• Conor met with the new Chair of St Helens Chamber, Graham Worsley

    GPW recruitment

    Conor McGinn, MP for St Helens North, met with the new Chair of St Helens Chamber, Graham Worsley, to talk about his role and vision for businesses in the borough.

    Graham, who is also Chairman of GPW Recruitment based in Windle, is a highly successful businessman with a strong commitment to St Helens. GPW has been a long-term supporter of The Steve Prescott Foundation.

    After the meeting, Conor said:

    “It was great to meet Graham and hear about his pride in becoming the new Chair of St Helens Chamber, which has won Chamber of the Year three times in recent years.

    “We discussed the challenges of Brexit but also the opportunities ahead for the borough and local economy, and how we can work together to make the most of them. We also spoke about our shared passion for horse racing and importance of Haydock Park to our borough.

    “Graham’s commitment to St Helens is clear to see. He is passionate about the borough and delivering good quality apprenticeships to develop a skilled workforce for the future.

    “I look forward to working with him and continuing to build on the already excellent work of St Helens Chamber.”

  • Conor visits BOC’s nitrogen and hydrogen plant in Moss Bank

    BOC

    Conor McGinn, MP for St Helens North, paid a visit to BOC’s nitrogen and hydrogen plant in Moss Bank in St Helens.

    Whilst there he looked around the site and met with Site Manager, Chris Jeal, and Grant Holland, Head of Energy Strategy, to hear about their concerns over increasing energy costs.

    The St Helens BOC site produces nitrogen and hydrogen and provides the industrial and medical gases to a range of companies across the UK including Pilkington Glass, where the gas supplied is an essential component in the production process.

    Conor discussed the challenges faced by energy-intensive companies such as BOC and Pilkington and the impact increasing taxation is having on the industry.

    Speaking after the visit, Conor said:

    “It was good to visit the site, learn more about the production process in St Helens and hear about important concerns of energy intensive industry.

    “Industry has a responsibility to play its part in responding to climate change and becoming more energy efficient, but in facing these challenges we cannot put our industries at a disadvantage.

    “Energy costs in the UK are twice as high comparative to some EU countries. If industries based in St Helens and the North West are to be competitive on a European and global level this has to change.

    “The government’s industrial and energy strategy must strike the right balance between tackling climate change and allowing our industries to compete on a level playing field.”

  • Conor McGinn: This Budget does nothing for St Helens and is already unravelling before our eyes.

    The Chancellor’s Budget is falling apart after just a couple of days.

    His £2 billion hike on National Insurance paid by the self-employed is so unpopular that even Tory MPs are lining up to attack Philip Hammond over the broken Tory manifesto pledge.

    In St Helens North, his plan to raise National Insurance Contributions (NICs) for solo workers will hit around 5,500 lower and middle-income earners and take over £170,000 out of the local economy.

    The Prime Minister has already hinted that she is ready to perform a humiliating climbdown over the deeply flawed plan that will hit the workers who are backbone of our economy.

    The Tories promised four times in their 2015 manifesto there would be “no increases in National Insurance contributions” – but Class 4 NICs on self-employed profits are set to rise to 11% in 2019.

    That will cost someone on £27,000 more than £30 a month – so much for the Tory promise to help those people who are just about managing.

    But the National Insurance hike is not the only betrayal of ordinary working people by the Government. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned that workers have endured 15 years without a pay rise, thanks to the sluggish economic recovery under this Government.

    It is an equally grim story when it comes to the Government’s assault on public services and the cuts inflicted upon them.

    The £2 billion promised to ease the social care crisis over the next three years is nowhere near enough – especially when set alongside the £4.6 billion of cuts in the last Parliament.

    When it comes to education, a handful of free schools and grammar schools will get £1 billion over the Budget period – but the rest of our schools will receive barely a quarter of that at just £260 million over the same timeframe.

    However, the Government is pressing ahead with its £1 billion cut to inheritance tax and cuts for big business with further reductions in corporation tax, widening the gap between rich and poor.

