Just back from my annual pilgrimage to Cornwall- body boarding, beach barbeques and Betjeman. (I pay tribute to his grave at St Enedoc’s Church near Trebetherick). I used to annoy my mother by sending her picture postcards variously inscribed “Five words are cheaper” (the postage was a halfpenny cheaper), or sometimes “Weather here; Wish you were lovely.” The weather wasn’t great in Cornwall, but it did not for a second put a damper on our family holiday.

Tourism is worth 25%-28% to the Cornish economy, or perhaps £2.4 billion over the year. So while I sympathise to some degree with the nostalgic longing for houses in charming villages once again being occupied by locals contributing to the local community rather than by prosperous holidaymakers and second home owners, I do also have real reservations about it. Is it really a realistic longing; and anyhow do we really want it? It’s the visitors and second homeowners who bring such huge benefit to the local economy. And if some mad merchant banker wants to pay £500,000 for a 2-bed bungalow in Rock, then it is the local seller who benefits from it. Is that not their right, even if it does have the effect of ‘hollowing out’ the local community?

Do we want to drive away tourists from these hotspots by taxing them out of existence, and making Majorca or Disney Land attractive by comparison? And even if we did want to do so for some crazy reason, will Michael Gove’s recent proposal to allow local authorities to charge double council tax on second home owners really have the effect he is seeking? Will the AirBnB owner not simply pass the higher tax onto the visitors? And if you are ready to pay millions for a cliff top house in Cornwall, are you likely to be deterred by a thousand or two extra on the Council tax? I think not. I can see its attraction as a kind of Socialist punitive tax against rich people; I can see the attraction of increasing Cornwall County Council’s tax take at the expense of the second homeowner. But will it actually change the pattern of home ownership in beautiful places like North Cornwall or North Wiltshire? I think not; and anyhow would we really want it to?

Wiltshire apparently does not have something called a Local Visitor Economy Partnership, which means in layman’s terms that Wiltshire Council will no longer fund the Government’s National Tourism Strategy. Perhaps if they had one, they would think again about imposing an unwelcome parking charge in Castle Combe, which means that tourists simply park on the (entirely free) rural lanes all round this most perfect of villages instead, with obvious safety and environmental consequences. Meanwhile the Lib Dem controlled Cotswold District Council are ending funding of visitor centres, arguing that people now use the Internet instead. It’s a high-risk proposition. The Visitor Information Centre in Cirencester, for example, could quite easily be turned into a worthwhile revenue centre (with a decent coffee shop, for example).

Tourism generates £100 billion a year in England alone, and employs over 2 million people, which makes it twice the size of the NHS. In an area as beautiful and tourist-attractive as the South Cotswolds, surely we should be rejoicing in the economic and social benefits which accrue from visitors rather than seemingly doing all we can to deter them?

The Summer Recess is an essential  time for re-charging of batteries- physical, mental, spiritual. Part of that must be thinking, reading, contemplating. Yet to a non-monk and a meditation/Yoga  sceptic like me, all of those things are best achieved while doing stuff. So the Recess is almost as busy as the Parliamentary term.

Since the House rose last Thursday,  I have been hyperactive around my ’patch’- including the new bits of it around Tetbury and Cirencester – and each engagement, every conversation has played a part in unwinding, informing and inspiring my thinking for the year which lies ahead. One day I lunched with the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester to hear about their £150million development plans. But almost as exciting was our chat about climate change, sustainable agriculture, and what RAU can better do to educate our young people on using our Planet better. Fires raging across the Mediterranean was the thought-provoking background. Another evening I went to Cirencester’s Barn Theatre. Loved the theatre – albeit not quite so sure about the excellent performance ‘Once’, which perhaps too much of a rock concert for my personal tastes. But I will very much look forward to “I’m Sorry, Prime Minister’ which is running from 28th September.

I had 40 or so constituents for a Supper Club in the barn at the bottom of my garden (the second of five parties there this Summer- Philippa’s Lasagne is a wonder). A 2 hour discussion ranged from the very mundane through to the deeply philosophical - is Conservativism the natural instinct of the British people? And do they know it? The discussion would have been much enlightened by the late and great Sir Roger Scruton, the greatest Conservative thinker of his generation. His lovely widow, Sophie keeps his flame alive through her annual Scrutopia Conference, at which I spoke after a dinner. I especially tried to focus on Roger Scruton’s oikophilia (love of home). Are we ‘people from somewhere’ - our town or village, perhaps the Cotswolds (probably); our family and friends, our school, work, regiment or University? Those are the things which make us ‘People from Somewhere’ with the resulting better mental stability than ‘People from nowhere’- those without grounding in their home, loves and places.

