• the contaminated blood scandal enquiry

    The victims of the contaminated blood scandal have been waiting years for justice. So, I’m glad the Government has responded to our calls for action and is getting the long-awaited inquiry moving.

    It has accepted the terms of reference recommended by inquiry chair Sir Brian Langstaff which means he can now start his investigations.

    This is good news for my constituent Sandra Molyneux who lost her husband Alan in 1985 after he contracted a virus from a blood transfusion at the Royal Liverpool Hospital. Alan was a haemophiliac and needed regular treatment for his condition, but was one of thousands infected with contaminated blood. Sandra was left widowed at the age of 32 with two children as a result of his death from the infected blood which was imported from the USA in the 1970s and 1980s.

    I raising her case since I became the MP for St Helens North and it’s high time the Government offered more than words to Sandra and all those who have endured similar pain.

    As well as fighting for Sandra as her local MP, I have campaigned for action in my role as a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Haemophilia and Contaminated Blood.

    The first stage of the inquiry’s work will be to gather evidence from the Government, the NHS and many other organisations as well as, most importantly, those who have been directly affected by the scandal.

    That work needs to be as comprehensive as possible, but it also needs to be completed as quickly as possible for the sake of all those who have waited so long.

    The impact of contaminated blood has had a profound impact on so many people’s lives. I hope we can finally get justice for Sandra and the other victims who have suffered so much.

  • the 70th anniversary of the creation of the National Health Service

    This week marks the 70th anniversary of the creation of the National Health Service.

    I’m proud of the NHS, the most enduring legacy of the socialist and progressive measures taken by the radical 1945 Labour Government.

    The real heroes of our NHS are its hardworking and dedicated staff, from staff nurses to junior doctors and hospital porters to ambulance paramedics. They are the lifeblood of our health service, without which it wouldn’t exist.

    Every family has their own NHS story, and like everyone else my gratitude to our health service is because of the treatment I and my family have received over many years and generations. And I’m really proud that my mum has worked in the NHS for 36 years, and that aunts, great-aunts and cousins were NHS nurses and midwives both here in England and in Northern Ireland.

    The travesty of recent years is the abject failure of this Government to support our NHS staff.

    Since 2010, we have seen this Government in disputes with junior doctors and nurses, impose real terms pay cuts in back to back years and preside over a devastating series of winter crises in our hospitals that has stretched staff morale to breaking point.

    Just this year, new figures revealed that here in St Helens, Government mismanagement of our NHS has quadrupled the bill for agency nurses, because of staff shortages after they cut nurse training places.

    The NHS, its staff and its patients desperately need a Labour government that can deal with these crises and support our NHS in the years to come and preserve that most progressive idea of a healthcare system free at the point of use, available to those who need it.

     

  • the importance of a credible brownfield first policy

    I had a very good engagement with the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

    The CPRE has set out some useful policy detail on the importance of a credible brownfield first policy for increasing housing supply, which I agree with.

    In 2010, Government figures showed there were approximately 70,000 hectares of brownfield land that is unused – half of which was considered suitable for housing. Since then the Tories have completely cut funding for remediation work needed to bring this land back in to use, while at the same time increasing pressure on local authorities to meet new house-building targets. This is having a particular impact on places like St Helens.

    In my response to our Local Plan, I made it clear that St Helens Council should commit to the redevelopment of brownfield sites first and phase any release of land to focus developments on previously used sites, with a local register of brownfield sites to ensure we maximise the opportunities to develop them.

    I’ll continue to push for a balanced Local Plan which is ambitious for St Helens, Newton-le-Willows and our villages, which encourages people to live, work and visit here, and which first and foremost ensures the best quality of life for local residents with good housing, schools, health & public services and decent transport infrastructure.

  • meeting with the NFU

    It was great to meet Minette Batters, President of the National Farmers Union, to discuss the importance of agriculture to the economy and what more the Government can do to support farmers.

    More than 32,000 people work in the agricultural sector across the North West and nearly 100,000 hectares is farmed across the region.

    It is vital for these farmers, their families and the communities theyserve that people are aware of and able to engage with the food and farming industry, which is why I’ve been supportive of an Agriculture GCSE in our schools, for example.

    The NFU will also be stepping up its work educating young people about the importance of food and farming with its new ‘Farmvention’ programme.

    The initiative will launch in September and will offer schoolchildren the opportunity to design tractors and farms of the future as well as giving schools the chance to win fully funded day trips to farms.

     

  • speaking in the council of Europe

    2018 is a very important year for St Helens, marking 150 years since our borough was created.

    But it is also 70 years since St Helens’ twinning with Stuttgart in Germany, a historic partnership that I raised at the Parliamentary Assembly to the Council of Europe.

    St Helens is an innovative borough that powered the industrial revolution with coal, glass chemicals and rail.

    Our twinning with Stuttgart came about after the horrors of the Second World War. In 1948, the Mayor of St Helens, Alderman Walter Marshall was the first British civic leader to visit the city after hearing a presentation from a Stuttgart resident about the challenges there.

    Mayor Marshall, in a very radical, visionary and generous act, held out the hand of friendship – and the people of St Helens and Stuttgart have been linked ever since.

  • 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.

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