Newspaper columns

I write a weekly column for The Mail and a four-weekly column for The Whitehaven News. Please see below an archive of my columns.

The Mail - January 18, 2022

It was excellent news for our nuclear ambitions last week when the Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill was passed by the House of Commons.

This Bill will facilitate investment in new nuclear using the Regulated Asset Base (RAB) model, in which consumers will contribute to the cost of new nuclear power projects during the construction phase. This will encourage a greater diversity of private investment and, ultimately, lower the cost of financing new nuclear and reducing the cost to consumers.

Ensuring we reach net-zero by 2050 is the greatest challenge we face as a country today. To reach net-zero, we will require 10 times more clean energy than we have today, and nuclear is uniquely placed to deliver this as our only source of reliable, low-carbon power.

The biggest hurdle to new, large-scale reactors in recent years has been concern over financing. Therefore, this new means of financing large-scale nuclear projects has my full support. It is tried and tested and will bring down the capital costs while protecting consumer and taxpayers by attracting new private investment.

This is the just the latest in a series of positive developments for our nuclear ambitions; more specifically Copeland’s nuclear ambitions.

In November it was announced that Rolls Royce SMR has secured funding – both from the private sector and Government – to develop small modular nuclear reactors in the largest engineering collaboration the UK has ever seen.

Ever since I was elected, I have campaigned strongly to introduce SMRs and to have the first one in Copeland. Our community knows more about nuclear power than anywhere else in Europe. We have a deep talent pool with a track record of safety and deliverability, and I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure Copeland is at the forefront of this new and exciting development.

Additionally, Moorside is on a five-strong shortlist to house the innovative STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production) plant.

Again, this NDA-owned land adjacent to Sellafield is the most logical site for this new technology, and we expect to know where the UK Atomic Energy Authority has chosen as its location this year.

I’d like to be clear too that the ambitions to welcome SMRs and STEP are not at the expense of larger scale projects on this site; there is enough land there for small and advanced modular reactors and large gigawatt-plus reactors.

Nuclear is what we do best here in Copeland, and I am determined to help us continue what we do best long into the future.

The Mail - January 11, 2022

I strongly welcome the new measures announced by the Government this week to make our homes, streets and communities safer for our residents.

A key new addition to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is allowing victims of domestic abuse more time to report incidents against them.

Currently, prosecutions must start within six months of an offence taking place, but we are increasing this requirement to two years. The statistics show that, compared to other crimes, domestic abuse is often reported longer after the offence has taken place, so these new measures will ensure that more victims have enough time to seek justice and more perpetrators face justice for their actions.

Domestic abuse is a scourge on society and, through the excellent work being carried out at Copeland Borough Council, there is a way out that has proved a lifeline for hundreds of families in this constituency since the council’s support service was launched three years ago.

The council’s Prevention and Crisis Support Officers work with those who have suffered domestic abuse or sexual exploitation, linking in with the council’s Housing Options team to provide emergency accommodation if necessary. Some of these properties have been expertly adapted to create a safe home for people and families who may be at serious risk. 

To contact the Prevention and Crisis Support Officer, email housing.options@copeland.gov.uk  or call 01946 598300 to access the 24-hour service.

Further to the measures regarding domestic abuse, I’d like to draw readers’ attention to a new tool that has been introduced to improve safety.

StreetSafe is helping people anonymously flag areas in which they don't feel safe. This could be as a result of environmental issues (eg street lighting, abandoned buildings or vandalism) and/or because of some behaviours (eg being followed or verbally abused).

The Home Office has launched the tool with the National Police Chiefs Council to help the police identify areas that need to be improved and make the streets safe for everyone.

To access the service, visit https://www.police.uk/pu/notices/streetsafe/street-safe/

The Mail - January 4, 2022

I’d like to begin by wishing all readers of The Mail a very happy new year.

I know 2021 has been a challenging year for so many due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its impacts on our lives and livelihoods. And as the new year dawns, unfortunately some of these challenges do remain.