Earlier that day I had been at Tetbury Church for the wonderful funeral of local farmer and sportsman, David Lowsley-Wiliams. A couple of quotes from the Order of Service helped inspire my thoughts for what I would say to Scrutopia that evening:-

“Please do remember to forget anger, worry and regret. Love while you’ve love to give. Live while you’ve life to live’ (Piet Hein) “If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run - yours is the earth and everything in it.” (Kipling) “When can their glory fade? Oh the wild charge that they made! All the world wonder’d. Honour the charge they made! Honour the Light Brigade, Noble six hundred.” (Tennyson, Charge of the Light Brigade.) “Here’s to all those that we love; and here’s to all those that love us; and here’s to all them that love those that love them, that love those, that love them that love us.”!

An hour long Podcast recorded about Military Veterans, lunches in Grittleton, in Didmarton,  with Nic Puntis, the new candidate for the Chippenham Seat, dinner with the First Sea Lord in Admiral Lord Nelson’s cabin on HMS Victory, a step-daughter’s 26th birthday party (P’s lasagne in the barn); surgeries in Cricklade and Malmesbury. These and a hundred thoughts and encouters during them stimulate the brain and relax it at the same time. Now I’ve a week on the beach in Cornwall in prospect to relax the body as well. Barbeques, body boarding and windblown cliff walks. Who could want for anything more?

I wonder what percentage of our local economy in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire may derive directly or indirectly from great events and festivals? Hotels and pubs, B and B, contractors. I should think it’s quite a bit, as we have more than our fair share of them.

The Horse Trials at Badminton claim to be the largest spectator attended sporting event in the world (contested I think by the Indianapolis 500.) 250,000 people or thereabouts cram into Badminton Great Park- some for the horses and riders; but many for the retail experience. It was the late Duke of Beaufort who first thought of creating an internationally renowned sport- eventing- around the three main equestrian skills - Dressage, Showjumping and Cross-country; and now it’s an Olympic event. (Badminton also gave its name to another sport when some young house guests couldn’t go out in the rain so amused themselves instead by sticking a few goose feathers into a champagne cork and batting it back and forth across a net in the Great Hall).

90,000 people will attend over the four days of the World of Music and Dance Festival- WOMAD at Charlton Park near Malmesbury in a couple of weeks time. It is Peter Gabriel’s baby and hugely popular with local people and incomers alike. It was a few years ago now that I went to the BBC Radio 1 Big Weekend in Lydiard Park. My 10-year-old escort was not very impressed by being whisked off to the VIP Reception for a chat with the Lord Lieutenant and a couple of Bishops- not why she had come to the festival at all! So she dragged me away to one of the stages to have my ear drums battered. Rod Stewart and The Who were performing at Worcester Lodge near Didmarton last week much to the consternation of some local people, although others more readily entered into the spirit. The main objectors were the first applicants for the free local tickets.

My ear drums took another bashing at the wonderful Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) in Fairford on Friday. It was good to see the Prince of Wales and family there, alongside a host of local people staring at the sky. It’s a great opportunity for business- the 30 or 40 biggest aircraft manufacturers and a host of SMEs from the supply chain were there touting their wares to a big gathering of overseas buyers. It’s a showcase for all that’s best about British aerospace manufacturing.

So why on earth can the organisers, or the Gloucestershire Police, not do something about the traffic? I sailed into Fairford Village, but then spent an hour and a half getting from there to the airshow itself- a journey which would normally take 5 minutes. The traffic marshals were doing their best in shocking weather to overcome delays caused by badger bridges amongst other things. But the entry routes and entrances are an ill thought-through shambles. Billions of pounds worth of aeroplanes on display but we cannot manage a sensible traffic management regime. I shall write to the Gloucestershire Police about it. If Fairford lost the Air Tattoo the area would be a great deal poorer. Much the same applies to the National Arboretum at Westonbirt where local support is destroyed by appalling traffic management. Highgrove and Gatcombe are models of how it ought to be.

All of these great events inevitably mean some degree of inconvenience or nuisance for we locals. But even leaving aside the economic benefit for the area, I am glad that we are able to offer people from all over England the opportunity to have some fun and get involved in their particular interest- from horses to horsepower; from music to Mirage jets. It’s something we can offer the world because of our wide-open spaces and fresh air. So let’s rejoice in it, put up with a bit of noise or a few traffic jams once or twice a year and just be glad of it.

The age-old Lib-Dem tragedy is that they do ‘oh so well’ at by-elections by means of piling the entire resources of their Party, thousands of activists and great bags of money into them as a result of which they win by a comfortable majority. They then claim that ‘if that result were to be replicated in a General Election we would be the largest party’. (David Steel in 1981: ‘Go back to your constituencies and prepare for Government.’) Somerton and Frome, Chesham and Amersham, North Shropshire- all will return to the Conservative fold at the General Election when people are deciding who will run the country rather than just ‘giving the Tories a good kicking.’

Something similar happened in Selby and Ainsty where Labour won thanks to the Tories staying at home – our vote collapsing from 34,000 to 12,000. Uxbridge shows that there really is no love affair with Labour amongst the electorate of the kind which was so palpable in the run up to Blair’s victory in 1997.  So Thursday’s results probably predict some kind of hung Parliament, with the Tories very possibly being the largest party.

