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2016 Archive

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21st Century Fox bid for Sky
19 December 2016
A number of constituents have contacted me about 21st Century Fox bid for Sky. I have written to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport, Karen Bradley, asking her to refer the bid to Ofcom and I will post a copy of any substantive response that I receive on my website.

Police and Crime Commissioner Consultation
15 December 2016
Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Jane Kennedy, has launched a region-wide consultation asking people for their views on her existing policing priorities for Merseyside and is specifically asking whether they back her proposal to make ‘improving road safety a new priority for the region.
Since 2010, Merseyside has witnessed a sharp increase in the number of people killed or seriously injured on the roads. In 2015, more than 11 people died or were seriously hurt every week on Merseyside’s roads. The region also saw more pedestrians killed or seriously hurt than anywhere else in the country.
Her existing priorities are to:
• Prevent crime and anti-social behaviour
• Provide a visible and accessible neighbourhood policing style
• Tackle serious and organised crime
• Support victims, protect vulnerable people and maintain public safety
The Commissioner is asking local people if these are still the right priorities for the region or if there are any other emerging issues that they feel should be addressed. She is holding a six-week public consultation which will run until Monday 16th January 2017, with the aim of seeking the views of local leaders, partners and members of the public on her existing priorities and asking whether they believe improving road safety, or any other issue, should be added as a fifth priority.
People are asked to click here to share their views by Monday January 16th, 2017. Alternatively, feedback can be emailed to info@merseysidepcc.info or sent to Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside, Rose Lane, Allerton, L18 6JE.

Medical technology to improve patients’ lives
13 December 2016
I am backing a new campaign to improve patient access to life-changing medical technology on the NHS. The campaign was unveiled at the Houses of Parliament during Medical Technology Week (5th-9th December). Currently, uptake of medical technology in the UK is not as good as it should be, given that it improves patients’ lives and has been shown to reduce healthcare spend, providing value for money to the NHS, to patients and to taxpayers. Medical Technology Group (MTG) is a coalition of patient groups, research charities and medical device manufacturers working to make medical technologies available to everyone who needs them. The MTG believes that patients and clinicians need better information about the breadth of available medical technologies so that they can make informed choices about their medical care. For more information about Medical Technology Week, click here.

Kirkby Rail Loading Transfer Station
9 December 2016
At a meeting earlier today with Senior Management of Suez, the operators of the Kirkby Rail Loading Transfer Station in Woodward Road, Kirkby, together with local Councillors and the Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority, I raised concerns about the gut-wrenching odours residents and businesses are experiencing which originate from the site.
Local Councillors, Jayne Aston, Tony Brennan, Norman Keats and Eddie Connor, closely questioned Suez management about their plans to introduce measures to eliminate the problem. They received assurances from Suez that the company are committed to taking whatever steps are required to tackle the issue as quickly as possible. A future meeting will be held in January to review progress.
During the course of the meeting, I welcomed the assurances given but made it clear that if the odour problems are not resolved speedily I would be calling for the site to be closed.

Postal Workers Day
7 December 2016
I recently met with staff at Kirkby Delivery Office to see firsthand the hard work and dedication of postal workers who collect, sort and deliver letters, parcels and packets for everyone everywhere. Monday 12th December marks the fifth annual national Postal Workers Day. The Communication Workers Union want to use the day to get the general public to thank their hardworking postie, either in person, or using social media using the hashtag #PeoplesPost

Sale of puppies
7 December 2016
Please click here to read the response from the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs about the sale of puppies.

Access to bisphosphonates for breast cancer patients
5 December 2016
Please click here to read the response from the Secretary of State for Health, Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP about access to bisphosphonates for breast cancer patients in England.

Explosion and Fire at Remondis, Prescot
5 December 2016
Following the recent explosion and fire at Remondis in Prescot, I have written to the Chief Executive of the Environment Agency seeking an urgent meeting with all relevant agencies, including the Environment Agency, Knowsley Council, Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority and the Health and Safety Executive to establish the cause of the incident, the future of the plant and the environmental impact of the incident.
I share the concerns expressed by my constituents and insist that this matter is dealt with urgently.

Migrant Children
30 November 2016
Please click here to read a response from Robert Goodwill, Minister of State for Immigration, regarding the plight of vulnerable migrant children in Calais.

Knowsley Waste Transfer Facility
29 November 2016
A number of constituents have contacted me regarding the odour arising from Knowsley Waste Transfer Facility in Kirkby.
I have raised this matter with the relevant authorities and I understand that Knowsley Council, Merseyside Recycling & Waste Authority and the Environment Agency are working together with a view to resolving this issue.
In the meantime, any further such incidents relating to the Waste Transfer Facility can be reported to the Environment Agency via their 24 hour incident hotline – 0800 80 70 60.

Diabetes Care: Improving Standards and Reducing Variation
28 November 2016
I recently attended the launch of the new report ‘Diabetes Care: Improving Standards and Reducing Variation’, which has received the backing of the Secretary of State for Health, the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP.
The report, put together by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Diabetes, sets out the causes and solutions for the current postcode lottery in care for people with diabetes. Healthcare professionals, academics, commissioners and people with diabetes all contributed to the report which was hailed as a ‘blueprint’ for diabetes campaigners by the Secretary of State for Health.
Over 4.5 million people in the UK now live with diabetes, and there are 11.9 million people at increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Beyond the human cost that diabetes has on the people who have the condition and their families, there is also a huge opportunity for the NHS to save money by improving diabetes services. The already stretched NHS spends about £10 billion on diabetes every year and an estimated 80 per cent of this is spent on treating diabetes-related complications.
You can view the report by clicking here.

CQC: State of Care Report
23 November 2016
Please click here to read a response from the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health, regarding the most recent CQC State of Care Report.

Transport of Animals to Slaughter
21 November 2016
Please click here to read a response from the Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, regarding the transport of animals to slaughter.

Grouse Shooting
21 November 2016
Please click here to read a response from the Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, regarding driven grouse shooting.

Section 40: Crime and Courts Act
16 November 2016
Please click here to read a response from the Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, Minister of State for Digital and Culture, concerning Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act.

'Please act for the children of Mosul'
15 November 2016
Please click here to read a response from Mike Penning, Minister of State for the Armed Forces about the protection of cvilians in Iraq, including children affected by the military operations to retake Mosul from Daesh.

'Please take action on exports of repressive technologies'
9 November 2016
Please click here to read a response from Tobias Ellwood, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign Office about UK relations with the Gulf countries.

UK's Best Park 2016
8 November 2016
Jubilee Park in Kirkby has been nominated for the Fields in Trust UK's Best Park 2016. To vote for Jubilee Park, click here.
Spread the word to all your friends and family to encourage them to vote for your favourite local green space as the UK's best. Voting will close at 5pm on Wednesday 9th November.

