• Adoption UK’s new report, Adoption Barometer

    I was delighted to host the official launch of Adoption UK’s new report, Adoption Barometer, in Parliament.
    Politicians, adoptive parents and a range of professionals gathered to discuss Adoption UK’s report on modern-day adoption. It looks at the Government’s performance on support for adoptive families, education for adopted children, and provides insight into all stages of the adoption journey.
    St Helens borough has significantly more ‘looked after children’ than the North West and England as a whole.
    Adoption can be a rewarding and life-changing experience for all involved, and this excellent report from Adoption UK is a great resource for all those considering adopting.

  • Sir Kim Darroch

    Sir Kim Darroch’s forced resignation as British Ambassador to the US is outrageous & unprecedented.
    At today’s urgent session of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I asked the Permanent Secretary of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office how damaging the consequences are for diplomatic relations with the United States.

  • ‘Let’s Talk Loneliness’

    I am pleased to support the new public-facing Government campaign ‘Let’s Talk Loneliness’. The campaign aims to reduce the stigma around feeling lonely and raise awareness. Many of us experience loneliness, and it is essential that we feel able to talk about it.

    Loneliness is increasing throughout our society – recent research shows that 74% of us have experienced loneliness and have not told anyone about it and between 3 and 9 million people report feeling always or often lonely.

    Information is available on the Let’s Talk Loneliness website where you can see toolkits and supportive videos and messages. One way in which we can tackle loneliness is by coming together and sharing our experiences of loneliness with those around us.

  • ‘Mortgage prisoners’

    ‘Mortgage prisoners’ are people who don’t meet the mortgage affordability test and are unable to re-mortgage, despite currently paying higher rates. This situation leaves many trapped having to pay more for their mortgages than those that are financially better off. This is an unacceptable situation for the estimated 200,000 ‘mortgage prisoners’ suffering real financial hardship in the UK.
    I have joined the All Party Parliamentary Group on Mortgage Prisoners to add my support to find a solution to this issue, which affects many of my constituents in St Helens North.
    The Financial Conduct Authority has published a consultation paper, which includes proposals to help those trapped in this awful situation. This is to be welcomed, but the plans to change mortgage affordability rules are currently optional for mortgage providers, not an obligation. Voluntary agreements are a step forward, but more must be done.

  • keep free TV Licences

    As predicted, the Tory Government has broken its manifesto promise to keep free TV Licences for over-75s until 2022, and now millions of elderly people across the country will have to pay.

    In St Helens North, 4,720 pensioner households will lose this benefit, costing collectively over £710,000 annually.

    Elderly people losing their free TV licences makes a mockery of the claim that austerity is over. The Government should take responsibility – rather than passing the buck to the BBC – and save free TV Licences for the over-75s.

  • ‘Long Live The Local’

    I am delighted to support the ‘Long Live The Local’ campaign to reduce beer duty tax.
    Pubs play a vital cultural, community, and economic role – creating nearly 900,000 jobs and contributing £23bn to the economy. Despite these tremendous benefits, they operate under an enormous tax burden that is 12 times higher than in Germany and Spain.
    We’re lucky to have some brilliant local pubs and bars across St Helens borough from places with live music, great food and real ale to quizzes, darts, charitable and community-focused activities and so much more. We need to support these community assets to survive and thrive, not hamper them with financial pressures.
    During the campaign last year almost 200 people in St Helens North showed their support by signing the petition. This year the campaign hopes to have even greater impact and deliver a cut in beer duty. So to sign the petition and show your support go to https://www.longlivethelocal.pub/

  • Marie McCourt meeting with the Secretary of State for Justice

    Marie McCourt and I had a good meeting with the Secretary of State for Justice recently. We have made solid progress and the Government is finally listening.
    Putting Helen’s Law in statute to change the parole guidelines in law is a huge victory for Marie, the McCourt family, and the many other families in similar circumstances.
    Marie has been a real driving force behind this campaign and the support we’ve received from people in St Helens has been incredible.
    My Private Members’ Bill on Helens law received the unanimous support of the House of Commons three years ago and I don’t foresee any difficulty in getting this through Parliament. Marie and I will be working closely with the Ministry of Justice to ensure that Helen’s Law is introduced as quickly as possible.

  • St Thomas of Canterbury Primary School petition to 10 Downing Street

    I joined pupils and teachers from St Thomas of Canterbury Primary School in Windle to deliver a petition to 10 Downing Street as part of a campaign against school funding cuts, and afterwards they came in to the House of Commons for a tour and to see some of our proceedings.
    Chronic underfunding by this Tory government is having a direct impact on the ability of our schools to provide the education that our children deserve. Schools like St Thomas of Canterbury are being forced to make cuts that will affect the education of pupils.
    Mrs Hall the headteacher, teachers and staff at St Thomas of Canterbury do an outstanding job, as do many of our schools across the borough – but this commitment from staff can only be stretched so far without proper funding. A lack of government funding is holding children in St Helens back from achieving their potential.
    The petition directly appeals to the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds, to end the chronic underfunding the school is facing as a direct result of eight years of austerity. We need to equip our young people with the skills for them to succeed in the future. The Government must now urgently provide the funding that will enable our schools to do this.

  • the death of Mrs Mary O’Hare

    I am so sorry to hear about the death of Mrs Mary O’Hare from Whitecross. She was a woman of kindness, integrity and most of all a great family friend.
    Mrs O’Hare and her family suffered the awful injustice of her daughter Majella’s killing; she was 12 years old when a soldier shot her in the back while she was on her way to the local church.
    I was proud to play a small part in getting the Government to apologise for the wrong inflicted on Mrs O’Hare and her family.
    I also want to pay tribute to another Whitecross man Eugene Reavey, who still seeks justice for his three brothers who were killed by the Glennane gang. The Reaveys deserve the truth and I will support them in seeking it.
    The Reavey and O’Hare families never strayed from the path of dignity, faith and compassion. I cannot adequately articulate how much admiration I have for them.
    To Mrs O’Hare’s son Michael – my good friend – and the wider family, I can faithfully say that ‘Ma’ was what I call a ‘quiet leader’.
    May she rest in peace.

  • 20 years since the introduction of the minimum wage

    April marks 20 years since the introduction of the minimum wage. This ground-breaking advance for workers’ rights is one of many examples of the impact that Labour in government has.
    There is still much to do to make the job market fair. There are many people with insecure contracts and with wages that don’t support their and their families’ basic needs.
    The prevalence of in-work poverty is unacceptable. Many hard-working people don’t earn enough to support their families to live. 54% of low paid workers are regularly missing meals so that they can pay the bills. The Tories have created a perfect storm of low pay, insecurity and working poverty.
    Only a Labour Government will ensure a fair deal for working people.

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