• St Helens armed forces day

    I was delighted to join the Mayor of St Helens to mark Armed Forces Day with regular, reserve & cadet forces, veterans, charities, community organisations and St Helens Council in Victoria Park.

    Attractions on the day included live music from the Victoria Park bandstand from the Lancashire Artillery Pipes and Drum and the Lancashire Artillery Volunteers Band.

    Visitors were also able to meet serving Armed Forces personnel as well as veterans and view the vintage military vehicles on display.

    It is a testament to the hard work of the Council’s Armed Forces Champion, Councillor Lynn Clarke, that so many turned out to mark the day and thank to all those involved in our Armed Forces community

  • Cancer Research UK

    I’m backing Cancer Research UK in their call for the Government to train and employ more NHS staff to diagnose and treat cancer.

    With an increased and ageing population, projections show that half of all people in the UK are expected to be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetimes.

    Across St Helens, NHS staff work with dedication and enormous professionalism to treat patients, but the Government is not providing enough support.

    Currently, 1 in 10 diagnostic staff posts are unfilled and by 2035, there will be an additional 150,000 cancer patients diagnosed each year.

    It is therefore crucial that our NHS is properly equipped to deal with this, and early diagnosis and proper treatment is vital to increasing survival rates.

    Recruiting and training more diagnostic and treatments staff is paramount, and the Government should commit to this.

  • Heathrow expansion will benefit St Helens North

    Businesses in St Helens, companies across the North West and national trade unions have all told me a third runway at Heathrow will be good for workers, good for jobs and good for economic growth in our region and across the UK.

    I’ve been clear that Heathrow expansion must be matched by a renewed commitment to fund transport infrastructure that builds road and rail connectivity across the North.

    In a free vote in the House of Commons tonight, I’ll join dozens of other Northern Labour MPs to support the decision – which was initially made by the last Labour Government – to build a new runway at Heathrow as an important investment in our national and regional economies.

    In St Helens & Newton-le-Willows we are lucky to be served by two airports – Liverpool John Lennon and the nation’s second international hub airport at Manchester – both of which stand to gain from additional capacity at Heathrow.

    Heathrow is currently operating at 98 per cent capacity, denying regional airports like Liverpool a direct link, which is damaging inward investment across the Liverpool City Region.

    The new runway at Heathrow provides an opportunity to create new routes, boosting jobs and growth across Merseyside, with up to 180,000 new jobs expected across the country – and thousands set to be added in the North West.

    Manchester Airport is also making a significant investment in expanding its facilities and that should be matched by strategic Government support to ensure that the capacity offered by its two runways is fully utilised, including for new international routes.

    The decision to build a third runway at Heathrow and expand our national aviation capacity is an important decision for the country, but it is also vitally important for businesses and workers in St Helens and the North West. It is now time to get on with the project and realise the economic benefits for our region and the whole of the UK.

  • House magazine as ‘campaigner of the week’

    I was delighted to be recognised by The House magazine as ‘campaigner of the week’, as part of the campaign to introduce Helen’s Law.

    We are making progress, with Justice Minister Rory Stewart committing the Government to considering two policy options brought through the Ministry of Justice.

    Of course, the real credit goes to Marie McCourt, who has fought tirelessly for justice in the 30 years since Helen was murdered, and the families of many other victims.

    We are absolutely clear that convicted murderers who do not reveal the whereabouts of their victims’ remains should remain in prison where they belong, and we will keep up the fight for Helen’s Law.

  • it is time to legalise same sex marriage across the country

    I’m proud that the cross-party group of MPs backing our Bill to legalise same sex marriage has called on the Prime Minister to take the Bill into protected government time, after it was blocked at Second Reading in the House of Commons.

    The recent intervention by the Prime Minister to do just this with the Private Members’ Bill to make ‘upskirting’ a specific criminal offence – after it was also blocked – shows that the Government can intervene to make important changes when needed.

    It is outrageous that, in 2018, same sex couples in Northern Ireland who love each other are prohibited by law from marrying, but those in England, Wales, Scotland and the rest of Ireland are permitted to do so.