Kittens bred for sale
8 November 2016
Please click here to read a response from Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the sale of kittens bred for sale.

School Milk
4 November 2016
I recently attended an event, organised by the School and Nursery Milk Alliance, to celebrate the role of school milk in supporting childhood health.
A recent review of evidence by Northumbria University concluded that drinking milk may support immediate and lasting dental and bone health in five to 11 year old children, and could have a positive effect on preventing childhood obesity. Although drawn primarily from cross-sectional studies, the review reported that children who regularly drink milk have lower body mass indexes, body fat percentages and waist circumferences than children who rarely drink milk.
In Knowsley, 11.5% of 5 years olds are obese and 32.5% have suffered from tooth decay. This means that childhood obesity levels in Knowsley are higher than the national average of 9.1%, and that tooth decay levels are lower than the national average of 24.7%.
In the UK, children under five in childcare or primary school can get a free portion of milk every day through the Nursery Milk Scheme, and children aged five to 11 can get currently get subsidised milk through the European School Milk Scheme.
You can find out more about the work of the School and Nursery Milk Alliance by clicking here.

Attendance Allowance
27 October 2016
Please click here to read a response from Marcus Jones MP, Minister for Local Government, about proposals to devolve Attendance Allowance funding,

'Take Control of our Buses'
27 October 2016
I am supporting the ‘take control of our buses’ campaign by opposing the government ban on new public bus companies.
The government wants the Bus Services Bill to include clause 21 which would stop English local authorities from setting up new municipal companies.
The Transport Act 1985 was implemented in1986. Since deregulation, fares have risen well above inflation and many routes have been cut. Fares in England (outside London) rose by 35% above inflation between 1995 and 2013, and bus mileage on local authority supported services in England, outside London, dropped by 12% in the last year alone. In addition, bus deregulation leaves few options for cash-strapped local authorities - whereas municipal companies can use profits to reinvest in services. Whilst buses are privatised in most towns and cities across the UK, there are 12 local authority owned bus companies. In 4 of the last 5 years, local authority run buses have won Bus Operator of the Year at the Bus Awards.
You can find more information by clicking here.

Love to See Change for World Sight Day
26 October 2016
On World Sight Day, Essilor Group calls on people worldwide to take a pledge and commit to have their eyes checked. Essilor’s Chief Mission Officer, Jayanth Bhuvaraghan said:
“Having your eyes checked on a yearly basis is fundamental to protect the most important sense we have as human beings: our sight. At Essilor, we are committed to visual health for all, including the 2.5 billion people in the world who do not have the vision correction they need […] Through this pledge, we hope to encourage everyone to commit to love their eyes, spread the word and join us in creating the change that is needed for the whole world to see clearly.”
For each pledge taken, Essilor will donate 1$ to a selection of initiatives that are bringing good vision to underprivileged or underserved populations around the world.
Click here to take the pledge. The campaign will last until end of the year.

NHS Funding
20 October 2016
Please click here to read a response from Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, about NHS funding.

Oliver King Foundation
19 October 2016
As part of European Restart a Heart Day, I visited The Oliver King Foundation at their launch event in Westminster to show my support.
The Oliver King Foundation was setup following the tragic death of 12-year-old Oliver King from a sudden cardiac arrest, and they are currently campaigning to promote lifesaving defibrillators in schools. Every single year, 30,000 people suffer a sudden cardiac arrest in the UK and just less than 1-in-10 survive. Early access to a defibrillator is vital. For every minute that passes, chances of survival drop by 10%.
For more information you can click here.

Sex and relationships education
18 October 2016
Please click here to read a response from Rt Hon Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Education, about sex and relationships education.

Housing Benefit Cap
17 October 2016
Please click here to read a response from Lord Freud, Minister of State for Welfare Reform, concerning the cap of Housing Benefit at the Local Housing Allowance rate for people who live in supported accommodation.

Stem Cell Transplantation for Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinaemia
12 October 2016
Please click here to read a response from Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, concerning Stem Cell Transplantation for Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinaemia.

Funding for Further Education
11 October 2016
Please click here to read a response from Robert Halfon, Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, about funding for further education and sixth for colleges.

Use of Animals in Scientific Research
10 October 2016
Please click here to read a response from Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, concerning the use of animals in scientific research.

Republic of Korea Dog Meat Trade
5 October 2016
Please click here to read a response from Alok Sharma, Minister for Asia and the Pacific, about the dog meat trade in the Republic of Korea.

Fair Fuel UK
4 October 2016
Please click here to read a response from Jane Ellison, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, about Fair Fuel UK's campaign to reduce tax on fuel.

Childhood Obesity
30th September 2016
Please click here to read a response from Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, about Cancer Research UK's campaign to ban the advertising of junk food before 9pm.

Bovine TB
29 September 2016
Please click here to read the response from The Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom, Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, about bovine TB. You may be interested to read a briefing note setting out the key points relating to Government policy and action here.

The Butterflies Project
28 September 2016
The Butterflies Project is an award winning programme based in Knowsley, providing support to children and young people aged 4 to 15 years experiencing bereavement; divorce/separation; domestic abuse; suicide; murder or other family loss.
Referrals can be made by Parent/Guardian or other family member; Teacher; GP; Educational Welfare Officer; School Learning Mentor; Nurse; Health Visitor; Youth Worker; Social Worker or any other professional.
For more information you can call 0151 493 2301 or click here.

New Mersey Retail Park Jobs Fair
28 September 2016
The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Speke is hosting the New Mersey Retail Park Christmas Jobs Fair on Friday 30 September, with a range of seasonal vacancies available.
Employers confirmed to attend include: Argos; Boots; Clintons; Crowne Plaza; Currys - PC World; Foot Asylum; JD Sports; Marks and Spencer; New Look; Next; Smyth's Toys, and Sports Direct.
Those attending on the day will meet employers face to face so will need to dress for interview and bring a CV. The event takes place at the Crowne Plaza, Liverpool John Lennon Airport Aerodrome, Liverpool, L24 8QD, and you can book a place by visiting your local Jobcentre to register and get a timeslot.

Policing
15 September 2016
At Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, I paid tribute to the bravery of the Police Officers who, on Tuesday, apprehended a male in Huyton wanted in connection with a serious offence, which resulted in one of the Officers being hospitalised having been severely assaulted by the male in question. I also raised concerns about the pressures being placed on the Police with fewer resources. I was disappointed with the Prime Minister’s response and I will be pursuing this matter further.
You can view a transcript of my question and the Prime Minister’s response by clicking here.