It is all there to play for, and Rishi’s 5 pledges are central to it. The record fall in inflation, may well presage the economic growth and reduced National debt which were 3 of them. We also this week finally passed the Bill which will stop small migrant boats crossing the Channel. That leaves only the fifth pledge - to shorten NHS waiting lists – to be achieved. And we have 12/18 months to do it. My own view is that the quietly successful managerial style which Rishi demonstrates so amply is both right for the country, but also what the people really want- as the lack of enthusiasm for Labour in the by-elections may well prove.

I had a good ‘end of term’ with a lovely victory in the battle I have been fighting for a couple of years to gain justice for homosexual soldiers sailors and aviators who were court marshalled, imprisoned, had their rights, their dignity and their pensions removed for no reason other than their sexuality as recently as 2001. Homosexuality was generally legalised in 1967; but it remained an offence in the Armed Forces until then, and an even greater scandal is that many of those injustices were still not addressed in the interim 22 years. The PM’s heartfelt apology on Wednesday and the 47 recommendations in the long-awaited Etherton report at last did so. It is good to spot an injustice of this kind, then do what one can to fight to correct it and then see such a complete and worthwhile victory. However, I am not sure that I truly deserve the accolade awarded to me by my friend the Labour MP for Plymouth Luke Pollard of being a ’gay icon.’ That may be going just a little too far.

After that announcement on Wednesday I high tailed it to Westminster Hall to speak in a debate about Solar installations and the fine agricultural land which they are gobbling up across England. Wiltshire is the second largest county for these ghastly carbuncles in our landscape- we surely have done enough in our contribution to Net Zero, and I hope that the solar caravan will now move on elsewhere.

Tempers will calm over the Summer Recess- and a reshuffle which is so necessary not only to replace Ben Wallace who has done such a brilliant job as Secretary of State for Defence will help. I have a week in Cornwall and a week in Italy but will mainly be right here doing a spread of engagements across the South Cotswolds as my seat will shortly become.

117 million people are currently displaced in the world- through warfare, hunger, poverty. They can see our health, prosperity, education and so much more. They have nothing. They starve; their children die. 1 billion people in the world go to bed hungry every night; another billion of us go to bed obese. That cannot be right. Drought, floods, warfare, tyranny. It’s actually surprising that it’s only 117 million. We may not like it; some people would like to throw up a wall around our country and tell the ‘nasty foreigners to go away.’ But that is neither humanitarian, nor even possible.

Last year 1.2 million people migrated into the UK, only half of whom then left. There’s a total of 6 million people living in the UK who have the nationality of a different country. Similarly, 13.9 million Brits live overseas. International migration is just part of modern living. And anyhow, these are people we need at least in part to do jobs that we Brits turn our noses up at - in the NHS, long term care, agriculture and hospitality industries in particular.

We also have a proud tradition of offering political asylum to those who would be persecuted in their own countries for no reason other than their beliefs. Its roughly 80,000 per year. It is right that we give safe haven to genuine asylum seekers; yet compassionate as we may be, we simply do not have the resources to do as the USA did last century and ‘welcome the world’s poor to our bosom’.

Those most visible, and controversial, are those arriving in Britain by small boat (46,000 last year). They are not necessarily asylum seekers and tend to be economic migrants, who we have no moral or humanitarian obligation to accept. We have to persuade these people (and the wicked mafia thugs who ship them much like the old-time slavers) that there is no point in coming here; if they do they will be removed- to their own safe country or a third country to be decided. We must stop the appalling trans-channel trade in poor starving terrified people risking their lives for an imagined land flowing with gold and honey on this side of the channel. That is why I will support the Government’s Immigration Bill which comes back to the Commons this week. It’s had its powerful disincentives ripped out in 20 crucial amendments by the Lords, at least most of which we will reverse.

Our motivation must be compassion for these poor people. They are victims rather than criminals. So we must treat them properly, if robustly. I hated the news report that Government Ministers have had child-friendly cartoons in the reception areas painted over to make them less attractive. Tiny children, terrified, starving, lost in a foreign land and often unaccompanied. Surely it is only decent to try to make their reception area feel a little bit friendly and welcoming. I will try to make the point to Robert Jenrick during the week. What a harsh and needless decision it was to over paint Donald Duck.

The Wiltshire Hotel near Royal Wootton Bassett is a totally inappropriate place to house them. Miles from any kind of facility-leisure, educational, religious- it is neither suitable for the migrants, nor is its use acceptable to local people. I am pressing the Government to discontinue the use of this kind of vastly expensive hotel for these people.

We used to feel sorry for those exiled from their native heath. So should we today; we should treat them with a firm yet compassionate hand. They are sad exiles, and we should do all we can, not just to turn them back, but to remove the many reasons why they started on their hazardous journeys in the first place.

It’s a hugely complicated issue, and hyperbole, racism, lack of compassion and soggy thinking are equally unacceptable in it.