Last month in the BV the West Dorset MP offered to answer an open postbag – and here he has answered all the letters that were sent
Q1. What is being done to highlight the need for more NHS dentists – in West Dorset in particular? I, and many like me, am now faced with finding money which I haven’t got to go private. We’re building more houses. Where are these people going to go? We are just being forced into the private sector.
Kevin Morse, Buckland Newton
A: I am working hard to reform NHS dental services in West Dorset. This year, I led a Westminster Hall debate calling for the Health Minister to address the issue of poor access to routine and emergency dental treatment (see it here). I also hold quarterly meetings with our local NHS. I spoke in Parliament again to ask the Minister responsible for NHS dentistry when there would be action to resolve the situation. I am keeping up constant pressure to find a solution.
In addition, I have talked with local dentists and dental staff, and I am running a survey which I ask you to complete, in order to capture constituents’ personal experiences.
Q2. How important do you see the climate crisis? And what have you done already to try to get the Tories to address it?
Sarah Ryan, Milborne St Andrew
A: Climate change is very real, and we are starting to see this with recent weather extremes. We have had the fastest reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the G7, and over-delivered on our targets over the last decade, including bringing in the Environment Act.
But we shouldn’t lose sight of the responsibility of other countries – China produces more than 30 per cent of all CO2 emissions, for example; the UK’s contribution is less than one per cent.
Q3. Can a woman have a penis? Karen Jump, Sherborne
A: No, a biological woman cannot. It is madness to suggest otherwise. But I presume the question is raising the issues surrounding gender self-identification which I am worried about, especially with young children. The LibDem’s “Menstruation is not just a women’s issue” undermines the biological reality of women, and protections afforded to them. It will be an important discussion point at the next General Election.
Q4. What is the point of investing money and time into a well-thought-out, locally-agreed Neighbourhood Plan if it is going to be entirely ignored by planning officials?
And what is the point of local planning if decisions are ultimately influenced by the fact that the council simply can’t afford the sheer cost of the appeal the wealthy developers will inevitably lodge against any refusal, resulting in a de facto approval – how is this in any way a working, effective and controlled planning system?
Karen James, Dorchester
A: The principle of a Neighbourhood Plan is to give communities direct power to develop a vision and shape the development and growth of their local area.
It is difficult to give a helpful view without understanding the exact example, but Karen is welcome to contact me direct to discuss
Q5. How can we stop our Dorset village communities being killed by the slow ‘death by a thousand-second homes’?
Annie Maples, Sherborne
A: In late October, the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill came into law. Among many other measures, the Act enables local councils to exercise the power of increasing council tax on empty homes – in some cases by up to 200 per cent. Another solution involves stricter controls of short-term let companies such as Airbnb. I think very large housing developments absorb the life out of our smaller villages – I would like to see smaller developments across the area, and I am a strong supporter of Community Land Trusts (you can find out more about my work on housing and development here).
Q6. How, after so many years in government, can the Tories account for the fact that approximately 3.8 million people experienced destitution in 2022 – more than double that in 2017, and nearly triple the number of children? Specifically, what is being done regarding underestimated rural poverty?
Mary Coles, Dorchester
A: Of the figure quoted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, almost three-quarters are in receipt of social security payments. The government has provided unprecedented financial support to help people during the cost-of-living crisis, and has just announced that benefit claimants are eligible for an extra £900 payment.
In terms of rural hardship, I have been pushing for greater recognition from the government when it comes to calculating grants for rural areas, including a lowering of the council tax. I have made numerous interventions in Westminster about the imbalance of rural hardship compared with urban poverty (you can see them here and here).
Q7. He never answers my emails so why should he answer any questions from me on this?
David Edwards, Facebook
A: This is an untrue statement from David Edwards in Bridport – he has received numerous responses from me and his frequent social media statements like this are disingenuous.
Q8. What is his position on the World Health Organisation’s proposed amendments to the International Health Regulations which will remove national and personal control over medical decisions?
Phillip Jeans, Facebook
A: The International Health Regulations (2005) are a key part of the global health security system. The original International Sanitary Regulations, which preceded the International Health Regulations – were adopted in 1969 and amended several times. The third edition (2005) has been amended twice – in 2014 and 2022. The revisions illustrate their fluid nature, adapting to the health challenges that the world faces at any given time. I am unable to comment on the specifics of the latest amendments until they are officially confirmed by the WHO.
Q 9. Will Mr Loder make a public acknowledgement – preferably by way of an apology – for his fawning endorsement of Liz Truss?
Julian Andrews, Facebook
A: I have already publicly acknowledged my position on the former Prime Minister. It is not a secret that I supported Liz Truss to be Boris Johnson’s successor, and it was my view that Liz Truss’ intention – to avoid a recession – was right. Our local economy suffered greatly over Covid and has not yet fully recovered – we lost 18 per cent of our businesses.
But the pace of her policies was too fast. It caused ‘indigestion’ in the markets and became clear that the level of political turbulence was not sustainable and the drive to grow had to be balanced by stability – both political and economic.
This prompted Liz Truss’ resignation and the subsequent leadership election.
Q10. What is Mr Loder’s opinion of Mr Sunak’s U-turn on our Net Zero goals? How can it be defended that the government sets up an independent body to advise it on such things, and then defies the recommendations of that Climate Change Committee, simply ignoring the view of the official body it instigated?
Trina Lacey, Sherborne
A: There has been no U-turn on the aim of achieving Net Zero by 2050. But there has been a change to a more realistic route, in order to get there without pushing people who, for example, have oil boilers (as many of my rural constituents do) into spending significant amounts of money on a new ground or air source heat pump if they need to change their boiler.
The previous approach – which I did not advocate – risked burdening rural families and those with low-incomes with the most cost, with many rural people being pressed into paying thousands for a new heating system. That could not be justified during a cost-of-living crisis. But we have the best of both worlds, in that the government, at the same time, put forward a Boiler Upgrade Scheme to finance 50 per cent of the cost of a new air/ground source heat pump if you are in the financial position to do so.
The Climate Change Committee is actually an advisory, non-departmental public body.
On this topic, I have a survey active on my website which invites constituents to share their views with me on the topic of rural energy, which you can complete here: chrisloder.co.uk/ruralenergy
Q11. What boards of which companies has Mr Loder got lined up for joining after the next election?
Nicholas Greenhough, Facebook
A: … None.
Q12. Why doesn’t Mr Loder upload onto his website a list of all the places around his constituency where he will be holding a surgery? Why doesn’t he hold open debates at places he holds a surgery?
Annie Webster, Facebook
A: I hold weekly surgeries around the constituency, and they are attended by appointment. They are not publicly advertised, regrettably, because of security risks. But Ms Webster is a regular correspondent, so I am comfortable she has plenty of communication with her MP.
- Constituents are more than welcome to contact me at: email@example.com