World Sepsis Day 2016
14 September 2016
I recently attended a reception at the Palace of Westminster, held in support of World Sepsis Day.
Sepsis is a relatively unknown illness which claims the lives of 44,000 people every year in the UK, and is the leading cause of death from infection around the world. Sepsis arises when the body's response to an infection damages its own tissues and organs. It can lead to shock, multiple organ failure, and death, especially if it is not recognised early and treated promptly. The UK Sepsis Trust, aims to raise awareness of the condition so that patients and healthcare professionals know how to detect and treat the disease in the early stages, and maximise the chances of recovery.
You can find out more about the work of the UK Sepsis Trust by clicking here.

Susiya and Umm al-Hiran
13 September 2016
Please click here to read a response from Tobias Ellwood MP, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister, concerning the Palestinian village of Susiya and the Israeli village of Umm al-Hiran.

Zero Hour Contracts
13 September 2016
Please click here to read a response from Margot James MP, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsiblity, concerning the use of zero hour contracts.

Hinkley Point C
12 September 2016
Please click here to read the response from Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Minister for Energy and Intellectual Property, concerning Hinkley Point C

'Wear it Pink'
12 September 2016
I am supporting Breast Cancer Now’s ‘Wear it Pink’ campaign, which encourages people to wear pink on Friday 21st October and raise money for breast cancer research.
50,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the UK, and sadly around 11,500 women and 80 men will lose their lives to the disease. Wear it pink raises close to £2 million each year for world class research into breast cancer, with the aim being that, by 2050, everyone who develops the disease will live.
You can find out more about the ‘Wear it Pink’ campaign by clicking here.

Groundbreaking new asthma research roadmap
7 September 2016
On 5th September, I attended an Asthma UK reception to launch the new asthma research roadmap, which sets out priorities to revolutionise diagnosis, treatment and care for the millions of people living with the condition. The roadmap outlines 15 key areas for future asthma research, to focus investment on the most promising treatments, medical-technology devices, self-management tools and healthcare systems to address the currently unmet needs of people with asthma.
There are 8,698 people with asthma in Knowsley. Until now medical research into asthma diagnoses, treatment and care has been piecemeal and lacked strategic direction, and so Asthma UK has led a three-year collaboration of international clinical, academic, industry and patient experts to identify the most important unanswered questions in asthma and to ensure research investment is targeted in the most effective way.
Kay Boycott, Chief Executive of Asthma UK, said:
“Every 10 seconds someone has a potentially fatal asthma attack and we still don’t know enough about the different ‘types’ of asthma which is essential if we are to find a cure. For too long asthma research has lacked the focus and investment it so desperately needs, and we see the asthma research roadmap as the catalyst for attracting the investment needed to make medical breakthroughs that will transform the lives of people with asthma.”
The roadmap’s research priorities can be distilled into two key areas:
- Understanding the ‘types of asthma’: new mechanisms, biomarkers, diagnostics.
- Technology-enabled asthma management.
The asthma research roadmap can be read in full here.

Neonicotinoids and bees
1 September 2016
Please click here to read the response from The Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom, Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, about neonicotinoids and bees.

Prince's Trust free 12-week Personal Development Course
25 August 2016
If you’re unemployed and between 16 and 25, you can meet new people, gain new skills and train on a Prince's Trust Team programme. You can find more information here.

Funding for second stem cell transplants
22 August 2016
Please click here to read the response from Lord Prior, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health, about funding for second stem cell transplants.

Big Lottery Fund
2 August 2016
The Big Lottery Fund has announced new funding for communities across the UK, with a total of £3.875million for England. You can apply for up to £10,000 for your local area and awards will be made on a first come, first served basis. For more information:
W: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/celebrate
T:0345 410 2030
F:/biglotteryfund
T:@BigLotteryFund

National Lottery investment in First World War Centenary
29 July 2016
As the nation marks the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme, I urge constituents in Knowsley to apply for Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) money to explore the stories of the First World War.
Following the phenomenal success of its community grants programme First World War: then and now, HLF has made an additional £4m available for communities looking to explore, conserve and share local heritage of the First World War. Grants are available between £3,000 and £10,000. More information on how to apply for HLF funding is available here.

Stop imports of hunting trophies into the UK
14 July 2016
Please click here to read the response from Rory Stewart, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Environment and Rural Affairs about the import of hunting trophies.

School funding
11 July 2016
Please click here to read the response from the Minister of State for Schools, Nick Gibb, about school funding and recent industrial action by teachers.

Every Child Leaving Care Matters
6 July 2016
This week in Parliament, I attended a drop-in session to meet the Every Child Leaving Care Matters (ECLCM) team and sign their petition to stop discrimination against children in residential children's homes and support all children and young people in care to 21 years of age. I am very pleased to support the great work being done by the ECLCM team. They may be a small group of volunteers but they are making a big difference to improve the lives of children who live in residential care. I am pleased to see that children in residential care are a step closer to being offered the same rights as those who grow up in foster care. But we must keep the pressure on until the system is fair for every child leaving care.
You can find more details about the group by checking out their website ECLCM.org, Twitter via @rescareto21 or on Facebook.

Conflict in Yemen
6 July 2016
Please click here to read the response from the Tobias Ellwood, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, about the conflict in Yemen.

Drug Costs
1 July 2016
Please click here to read a response from the Secretary of State for Health, the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, concerning the increasing cost of drugs.

EU Referendum
29 June 2016
Since the EU referendum, a number of constituents have asked me to either support a further referendum or decline to implement the decision to leave.
Although I campaigned for a remain vote and the result in Knowsley, as in the country as a whole, was close, I cannot, in all conscience, ignore the fact that the people of the UK have voted to leave, albeit by a narrow margin.
The focus now has to be on getting the best deal possible for the UK in the circumstances that currently prevail. I cannot predict the outcome of the negotiations as there is no precedent but new arrangements must be negotiated on tariffs and trade agreements and our relationships with the countries of the EU and the rest of the world, none of which will be easy. However, we have to make the best of the situation we are in and respect the decision of the British people.

EU Habitats and Wild Birds Directives
21 June 2016
Please click here to read a response from the Under Secretary of State for Environment and Rural Affairs, Rory Stewart, concerning the EU Habitats and Wild Birds Directives.

'Global Access to Clean Water and Sanitation'
17 June 2016
Please click here to read a letter from Nick Hurd MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for International Development, concerning the importance of clean water and high quality sanitation across the world.

The Royal British Legion
16 June 2016
I recently met with representatives of The Royal British Legion, veterans and Service personnel to discuss their ‘Count Them In’ campaign, which calls for questions on the Armed Forces community to be included in the next UK Census.
It is estimated that there are currently between 6.5 million and 6.7 million members of the Armed Forces community living in the UK, representing about a tenth of the population. However, little is currently known about the exact numbers, location and needs of this significant group. Including new questions on the next census would provide public bodies, local authorities, and charities with valuable information to ensure they are able to deliver the best services they can for our Armed Forces community.
You can can find out more about the ‘Count Them In’ campaign by clicking here.

