• the European Union Act and the environment

    I agree that leaving the EU must not lead to any watering down of existing standards and I consistently supported amendments to the Withdrawal Bill, as it passed through Parliament, to safeguard environmental protections.

    Such amendments included that moved by Lord Krebs in the House of Lords, which would ensure Brexit does not weaken standards to protect our environment. I voted to defend this in the House of Commons on 13 June.

    Unfortunately, the Government rejected this amendment, arguing that it came ahead of the outcome of its consultation on ‘Environmental Principles and Governance after EU Exit’, which closed on 2 August. Instead, it brought forward its own amendment setting out that the Government will publish a draft Bill on this matter no later than six months after the date of the Withdrawal Bill passing into law.

    This amendment did introduce some helpful developments, including proposals to enable the new watchdog to initiate legal proceedings. The draft Bill will also be required to include the environmental principles within it, such as the “polluter pays” principle and the precautionary principle.

    However, I do not believe that the Government’s proposals are good enough. They do not represent the environmental protections we currently enjoy in the EU. The proposed watchdog is a toothless imitation of current EU institutions, which will advise and lay reports to Parliament with formal action only at the end of numerous bureaucratic hoops. I want to see a world-leading environmental body with independent, statutory backing.

    The Government has also announced it will introduce a new Environment Bill as a step towards achieving a “Green Brexit”, but I am concerned about the lack of information around this Bill. I look forward to closely scrutinising the details when they are revealed.

    I will continue to press for environmental standards to be properly protected and enhanced where necessary and to ensure our principle and governance mechanisms are not weakened on exit from the EU. This is vital to secure the future of our natural environment.

  • meeting young people taking part in the NCS

    I recently met with young people from across the constituency taking part in the National Citizenship Service program.

    National Citizenship Service is an opportunity for young people aged 16 and 17 to learn new skills, meet new people and make a difference in our community. I met them as they were in the process of planning their social action projects, working hard to design and deliver a volunteer project which would have a real impact, working with other community groups. We talked about how they had chosen local charities to support such as Zoe’s Place and Jenson’s Twinkle stars, and how they wanted to help them.

    There were over 50 young people from St Helens taking part, and it was interesting to speak to them about how they got involved, and what they wanted to achieve through the NCS, as it provides a real opportunity to make a positive impact in their communities, enhance their CVs and future prospects. Through the NCS, young people can feel more equipped to tackle issues, become more involved in the community, are more confident about finding a job. If you think it’s right for you or a young person you know and want to learn more, please visit www.ncsthechallenge.org.

  • regional business award winner, ATG

    I visited ATG Access in Haydock to personally congratulate the company President Glen Cooper on the company winning the International Business of the Year award at the Liverpool Echo Regional Business Awards 2018.

    The award was in recognition of the company’s flourishing export business which has grown rapidly in recent years and continues to expand, making up 75% of ATG’s work as they build an international reputation for the access control and high security barrier systems they produce.

    The international success of the company means jobs here in our community, with 85 already employed locally and plans to recruit more – an important boost for the local economy in Haydock.

    ATG has rightly received this award in recognition of all their hard work and drive to build a world leading company, based right here in St Helens.

  • standing up for our towns

    I’m proud to be a part of the new Labour Towns group, which is made up of Labour MPs, councillors and members to stand up for our towns and call out the Tories for the damaging effect that eight years of austerity has had on them.

    As the Member of Parliament for St Helens North, I represent two towns: Newton and St Helens. I have seen how our borough faces a complex blend of challenges that often don’t apply to larger cities or to more rural areas.

    New research from the Labour Towns group has shown that towns have had half the rate of new jobs and businesses as cities since 2010, with the overall economy in towns growing at two thirds the rate of cities in the same period.

    This lag in growth has been accompanied by savage tory cuts to our local government finances, with central government funding to St Helens Council falling form £103 million in 2010 down to a projected £56 million by 2020 – an expected drop of 45 per cent.

