• Conor marks first anniversary of ‘Helen’s Law’ Bill with demand for urgent Government action

    Conor  has written to Theresa May to express the unhappiness of victims’ families with the Government’s failure to bring in a new “no body, no parole” law for convicted murderers.

    Conors proposed new law would prevent the release from jail of killers who refuse to reveal the whereabouts of their victims’ bodies.

    He is fighting for Helen’s Law to get justice for his constituent Marie McCourt whose daughter Helen was murdered in 1988.  Despite her killer’s conviction, Helen’s body has never been found.

    Conor has stepped up the campaign ahead of the first anniversary today (Wednesday October 11) of his parliamentary battle to change the law with his Unlawful Killing (Recovery of Remains) Bill.

    In his letter to the PM, Conor said: “I must report the immense sense of frustration and continued sense of injustice that victims are feeling at the lack of progress.”

    He urged the Prime Minister to work with him to get Helen’s Law on to the statute book as swiftly as possible to ease the torment endured by Marie McCourt and many other families.

    Helen McCourt was killed at the age of 22 by Ian Simms, the landlord of a pub where she had worked as a barmaid. She disappeared close to her home in Billinge in Mr McGinn’s constituency of St Helens North on February 9 1988.

    Simms, then aged 31, was found guilty of murder in a landmark conviction based on overwhelming DNA evidence – even though Helen’s body was never found.

    Since Helen’s death, Simms has continued to torment Marie McCourt by refusing to explain what happened to Helen’s body.

    His callous silence has denied Marie and her relatives the chance to grieve properly and give Helen a proper funeral.

    Marie has described that unimaginable distress and the prospect that she could die before discovering the whereabouts of her daughter as “a special kind of torture”.

    More than 400,000 people have signed a petition backing Helen’s Law which would help grieving families give their loved ones a proper funeral.

    The new law would help people like Marie and others suffering similar ordeals, likethe parents of murdered schoolgirl Danielle Jones, who vanished from a bus stop in 2001, and relatives of Carole Packman who was killed in 1985.

     

    According to Home Office figures, there have been at least 30 murders since 2007 in England and Wales where no body has been recovered.

    “Throughout her ordeal, Marie has shown dignity and courage while continuing to fight for justice.

     “Yet, despite his cruel silence, her daughter’s killer could soon be released from jail. That would be a terrible injustice.

     “Helen’s Law would mean that if a killer refused to give information about the location of a victim’s body, they would not be considered eligible for parole and would remain behind bars.

     “Despite the huge support of more than 400,000 people, the Government is in danger of being seen to be dragging its feet and risks betraying victims’ families and those like Marie who are being denied the justice they deserve.”

  • Conor McGinn demands protections for Good Friday Agreement in Brexit Bill

    Conor McGinn has called for the Good Friday Agreement to be protected in law as the UK leaves the European Union.

    In amendments tabled to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, the legislation that will take the UK out of the EU, Mr McGinn has called for the principles of the Good Friday Agreement to be reaffirmed in law.

    The amendments will ensure freedom of movement and trade on the island of Ireland, enshrine the power-sharing and North-South institutions set-up under the Agreement in UK law, preserve existing human rights and equality legislation and the principle of consent in relation to Northern Ireland’s future.

    The status of Irish citizens would also be placed on the statute book, with the amendments recognising rights “inclusive of and in addition to their status, rights and entitlements as EU citizens”.

    Conors changes to the Bill, which would come into force after clearing parliamentary hurdles in the House of Commons and House of Lords, would mean the Good Friday Agreement is explicitly upheld by the British Government after the UK’s departure from the EU.

    Conors proposals also seek to preserve the EU-recognised status of the Irish language, on the basis of “respect, understanding and tolerance in relation to linguistic diversity” as set out in the Good Friday Agreement.

    “As the UK leaves the European Union, Parliament has a duty to uphold the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process in Northern Ireland.

    “That’s why I am calling for the maintenance of the Good Friday Agreement – and all of its provisions and institutions – to be enshrined in law through my amendments to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.

    “MPs from all parties recognise the importance of protecting the peace process and the tremendous progress we have seen on the island of Ireland and in British-Irish relations since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement nearly 20 years ago, and the Government has the chance through my amendments to show it does too.

    “We must act to safeguard the progress made by protecting the Good Friday Agreement and enshrining it on the statute book as we leave the EU.”

     

  • Conor elected as officer of all party group on childcare and early education

    Conor has been elected as an officer of an influential new group at Westminster, the Childcare and Early Education All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG). The group will spearhead efforts to improve childcare and early education across the country.

