• A Government in disarray and not acting in the national interest

    The last 24 hours in Westminster have been chaotic and shambolic.

    The Prime Minister has lost authority and now is in office for her and her party’s self-interest, and certainly not in the national interest.

    The House of Commons should have voted on her deal today. Instead the Government has postponed the vote and is in a complete state of disarray.

    I would have voted against this deal. It is bad for young people, workers, businesses and the wider community in St Helens North. Theresa May’s offer gives no guarantees on workers’ rights, environmental protections, consumer standards, security co-operation and most importantly it gives no clarity about a future trading relationship between the EU and Britain.

    How can I trust the Tories to protect or deliver on any of these given what we’ve seen in Parliament this week, and more acutely in what the Government has done to the NHS, schools, police and local government in St Helens borough over the last 7 years?

    We are at an impasse. My priority is guarding against a no-deal Brexit that would be catastrophic for St Helens North and the whole country. I believe that this Tory Government is discredited and now should call a general election. If that doesn’t happen, then I believe the option of a second referendum is one we must consider.

  • Conor’s response to the Budget

    Conor’s initial response to today’s Budget:

    “After eight years of Tory austerity, people in St Helens are more than ever feeling the effects of the swingeing cuts to our schools, NHS, policing and local government services. Nothing announced today by the chancellor can undo the impact these cuts have had on our community and families right across the borough.

    “St Helens Council will have lost 71% of its central government funding by 2020, some £115million. That’s the equivalent of two years’ worth of the boroughs entire social care budget at a time when almost 5,000 adults in the borough are in need of long term care and almost 2,000 vulnerable children are in care or need some form of protection, and while the number of residents over the age of 90 is set to triple in the next twenty years with the amount of people with dementia set to increase by 58% in the next ten years.

    “Rather unbelievably, the Chancellor also said he was announcing a ‘funding bonus’ for schools to help buy ‘the little extras’. Does he think teachers and books are ‘little extras’? Because that’s what local schools tell me they can’t afford because of Tory cuts to their funding, which has seen £2bn in real terms cuts to schools nationally.

    “While I welcome the Government’s new-found interest in renewing our high streets, I’ll be seeking clarity from about how much of this is new money, and how much will be allocated to towns like St Helens and Newton-le-Willows. We must also ensure that any proposed business rates relief – which will be a welcome boost for our small shops and cafés – is funded by Whitehall, not the Town Hall.

    “Over the last eight years, the Tories have taken billions out of our public services and from the pockets of working people. St Helens has been disproportionately burdened with those cuts and a reduction in wages and living standards. If this Budget means even the smallest fraction of the money taken is being returned, I will be holding this Government to account and fighting to make sure that our community gets its fair share.”

  • Conor McGinn named Politician of the Year at the PinkNews Awards

    St Helens North MP Conor McGinn has been named Politician of the Year at the PinkNews Awards in London.

    The Labour MP and Conservative peer Lord Hayward were both honoured for their work across the political divide to extend equal marriage to Northern Ireland.

    LGBT campaigners have praised the pair’s efforts to secure equality via Westminster, given the absence of a devolved government.

    The two politicians were presented with their joint prize by House of Commons Speaker John Bercow at the awards event in Westminster, which was also attended by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

    Mr McGinn has said he hopes his bill will keep up pressure on the UK government to act on the issue.

    This week, the House of Commons voted by 207-117 in favour of an amendment proposed by Mr McGinn and his Labour colleague Stella Creasy that forces the Government to address the ban on equal marriage, by issuing guidance to civil servants and departments in the region on the human rights impact of the current laws in relation to same-sex marriage and abortion.

    But once again today, a single objection by a Conservative MP blocked the second reading of Mr McGinn’s marriage equality bill.

    Mr McGinn said: “This is not about people getting married or even being gay, this is about people being equal. We are absolutely determined to do get equality for people in Belfast so that they can enjoy the same rights as my constituents in St Helens and people in London, Dublin, Edinburgh and Cardiff.

    “Our opponents who block my Bill and seek to frustrate the wishes of Parliament and hundreds of thousands of people are only postponing the inevitable. Change is coming!”