But thanks to the outstanding efforts of our NHS, Covid volunteers and our community, the booster roll-out continues apace - not least here in the Copeland constituency where the figure of those who have had their third dose stands at well over 40,000.

Having your booster is the single most important thing we can do to help ourselves return to normality.

The Government has been here to support residents and businesses throughout the pandemic, and the announcement by Rishi Sunak before Christmas – of new grants of up to £6,000 for hospitality and leisure sectors, and another £30 million into the Culture Recovery Fund – further exemplifies this commitment.

Throughout the pandemic, Copeland Borough Council has been truly excellent in getting business grants to business owners in double-quick time – with over £42 million in support for our business community since March 2020 – and I am sure this excellent service from the council will continue with this latest round.

The forthcoming year promises to be an exciting one for Millom, Haverigg and the South Copeland community. Following the Government offer last summer of a £20.6 million Town Deal, work continues apace by the Town Board to develop their full business case to draw down the earmarked funding. This money will be transformational for the area, but in the meantime, the £500,000 of ‘accelerated funding’ committed ahead of the full Town Deal announcement is already making a significant difference to the community, including the new children’s play area and running track at the school – and this is just the start.

I’d like to thank The Mail for inviting me to write this new weekly column and I look forward to bringing you news and views throughout the year. If there’s anything readers would like me to discuss then please get in touch.

Myself and my team in Bootle are always pleased to hear from constituents and, if you have any issues or questions, we will always help in any way we can. Please contact me on Trudy.harrison.mp@parliament.uk or 01229 718333.

The Whitehaven News - December 15, 2021

It was a pleasure to spend last week’s Small Business Saturday visiting a sample of the many excellent independent businesses we have here in Copeland.

Small businesses are the heart of our communities and we are lucky to have such quality and diversity right on our doorsteps.

I had the opportunity to visit Make New and Mend and The Clock Tower in Millom, The Woodlands Bistro and Tea Room in Santon Bridge, and Deja Brew in Egremont, and speaking to the owners, managers and staff, the passion that they have for their business, their products, their customers and community shines through.

This attitude is indicative of small businesses right across our borough, and courtesy of Copeland Borough Council and its successful Young Entrepreneurs Market and mentorship scheme, the future looks bright for the next generation of traders.

It has however been a difficult time for many small-business owners, with the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the challenge of competing with online shopping. In the final few shopping days before Christmas, I would encourage readers to support our wonderful local businesses community wherever you can.

I would also encourage businesses owners to access two Help to Grow schemes, launched by the Government to provide free or subsidised world-class management training and digital skills.

For further information, visit https://helptogrow.campaign.gov.uk

Speaking of helping to grow, the deadline is fast approaching for the Kickstart scheme which has already seen 80 young people in Copeland secure work and get a crucial first step on the career ladder.

Kickstart offers employers funding to cover the cost of employing a young person aged 16 to 24, who are currently claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long-term employment. The Government funding includes six months’ worth of wages (national minimum for 25 hours per week), National Insurance and pension contributions to businesses who take on eligible young people.

The deadline for businesses to apply is this Friday, and there is no minimum on the number of vacancies a business can apply for, which means firms of all sizes can benefit from the scheme.

For more information, visit https://kickstart.campaign.gov.uk.

And as this is my last Whitehaven News column before the festive period, I’d like to conclude by wishing all readers and your families a merry Christmas and best wishes for 2022.

The Whitehaven News - November 17, 2021

The eyes of the world have been on Glasgow for the past two weeks as leaders from across the globe came together for COP26 - the biggest political gathering ever held in the UK - to agree a significant shift in our approach to tackling carbon emissions.

The historic Glasgow Climate Pact, signed by almost 200 countries on Saturday, is the first ever global agreement which paves the way to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees.

It also delivers a plan to increase support for developing countries to adapt to climate change, and requires countries to come back with stronger targets to further cut emissions by the end of the year.