    The move comes after Conor – a father of two pre-school aged children himself – revealed new figures about the number of local children who are missing out on free childcare in St Helens.

    In St Helens, almost one in five (19%) of two-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds are missing out on 15 hours free childcare, according to the latest official Government figures.

    That means around 136 two-year-olds in St Helens from disadvantaged backgrounds are not getting the free childcare they need.

    Commenting, Conor said: “The Government is already failing to fund its promise to provide 30 hours of free childcare for three and four-year-olds.

    “The latest figures show that many two-year-olds in St Helens are not even getting 15 hours of free childcare.

    “The Tories are letting down families who most need help with childcare, as well as childcare providers who are struggling to meet costs.

    “I hope that, together with Parliamentary colleagues, I can use this new group to press the Government to strengthen early education for children in St Helens and across the country.”

    Of the £9.1 billion spent on childcare and early education in this Parliament, just £250 million is earmarked for the most disadvantaged children.

    Around three in 10 disadvantaged two-year-olds are still missing out on a free childcare place – despite new evidence to show that this can have a marked impact on their development.

  • Conor gains support for his EDM on National health service Pay

    In Westminster , I was delighted that Labour’s frontbench put forward my Early Day Motion on NHS pay for debate in Parliament.

    70 MPs from all parties – except, of course, the Tories – had already signed the motion calling on the Government to scrap the pay cap for NHS workers.

    When it became clear that the majority of MPs were likely to vote with Labour in support of this yesterday, the Tories cynically announced an end to the pay cap but then ran away from the vote. It was passed unanimously by the House of Commons.

    It is a great victory for our NHS staff and all those who have been campaigning for a pay rise like the Royal College of Nursing and Unison.

    I’m proud to have played a role alongside Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth in pushing the issue to the floor of the House of Commons, putting it up to the Tories and getting the motion passed unanimously.

    The Government now needs to act and pay our nurses, NHS staff and all public sector workers properly and fairly.

  • Conor welcomes the commencement of work on Pasture Lane

    Residents in Rainford will be relieved that works on Pasture Lane have finally commenced.

    I first approached the Government for help just a few days after the flooding caused serious damage to the road and forced its closure at the end of 2015.

    Local people have had to endure 20 months of waiting because Tory Ministers in London wouldn’t release the funding needed to make these repairs.

    I pay tribute to the local community for their persistent campaigning on this issue and thank St Helens Council for its role in securing funding.

    I will continue to monitor the works over the following weeks to ensure they are completed to a high standard and on time.

  • Conor calls on the Government to act on school holiday hunger

    Conor has added his name to Labour MP Frank Field’s Bill calling on the Government to act to stop children going hungry during the school holidays, which has been presented in Parliament.

    The issue of food poverty among children is often worse during school breaks when free school meals are not available, adding to the pressure facing families and forcing some to rely on food banks.

    The School Holidays (Meals and Activities) Bill that would put a legal duty on local councils to ensure the provision of free school meals and activities for children during the summer break.

    The move comes after a report from MPs revealed that around 3 million children were at risk of going without school meals during the summer – with the loss of free school meals for two months adding up to £40 a week to a family’s outgoings for one child.

    In St Helens, the council had holiday schemes running on weekdays in churches and children’s centres where children could get a hot meal and join activities.

    Conor has visited the Make Lunch St Helens project that aims to help parents who struggle to provide a hot meal for their children during the school summer break.

    But he warned that the Government must do more to help cash-strapped councils and parents ensure that children do not go hungry during school holidays.

    Conor said: “A growing number of families in St Helens and across the region are finding it hard to make sure their children get a hot meal during the school holidays.

    “The absence of free school meals puts them under increasing financial pressure and they often have to try to find extra money to pay for activities for their children during school breaks.

    “There are some fantastic local projects doing their best to provide support, but we need more action from the Government to make sure children do not go hungry during school holidays.”

  • Conor campaigning for transport improvements in St Helens North

    Conor McGinn has stepped up his campaign for urgent transport improvements in St Helens and across the North West.

    St Helens North MP Conor also accused Government ministers of backtracking on pledges to invest in transport as part of the Northern Powerhouse project.

    He spoke out following a major summit to discuss Cross Rail North and wider transport investment for the Northern Powerhouse held in Leeds.

    Conor accused the Government of pouring cash into London’s £30 billion Crossrail 2 project at the expense of the North West and appearing to water down a previous commitment for the full electrification of the Trans Pennine Line.