Development on Brownfield and Green Belt Land
7 June 2016
Please click here to read a letter from Brandon Lewis, Minister of State for Housing and Planning, concerning the National Planning Policy Framework, housing provision and the need to re-use brownfield land, whilst protecting green belt land.

Scottish Power's Powerplan cashback warranty scheme
2 June 2016
Please click here to read the reponse from Nick Boles, Minister of State for Skills at the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, about the failure of Scottish Power's cashback warranty scheme.

Guide Dogs - 'Access all Areas'
1 June 2016
I am supporting the charity Guide Dogs’ 'Access All Areas' campaign to ensure guide dog owners can carry out everyday activities such as travel by taxi or go to the local shops, without the risk of being turned away.
According to law, guide dog owners are allowed the same access to shops, restaurants and taxis as everyone else. Yet, all too often, guide dog owners are told that their dog is not welcome and not allowed in. In fact, three out of every four guide dog owners has been turned away from a taxi, business or service because of their dog.
I recently met with guide dog owners in the Houses of Parliament to hear about their experiences of being turned away by businesses. Guide dog owners told me that they rely on their dogs to feel confident and supported. Being turned away by a business leaves them feeling angry, upset and embarrassed, and robs them of their independence.
You can find out more about the Access All Arears campaign by clicking here.

Land Registry privatisation
31 May 2016
A number of constituents have contacted me about government proposals to privatise the Land Registry.
Angela Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, responding to the proposed privatisation of the Land Registry, said: “This short-term privatisation will have long-term consequences; it could undermine confidence in Land Registry data, jeopardise the service to homebuyers, and erode conditions for their staff. The Government are privatising the profits of the Land Registry – which made a surplus of £100 million in 2012/13 – whilst retaining the risk. The Tory Government claim privatisation would enable the Land registry to become ‘even more efficient and effective.’ Yet when they last attempted privatisation in 2014, just five per cent of respondents to the consultation thought it would boost efficiency and effectiveness. This announcement was slipped out late on the last day before recess in another desperate attempt to avoid scrutiny. Labour will fight this unnecessary, un-evidenced and unwanted privatisation.”
In April, I signed Early Day Motion 1376 titled “Land Registry Privatisation” which expressed concerns about these proposals and called on the Government to abandon its plans.

TTIP amendment
24 May 2016
A number of constituents have contacted me asking me to support the “TTIP amendment”. The amendment tabled expresses regret that a Bill to protect the NHS from TTIP was not included in the Queen’s Speech. Jeremy Corbyn has called on Labour MPs to support the amendment. Please be assured, if it is selected, I will support it.

Antibiotics in farming
10 May 2016
Please click here to read the response from Liz Truss, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs about antibiotics in farming.

Minority Groups in the Middle East
10 May 2016
Please click here to read a response from Tobias Ellwood, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, regarding the treatment of minority group across the Middle East.

Palestinian Villages
10 May 2016
Please click here to read a response from Tobias Ellwood, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, regarding Palestinian villages under threat of demolition.

Bees
9 May 2016
A number of constituents have contacted me about bees and neonicotinoids. I am supporting Friends of the Earth campaign, 'Help keep bees safe from harmful pesticides’, which opposes plans to temporarily lift a ban on bee-harming pesticides.
I have written again to Liz Truss, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, about this issue and will post a copy of any substantive response that I receive on my website.

Fibromyalgia
6 May 2016
I am delighted to have become a Fibromyalgia Ambassador to help raise awareness about this condition.
Fibromyalgia is an incurable widespread pain condition with extreme fatigue and it often causes disability. Up to 2.7 million people in the UK are diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and there are about 4000 people suffering from the condition in Knowsley.
You can find out more about the condition by visiting Fibromyalgia Action UK’s website here.

Tax Havens
4 May 2016
Please click here to read a response from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury regarding Tax Havens.

Orkambi
4 May 2016
Please click here to read a response from the Secretary of State for Health concerning the availability of the drug Orkambi for the treatment of cystic fibrosis.

Sepsis
29 April 2016
I recently attended a Parliamentary event to raise awareness of Sepsis, which is a life threatening and relatively unknown condition, that claims the lives of 44,000 people – including 1,000 children - every year in the UK.
Sepsis arises when the body's response to an infection damages its own tissues and organs. It can lead to shock, multiple organ failure, and death, especially if it is not recognised early and treated promptly. In a bid to reduce deaths like these, the UK Sepsis Trust (UKST) and the Sepsis APPG are calling for both the public and healthcare professionals to be more aware of this ‘silent killer’. They are calling for the Department of Health to commit to a public awareness campaign, aimed at both adults and children solely on sepsis. If timely interventions proposed by the UK Sepsis Trust were adopted across the NHS it could save up to 12,500 lives a year and the NHS money.
I want to see sepsis viewed as a medical emergency and have a higher profile among medical professionals and the public. The easiest and most of effective way of doing this is the government committing to a dedicated public awareness campaign for the general population.
You can find out more about Sepsis and the work of the UK Sepsis Trust by clicking here.

Local government pension scheme
27 April 2016
Please click here to read the response from Marcus Jones, Minister for Local Government in the Department for Communities and Local Government about investment decisions in the local government pension scheme.

Hillsborough Inquest Verdicts
26 April 2016
Congratulations to the Hillsborough families for finally getting an acknowledgment of the truth.
Thank you, also, to the Jury for completing their mammoth task with such integrity.

Zero carbon emission target
22 April 2016
Please click here to read the response from Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, concerning zero carbon emission targets.

Resettlement of child refugees
22 April 2016
A number of constituents have contacted me about the resettlement of child refugees.
Responding to the Government re-announcement on resettling child refugees from the Middle East and North Africa, Yvette Cooper, Chair of the Refugee Taskforce said:
“This is the same announcement as the Government made back in January and includes nothing new to help the thousands of child refugees alone in Europe who are at risk of trafficking, sexual exploitation and abuse. It doesn’t address the crisis within Europe and I hope MPs of all parties will back Alf Dubs amendment on Monday. As we said at the time, we welcome vital support for children and families at risk in the Middle East and North Africa, but we also cannot turn our backs on the thousands of children who are going missing in Europe because children's homes in Italy and Greece are full, and other countries can't cope with this crisis alone. It seems the Government has made this re-announcement because they are under pressure over the vote on Monday. But it is disappointing that they haven’t listened to our call for them to help children in Europe. They are ignoring the whole point of the amendment which was for Britain to do its bit and help 3,000 of the 95,000 unaccompanied children who have arrived in Europe. Many of these children even have family here in Britain who could care for them but there was also nothing new in this announcement to sort out the appalling failures in the family reunification system either. Children are risking their lives every day making dangerous journeys, and Europol estimate at least 10,000 children have disappeared in the crisis, many trafficked into prostitution and modern slavery. Many children are sleeping rough or in makeshift camps because children's homes are full, and many have been sexually abused and exploited too. Britain must not stand by when so many children are at risk on our doorstep. We must listen to the calls of Kindertransport survivors who ask that Britain show the same values today as we did decades ago, and vote on Monday to help 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees at risk in Europe.”
I will vote alongside Labour colleagues on Monday of this week to help 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees at risk in Europe.

