank you for contacting me about the EU (Withdrawal) Bill and the economic assessment of leaving the EU.

The Prime Minister has been clear that she wishes to minimise disruption to businesses and individuals as the UK leaves the EU. That is why the EU (Withdrawal) Bill is being introduced and why I support it. This bill will transfer EU law, including case law of the European Court of Justice, into UK law at the point of the UK's departure from the EU. This will make sure that the UK has a functioning statute book when it leaves the EU, providing the maximum amount of certainty, control and continuity.

A future partnership between the UK and the EU is in the interests of both sides. As the Prime Minister has explained, a good deal for Britain and a good deal for Europe are neither competing alternatives nor mutually exclusive. I fully expect a deal to be negotiated. Regarding the reports, there is no benefit to our negotiations of publishing any internal economic assessment.

That said, a responsible government should, of course, prepare for all eventualities and this is exactly what I and my ministerial colleagues are doing. This includes the unlikely scenario where no agreement can be reached.

Thank you for contacting me about taxation of the beer and pubs sector. Pubs play a crucial role in the social and economic life of our nation. The British Beer and Pub Association estimate that each pub contributes £80,000 each year to its local economy. That the pub sector is being supported in a range of ways by Government.

Through the Asset of Community Value scheme, communities can list facilities of local importance, such as pubs. This means that if a pub owner wishes to sell, the community has six months to come up with a plan and funding in order to try to save it. I am glad that there are now around 2,000 pubs across England listed as assets of community value.

Many pubs have also benefited from the Government's package on business rates for small businesses. The Spring Budget also provided a £1,000 discount on business rates bills in 2017 for pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 – 90% of pubs in England.

Tax on beer will only increase by RPI inflation this year, in line with previous forecasts. This follows the removal of the beer duty escalator in 2013 and the unprecedented freeze in beer duty.

There is also greater flexibility on weights and measures, allowing beer and wine to be sold in different sizes. It easier now for pubs to play live music and £350,000 has been provided for the Pub is The Hub initiative and the Plunkett Foundation to help landlords diversify and provide essential services such as village shops and post offices.

You can read the Minister's reply to the recent debate here:

Thank you for contacting me about factory farming.

I understand the strength of feeling about the issue and I am committed to the highest standards of animal welfare, including on farms. The UK's strong commitment in this area is reflected in World Animal Protection's recent Animal Protection Index, which judged 50 countries on their policy and legislation for animals and saw the UK ranked joint top alongside New Zealand, Austria and Switzerland.

Recent changes to legislation regulating the quality of cages for hens shows this protection in action. The Government has announced plans to make CCTV mandatory in slaughterhouses. However, under European Union single market rules, it is illegal to ban the export of animals to other EU countries; there are laws to protect the welfare of live animals during transport. You are right to highlight that as the UK withdraws from the EU, there are great opportunities to re-evaluate existing structures.

Legislation already provides scope for producers to label their products voluntarily and several assurance schemes are also in place. Consumers who have a preference for a particular farming method can therefore readily find meat products labelled with information to inform their choice. If in doubt, I suggest people use their local butcher.

Ministers are fully committed to ensuring that antibiotics are used responsibly. In September 2016 further plans were announced to tackle the issue, including a commitment to reduce antibiotic use in animals significantly. Long term, sector-specific reduction targets are being set that will bring sustainable change across the agricultural industry, from farm to fork.

Thank you for contacting me about breast cancer.

It is important that every effort is made to continue raising awareness of breast cancer and tackle this disease, which has taken so many lives over the years.

In 2015, Public Health England launched Be Clear on Cancer, a national scheme which, has significantly improved awareness of breast cancer in women over 70, who account for roughly 1 in 3 cases of breast cancer. Breast cancer survival rates have improved remarkably over the last 40 years and this is testament to the efforts made to raise awareness of and boost funding into tackling this disease.

I know that ministers are making great efforts to improve cancer services and ensure that the NHS provides some of the world's best cancer care. The NHS has launched the National Cancer Programme which is committed to offering uniquely tailored cancer treatment to all patients with breast cancer by 2020.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is updating its guidelines on the diagnosis and management of breast cancer. These guidelines will cover the use of adjuvant bisphosphonates and other cancer drugs, and will be published in July 2018.

