• 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.

  • inquiry needed into the blacklisting scandal

    I am shocked and appalled by the results of an internal police investigation, the Creedon report, which revealed the illegal treatment of construction workers by the major British building firms and the police.
    The names of construction workers were kept on a blacklist that led to them being refused work or fired from employment. Workers were blacklisted for activities such as joining a trade union, campaigning for safe conditions and even asking for clean toilets.
    We need an inquiry into the blacklisting scandal which destroyed lives, families and reputations for decades, and we demand justice for those affected.

  • My views on this week’s Brexit developments

    These are difficult and uncertain times for the country and our community. The Government’s shambolic handling of Brexit negotiations has been chaotic and confused, and caused concern for people right across Britain.

    My mailbag today reflects that and also demonstrates the diverse range of opinions in my St Helens North constituency. I get hundreds of emails and letters each week from people who want to revoke Article 50 altogether and stay in the EU, from people who want to leave with no-deal, from people who want to leave but remain in the customs union or the single market, from people who want Theresa May’s deal, from people whose views since the referendum have changed in both ways – but primarily from leave to remain – and increasingly from people who want the public to have the final say over any deal.

    When MPs are told “get on with it”, “leave means leave” or “just cancel Brexit”, it unfortunately isn’t that simple. Parliament is divided, but so is the country.

    In 2016, a majority of people in St Helens borough voted to leave the European Union. But for every six people who voted to leave, four voted to remain.

    In respecting the result of the referendum both locally and nationally, I voted to trigger Article 50 to enable Britain to leave the European Union. I was as clear then as I am now that any deal or process for leaving should prioritise workers, families, businesses and the community in St Helens borough. In addition, it must be in the national interest, ensuring that we get the best deal to protect jobs and our economy, hard-won workers’ rights, environmental and food standards, human rights, security and defence co-operation with our European partners, peace in Northern Ireland and most importantly our young people’s futures.

    But Theresa May’s deal does none of that. It would make people in St Helens borough poorer and I will never do anything to enable that. Worse still, leaving with no-deal would be an economic catastrophe that would be devastating for our community, and so my priority is to ensure we don’t crash out in this way.

    The Prime Minister has shown that she is unwilling to listen, so now Parliament has taken control. Tomorrow night, MPs will undertake a series of indicative votes stating their preferred options to try and find a way forward. I hope we can find a consensus. But I am increasingly of the view that whatever Parliament decides, or if it can’t agree, we may still need to go back to the people for a final say.

    Finally, it is my job to represent everyone in St Helens North. Not just leave voters, not just remain voters, not just those who voted for me or the Labour Party, but everyone. I will keep doing that as best I can over the coming critical days and weeks.

  • Catholic sixth form funding

    Carmel College provides a first-rate education for young people across St Helens borough. I spoke in Westminster about the fantastic impact they have on increasing social mobility, with over a third of high-achieving students coming from disadvantaged backgrounds.

    Unfortunately, Carmel and other Catholic sixth form colleges face significant financial disadvantages compared to other sixth forms and 16 to 19 academies – which of course are also under huge funding pressures because of cuts. Under current legislation, they are unable to access VAT refunds as well as access to a teacher’s pay grant. It is vital that we address this unfair anomaly to enable fantastic educational institutions like Carmel College to continue to make a real difference

  • Women in Football ‘What If?’ campaign

    I  joined my Merseyside Labour MP colleague Alison McGovern, and the Liverpool-born Political Director of Unite the Union, Anneliese Midgeley, to promote the Women in Football ‘What If?’ campaign. If you are a local womens or girls football team in St Helens borough, do get in touch with my office for more information about some of the support available from this great initiative

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