• the Balfour declaration

     I believe it is right to commemorate this historic anniversary and to recognise the relationship that we have with the state of Israel. However, it is clear that there is more to do, and that Balfour’s promise that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” remains unfulfilled.

    As we rightly reflect on the last 100 years, I believe we have a shared duty to look towards the future and to the next generation of young people growing up in Israel and Palestine today. At present, that generation knows nothing but division and violence.

    I am committed to pressing for a comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on a two-state solution – a secure Israel alongside a viable state of Palestine. Both sides must avoid taking action that would make peace harder to achieve. It must mean an end to the blockade, occupation and settlement construction.

    The legacy of Balfour reminds us that the words and actions of politicians can make a difference, and I hope politicians on all sides will use the time that they have to take decisive action in the Middle East – to advance the cause of stability, security and peace.

    This is why the Labour Party is committed to recognising the state of Palestine and supporting Israel, and why I hope the Government will do so too while continuing to press for an immediate return to meaningful negotiations.

     

     

  • Homelessness

    While the number of people sleeping rough fell by three-quarters from 1997-2010, it has doubled since 2010, and across England homelessness has risen by 50% in the last two years. These figures are a terrible reminder of the consequences of seven years of failure on housing which has seen the lowest number of new social rented homes built since records began; billions cut from housing benefit; soaring rents in the private rented sector; and significant cuts to funding for vital homelessness services.

    I am aware of the Crisis report, ‘Home: No less will do’, which examines the barriers single homeless people face accessing the private rented sector. I support projects such as ‘Help to Rent’, which assist tenants and landlords to set up, de-risk and sustain a tenancy, and I agree excellent initiatives such as these need support and funding.

    At the Autumn Budget the Chancellor announced just three small-scale pilots to help the homeless, with funding which fell short of what homelessness charities had called for. I believe this is a ‘nothing has changed’ Budget from a Government with no idea of the reality of people’s lives and with no plan to improve them.

    At the General Election I stood on a manifesto that pledged a new national plan to end rough sleeping within this parliament, starting by making 4,000 additional homes reserved for people with a history of rough sleeping. The manifesto committed to safeguarding homeless hostels and other supported housing from Government cuts to housing benefit, and tackle the root causes of homelessness by increasing security for private renters with controls on rent rises.

    I will continue to press the Government to act on homelessness and to ensure security and support for private renters.

     

  • Animal Sentience

     I believe we have a moral duty to treat the animals we share our planet with in a humane and compassionate way, and I agree that leaving the EU must not lead to any watering down of existing standards on animal welfare.

    Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union protects the legal status of animals as sentient beings. Despite indicating that the Repeal Bill would incorporate Article 13, the Bill as currently drafted, will not ensure its preservation in UK law. I have concerns about this.

    In the House of Commons on 15 November, I supported New Clause 30 which sought to retain the rights and obligations contained in Article 13. I also support Amendment 350, which has been tabled by the Official Opposition and would ensure that the Government is held to the animal welfare standards enshrined in Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

    Unfortunately, when New Clause 30 was pressed to a vote on 15 November, it was rejected by the Government and defeated. The Minister argued that animals are already recognised as sentient beings under domestic law and that this will continue to be the case. The Government has since said that it will ensure any necessary changes required to UK law are made to ensure animal sentience is recognised after we leave the EU.

    I believe this is inadequate and that the Government should reverse its decision and amend the Repeal Bill without further delay. I will therefore support Amendment 350 if it is pushed to a vote during the Bill’s remaining stages.

    I also intend to support amendments that aim to ensure there is no weakening of EU-derived rights – including on animal welfare standards – because of Brexit; and I can assure you that I will continue to press for existing standards on animal welfare to be transposed into British law and strengthened where necessary.

     

  • Agent of Change bill

    We are lucky to have great venues and music projects in St Helens, like Jamm Studios and the Citadel – where the Stone Roses are among the bands that have taken to the stage – and opportunities for new talent to perform at the Westfield Street and Reminisce festivals. But some venues are struggling and I want to do my best to help, which is why I am backing the Planning (Agent of Change) Bill.

    Music venues play a vital role in supporting the music industry’s infrastructure and make a significant contribution to the UK economy, valued at £904 million in 2015.

    More than a third of music venues across the country have shut down in the last decade, and venues in St Helens are still at risk of closure when nearby developments pile extra costs on to them.

    This is a huge risk to the musical heritage of St Helens and the North West and as secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Music, I am sponsoring the proposed law by John Spellar MP to help protect our venues.

    The Planning (Agent of Change) Bill would mean developers would have to take account of the impact of any new scheme on pre-existing businesses, like music venues, before going ahead with their plans. That could mean, for example, the developer taking responsibility to pay for soundproofing to avoid the risk of new neighbours complaining about noise from a music venue.

    This is a vital step towards making sure our music venues survive and thrive and I hope the Government gets behind the proposals to get them on to the statute book.

     

    There have been cases where long-established music venues have closed following complaints received from residents in new developments that are built nearby. I am therefore pleased that the UK Government has pledged to strengthen planning rules and amend the National Planning Policy Framework to include detailed reference to the ‘Agent of Change’ principle.

  • Equal Marriage Bill for Northern Ireland

    Conor McGinn MP announced today that he plans to introduce an Equal Marriage Bill for Northern Ireland.