Mandatory mammograms play a key part in the early diagnosis of breast cancer, which is central to the Government's ambition of achieving world-class cancer outcomes. The breast cancer screening programme is currently offered to all women between the ages of 50 and 70. The NHS is trialling expanding compulsory screening to women aged between 47 and 73. This trial began in 2009 and is expected to run until the mid-2020s, until the NHS has sufficient information to understand its effectiveness. I believe it is appropriate that the NHS is looking at expanding the screening process, whilst ensuring resources are allocated carefully and directed towards those women most likely to be at risk of contracting breast cancer.

The NHS is implementing the independent Cancer Taskforce's recommendation that all breast cancer patients shall receive access to a Clinical Nurse Specialist, or other key workers. This will enable greater detection of any recurrence or secondary breast cancer and enable a quick and effective return to care.

These developments will significantly improve patient experience and quality of care. This is part of the NHS's ambitious wider strategy to improve cancer outcomes and save 30,000 lives per year by 2020.

Parliament has taken another step in the journey of leaving the EU with the European Union Withdrawal Bill passing to the next stage to receive full scrutiny. The legislation is designed to transfer all EU law into UK law – ensuring a smooth transition with legal certainty for businesses, consumers and investors.

Much EU law is already incorporated. These are the laws that stem from what is called an EU directive, which we tailor according to our legal system. Some of this may need to be tweaked as, for example, we will no longer have a European regulator for something but will have a UK or England only regulator and we need to change the name within our law. There is another type of EU law called regulations, which apply automatically in exactly the same way everywhere. All of these need to be brought into law before we leave in March 2019.

Some constituents contacted me asking me to vote against the Bill and the timetable motion, further delaying the Brexit process. I believe eight days on the floor of the House is sufficient to consider this straightforward Bill which is absolutely crucial to provide the continuity Britain needs to function and make a success of Brexit.

The Withdrawal Bill delivers what the British people voted for – control over our own laws after we leave, outside the control of the European Court of Justice.

Thank you for contacting me about environmental standards for after we leave the EU.

I am the Environment Minister and I am proud of our Conservative Government's ambition to make this the first generation that leaves the environment in a better state than we found it, as set out in our 2015 and 2017 manifestos.

The EU Withdrawal Bill will give the government powers to put into our laws any current EU legislation which isn't already in our law. The government is pulling together its 25 year environment plan which will provide a blueprint for taking forward improvements in our environment, including that of rivers.

I agree that our rivers are a vital part of our natural heritage. I share your concern about river pollution from sewage, but I am glad to say that action is being taken to prevent it.

Since privatisation, around £9 billion has been invested reduce pollution from sewage treatment. In England, between 2015 and 2020, water companies are investing over £3 billion to improve their sewerage infrastructure. When things have gone wrong, our regulator Ofwat has taken action, evidenced by the recent fine of over £20 million levied against Thames Water in March in response to six cases of avoidable sewage pollution, following an Environment Agency investigation.

The Environment Agency is also responsible for issuing licenses for water abstraction. In making these decisions the Agency is guided by regional river basin management plans, which set out how all interested parties work together to improve the water environment of the area. Collectively they set out how at least 680 waters will improve by 2022, benefitting from around £3 billion of investment.

Given our longstanding record on enhancing the environment, I am pleased to be in a role that continues to champion stewardship of our precious natural resources and habitats.

Thank you for contacting me about Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Kamal Foroughi.

I can assure you that Ministers and officials continue to make representations on all consular cases involving British nationals in Iran, including Mr Foroughi's and Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's, at all levels with the Iranian Government.

On 17 February the Foreign Secretary discussed Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case with the Iranian Foreign Minister and I am pleased that her family have confirmed she has legal representation. However, the fact that Iran does not recognise dual nationality makes progress difficult. Most recently, the new Minister for the Middle East raised Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case in a telephone call with the Iranian Foreign Minister on 21 June.

I very much share your concern for Mr Foroughi. It is vitally important that we continue to uphold the human rights of all the citizens in Iran with our international partners. Please be assured that I will continue to follow both of these cases closely.

Thank you for contacting me about the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, the worst fire tragedy since the King's Cross fire in 1987. The response of residents themselves and those people who have provided help, compassion and support has once again shown the fantastic spirit of London and the best of Britain. I also pay tribute to the firefighters and paramedics who responded selflessly.

I completely understand the shock, concern, anger and frustration that exists as a result of this. The Prime Minister has ordered a full, judge-led public inquiry and a criminal investigation has also been established.