Trade Union Bill
19 April 2016
The Trade Union Bill is the most significant, sustained and partisan attack on trade union members in a generation; it is draconian and counter-productive. As you are aware, the Bill is currently in the Report Stage in the House of Lords, and you can follow its progress here.
Once it returns to the House of Commons, I will look carefully at any amendments proposed by the Lords, including any surrounding proposals for the ‘check-off’ system and electronic balloting in union strike ballots.
Please be assured, I firmly oppose this Bill.

Yemen
14 April 2016
Please click here to read the response from Tobias Ellwood, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, about the humanitarian situation in Yemen. This letter also refers to weapons exports from the UK.

National Autistic Society - Too Much Information campaign
14 April 2016
On Monday 11 April, I attended an event organised by The National Autistic Society who recently launched their Too Much Information campaign. I am backing the charity’s new campaign to improve public understanding of autism. The National Autistic Society’s important report shows why we must work harder to improve public understanding of autism. No-one should ever feel so misunderstood that they sometimes can’t leave their home. That’s why I'm pleased to support the Too Much Information campaign and am encouraging my constituents to learn a little bit more about autism. A basic understanding of autism could help open up the world for autistic people and their families in our community and across the UK. To find out more about the Too Much Information campaign, click here.

Sixth-form A-level provision in Knowsley
14 April 2016
During yesterday's debate on the government's School's White Paper, I asked the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan about the withdrawal of sixth-form provision from Knowsley, and asked her to meet with me, and fellow Knowsley MPs Maria Eagle and Marie Rimmer, to discuss this issue as a matter of urgency.

Debate on Academies (School's White Paper)
14 April 2016
Thank you for contacting me, asking me to attend the debate on Academies (School's White Paper), which took place on 13th April. You can read a transcript of the debate in Hansard here. Academisation places an unacceptable amount of power in the hands of the Education Secretary and removes accountability from local communities. Please be assured that, alongside Labour colleagues, I will do all that I can to express my opposition to these plans.

Debate on Tax Avoidance and Evasion
14 April 2016
Thank you for contacting me, asking me to attend the debate on Tax Avoidance and Evasion, which took place on 13th April. You can read a transcript of the debate in Hansard here.

Big Lottery Fund Knowsley workshop
13 April 2016
The Big Lottery Fund, in conjunction with Knowsley CVS, will be running a workshop in Knowsley later this month to offer funding advice, support and guidance to local groups. The workshop will be at Knowsley CVS, Nutgrove Villa – 2nd Floor, 1 Griffiths Road, Huyton, Merseyside, L36 6NA
Date: Wednesday 27th April
Time: 10.30am – 3pm
Groups and individuals do not need to make an appointment but drop-in at a time suitable to you. Natalie Brandon will be present from the Big Lottery Fund.

Tata Steel
6 April 2016
The government should recall Parliament to debate the crisis facing our steel industry and secure the jobs of the 40,000 working at Tata Steel. I support Jeremy Corbyn’s call for a recall of Parliament and urgent government action on steel. You can sign Labour’s petition here.

"Panama Papers"
6 April 2016
Like many constituents, I was appalled at the recent “Panama Papers” revelations. I have written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, asking him to look into this issue as a matter of urgency.
I agree with Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s recent comments on this issue:
“The revelations in the Panama Papers are extremely serious and frankly repulsive. HMRC should treat this with the utmost priority and urgently launch an investigation. But HMRC cannot operate with their hands tied behind their backs due to George Osborne’s cuts to staffing numbers. The OBR reported in the Budget only last month that HMRC are saying that they lack the resources to tackle offshore tax disclosures. David Cameron has promised on numerous occasions to end tax secrecy and crack down on “morally wrong” offshore schemes but has failed to do so. And on top of this failure on six occasions last year Tory MEPs were instructed by George Osborne to vote down proposals to clamp down on multinationals engaged in tax avoidance. We are at a crossroads now and the Tories can’t continue to say one thing in public, but do another in private on tax avoidance when they think no one will notice."
I will post a copy of any substantive response that I receive from the Treasury on my website.

Bowel Cancer Screening
6 April 2016
I am supporting the Merseyside 2-Year Cancer Screening Plan to encourage more people who are invited for bowel cancer screening to take up the offer.
About 1 in 20 people in the UK will develop bowel cancer during their lifetime, making it the third most common cancer in the UK. Between 2013 and 2014, 92985 people in Merseyside were invited for a bowel screening appointment. However, 45025 of those invited (over half) failed to turn up to their screening appointment.
Bowel cancer screening is the most effective way to detect the early stages of bowel cancer in men and women, with 90% of bowel cancers treated successfully when detected early. All men and women aged between 60 and 74 years are offered bowel cancer screening every 2 years. Once you reach this age, you will be sent a screening kit which can be completed at home. If you are over 55, you will be invited for a ‘one off’ lower bowel screen, which will take place at a local clinic.
You can find out more about Bowel Cancer, including possible symptoms, by clicking here.

National Clinical Audit - Epilepsy
5 April 2016
Please click here to read a response from the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health, regarding calls for a National Clinical Audit of avoidable deaths in epilepsy.

Academisation
1 April 2016
I share concerns about the recent announcement that the government will be expecting all schools to become academies by 2020, or to have an academy order in place to convert by 2022”.
When academies were first set up by the Labour government in 2002, they targeted poorly performing schools in urgent need. The introduction of “converter academies” by Michael Gove, at an accelerated pace, offered financial incentives for schools to convert to academies – regardless as to whether the school was poorly performing or ready for conversion.
My initial concerns about the government’s announcement are threefold:
1. There aren’t enough good quality academy chains in existence at the moment, and I doubt there will be by 2020;
2. There is little proof that academies are more effective than maintained schools, in fact, often, the opposite is true (this article on Local Schools Network illustrates this point); and
3. The Department for Education are struggling to cope with their current workload; I think they’d be overwhelmed by the additional administrative burden of academisation.
The government’s White Paper takes further action on school governance, proposing to remove the requirement of individual school governing bodies and in particular the role of parents on governing bodies. I don’t think it’s acceptable to remove parental involvement from school governance.
Both Jeremy Corbyn and Lucy Powell have expressed concerns about the Chancellor’s plans, noting the lack of evidence that turning schools into academies boosts performance and also the lack of any solutions to tackle the teacher shortage, the school place crisis, or ballooning class sizes.
Academisation places an unacceptable amount of power in the hands of the Education Secretary and removes accountability from local communities. Please be assured that, alongside Labour colleagues, I will do all that I can to express my opposition to these plans.