    In stark contrast, services in places like St Helens North will continue to suffer as the local government budget is cut by more than 20% from £8.2 billion this year to £6.5 billion in 2017/18 and £5.5 billion the year after.

    Despite all the Government’s talk of a creating a Northern Powerhouse, the Chancellor failed to deliver the urgently needed infrastructure investment for the North.

    George Osborne became infamous for his Omnishambles Budget. It looks like Philip Hammond has taken a leaf out of his predecessor’s book with his botched Budget proposals.

    This Budget is already proving a chaotic shambles that holds nothing for my constituents in St Helens – except further cuts to local services and more Tory austerity.

    The Chancellor’s Budget will only further widen the North-South divide and continue to reduce social mobility. It is a Budget for the privileged few that ignores the needs of the many.

  • Conor paid a visit to BOC’s nirtogen and hydrogen plant in Moss Bank

    BOC

    Conor McGinn, MP for St Helens North, paid a visit to BOC’s nitrogen and hydrogen plant in Moss Bank in St Helens.

    Whilst there he looked around the site and met with Site Manager, Chris Jeal, and Grant Holland, Head of Energy Strategy, to hear about their concerns over increasing energy costs.

    The St Helens BOC site produces nitrogen and hydrogen and provides the industrial and medical gases to a range of companies across the UK including Pilkington Glass, where the gas supplied is an essential component in the production process.

    Conor discussed the challenges faced by energy-intensive companies such as BOC and Pilkington and the impact increasing taxation is having on the industry.

    Speaking after the visit, Conor said:

    “It was good to visit the site, learn more about the production process in St Helens and hear about important concerns of energy intensive industry.

    “Industry has a responsibility to play its part in responding to climate change and becoming more energy efficient, but in facing these challenges we cannot put our industries at a disadvantage.

    “Energy costs in the UK are twice as high comparative to some EU countries. If industries based in St Helens and the North West are to be competitive on a European and global level this has to change.

    “The government’s industrial and energy strategy must strike the right balance between tackling climate change and allowing our industries to compete on a level playing field.”

  • Conor welcomes Labour’s candidate for Liverpool City Region Mayor, Steve Rotheram MP, and Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, John Healey MP to St Helens

    Rotheram Visit 2 Rotheram Visit 1

    Conor welcomed Labour’s candidate for Liverpool City Region Mayor, Steve Rotheram MP, and Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, John Healey MP, to St Helens to see plans for a new housing scheme in Parr and meet local community activists from re:new.

    The Torus housing development at Chancery Lane will provide over 30 homes for those aged 55 and above. The scheme will also offer support to meet the needs of those forced to move home due to recent housing benefit cuts.

    The re:new neighbourhood management project in Parr is a joint initiative between St Helens Council and Helena Partnerships. It aims to create better places to live and to improve the quality of life for local residents.

    Commenting after the visit, Conor said:

    “It was great to have Steve and John visit St Helens and see some of the impressive community development and housing projects like this one in Parr.

    “It and others like it will provide a much-needed boost in housing quality and supply for the local area.

    “Merseyside is bearing the brunt of Tory cuts to supported housing and local government, as well as imposition of the bedroom tax. In addition, this Government has ended funding for remedial work to make contaminated land fit for development, which has a hugely negative impact on industrial areas like Parr.

    “Despite this we are lucky to have a strong community ethos across St Helens, and I pay tribute to people like Bernie and many other volunteers and activists like her who continue to work hard to improve neighbourhoods and make life better for local residents.”

  • Conor backs International Women’s Day

    IWD

    Conor McGinn MP has backed International Women’s Day and called for the Chancellor to deliver a Spring Budget that works for women.

    International Women’s Day, held on 8 March, marks a celebration of the economic, social, cultural and political achievements of women.

    This year the 2017 Spring Budget falls on International Women’s Day and Conor and Labour are calling on the government to guarantee a budget that works for women.