I understand that there has been considerable concern about the response of the local council. It is a long-standing convention that councils have to ask for help from other councils or the government when handling situations like this and it took three days for that to be triggered. The Grenfell Tower Recovery task force was set up in the aftermath of the tragedy to ensure a coordinated response. It is chaired by the Prime Minister and includes representation from a number of government departments. The government is working with the local authority to ensure that people who lost their homes in the disaster are rehoused in the local area at the earliest opportunity. The government is also working with local authorities, housing associations, fire and rescue services and fire safety experts to ensure that all similar buildings are checked and that residents are assured of this.

A new £5 million Grenfell Tower Residents' Discretionary Fund has also been made immediately available to help those who had to flee their homes. Every household whose home has been destroyed will receive a guaranteed £5,500 minimum down payment from the fund. This money could be used to cover loss of possessions, funerals and emergency supplies.

Investigations into other tower blocks is underway and many problems identified. In Camden, similar cladding was used in 2005 but considerably greater fire concerns have been raised and residents evacuated. This will take some time to get right but I can assure you that the Government is working with councils to address this issue.

Thank you for contacting me about sentencing for offences of animal cruelty.

I am pleased that we have a robust legal framework to tackle this vicious behaviour in the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal.

The courts must decide what the penalty should be for each individual case, taking into account its circumstances and the guidelines laid down by the Sentencing Council. Currently, in addition to the maximum penalty of six months' imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine, the courts can also disqualify offenders from keeping animals for as long as they consider appropriate.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is in regular contact with the Ministry of Justice in relation to sentencing policy for animal welfare offences, but I would note that current sentencing practice does not suggest that the courts are finding current sentencing powers inadequate.

Thank you for contacting me about ancient woodland.

Ancient woodland is a precious habitat and the National Planning Policy Framework already contains protections for it. It states that planning permission should be refused for development that would result in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats, including ancient woodland and aged or veteran trees elsewhere. This can only be overridden if the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location clearly outweigh the loss.

The recent Housing White Paper went further, announcing a proposal to clarify planning policy on ancient woodland and aged or veteran trees, upgrading their protection to the same level as the green belt. I have been assured that Ministers will consider everyone's views and develop this further.

As the Environment Minister, I am pleased that we are protecting and enhancing our woodland habitats. We continue to plant millions of trees such that England's woodland cover is at its greatest since the fourteenth century.

Thank you for contacting me about 21st Century Fox's proposed purchase of Sky.

Under the powers set out in the Enterprise Act 2002, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has a quasi-judicial role that allows her to intervene on the basis of specified media public interest considerations. These considerations refer to the need for there to be a sufficient plurality of media ownership, for the availability of a wide range of high-quality broadcasting and for those with control of media enterprises to have a genuine commitment to broadcasting standards objectives.

On 16 March 2017, the Secretary of State issued a European Intervention Notice on the grounds of media plurality and commitment to broadcasting standards. This decision was made after hearing representations from Sky, 21st Century Fox and many other third parties.

This decision will now trigger action by Ofcom to assess and report on the public interest grounds specified and for the Competition and Markets Authority to report on jurisdiction. They each have 40 working days to prepare and provide these reports, which means they will be sent to the Secretary of State by Tuesday 16 May. At that point, the Secretary of State will resume her decision-making role.

The question of whether someone is fit and proper to hold a broadcasting licence is a different consideration to those outlined in the Enterprise Act 2002 and sits with Ofcom. Ofcom had previously announced that it would conduct its fit and proper assessment at the same time it would consider any public interest test, meaning following the intervention decision, Ofcom will conduct its assessment within the 40 working days it has to report on the specified public interests.

Thank you for contacting me about neonicotinoid insecticides and bees.

Bees and other pollinators play a vital role in the security of our food supply and the quality of our environment. I welcome the work the Government has done over the last few years to protect them, most recently through its National Pollinator Strategy.

While we remain in the EU the UK will continue to meet its obligations under EU law, including restrictions on neonicotinoids. As part of the preparation for exiting the EU, Ministers are considering future arrangements for pesticides. Our highest priority will continue to be the protection of people and the environment and, taking the advice of the independent Expert Committee on Pesticides, they will base these decisions on a careful scientific assessment of the risks.

Thank you for contacting me about child refugees and the Dubs amendment.

The Government is undertaking the largest ever humanitarian response to the Syrian conflict. That involves welcoming 20,000 vulnerable Syrian nationals directly from the region in this Parliament and we have also pledged to resettle up to 3,000 vulnerable children and their family members from the Middle East and North Africa. Asylum or protection has already been given to over 10,000 Syrians since 2011. In the first nine months of 2016, more than 8,000 children were given refuge or remain to leave. According to EU figures, in 2016 the UK resettled the highest number of refugees than any other EU country. In addition, the UK is the second largest donor with £2.3 billion committed to the area which is supporting affected people with food, shelter, medical care and education.

