• 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.

  • holding ministers to account on brexit

    Organisations like the St Helens Chamber of Commerce do fantastic work supporting the business community in St Helens and helping firms to grow.

    But this Government is putting our local businesses at risk, with a new poll showing that confidence amongst businesses in the North West has fallen by 22 points – down to just 33 per cent.

    This presents real risks for our economy in St Helens and across the North West, with important decisions on investment likely to be stalled or delayed.

    I took Ministers to task in the House of Commons for their shambolic and chaotic handling of the Brexit negotiations.

  • World Refugee Day

    The UK has a proud history of helping people fleeing violence and persecution. World Refugee Day provides an opportunity to remember our moral and legal obligations to vulnerable people seeking asylum and to commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees around the world.

    I believe that we need effective action to alleviate the refugee crisis and that Britain must continue to uphold its proud tradition of honouring the spirit of international law and our moral obligations by taking our fair share of refugees.

    I also believe that a streamlined system to assess asylum claims fairly and in a timely way, as well as treating asylum-seekers humanely, must be urgently implemented. When the Home Office takes too long to decide a claim, or makes an inaccurate decision, real people suffer.

    There should be no place for the use of torture anywhere in the world – it is illegal and when allegations are made it is essential that they are fully investigated. The UK must act as a champion for the absolute ban on torture and urge others to respect the rule of law and the freedoms and human rights that every person is entitled to.

    Furthermore, while victims of torture and other vulnerable people should not be in immigration detention, current safeguards are not working and vulnerable people are still being detained for long periods of time. I believe the Home Office should implement an effective pre-detention screening process to determine whether someone is vulnerable before they are detained.

  • agency staffing levels in the NHS

    The Tories’ much publicised promise to increase NHS funding is simply not worth the paper it is written on, and cannot be trusted.

    The reality is that this Tory Government is presiding over a recruitment, retention and resourcing crisis in our NHS.

    Health authorities in St Helens have been forced to spend FOUR TIMES more on agency nurses than in 2010.This is a direct result of the Government’s mismanagement of our NHS. Instead of taking action to help hospitals reduce bills and hire more nurses, the Government has scrapped student nurse bursaries – meaning nursing applications dropped by a quarter in 2017.

    Our hardworking NHS staff and local patients deserve a properly funded health service.

  • Racing to schools

    It was great to be at Haydock Park for one of charity Racing to School’s education days for pupils and teachers from Elms Bank Specialist Arts College.

    The education days provide a comprehensive behind the scenes look at how a racecourse works, combining the fun and excitement of the races with real educational outcomes from maths and science to history and geography.

    We were expertly guided around Haydock by Carrie Ford and Jo McCain who work as Education Officers at Racing to School.

    The tour provided a great opportunity for pupils to learn more about horseracing and gain an insight into a huge national industry.

    Horseracing is the second most popular spectator sport in the country and Haydock Park showcases the very best practice in the sport, having recently been rated by Visit England as one of the top twelve racecourses in the country for visitor experience.

  • Care workers for change campaign

    I am very happy to pledge my support to the Care Workers for Change Campaign for Dignity in Social Care.

    Care workers play a huge role in St Helens and it’s important that during carers Week 2018 we highlight their enormous contribution, not just to those they care for, but to our whole society.

    But poor working conditions, job insecurity, and poverty pay has become the daily reality for those who nurse, clean, and feed our loved ones – thanks to this Tory Government’s austerity policies.

    This cannot go on and it is vital the Government steps up to ensure fair funding for social care.

    Care workers provide an essential service supporting the frail and the vulnerable within our communities. They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, whilst having the right to a real living wage.

  • the wood pit disaster memorial service

    I joined the local community and former miners from across Lancashire for a poignant service at St James’ in Haydock to remember the 204 men and boys who died in the Wood Pit Disaster on 7th June 1878.

    As well as being one of the biggest single losses of life in the Lancashire coalfields, The Wood Pit Disaster left in its wake 93 widows, 282 orphans and an utterly devastated community, with the majority of victims coming from Haydock.

    As part of the 140th anniversary, St Helens Libraries arranged a commemoration event at the memorial at St James’, with readings and songs from pupils at St Augustine’s taking place in Haydock Library afterwards.

    The prosperity of our country was built on coal, and the coal miners like those at Wood Pit and across pits in St Helens who worked to mine it.

    Without their daily toil underground and the constant risk of danger and death they faced, the industrial revolution would have stalled before it began. It is right that we remember the true price of coal and the terrible events of 7th June 1878.

  • important votes on brexit

    This week a number of important votes are taking place in the House of Commons relating to Brexit.

    Labour’s Shadow Brexit team under Keir Starmer have been robust, forensic and relentless in taking the Tories to task on their chaotic handling of withdrawal negotiations so far.

    Last week at Prime Minister’s Questions, Jeremy Corbyn eviscerated Theresa May on her Government’s division, paralysis and failure to publish any coherent plan for Brexit. And our position is clear: we want an arrangement that brings the benefits of the single market and the customs union, and a close relationship with the EU.

    That’s why I’m voting for our frontbench amendments, designed to ensure that Parliament has a meaningful vote on any final deal and to urge the Government to seek a deal in the context of access to the single market and a customs union.

    The cost of leaving the single market to the UK would be £29bn a year by 2030 – and £3bn for the North West alone. Thousands of existing jobs and businesses would be lost. Many more would never get the chance to be found. I have a responsibility to tell people these uncomfortable truths, so in the same breath as telling you that I respect the vote to leave which is why I voted for Article 50, I also need to say that there are consequences to that and not all of them are good.

    There is, however, another amendment from the House of Lords that would enable the Government to join the European Economic Area (EEA), which would allow Britain to stay in the single market. This amendment is not supported by the Labour frontbench, but I will be voting for it.

    I am very clear that EEA membership is not a perfect option for a future relationship with the European Union, but at this stage it is unfortunately one of the few realistic options left for the UK.

    Two years on from the referendum and over a year since Article 50 was triggered and time is rapidly running out; visions for Brexit need to be replaced with plans for Brexit, and I don’t see many of those forthcoming.

    Specifically, no-one has come forward with any alternative structures that would simultaneously protect workers and businesses in St Helens, ensure the UK has access to trade and export markets and prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.

    I realise this is not without its political challenges. St Helens North is a Leave-voting seat. But my impression from talking to you – my friends and neighbours – is that if we reduce the interests and priorities of people in St Helens to Brexit and immigration then we do ourselves a disservice. Which is why those figures I quoted above that emerged over the weekend about the cost of leaving the single market made my mind up not to let the best be the enemy of the good on the EEA amendment.

    Labour’s historic mission has always been to bring about better conditions and a more hopeful future for the people and the places we represent. That’s what brought me in to politics and that’s what I’ll always work for; for the people of St Helens and for the country.

     

Page 20 of 58« First...10...1819202122...304050...Last »