Early years education
1 April 2016
Please click here to read the response from the Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP, Secretary of State for Education, regarding early years education.

Independent Commission on Freedom of Information Report
31 March 2016
Please click here to read a response from the Rt Hon Matthew Hancock MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office, concerning the Independent Commission on Freedom of Information's report, in which the Freedom of Information Act 2000 was reviewed.

Multinational Tax Avoidance
30 March 2016
Please click here to read the response from Jim Harra, Director General of HMRC, concerning tax avoidance by multinational companies.

'MerseyNow'
24 March 2016
This week, Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Jane Kennedy, launched ‘MerseyNow’, which is a free community messaging service allowing the public to receive personalised news and crime updates in their local area.
‘MerseyNow’ will be used to send out appeals, crime prevention messages, offer support to victims and give advice about ongoing incidents. Members of the public can register for the free service and then control the way in which messages are received – either via text, email or voice message. You can also choose which updates to receive, for example, crime prevention and burglaries, and select which areas of Merseyside you want to receive information about.
To register, all that is needed is an e-mail address or a mobile phone number. You can find out more about MerseyNow by clicking here.

Meningococcal B Vaccine
24 March 2016
Please click here to read the response from Jane Ellison MP, Under Secretary of State for Public Health, concerning the Meningococcal B Vaccine.

BBC Charter Review (updated)
24 March 2016
Please click here to read the response from Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, about the future of the BBC.

Reuniting Refugees
22 March 2016
Please click here to read a response from the Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, Immigration Minister, concerning reuniting refugees with their family members in the UK.

Resettlement of the Chagossians
22 March 2016
Please click here to read a response from James Duddridge MP, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, concerning the resettlement of the Chagossians.

World Water Day 2016
21 March 2016
I fully support World Water Day on 22nd March 2016. World Water Day is an international observance and an opportunity to learn more about water related issues. You can find out more about World Water Day here, and see the official trailer here.

Personal Independence Payments
18 March 2016
A number of constituents have contacted me about George Osborne's plans to cut disability payments. I hope to raise this issue in the upcoming Budget debate, but I do of course oppose these plans.

Live Exports for Slaughter
18 March 2016
Please click here to read a response from the Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, concering live exports for slaughter.

Public Sector Exit Payments
18 March 2016
Please click here to read a response from the Rt Hon Greg Hands MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, concering public sector exit payments.

Shakespeare North
16 March 2016
I welcome today’s announcement by the Chancellor of £5 million support to the Shakespeare North project, following the Westminster Hall debate I secured in Parliament in December 2015, and question I asked to the Prime Minister in January 2016. The Shakespeare in the North project will create a unique, internationally renowned educational facility that encompasses a commemorative theatre, provides a key link between national, regional and local cultural and educational policy, and contribute to the economic regeneration of an area that has deep connections with one of the nation’s greatest cultural icons.
This project has the capacity to create a Shakespearian triangle with Stratford and London.
I look forward to working with Knowsley Council, Shakespeare North Trust, and other key stakeholders on this exciting project.

Mental Health Taskforce
14 March 2016
Please click here to read a response from the Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP, Minister of State for Community and Social Care, concering the Mental Health Taskforce.

Primary School Assessment Arrangements
10 March 2016
Please click here to read a response from the Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP, Secretary on State for Education, concerning primary school assessments.

National Health Service Private Members’ Bill 2015-16
9 March 2016
I will not be present in the House of Commons on that date for a number of important reasons. First, I have a number of commitments in Knowsley on that day that would be difficult to rearrange. Secondly, it is unlikely that this Bill will be reached as there is other business before it is scheduled which will probably take up the time available. Thirdly, even if it were reached, it would be ‘talked out’ as it is opposed by the government. Finally, what it amounts to is a wholesale reorganisation of the NHS. I do not know whether you have had the opportunity to read the Bill but, if not, it can be accessed here. Although I do not, in principle, oppose the idea of a further reorganisation of the NHS, I do not think that a Private Members’ Bill is an appropriate way of doing this. During the last general election, I stood on a policy of no ‘top down’ reorganisation of the health service and, whatever merits this Bill may have, it would effectively amount to a ‘top down’ reorganisation.
Before concluding, it may be helpful if I say something about my concerns about how parliament deals with Private Members’ Bills. They are debated on 13 Fridays during the 2015-16 session. Those who get the opportunity to put a Bill forward have to first be successful in a ballot. In practice, any Bill the government does not support can be talked out, which means that a minister or government backbench MP will make a lengthy speech taking up all the available time and preventing it being put to a vote. I am sure you will agree that this is both an unfair unacceptable way of dealing with backbench Bills. I am, therefore, currently working on a plan to change the standing orders of the House of Commons to try to change the way in which procedures are open to this sort of abuse.

Daryush Valizadeh
9 March 2016
Please click here to read a response from Karen Bradley MP, Minister for Preventing Abuse, Exploitation and Crime, regarding Daryush Valizadeh and comments he made relating to sexual violence and rape.

UK Death Penalty Strategy
8 March 2016
Please click here to read a response from Baroness Anelay, Minister of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, concerning the UK's Death Penalty Strategy.

Use of Snares on Animals
4 March 2016
Please click here to read a response from Rory Stewart OBE MP, Minister at the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs, concerning the use of snares on animals.

Use of Schools in Conflict
4 March 2016
Please click here to read a response from James Duddridge MP, Foreign & Commonwealth Office Minister, concerning the use of schools in conflicts around the world.

Blind Veterans UK support for vision impaired veterans
3 March 2016
I recently made a pledge in Parliament to ensure that Armed Forces veterans will not have to battle blindness alone.
Blind Veterans UK are the national charity for vision impaired ex-Service men and women. I want to encourage all local authorities to work with Blind Veterans UK to reach out to more veterans with severe sight loss so that they are able to access the Charity’s free services and support.
The call for support from local authorities comes after it was found that of the 4000+ veterans Blind Veterans UK currently supports, almost a quarter of these struggled with severe sight loss for six years or more before they found out about the support available from the Charity. In addition, new research from Blind Veterans UK estimates that currently there are 59,000 Armed Forces and National Service veterans battling severe sight loss, most of whom are missing out on the free, lifelong support of Blind Veterans UK.
As the MP for Knowsley, I am pleased to pledge my support to Blind Veterans UK by helping to ensure that no veterans in my constituency will have to battle blindness alone. It is vital we all work to honour the Armed Forces Covenant and make sure everyone who comes into contact with blind ex-Service men and women signpost them to Blind Veterans UK for free, lifelong support.
Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB, Blind Veterans UK’s Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted that so many MPs and key representatives from local authorities, together with military and health professionals attended the event and have pledged their support to ensure that blind ex-Service men and women can enjoy a life beyond sight loss. We currently support over 4,000 blind ex-Service men and women and their families, but we know there are many more out there who need and deserve our support. This event is crucial in helping us spread the word about Blind Veterans UK. We want as many MPs, local authorities and health networks as possible to work in partnership with us so we can reach out to the many veterans in need of our support.”
If you are, or know of, a veteran with severe vision impairment and would like more information about Blind Veterans UK’s free, lifelong support go to www.noonealone.org.uk or call freephone 0800 389 7979.