Regarding unaccompanied children in Calais and Europe, after working with local councils it has been established that 350 can be appropriately accommodated on top of the approximately 4,500 unaccompanied children already in local authority care. 200 have already arrived and another 150 will be welcomed. We do not want to help the traffickers by encouraging people to make perilous journeys, a view we share with France.

To suggest that the UK is not helping with this crisis is far from the truth as the above has demonstrated.

I have had a number of emails asking me to vote against the Article 50 Bill.

I voted for the referendum so the people of the UK could decide this pivotal issue.

I shared my views and I campaigned in the referendum.

The vote was to leave and as a democrat, I will be voting for the Bill which enables the UK to leave the EU.

Update: Amendments.

I will not be voting for amendments as all these seek to restrict the ability of the Prime Minister to trigger Article 50 and negotiate the best deal for the UK.

Thank you for contacting me about plastic microbeads.

I understand your concerns about the impact these ingredients can have on the marine environment and fish which is why the Government has announced plans to ban them from rinse-off cosmetic products.

The Government has launched a consultation on proposals to ban the sale and manufacture of cosmetics and personal care products containing harmful microbeads. It will also gather evidence on the environmental impacts of microbeads found elsewhere, such as in household and industrial cleaning products and consider what more can be done in future to tackle other plastics, such as microfibers, that also enter the marine environment.

Clearly there is an international dimension to this issue so I am pleased to say that the UK, along with several of our neighbours, is party to an international organisation known as the Oslo and Paris Convention for the Protection of the North East Atlantic. In 2014 its members agreed a regional action plan to address marine litter, one of its most important objectives. The plan includes international action on microplastics.

I understand that manufacturers are exploring natural alternatives to plastic microbeads, including nut shells, salt and sugar. These have the same exfoliating properties but do not threaten the environment, so the products containing them should perform just as well.

Thank you for contacting me about the Istanbul Convention.

This Government remains committed to tackling violence against women and girls and to ratifying the Istanbul Convention. As you will be aware, the previous Government signed the Convention in June 2012 and in most respects, the measures already in place in the UK to protect women and girls from violence comply with or go further than the Convention requires.

It is the case that further amendments to domestic law, to take extra-territorial jurisdiction over a range of offences, are necessary before the Convention can be ratified. I have been assured that the Government will seek to legislate when the approach to implementing the extra-territorial jurisdiction requirements in England and Wales is agreed and Parliamentary time allows.

Let me be clear that the UK continues to lead efforts at home and abroad to tackle violence against women and girls, end Female Genital Mutilation and combat early and forced marriage.

I was glad to be in attendance to vote for the Bill. The Government has made clear that it has carefully considered the Bill and supports its key principles, which place a duty on the Government to take all reasonable steps to enable us to become compliant with the convention and require the Government to lay before Parliament a report setting out the steps to be taken to enable it to ratify the convention. I should make clear that there are areas which the Government has said it will consider more fully in consultation with the devolved Administrations and return to at the later stages of the Bill.

Thank you for contacting me about future NHS funding.

The Government is committed to a tax-funded NHS, free at the point of use, wherever and whenever you need it. 

Despite tight public finances, the Government has actively supported the NHS' own plan for the future. That is why it is providing the additional £10 billion of investment per annum in real terms by 2020/21 - compared to 2014/15. The Government is investing nearly £4 billion of that just this year which, as the Chief Executive of NHS England has said, will 'kick-start' the transformation of provision. It will also ensure that by 2020, everyone will be able to access GP services at evenings and weekends.

On top of this, to secure the best value for taxpayers, the Government has introduced tough new financial controls to cut down on waste in the NHS, including introducing caps for agency staff and management consultants and introducing central procurement rules.

I know that the Government recognises the current pressures facing social care in local areas. That is why the Government is giving local authorities additional funding and flexibility so that they will have access of up to an additional £3.5 billion by 2020, providing a real terms increase in funding by the end of this Parliament.

In addition, the Government has taken steps in the recent Local Government Settlement to help in the shorter-term, making available almost £900 million of additional social care funding over the next two years. Money alone will not fix the problem and the Government is clear that far-reaching reform is needed to find a long-term sustainable solution which helps local authorities learn from each other to raise standards across the whole system.