This agreement builds on progress made and agreements secured throughout the summit on phasing out the burning of coal for power generation, zero-emission transport, finance to support climate action, and pledges to end deforestation. Though there is more to do over the coming years, we continue to work tirelessly towards our goal.

The Glasgow Climate Pact came only days after another significant announcement in our net zero ambitions for the UK.

Rolls Royce SMR has pledged to invest £195 million to develop small nuclear reactors, with a further £210 million committed by the Government, and I firmly believe the NDA-owned land next to Sellafield is the prime location for this clean, low-carbon technology.

Ever since I was elected in 2017, I have campaigned strongly to introduce SMRs and to have them located here; from securing a Westminster Hall Debate and pushing for SMRs back in 2018, right through to bringing together key officials from Rolls Royce SMR, Sellafield Ltd, the NDA and Copeland Council this summer to outline our joint ambitions and expert capability to officials from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

And while last week’s funding announcement is most welcome progress, my relentless lobbying for Copeland to be at the forefront of this new technology will continue.

I’d like to be clear too that the ambitions to welcome SMRs is not at the expense of larger scale projects on this site. There is enough land there for small and advanced modular reactors, fusion technology (including the STEP reactor for which Moorside has been shortlisted as a potential location) and large gigawatt-plus reactors.

Nuclear is what we do best here in Copeland, and I am determined to help us continue what we do best long into the future.

The Whitehaven News - October 20, 2021

The death of Sir David Amess MP, who was killed while holding a public surgery in his constituency, is desperately sad, utterly tragic and yet another attack on our democracy. My thoughts are with David’s family, friends and all those in his beloved Southend West constituency, and of course, my colleagues across Parliament.

David was a lovely, kind and gentle man. He will be remembered for his brilliant campaigning to achieve city status for Southend-on-Sea, as well as his many books, especially his most recent publication Ayes and Ears: ‘A Survivor’s Guide to Westminster’, a fascinating insight into his lengthy and distinguished political career.

David will be dreadfully missed but will be remembered for his compassion, brilliantly effective campaigning and wonderful charisma. I will fondly remember helping David with his last Prime Minister’s Question, looking back at his kind smile as he lobbied for change on the green benches. He wanted those responsible to apologise to the women affected by forced adoptions during the 50s, 60s and 70s. He really cared about people.

I very much hope not to have to change my behaviour as an MP; it’s vital that all community leaders can continue to meet in person and be accessible to all the people they serve. My favourite part of this job is meeting you all. I’m proud to call Copeland home - and hope I always will.

I would like to thank Cumbria Police for immediately reaching out to me on Friday and in the days since, offering assistance and further protection to myself, my office staff, and my husband and family to enable democracy to continue despite adversity. I also thank them for their service to everyone across Cumbria - today and every day.

This is my last Whitehaven News column before two important events over the coming weeks; the pivotal COP26 summit in Glasgow in which world leaders will gather to outline how we and partners around the globe will secure net-zero; and the conclusion of the Government’s Spending Review and Autumn Budget, in which we will set out how we will build back better and continue to support businesses and jobs. I will keep readers updated through the Whitehaven News, my website and social media.

It is also my final column before the Remembrance period, and I would like to remind readers that I am inviting Copeland residents to share with me your stories of friends, relatives or community members who have served their country. A tribute to Copeland will be included in the House of Commons Constituency Garden of Remembrance, and alongside this, I will be sharing stories of our local heroes on my website and social media over the Remembrance period. Please send your submissions to me at Trudy.harrison.mp@parliament.uk.

The Whitehaven News - September 22, 2021

It was my privilege last week to meet so many talented and enthusiastic young people from Copeland who visited Westminster for the first Nuclear Week in Parliament.

The Nuclear Skills and Apprenticeship Fair was one of the highlights of the week in which apprentices and graduates – including a very sizeable contingent from Copeland – showcased the range of careers and opportunities available in the industry.

There was a real buzz in the room as our area’s nuclear expertise and talent – from science and technology to innovation and manufacturing – took pride of place courtesy of the nuclear firms, supply chain and unions in attendance.