Freedom of Information (updated)
3 March 2016
A number of constituents contacted me about proposed changes to the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.
In previous correspondence on this issue, I have highlighted that fact that the Freedom of Information Act was introduced by Labour in 2000 to make government more transparent. It gives you the right to find out about the decisions made in your name by requiring public bodies - including government departments, local councils and the police - to answer questions submitted by the public. Around 60,000 requests for information are made each year under the terms of the Act.
The Tories wanted to water down the FOI Act. They’ve complained about journalists holding them to account, saying that FOI legislation is being ‘misused’. What they really mean is that they want less open government where it’s harder for people to hold them to account for their decisions. Labour don’t want that this to happen. We believe the FOI Act is an important tool to a more transparent democracy. The government must make it easier for citizens to access information, not harder. The Act has encouraged government departments and other organisations that are funded by taxpayers to be more open about the way they operate. We think the Act should be extended so that private companies who operate government contracts are also required to answer questions and provide information to the public. We need to strengthen accountability and make public services work better for people.
The FOI Act needs to be widened to include all companies that have contracts with public bodies; this would strengthen the Act, leading to greater accountability. Measures which make it harder to obtain information would encourage a culture of secrecy and means public authorities avoid scrutiny. The FOI Act should reflect citizens' interests and rights in a democratic society to access information about the government. The costs of FOI are far outweighed by the benefits, such as exposing and deterring wasteful public spending. Labour believes that Introducing charges for requests would deter many people from using the Act.
Following the publication of the report by the Commission on Freedom of Information, the Cabinet Office minister Matt Hancock has said "we will not make any legal changes to FOI". You can read the Independent Commission on Freedom of Information report here and government’s response here. Many emails I have received called for the FOI Act to be widened. I have raised this in writing with the Cabinet Office and will post a copy of any substantive response that I receive on my website.

Marie Curie Great Daffodil Appeal
3 March 2016
I recently attended a parliamentary event in Westminster to pledge my support for Marie Curie’s annual Great Daffodil Appeal.
Marie Curie Nurses provide invaluable care and support to people living with a terminal illness. The money raised from the Great Daffodil Appeal will help Marie Curie Nurses provide care and support to people living with a terminal illness and their loved ones at home and in one of the charity’s nine hospices. Marie Curie’s daffodil pins are available from volunteers across the country, or Superdrug and WHSmiths shops, and Wyevale garden centres, during the month of March.
For more information please click here.

TTIP and the NHS
26 February 2016
A number of constituents have contacted me about TTIP and the NHS. Some have highlighted Michael Bowsher QC recent comments about the risk TTIP could pose to the NHS, and others have expressed wider concerns about insufficient exemptions for public services; the potential for legal challenges; and power that corporations would hold in trade deals.
These are all reasons why pushing for more transparency and accountability is vital.
Labour MEPs have voted to keep public services out of any future deal, to ensure that workers’ rights and environmental standards go up and not down, and to reject the idea of secret tribunals that allow companies to take governments to court. They have also voted for amendments which would mean that public services like the NHS would not be included in any trade deal, and that any future Government could bring services that have previously been privatised back into public ownership. There will also be provisions which would mean that US standards of workers’ rights and environmental standards are lifted to European levels rather than the reverse.
Please be assured that I will continue to monitor the TTIP deal and, alongside both Labour MPs and MEPs, express my concerns when the opportunities arise.
You may wish to contact your local Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and seek their views on the progress of TTIP. If you are not sure who your MEP is, you can find a list of North West MEPs here.

KS1 and KS2 assessment chaos
24 February 2016
A number of constituents have contacted me about new assessment arrangements for primary school pupils and their impact on teachers’ workload and pupils’ well-being. I have written to the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan about this issue and I will share a copy of any substantive response that I receive on my website.

NSPCC 'It's Time Campaign'
23 February 2016
Please click here to read a response from the Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP, Minister of State for Community and Social Care, concerning the NSPCC's 'It's Time' Campaign.

Britain in Europe
23 February 2016
Now that we are to have a referendum in June of this year on our membership of the EU, which I welcome as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the British public to have their say, it is time to weigh up the consequences of leaving. David Cameron’s re-negotiation, despite the drama of last week, in truth does not make a great deal of difference to the terms of our relationship with the EU. It was always more about appeasing the xenophobes, ambitious cynics and swivel-eyed, right-wingers in UKIP and his own party. Pulling out of the EU, however, would be a leap in the dark at best and, at worst, would have disastrous consequences on jobs and trade in the UK. It would also seriously diminish our influence on national security, climate change and, the protection of our shared environment. Instead of being part of an important - albeit imperfect – regional bloc, we would be a lone voice in international forums.
In 2015, 47% of our trade in goods (representing £134 billion) went to the EU, and 7 out of our top 10 export markets in 2014 were countries in the EU. Some 3 million jobs in the UK are linked to markets in the EU and, although not all of those jobs would necessarily be lost if we were to leave, our status as a gateway to European markets for investment in key industries such as the automotive industry would be seriously undermined.
Make no mistake, a post-exit Tory government would seek to weaken workplace rights, employment terms and conditions, health and safety, regulation of mergers and consumer protection. Who does that benefit? Certainly not people in Knowsley already struggling on zero hours contracts and in other insecure employment.
Over the coming months, the ‘out’ campaign will argue that by going it alone we will have more control over the money which currently goes out of our taxes to Europe on such things as structural funds.
The UK, through 17 national and regional programmes, benefits from EUR 16.4 billion of European Structural and Investment Funds. Here on Merseyside, we have over the years benefitted from European funding on sustainable and inclusive growth, innovation and infrastructure. It is true that on Merseyside we are a net contributor in terms of cost per head, but it would take an enormous leap of faith to believe that a Tory government would allocate any savings for investment on Merseyside – more likely, we would receive less than we do at present.
The changes David Cameron has negotiated on European migration, on the terms of benefit availability and child benefit, are unlikely to have much impact as they are not reasons why people move about within Europe: they do so overwhelmingly to get work. Even if it did reduce migration, according to the government’s own Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR), public sector debt, as a proportion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), would increase rather than decrease as it would reduce the numbers of migrants working and paying tax.
Labour will not support enforced deregulation and privatisation. That is why Labour MEPs are continually opposing elements of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations which would undermine national sovereignty, damage public services or drive down standards for workers, consumers, environment or public health. The people of Knowsley and in the wider Liverpool City Region are rightly sceptical about David Cameron and the Tory party. But that should not allow us to be distracted about our own continued membership of the EU. As progressive internationalists, we should vote to remain. A future Labour government would press for new reforms on Europe on such things as better workplace protection and environmental protection. However, in order to do so, we need to be at the negotiating table, not a sidelined and isolated country on the periphery of Europe.