  • New parliamentary group launched to fight for St Helens and Liverpool City Region

    Conor McGinn has been elected to a senior position in a new All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) set up to champion the Liverpool City Region at Westminster.

    Mr McGinn will act as Secretary of the APPG for the Liverpool City Region (LCR), which is chaired by Labour Wirral West MP Alison McGovern. It brings together over 20 MPs and members of the House of Lords to work alongside LCR Mayor Steve Rotherham, local council leaders and representatives from the private and voluntary sector to maximise opportunities and bring jobs, growth and funding to the city region. Former Liberal MP now Lord David Alton and ex-Tory deputy Prime Minister now Lord Michael Heseltine are the other officers of the cross-party group.

    Speaking about the launch of the group, Mr McGinn said: “By working together through this new group, the city region and in turn St Helens will have a stronger voice in Parliament. Alongside colleagues, I will be working to fight for increased investment for St Helens and will challenge the government to use the Autumn Budget to support the city region.

    He continued: “I will also be working to ensure the benefits that can be created through the LCR are felt not just in Liverpool, but across the entire region. I was delighted to be elected Secretary of this dedicated new group and look forward to working alongside Alison as Chair, my St Helens colleague Marie Rimmer and fellow MPs to campaign for the best future for communities here in St Helens and across the region.”

  • Government needs to support the local transport infrastructure

    I spoke in the House of Commons on two important transport infrastructure issues facing my constituents.

    I called for new works to the junction to be included in the next Road Investment Strategy, Haydock Island is a vital junction that carries traffic off the M6 where it meets very busy local roads.

    Although it has been remodelled in recent years, there are still issues with heavy traffic flows and this is impacting local residents and businesses.

    St Helens is ideally situated for businesses that trade in Liverpool and Manchester and it is vital for workers commuting there and for drivers in St Helens that traffic flows freely.

    on the rail network, the  Wales and the Borders train franchise runs through much of the North West, including areas of St Helens and my constituency of St Helens North.

    Despite this, and the fact that a large number of passengers using the service start and finish their journeys at stations in the North West, no one from our region or indeed at the Department for Transport in London has control over who gets the franchise.

    I raised this issue in the House of Commons and pointed out to the Transport Secretary that it is ludicrous that decisions affecting English passengers are made exclusively in Wales.

    This is galling for commuters and rail passengers in my constituency who have already endured months of delays and cancellations as a result of Northern’s botched new timetable – also something that the Transport Secretary refuses to take responsibility for.

    We need a publicly-run rail franchising system that delivers for passengers and is accountable to the proper authorities.

  • Fair Wages For All Ages

    As a co-sponsor of my colleague Holly Lynch MP’s Bill, I’m delighted to support the campaign for Fair Wages For All Ages.

    Young people under the age of 25 working on minimum wage currently earn less than their older colleagues – even if they are doing the same job.

    This is having a big financial impact on young workers, with House of Commons Library figures showing that someone working full time on the minimum wage, who is paid at the rate for 18 year olds, would earn £3,774 less per year than someone who is over 25.

    This gap is only going to increase further as the ‘living wage’ increases towards a target of around £9 an hour.

    It is unacceptable that young people are being left behind in this way, which is why I’m backing the Bill and the campaign to introduce fairness to the system by bringing younger people’s wages into line with their older colleagues.

    This is the right thing to do and would also bring the UK into line with other countries whose young workers do not face this wage discrimination, including Germany, New Zealand, Ireland and even the United States

  • supporting musicians in the house of commons

    The rise of music streaming platforms like Spotify and YouTube have allowed millions more people to access music at an affordable price.

    But often there is a large ‘value gap’ between the revenues earned by these platforms and the money paid to artists and bands.

    In 2015, YouTube accounted for 40 per cent of overall music listening but just 4 per cent of revenue for artists. This huge gap in value is simply not fair for hardworking artists and musicians who should be properly rewarded for their creativity.

    I raised the importance of this in the House of Commons and I was pleased to hear that the Government is committed to supporting musicians.

  • 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.

     

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