    I am very clear that a change in the law should be introduced by a fully functioning devolved administration, but the lack of a functioning government in Northern Ireland should not delay the delivery of fundamental rights.

    Now is the time for the Government to help this vital cause by bringing the Bill to legalise same sex marriage in Northern Ireland into its own time in the House of Commons.

  • holding ministers to account on brexit

    Organisations like the St Helens Chamber of Commerce do fantastic work supporting the business community in St Helens and helping firms to grow.

    But this Government is putting our local businesses at risk, with a new poll showing that confidence amongst businesses in the North West has fallen by 22 points – down to just 33 per cent.

    This presents real risks for our economy in St Helens and across the North West, with important decisions on investment likely to be stalled or delayed.

    I took Ministers to task in the House of Commons for their shambolic and chaotic handling of the Brexit negotiations.

  • World Refugee Day

    The UK has a proud history of helping people fleeing violence and persecution. World Refugee Day provides an opportunity to remember our moral and legal obligations to vulnerable people seeking asylum and to commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees around the world.

    I believe that we need effective action to alleviate the refugee crisis and that Britain must continue to uphold its proud tradition of honouring the spirit of international law and our moral obligations by taking our fair share of refugees.

    I also believe that a streamlined system to assess asylum claims fairly and in a timely way, as well as treating asylum-seekers humanely, must be urgently implemented. When the Home Office takes too long to decide a claim, or makes an inaccurate decision, real people suffer.

    There should be no place for the use of torture anywhere in the world – it is illegal and when allegations are made it is essential that they are fully investigated. The UK must act as a champion for the absolute ban on torture and urge others to respect the rule of law and the freedoms and human rights that every person is entitled to.

    Furthermore, while victims of torture and other vulnerable people should not be in immigration detention, current safeguards are not working and vulnerable people are still being detained for long periods of time. I believe the Home Office should implement an effective pre-detention screening process to determine whether someone is vulnerable before they are detained.

  • agency staffing levels in the NHS

    The Tories’ much publicised promise to increase NHS funding is simply not worth the paper it is written on, and cannot be trusted.

    The reality is that this Tory Government is presiding over a recruitment, retention and resourcing crisis in our NHS.

    Health authorities in St Helens have been forced to spend FOUR TIMES more on agency nurses than in 2010.This is a direct result of the Government’s mismanagement of our NHS. Instead of taking action to help hospitals reduce bills and hire more nurses, the Government has scrapped student nurse bursaries – meaning nursing applications dropped by a quarter in 2017.

    Our hardworking NHS staff and local patients deserve a properly funded health service.

  • Racing to schools

    It was great to be at Haydock Park for one of charity Racing to School’s education days for pupils and teachers from Elms Bank Specialist Arts College.

    The education days provide a comprehensive behind the scenes look at how a racecourse works, combining the fun and excitement of the races with real educational outcomes from maths and science to history and geography.

    We were expertly guided around Haydock by Carrie Ford and Jo McCain who work as Education Officers at Racing to School.

    The tour provided a great opportunity for pupils to learn more about horseracing and gain an insight into a huge national industry.

    Horseracing is the second most popular spectator sport in the country and Haydock Park showcases the very best practice in the sport, having recently been rated by Visit England as one of the top twelve racecourses in the country for visitor experience.

  • Care workers for change campaign

    I am very happy to pledge my support to the Care Workers for Change Campaign for Dignity in Social Care.

    Care workers play a huge role in St Helens and it’s important that during carers Week 2018 we highlight their enormous contribution, not just to those they care for, but to our whole society.

    But poor working conditions, job insecurity, and poverty pay has become the daily reality for those who nurse, clean, and feed our loved ones – thanks to this Tory Government’s austerity policies.

    This cannot go on and it is vital the Government steps up to ensure fair funding for social care.

    Care workers provide an essential service supporting the frail and the vulnerable within our communities. They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, whilst having the right to a real living wage.

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