Unaccompanied Refugee Children
22 February 2016
Please click here to read a response from the Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, Immigration Minister, concerning the plight of unaccompanied refugee children.

Mental Health Support
18 February 2016
Please click here to read a response from the Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, Minister for Employment, concerning back to work support for people with mental health problems.

Freedom of Information (FOI)
2 February 2016
The Freedom of Information Act was introduced by Labour in 2000 to make government more transparent. It gives you the right to find out about the decisions made in your name by requiring public bodies - including government departments, local councils and the police - to answer questions submitted by the public. Around 60,000 requests for information are made each year under the terms of the Act.
The Tories want to water down the FOI Act. They’ve complained about journalists holding them to account, saying that FOI legislation is being ‘misused’. What they really mean is that they want less open government where it’s harder for people to hold them to account for their decisions. Labour don’t want that this to happen. We believe the FOI Act is an important tool to a more transparent democracy.
The government must make it easier for citizens to access information, not harder. The Act has encouraged government departments and other organisations that are funded by taxpayers to be more open about the way they operate. We think the Act should be extended so that private companies who operate government contracts are also required to answer questions and provide information to the public. We need to strengthen accountability and make public services work better for people.
Tom Watson MP, Labour’s Deputy Leader and Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, says: "This is the most secretive government in my lifetime and that needs to change. Obviously there are things government cannot make public but there has to be a very good reason for secrecy. A lot of information that was freely available before isn't made public now because the Tories want to conduct government behind closed doors. We need to ensure those doors remain open."
The FOI Act needs to be widened to include all companies that have contracts with public bodies; this would strengthen the Act, leading to greater accountability. Measures which make it harder to obtain information would encourage a culture of secrecy and means public authorities avoid scrutiny. The FOI Act should reflect citizens' interests and rights in a democratic society to access information about the government. The costs of FOI are far outweighed by the benefits, such as exposing and deterring wasteful public spending. Labour believes that Introducing charges for requests would deter many people from using the Act. I have signed Labour’s petition to protect the Freedom of Information Act. You can do so here.

Proposed changes to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
2 February 2016
A number of constituents have contacted me about changes to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), notably changes for new claimants, support for people with mental health concerns and also, support for people with cancer who are too ill to work. I have raised these concerns with both Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions and Priti Patel, the Minister for Employment. I will post copies of any responses that I receive on my website.
Please be assured that I will, alongside Labour colleagues, be doing everything I can to make sure that the Welfare Work and Reform Bill does not make life harder for working families, and protects those who are unable to work.

NSPCC "It's Time"campaign
1 February 2016
A number of constituents have contacted me regarding the NSPCC’s “It’s Time” campaign. I have written to the Secretary of State for Health to raise my concerns, and I will post a copy of any substantive response that I receive on my website.

Holocaust Memorial Day
28 January 2016
I have signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment, pledging my commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who were murdered during the Holocaust as well as paying tribute to the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people.
Wednesday 27th January marked the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history. In the weeks leading up to and after Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events will be arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. You can find more information by clicking here.

Food Waste (Reduction) Bill
28 January 2016
I am supporting the Food Waste (Reduction) Bill which will tackle the scandal of food waste.
Consumers have reduced their food waste by over 20% since 2007, however, over half of all food waste occurs before we even have a chance to buy it. Suppliers and supermarkets urgently need to take responsibility for reducing the huge amount of waste generated upstream, particularly on farms.
The Food Waste (Reduction) Bill sets out a clear path for reducing the huge amount of food wasted before it even reaches our shopping bags, and for increasing the amount of good surplus food that is donated to charities.

BroadBad: a study into broadband investment
26 January 2016
I recently co-signed a new report 'BroadBad' from the British Infrastructure Group of MPs (BIG) which reveals that despite £1.7bn of taxpayers’ cash being pumped into subsidising the construction of UK high-speed broadband, there are still a staggering 5.7million people across Britain who cannot access the internet at the Ofcom required 10 Megabits per second.

In 2016 people rightly expect access to high-speed internet connections. Whether at home or work, fast broadband should be a reality in all our communities. Sadly, this is not yet the case. In Knowsley people are dealing with some really poor connections and gaps in services. Knowsley has an above average number of connections with speeds slower than 2M/bs The report, ‘BroadBad’, calls on the regulator Ofcom to take radical action over the ‘natural monopoly’ too long enjoyed by BT Openreach and details connection speeds in every part of the country. I believe Britain should be leading the world in digital innovation. Yet instead, Britain suffers from having a BT run monopoly clinging to outdated copper technology with no proper long-term plan for the future. Britain needs to start converting to a fully fibre network so it is not left behind the other nations who are rushing to embrace digital advancement. However, Britain will only achieve this by taking action to open up the sector.

Contaminated Blood Consultation
26 January 2016
Last week, Jane Ellison, Minister for Public Health, wrote to me about the launch of a government consultation for a new, reformed scheme for those affected by the contaminated blood scandal. You can read a copy of the letter here.
The open consultation, titled “Infected blood: reform of financial and other support”, seeks views on reforms to the support for those affected by hepatitis C or HIV from historic NHS blood treatments. Copies of the consultation can be found here. The consultation runs until Friday 15th April.

Student Nurses Funding
6 January 2016
A number of constituents have contacted me about funding for nursing students.
Following the announcements in the Chancellor’s Comprehensive Spending Review, changes to funding for student nurses is due to take place from 1 August 2017, i.e. affect the academic year that starts in September 2017. I did participate in the adjournment debate on 14th December; you can read my contributions here and a full transcript of the debate here. I also wrote to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, Ben Gummer, and received a response which you can view here.
I will continue to raise my concerns when the opportunities arise.

Home Energy Efficiency
5 January 2016
Please click here to read a response from Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for the Department of Energy & Climate Change regarding home energy efficiency.

BBC Charter Review
5 January 2016
Please click here to read a response from John Whittingdale, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, concerning the BBC Charter Review.

Global Polio Eradication
4 January 2016
Please click here to read a response from Nick Hurd, Under Secretary of State at the Department for International Development, concerning the global eradication of polio.


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