You can read the Minister's response to the recent debate, here:

Thank you for contacting me about the Green Investment Bank (GIB) which was established by the Government to support green infrastructure and it has proven to be a pioneering venture into sustainable investment, committing £2.6 billion of capital to 79 green infrastructure projects across the UK since its launch.

The Independent Chair of the Bank, Lord Smith, has stated that attracting new investors is vital if the GIB is to fund its ambitious plans to double the size of its business, expand into new parts of the green economy and deliver more environmental benefits. Indeed, the Government has always been clear that the GIB was designed with a view to a possible transfer to the private sector. The company was designed to leverage the maximum amount of private capital into green sectors for the minimum amount of public money. Moving the company into private ownership is a natural development that further delivers this aim.

A two stage auction process was formally launched in March 2016 and while the detail of the sale process is commercially confidential, the Government has no interest in selling to an asset stripper. Potential investors have been asked to confirm their commitment to GIB's green values and investment principles and how they propose to protect them, as part of their bids for the company. In addition, the Government has approved the creation of a special share, held by independent trustees, to protect GIB's green purposes in the future.

Regarding the trade of ivory, I refer you to my contribution in the debate on February 6th.

Thank you for contacting me about the proposed takeover of Punch Taverns PLC by Heineken.

This is a commercial matter on which the shareholders of Punch will decide and then it will be subject to regulatory approval with appropriate scrutiny from the competition authorities. It would be useful to understand what evidence or reasoning you have regarding the role of micro-breweries and the existing operations of Punch Taverns. It would also be useful to understand how you think the craft brew culture is generating jobs and preserving a connection to our communities, here in Suffolk Coastal.

More broadly, I am a firm supporter of pubs here in the constituency and know they play an important role in communities across the UK. I am proud of the action taken to back pubs, including three cuts in beer duty and have no doubt of the Government's support for the British pub.

Thank you for contacting me about police animals.

Police support animals make a valuable contribution in the detection and prevention of crime and in maintaining public safety. Attacks of any sort on police dogs or horses are unacceptable and can be dealt with severely under the criminal law.

Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 an attack on a police dog or other police support animal can be treated as causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and the maximum penalty is 6 months' imprisonment, an unlimited fine, or both. The financial element of the penalty was raised in 2015 to unlimited from a maximum fine of £20,000. Similarly an attack on a police animal could be considered by the court as an aggravating factor leading to a higher sentence. Under some circumstances assaults on support animals could be treated as criminal damage which would allow for penalties of up to 10 years' imprisonment.

The Government has also requested that the Sentencing Council considers assaults on police animals as an aggravating factor as a part of their current review on guidelines for sentencing in the Magistrates' Courts, which includes animal cruelty offences.

Thank you for contacting me about the auctioning of spectrum.

Ofcom is the regulator of the UK mobile market with statutory duties, including the promotion of competition and efficient use of spectrum.

Ofcom recently launched a consultation on the upcoming spectrum auction. The auction consists of 2.3 GHz spectrum, which is already useable for better 4G services and 3.4 GHz spectrum which is unlikely to be useable for at least two to three years, but could help unlock a new wave of future services such as 5G.

I understand that Ofcom has introduced a cap that prevents any one company holding more than 45% of spectrum that can be used immediately after the auction, which it justifies as by the time 3.4 GHz spectrum is usable, other bands will become available and there is therefore no immediate necessity for action on competition grounds in respect of this spectrum.

Ofcom has been clear that its intervention has been minimal as it does not want to distort the auction by giving the smaller operators a price break through the weakening of competition. Furthermore, there are concerns it would provide a perverse incentive for smaller operators to under-bid in this and future auctions if they always expected intervention in their favour on grounds of lacking spectrum.

Thank you for contacting me about the audio-visual announcements on buses.

I do understand the benefits that these can bring to bus passengers and Ministers have encouraged bus operators and local authorities to invest in audio-visual announcement systems for their buses where possible. Previously, however, the systems to provide such information have been expensive to fit and maintain, so Ministers have supported projects to design innovative and low-cost approaches to providing accessible on-board information.

This Bill, currently progressing through the House of Lords, would allow 'enhanced partnership schemes' between local authorities and bus operators to require all buses within a local area to provide audible and visual next stop information. Authorities using the new bus franchising powers will also be able to place similar requirements on affected operators.

You may be interested to know that a Government amendment, which will allow the Secretary of State to require service operators to make such information available to passengers, is now also part of the Bill as Clause 17.

I know that the Government also intends to publish an Accessibility Action Plan for consultation by the end of the year, which will present its ambition for further progress on this agenda.


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