Hi, We're about to start the session with John Stevenson, Conservative candidate for Carlisle at the General Election.
I will be doing the typing if anyone wonders why my name and picture are alongside John's answers!
We are ready for your questions. Anyone?
It varies from London to other parts of the country. The minimum wage is £6.70 and I believe the proposed minimum wage is around £7.40.
Firstly, Scotland voted to remain part of the Union. I don't believe there would be a vote for separation even now. However, I think it is important to bring to the attention of everyone the risks of a Labour/SNP alliance at Westminster and how this could be detrimental to places such as Carlisle.
I believe this was unnecessary as my party have set out exactly what what we would do to support the NHS. There will be further investment in the NHS which contrasts with Labour run Wales. Like everyone I want to see a well run health service delivering quality care free at the point of use. This is what my party is offering the electorate.
I co0mpletely agree with is. IN Cumbria we have 7 councils nearly 400 councillors at a time when it is obvious that we need to reduce the cost of politics and invest the money in our services. I believe Cumbria would benefit from 1 or 2 unitary authorities. This would lead to greater efficievcy and better decision making. Indeed it would also help reduce the complexity of local government within Cumbria. I will certainly be campaigning for this in the next parliament.
I believe that change is in fact underway. I am myself frustrated at the time it has taken but I envisage Northumbria and North Cumbria merging which will lead to a much better managed and run hospital. IN fact as part of the acquisition there is likely to be £30m of additional investment into the Cumberland which will help increase capacity and improve the hospital overall. Northumbria is a high performing trust and merging with North Cumbria can only be beneficial to health care in Carlisle.
I have received many different petitions on many dfifferent issues. the issue right now is a General Election when people have to decide who they want as the next Govt and their local MP. It is my belief that the Conservatives offer the right policies for the NHS including an additional £8bmn investment in contrast to Labour who are only offering a £2.5bn increase. It is therefore for the electorate to decide which party they believe will run the NHS the best. I would suggest you compare the performance of the NHS in England to that of Labour run Wales where there was an 8% reduction in funds spent on the NHS and virtually all targets are being missed. In contrast the Conservative led coalition has seen nearly £13bn added to the funding of the NHS.
Actually there are 650 different elections on May 7 of which Carlisle is one. You are absolutely right that it is important to choose the individual to represent a constituency as much as a party political vote. I believe over the last 5 years I have demonstrated my willingness to campaign to fight for and represent the interests of Carlisle and indeed I have not always supported my own party line on particular issues. It is important to have someone who is independently minded and has the ability to be a proper advocate for our city. I also think they must not deal with national issues but get involved in helping to give a direction to their constituency, which I believe I have done.
I like to vary what I wear!
I fully agree that the PFI scheme has not been a success and sadly Carlisle was the first hospital to be funded in that way by the last Labour govt and we are still dealing with its consequences. Hopefully as part of the Northumbria acquisition this will be dealt with. As for the £8bn this was the recommendation of SImon Stevens, the head of NHS England, who believes this is the additional funding required to help improve the NHS. Given that he is meant to be the expert I think it is absolutely right that my party is taking his professional advice and allocating the recommended resource.
Funnily enough, I do not believe being a Conservative politician is actually sitting on the fence. I have firm views on how our country should be governed and run and sometimes these are not always the same as my Government. But I believe that as an MP you should represent your electorate, your party and have your own independent views.
The most important element is ensuring that the economy functions properly and delivers the wealth which we need if we are to pay for our public services.This includes ensuring that we have the correct skills and education facilities, As the MP for the past 5 years I have helped promote both education in all of its forms and businesses in our city. You will have seen plenty of new investment from national firms as well as local and the real test of that success is the fact that unemployment is now back to pre recession levels and is continuing to fall. I contrast this with the Labour Party who will inevitably tax, borrow and spend money which we do not have. The real danger is that they will also over regulate which will stifle business, thus preventing the wealth creation which we need to pay for our public services.
The thing I am most proud of has been the Carlisle skills fair which brought together nearly 100 businesses and skills providers in an event which allowed school students, young adults and others to seek opportunities for apprenticeships and job opportunities. This filled a gap that was not there before and I would like to see it continue. In addition, I have also been involved in a variety of other events such as Made by Carlisle, as well as local aspects I have campaigned at a national level on certain issues such as linking the minimum wage to the personal allowance so that they don;t pay tax, which is now Conservative policy; obtaining a feasibility study for the A69 among other things. Finally as an MP I get involved in individual and personal issues which you quite rightly deal with in a private and confidential way.
I do not believe in women only shortlists. I think it is right that the best person for the job should get it and having such shortlists effectively eliminates half the population whilst at the same time potentially undermining the female choice. It is far better to have a fair and open competition for any such post.
It is interesting how a number of parties have already ruled out any arrangements with my party eg SNP and the Greens. I think it is far better for politicians to campaign in the election and then see what the verdict of the electorate is. Once the electorate has made their judgment it is for politicians to form a government. I think from my party's perspective we should set out our stall and see which other parties would be willing to support us.
I happen to wholly disagree with your analysis. I believe that the acquisition with Northumbria is in the best interest of our hospital, those who work in it and most important of all, the patients.
I do not accept we are fuelling anti-Scottish feelings but I think it is quite legitimate to raise the concerns about a political party called the SNP whose goal is independence from the rest of the United Kingdom. I fear that their involvement and influence with the Labour Party will be detrimental to this country and is not in the interests of the people of Carlisle.
I am very surprised at that given the amount of canvassing and activity that myself and supporters have been involved in. I am sure that you have been receiving plenty of election literature from us.
At the time of the comment, the national polls were not as favourable. However as the local campaign has got underway I am increasingly confident that the electorate of Carlisle believe that a Conservative MP is the best representative for the city and in our national interest. The response on the doorstep has been very positive and encouraging for myself, for which I am very grateful.
As I don't know Philip Day's specific business arrangements I cannot comment on his affairs. However as the economy recovers I believe it is absolutely right that we start to see peoples wages rise and that everyone shares in the success of the recovery. Indeed I think there is a danger with the minimum wage or living wage that they are seen as maximums and not minimums. What I want to see is a highly skilled and high wage economy so that everyone benefits.
Not so far as I am aware!
I am delighted to hear of that success. That is what the whole skills fair is about and it is great to get feedback. If re-elected I have pledged that I will continue with the Carlisle skills fair. In fact I would hope to try and develop it further.