It was also a pleasure at the event to meet Katie Wightman - a Control Room Operator at Sellafield Ltd - who has been named the National Skills Academy for Nuclear’s Apprentice of the Year.

Katie, who delivered an inspirational keynote speech, is an outstanding advocate for apprenticeships, Sellafield Ltd and the industry and I have every confidence that her career and positive influence among the next generation of apprentices will continue to go from strength to strength.

Further to showcasing exciting opportunities and innovations, Nuclear Week in Parliament was about reminding everyone that we need nuclear ­– the most sustainable and efficient clean-energy we have ­– to achieve our net-zero ambitions.

I’m equally ambitious for our health and education sectors in Copeland. I’m therefore delighted that plans for the second phase of the West Cumberland Hospital redevelopment are going on public display this week.

The £40 million redevelopment will bring about a significant upgrade in facilities for patients and staff, with local suppliers invited to be part of the supply chain.

While just around the corner from the hospital, the £16 million new-build of Whitehaven Academy is making great strides. On a recent visit to Valley School to learn about their outstanding mental health campaign, I was asked by a pupil about my proudest moment as an MP; my answer was being part of the community campaign to remove the previous management and bring the Academy under the Cumbria Education Trust, without which we would not be in the position we are today.

The rebuild funding for the hospital and the school are examples of significant Government investment in our area that will benefit our residents for generations to come.

I’d like to finish by thanking everyone who has wished me well on my appointment as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport. I am proud to accept the ministerial position, which is testament to all those who have given me such fantastic support, and I look forward to this next chapter.

The Whitehaven News - August 25, 2021

As family and friends begin to reunite, it has been very special to be out and about again across Copeland meeting people and attending events. 

My first public engagement was a most enjoyable car show, organised by the West Cumbrian Rotarians.  The Rotating Wheels Show was held at Gosforth and raised over £3,000 in funds for the BEEP charity, which provides emergency roadside medical assistance to support our paramedics. 

Further to my first in-person Saturday Chataway in Cleator Moor, I also enjoyed being part of the celebrations held by residents of The Gardens estate at Corkickle – the first council estate built in Whitehaven – whose residents gathered to celebrate 100 years since the first home was occupied in May 1921. 

Listening to the tales of family life over a century was wonderful and this close-knit estate is incredibly proud of their community – and rightly so.

The lovely visits and events I have attend have brought a couple of hours’ respite over the past week from the challenging situation in Afghanistan. We are working incredibly hard to bring people home UK nationals and those eligible to come to the UK.

As I write this column, the Prime Minister has convened a meeting of G7 leaders to urge international partners to match the UK’s commitments on aid and the resettlement of those most in need, in order to protect human rights and contribute to the stability of the region.

He will also urge the US to extend its presence in the country past August 31 to give more people the opportunity to secure a safe passage to the UK.

I’d also like to offer an update to the high number of constituents who have contacted me about ex-Marine Pen Farthing and his Afghanistan-based animal charity Nowzad.

When the struggles facing Pen and Nowzad were first brought to my attention, I reached out to their headquarters in Devon and opened a direct line of contact with Pen in Kabul. I have significant admiration for Pen and everything he has achieved, both in serving his country and championing the welfare of animals.

Pen and his staff have now developed a comprehensive dataset for us on their 25 staff and their immediate families. This has now been submitted to the Foreign Office and the Home Office, which is currently carrying out all relevant processes and due diligence; 68 of these visas have already been granted.

I am in constant dialogue with Pen as we work towards a safe journey for him, his staff and their families.

Additionally, I am liaising with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to see what the UK can do for the animals in Nowzad’s care and will keep constituents updated on this important work as it develops.

** My next Saturday Chataway event takes place in Beckermet Reading Rooms on Saturday, September 4 from 10am to noon. Please book a timeslot in advance by emailing me on Trudy.harrison.mp@parliament.uk and I look forward to seeing you there.