    The move comes in the wake of the collapse of political talks at Stormont designed to restore devolved institutions and following a the Northern Ireland Secretary of State confirming that Government MPs would have a free vote on the matter at Westminster.

    The MP for St Helens North is working closely with the Love Equality campaign for civil marriage equality on the Bill, which is expected to be introduced in the House of Commons on March 28th 2018.

    Conor McGinn MP said:

    “My preference is for a fully functioning Executive and Assembly to deal with this issue, but LGBT couples in Northern Ireland should not be made to wait a moment longer for their basic rights.

    “That is why I am introducing this Bill at the earliest available opportunity. It will test the mood of the House of Commons and I am very confident that we will win any vote. It is then for the Government to legislate.

    “If my constituents in St Helens can marry the person they love, just like people in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Dublin, then I don’t see why couples in Belfast should not be able to do the same.”

    Patrick Corrigan of the Love Equality campaign for civil marriage equality said:

    “The Love Equality campaign welcomes this move from Conor McGinn MP and is pleased to be working closely with him in the preparation of the Private Member’s Bill.

    “We will be working to build support for the Bill from MPs across the UK and are confident of a convincing majority in favour. We now look to Parliament to uphold the rights of people in Northern Ireland and to respond to overwhelming public support here.

    “However, the rights of LGBT people in Northern Ireland to be treated equally should not be left to the Private Member’s Bill process. We repeat our call on the UK Government to introduce legislation to bring Northern Ireland’s laws on marriage equality into line with the rest of the UK and Ireland.”

    The Love Equality campaign for equal civil marriage in Northern Ireland is led by the Rainbow Project, Amnesty International, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Cara-Friend, NUS-USI and HereNI.

  • Children’s Funeral Fund

    Every year, around 10,000 parents have to endure the pain of losing a child and many struggle to meet the cost of paying for a funeral – and for some this is an impossible task.

    We must do everything we can to help parents, who already facing a terrible situation, avoid the further nightmare of being plunged into debt through funeral costs.

    That’s why Conor is supporting a campaign calling on the Government to set up a new fund to help bereaved parents with the cost of children’s funerals, supporting Labour colleague Carolyn Harris MP, who struggled to pay for her young son Martin’s funeral after he was killed in a car accident at the age of eight in 1989.

    It is high time the Government acted and followed the lead of the Welsh Labour Government and introduced a Children’s Funeral Fund

  • Prayer150

    As St Helens continues celebrations to mark its 150th anniversary, Conor met with Phil Fell, Pastor of St Helens Christian Life Centre, to hear about Prayer150 – an initiative by St Helens churches to join the celebrations and look to the future of our borough.

    Prayer150 is a year-long prayer campaign for St Helens, organised through St Helens Church Leaders Hub, which will provide prayer materials and ideas for praying creatively for every aspect of St Helens life through video, social media, our website and prayer cards both for individuals and churches.

    Each month the project will focus on a different aspect of life in St Helens, with February focusing on health and social care.

    Churches in the constituency and across the borough play a vital role in St Helens, and Conor is supporting Prayer150 as an opportunity to celebrate our strong faith communities.

     

  • Conor meets local early education and child care providers in westminster

    Conor meet with Nicole Politis, director of Portico Day Nurseries, which operates in Moss Bank and across St Helens, in Parliament to discuss what more the Government can do to support families who need childcare.

    Conor is Vice Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Child Care and Early Education, it is vital that children get the best possible care that doesn’t break the family bank.

    But this Tory Government is not doing enough to support high quality childcare, with more than 1,000 early years providers closing down since 2015.

    On top of this, the Government’s promised 30 hours of free childcare a week is only available for 38 weeks of the year, meaning less flexibility and higher prices for families.

    That’s why the next Labour Government will properly fund childcare and high quality early years education for all 2 to 4 year olds, supporting young families and giving children the best possible start in life.

  • Glass Futures

    St Helens Borough has a world leading reputation and a proud industrial history in the production of high quality glass, with Pilkington leading the way.
    Conor celebrated this and the future of the industry at the Glass Futures event in Parliament and to promote St Helens as a new centre of excellence for research & development, innovation and training.
    Conor is working closely with British Glass, the local authority, government and other sectors to ensure that we can build a new economic success story of glass in St Helens at the cutting edge of technological change in the years to come.

     

  • End Hunger UK campaign

    Conor is backing a campaign by End Hunger UK and Labour colleague Emma Lewell-Buck MP to measure ‘hidden hunger’ and fight food poverty in St Helens and across the country.

    New figures have shown that more than one in ten adults and more than a quarter of parents with children under 18 are skipping meals because of a lack of money.

    Throughout the North West, more than 170,000 three day emergency food parcels were distributed to people in need last year – up from just 7,400 five years’ ago.

    Despite this, food insecurity is not properly measured across the UK – meaning there is no quality national data to quantify the scale of the problem. Hardworking volunteers and organisations do excellent work feeding those in need across our borough, but they can’t be properly supported if the Government doesn’t measure their work.

    This is absolutely unacceptable in 21st Century Britain. The Government has a duty to tackle food poverty and must act to properly measure the scale of food insecurity so we can end hunger for good.

     

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