    As of the 2016 Autumn Statement, 86% of the net gains to the treasury through tax and benefit measures had come from women, with a disproportionate impact on women from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

    Labour have announced a twelve month consultation on a new Economic Equality Bill. This Bill will aim to strengthen legislation around equal pay and tackle the structural and economic barriers that stop women, BAME communities and disabled people from reaching their full potential.

    Commenting, Conor said:

    “Tory cuts have hit women the hardest and it is high time they put in place policies to change this – that’s why I’m calling on the Chancellor to deliver a budget that works for women.

    “Much progress has been made in the battle for gender equality but this government are turning back the clock on economic equality for women.

    “That the gender pay gap is still 18.1% for full-time workers is shocking and much more needs to be done to ensure women are on equal economic footing.

    “I will work with Labour colleagues to hold the Government to account and to introduce an Economic Equality Bill to tackle structural and economic barriers.”

  • Conor McGinn calls for Government U-turn on decision to scrap bursaries for student nurses and midwives

    STP

    Conor has called on the Government to drop its plans to abolish bursaries for student nurses and midwives.

    NHS bursaries are due to be scrapped from August in a move that could leave students paying tuition fees of more than £9,000 and forced to rely on student loans.

    But Conor is fighting the move which he warned would only worsen the recruitment crisis which had meant local hospitals are forced to rely more heavily on agency nurses to plug staffing gaps.

    His demand comes after it was revealed last year that St Helens Care Commissioning Group faced a £12.5 million shortfall in its funding.

    Conor is backing a Labour campaign for a Government U-turn over the plan to scrap the bursaries for student nurses amid fears it could worsen NHS staffing problems across Merseyside.

    Latest national figures show that students are already avoiding nursing degrees because of the extra financial burden on them.  Almost 10,000 fewer would-be nurses have applied for university courses – 23 per cent fewer than last year.

    Commenting, Conor said:

    “There has already been a big drop in the number of people applying to become nurses which is likely to have a damaging impact on healthcare in St Helens and elsewhere.

    “That should be a wake-up call to the government which needs to rethink these badly flawed plans to abolish bursaries.

    “We have seen the huge pressure that the NHS is under in St Helens and this ill-judged decision by the Government will just make matters worse.

    “With Britain leaving the EU, we will need home-trained nurses more than ever.  But the government’s decision is likely to worsen the staff shortages already faced by many hospitals.”

  • Conor visits Vulcan Rifle Club

    Rifle Target

    Conor visited the recently refurbished Vulcan Rifle Club to meet with club members and try out the shooting range.

    The new clubhouse replaces the old rifle range as part of St Modwen’s redevelopment of the area. The large scale redevelopment includes a housing development, a play area and a new home for Vulcan Bowling.

    Whilst at the club, Conor tried his hand at shooting a .22 rifle at a 25yd target and spoke to members about the sport. One of the issues raised by the club was the proposed rise in the cost of processing firearms licences, which could see the club having to pay a huge increase from £84 to £1050. The cost increase of 1250% would put financial pressure on Vulcan and many other rifle clubs across the country.

    Commenting Conor said:

    “I would like to thank club Chairman, Michael Hesketh, and Secretary, Ken Skidmore, for their invitation to visit the new range.

    “It is fantastic news that the membership of the club has increased since the new range has opened.

    “It was, however, concerning to hear about Home Office proposals. The Government should be doing all it can to support clubs like Vulcan, rather than hampering them with over a 1000% increase in firearm licensing costs.

    “I have taken this matter up with both the Home Office and Department for Culture, Media and Sport and will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

  • The Fix Britain’s Internet campaign

    I have been contacted by constituents regarding the Fix Britain’s Internet campaign, which is calling for Openreach to be separated from British Telecom (BT). I know that concerns have been raised that BT has underinvested in Openreach, leading to poor service which has resulted in customers experiencing service interruptions and slow speeds. I also understand that Openreach has faced criticism for delaying the installation of ultra-fast broadband.