    He is also demanding assurances about progress on improvements at Newton-le-Willows station, plans to upgrade Garswood station and the proposed improvements at junction 23 of the M6 motorway.

    Conor said: “Yet again the Government is snubbing the North West at the expense of London and the South East.

    “We desperately need good transport links to help drive economic growth in St Helens and across the North with improvements from West to East from Liverpool to Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle.

    “It is these transport improvements that will increase jobs and prosperity for St Helens and Merseyside – not the proposed HS2 rail link or London’s Crossrail 2.

    “We need the Northern and Trans Pennine Express operations to deliver better connections between Merseyside and other economic centres in the region.

    “The Government should shift its focus away from London to other cities and towns like St Helens that are crying out for better transport connections.”

  • Conor supporting constituents facing “rip off” Leasehold charges

    Conor McGinn, St Helens North MP, has vowed to continue fighting for people being forced to pay “rip off” leasehold charges.

    His pledge came after the Government responded to the campaign supported by Conor and Parliamentary colleagues to stop leasehold exploitation.

    It announced plans to ban the sale of houses leasehold and set the ground rent for new flats at a peppercorn level.

    Conor welcomed the Government’s response to the campaign, but said more must be done to help those who had already bought properties and faced exorbitant leasehold charges.

    He took up the case of dozens residents in St Helens North who are among the many households across the North West who have been hit by the unjust fees.

    Commenting, Conor said: “The Government’s response to our demands for action is not before time. Urgent action is needed to stop these rip-off charges.

    “But we must also help those who have already bought a home and are being ruthlessly exploited through these unjust, sky-high charges.

    “I am helping a number of constituents who have contacted me over this issue and I will continue to fight for justice on their behalf.

    “For those people already trapped in this leasehold nightmare, the promise of Government action in future is not a solution.

    “I will be pressing ministers to end these unfair charges as swiftly as possible and to help those who have already been hit by these exorbitant charges.”

    Among those who have contacted Conor are those who have been hit with huge ground rent increases and others who found developers had sold on the freehold to their flats to a third party without informing them.

    In other cases, householders were told they would have to pay thousands of pounds just to have their plans for an extension reviewed.

  • Conor Hosts Lloyds National Business Awards

    Conor hosted a reception in Parliament for more than 90 finalists taking part in the Lloyds National Business Awards 2017. The event gives companies of all sizes from across British industry the chance to show their excellence in business.

    Conor said: “It was fantastic to meet so many talented people who have shown innovation and excellence in their fields, including those from the North West.

    “We have many outstanding businesses in St Helens who are the engines for growth in the region and will help create more local jobs in the future.

    “I wish all the finalists across 16 award categories the best of luck in the awards and beyond.”

    The shortlisted candidates include tech start-ups to colleges and renewable energy firms to airports. The winners will be announced at a ceremony on 14 November 2017.

    More information about the awards can be found here:
    http://www.nationalbusinessawards.co.uk/

  • Mental health provision for children

    I share constituents concern about mental health provision for children and at the recent General Election I stood on a manifesto which committed to end the neglect of children’s mental health. I believe we must invest in early intervention by increasing the proportion of mental health budgets spent on support for children and young people. I also believe that schools-based counselling should be extended to all secondary schools. I am aware that YoungMinds and the National Children’s Bureau have drafted a Wellbeing in Schools Bill which aims to change the education system to make the wellbeing of students a priority. I note that the Schools (Mental Health and Wellbeing) Bill has now been introduced in the House of Lords. This Bill seeks to make provision for state-maintained schools to promote the mental health and well-being of their pupils alongside academic attainment. I will follow the progress of this Bill closely. I agree that children must be supported to be happy and healthy at school and I would like to see a new Index of Child Health to measure progress against international standards, and to report annually against key indicators such as mental health. While I welcome the current Government’s proposal to publish a Green Paper on Children and Young People’s Mental Health, I remain concerned that mental health funding is not reaching the frontline and that money intended for children’s mental health has been used to plug funding gaps in the wider NHS. It is very worrying that a recent report has found that 80% of NHS bosses fear they will have too little money this year to provide timely, high-quality care to the growing numbers of people seeking mental health support. We must ring-fence mental health budgets and I believe that the Government should invest properly in children’s mental health services by increasing the proportion of the mental health budget that is spent on children and young people. Thank you once again for contacting me about this very important issue. I can assure you I will continue to press for action to support children and young people with mental health problems.

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