    What the Government needs to do is focus on our towns as a new centre for economic growth, and St Helens and Newton are ideally placed to lead this work as it marks its 150th year.

    I’ll be supporting Labour Towns in its important work making the case for places like St Helens and you can find out more about this here:www.labourtowns.co.uk

  • 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.

  • joining local celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the NHS

    I joined the local community, NHS staff, and the Mayor of St Helens at the Mansion House in Victoria Park for St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group Annual General Meeting and a local celebration of the 70th anniversary of the forming of the NHS. The event saw music provided by the Cowley school choir, poetry readings and afternoon tea.

    Tens of thousands of lives across St Helens North have been improved by our NHS and Labour will always stand up for our health service for the generations to come. It remains Labour’s greatest ever achievement, and one of our most cherished institutions.

    But we must fight to ensure it is properly resourced and funded in the years to come. With 700,000 more people on waiting lists, over one million more people waiting longer than four hours in A&E, over 230,000 more people spending more than four hours waiting on a trolley for a bed and 9,600 more people waiting over two months for their first cancer treatment, it is clear the NHS is creaking at the seams despite the best efforts of hardworking and dedicated NHS staff.

    This Government must urgently come up with a proper plan to rescue our NHS that is fully funded and can stand the test of rising demand from an ageing population.

  • raising awareness of the roll out of Universal credit

    Citizens Advice St Helens and MPs Conor McGinn and Marie Rimmer are working together to raise awareness of the roll out of Universal credit in July for new claimants.

    Universal Credit will eventually replace Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance and Working Tax Credit.

    At present the roll out in St Helens will affect new claimants only with legacy claims due to move over in the next few years.

    On the 17th July from 10am-3pm, staff from Citizens Advice and both of the MPs’ offices are holding an information event in Church Square where you will be able to get advice and information on what information you will need to claim, evidence you may be required to provide and advice should you require assistance due to hardship.

    Conor McGinn MP said “The roll out of Universal Credit in St Helens will present distinctive challenges for our residents and it’s important that we support new claimants as much as possible to mitigate some of the chaos we have seen in other areas once the benefit has been rolled out. Citizens Advice St Helens do some outstanding work with families across our borough and I am delighted that my office is supporting the work they are undertaking in this area.”


  • welcoming our friends from Stuttgart

    Last weekend the borough of St Helens welcomed a large delegation from our twin city of Stuttgart and I was happy to join with them as we celebrated together the strong ties, forged at the end of the Second World War and still going strong 70 years later.

    In a series of events including a food and drink festival, arts exhibition and the opportunity for the Mayor and politicians from Stuttgart to rededicate us all to the longstanding friendship and to work together to strengthen those bonds.

    I had the opportunity only recently to speak at the Council of Europe about the importance of our twinning, and it was a pleasure to welcome Deputy Mayor Dr Martin Schairer and the delegation here to my constituency. To underline the depth of our relationship the group contained representatives of schools, arts, businesses and the players of TSV Uhlbach who played a match against St Helens Town FC.

    The visit was a great success, with even the football ending in an honourable 4 all draw with no penalty shootout! I had the opportunity to talk with Dr Schairer about our ongoing relationship and the benefits both St Helens and Stuttgart have had from our relationship and how we can strengthen them moving forward

  • st helens sports festival

    I had a great time at Ruskin Drive for the annual St Helens sports festival which attracted 5,000 pupils over the 2 days in the sun.

    The sporting event was established in 2011 to mark the count down to the London Olympics only stopping in 2016 to welcome a £3.6 million redevelopment. Two years on, the event offered a chance to reflect on how sport contributes to the borough’s culture and how important it is to celebrate healthy lifestyles.

    There was a range of sport to enjoy ranging from football to tennis. Also, they hosted the Lancashire Inter League Group cricket match between Liverpool Competition U14s and Greater Manchester Cricket League U14s on the Sunday.

    It is important that we continue to fund sporting activities and I would like to thank the Council’s sports development team, the clubs based at Ruskin Drive and across the borough who use their time to promote sport in the local area.


  • 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

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