    In 2016, Ofcom announced the initial conclusions of its Strategic Review of Digital Communications, including plans for a more independent Openreach, and in July launched a consultation on its proposals for Openreach to become a legally separate company within the BT Group. This consultation closed on 4 October and I will follow developments closely.

    As you may be aware, the House of Commons’ Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee recently published a report which calls on BT to invest significantly more in Openreach. The Committee also supports Ofcom’s plans for establishing greater separation between Openreach and the BT Group, but argues that if BT fails to offer necessary reforms and investment assurances, Ofcom should move to enforce full separation of Openreach.

    I believe it is important Openreach implements more ambitious service standards and is much more responsive to consumers, as far too many customers have experienced a lack of access to broadband and poor quality service. I believe it is right that Ofcom should decide on the future of Openreach and should be supported to ensure the most competitive environment possible. I am concerned that the Government has failed to foster a competitive communications market, both in in mobile and fixed, and believe that more competition means better service, more investment and lower prices for businesses and consumers and that Ofcom should be supported to make sure that happens.

    More widely, I believe we need a digital industrial strategy to ensure everyone benefits from the digital revolution, particularly as research has shown that faster broadband speeds would add up to £17 billion to the UK economy by 2024. It is therefore disappointing that the Government has abandoned the previous Labour Government’s commitment to fully funded universal broadband. I am concerned the Government lacks a coherent strategy and has repeatedly failed to hit its targets on broadband rollout, costing the economy billions in lost productivity gains and new jobs; and denying millions of people the economic and social benefits provided by the Internet.

    The Government’s Digital Economy Bill contains measures to create the right for every household to access a minimum broadband speed of 10 megabits per second by 2020. While I welcome the proposed broadband Universal Service Obligation, it is disappointing that it has taken so long for it to be introduced. Indeed, it is now four years after the last Labour Government’s commitment to universal broadband for all would have come into force.

    I can assure you that my Labour colleagues and I will hold the Government to account on how it plans to improve communications infrastructure and connectivity as the Digital Economy Bill progresses through Parliament.

     

  • A Fair Tax on Flying campaign

    I believe that aviation is crucial to our nation’s economy and our future as an outward-looking trading nation. I appreciate constituents concern about APD given the squeeze on living standards.

    Residents have rightly raise in your letter the issue of devolution of APD to Scotland. It is important to press the Government on support for English regional airports, following the devolution of APD to Scotland and Northern Ireland.

    Ahead of the Scotland Act 2016, which devolved powers to set the rate of APD, Labour pressed the UK Treasury to lead work on a mechanism to ensure that English airports are not disadvantaged. As you may be aware, HM Treasury published a discussion paper in July 2015 outlining three possible options for tackling the issue: devolving APD within England; varying APD rates within England; or providing aid to regional airports. I am concerned about the potential for a race to the bottom in APD. Despite repeatedly being asked when it will respond to the consultation, the Government continues to state it is considering the responses it received.

    When the Scotland Act was being considered in Parliament, MPs from both sides of the House of Commons raised concerns that further devolution would put regional airports in England at a significant disadvantage and create a distortion of competition. It is important to continue to press the Government to respond to the July 2015 consultation paper. When the Government responds, I will consider the outcome carefully, bearing in mind the points you raise in your letter.

    I am concerned that a host of aviation challenges have stacked up and that a strategy is needed not only on air passenger duty but also improving road and rail access to all international gateways, modernising airspace, noise, promoting bio fuels and delivering on international climate change commitments.

    The Government has stated that like all taxes APD is kept under review with any changes being announced at fiscal events. Therefore the next opportunity for the Government to announce a change to APD will be in the Autumn Statement later this month. I will follow the Autumn Statement and the choices that the new Chancellor makes very closely.

    Please be assured that I will continue to support efforts to urge the Government to press ahead with the full range of measures that are necessary to sustain our successful aviation industry.