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EU (Withdrawal) Bill - Animal Welfare
12 December 2017
Please click here to read a response from the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, about the recognition of animals as sentient beings in UK law after the UK leaves the EU.

Disability Equality Training
12 December 2017
Please click here to read a response from the Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, about statutory guidance requiring all taxi and minicab drivers to undertake disability equality training.

Parliamentary scrutiny of future UK trade agreements
11 December 2017
Please click here to read the response from the Rt Hon Liam Fox MP about parliamentary scrutiny of future UK trade agreements

Environment Agency Consultation
7 December 2017
I recently received a letter from the Environment Agency regarding a consultation they have launched into fees they charge for permits.
The consultation is called a Strategic Review of Charges and will run until 12th January 2017.
You can view a copy of the letter, which includes further details, by clicking here.

Premier League Stars
6 December 2017
I recently attended an event in Parliament focused on the Premier League’s national primary school programme, ‘Premier League Primary Stars’.
Premier League Primary Stars is open to all primary schools across England and Wales, where they can access completely free teaching resource packs covering PE, English, Maths and PSHE for children aged 5-11. Real life examples from football provide lesson content, videos and fun activities to enhance children’s understanding and interest across the curriculum. Thirty Two schools in my constituency have already signed up.
To register and find out more information, please click here.

Big Lottery Fund
5 December 2017
I recently met with the Big Lottery Fund to discuss their work in Knowsley and plans for the future.
The Big Lottery Fund distributes 40% of National Lottery good causes funding, awarding over £700 million to communities across the UK last year.
Anyone looking for funding for a community project should consider applying for the following grant programmes:
National Lottery Awards for All offers funding of up to £10,000 to support what matters to people and communities. If you are a voluntary or community organisation, a school or a statutory body you can apply for funding.
Reaching Communities provides funding between £10,000 and £500,000 for voluntary or community groups. The most important thing when applying for funding is focusing on your ideas to make positive changes in your community.
To apply, please contact the Big Advice Line on 0345 410 2030. Additional guidance is available here and you can register your interest to attend a live online funding workshop, here. You can also find out more about other sources of Lottery Good Cause funding, including grants for arts, heritage and sports projects, here.

Leonard Cheshire Disability
1 December 2017
I recently joined the UK based Leonard Cheshire Disability charity in parliament to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development pledges to “leave no one behind” yet a recent report by Leonard Cheshire and the United Nations Girls Education Initiative (UNGEI) revealed that only 10% of children with disabilities in developing countries go to school.
Leonard Cheshire Disability runs a number of programmes aimed at improving access to inclusive education for disabled children, particularly girls, and employment opportunities for disabled people in 13 countries across Africa and Asia.
You can find out more by visiting www.leonardcheshire.org/international.

Cystic Fibrosis
1 December 2017
I am backing an ongoing campaign by the Cystic Fibrosis Trust to ensure access to precision medicines in the UK.
One such drug is Orkambi, a precision medicine that 40 per cent of people with Cystic Fibrosis in the UK could benefit from. While conventional Cystic Fibrosis treatments target the symptoms, precision medicines tackle the underlying genetic mutations which cause the condition. Orkambi is not a cure, but it has been found to slow decline in lung function – the most common cause of death for people with cystic fibrosis. It has also been shown to reduce pulmonary exacerbations requiring hospitalisation by up to 61 per cent.
Orkambi received its European license in November 2015, and in June the following year the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recognised Orkambi as an important treatment. They did not recommend the drug, though, on grounds of cost-effectiveness and a lack of long-term data.
For more information, please visit www.cysticfibrosis.org.uk

Which? Broadband advice

1 December 2017
If you are experiencing issues with your broadband connection, you may find it helpful to check out Which? free speed checker which will allow you to find out what broadband speed you are actually getting. If you are unhappy with your broadband speed, you can also use their broadband complaint tool to quickly make a formal complaint to your provider or read Which? tips on ways to speed up slow connections.

Keep Me Posted
30 November 2017
I am supporting the ‘Keep Me Posted’ campaign, which calls for consumers to have the right to choose, without disadvantage, how they are contacted by banks, utility companies and other service providers.
Over 100 organisations have pledged their support in ensuring that consumers retain the right to receive paper statements without penalties.
You can find out more about the campaign by clicking here.

Lung Cancer Variation
30 November 2017
I recently attended a parliamentary event on lung cancer variation, hosted by The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and MSD.
Despite improvements in survival and incidence rates, people with lung cancer still face huge inequalities when accessing lung cancer treatments and services, as a result of their age, socio-economic status or where they live.
You can find out more by clicking here.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe & Foroughi
29 November 2017
Please click here to read a response from Alistair Burt, Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, regarding Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Mr Kamal Foroughi who are detained in Iran.

Giving Tuesday
29 November 2017
I recently attended an event in Parliament, hosted by the Charities Aid Foundation, to celebrate Giving Tuesday.
The campaign encourages people to do 'good stuff’ for charity, such as bake, donate or Tweet in support of a favourite charity. Although Giving Tuesday has passed, you can still find out more about the campign and ways to support your favourite charities by clicking here.

Public Sector Pay
24 November 2017
A number of constituents have been in touch with me about public sector pay. In September, I raised my constituents’ concerns with HM Treasury. Please click here to read the response from Liz Truss, Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
I have also contacted Unison to offer my support for their ‘Pay Up Now!’ campaign, and have noted the Westminster Hall debate on 4th December 2017 in my diary and will do my best to attend. In addition, I have added my support to the Royal College of Nursing’s Scrap the Cap! campaign.
Please be assured that I strongly support the move towards an increase in public sector pay beyond the 1% cap that has been in force in the recent past. It is, for me, both a matter of fairness towards those who work in our public services and, also, a practical issue of being able to recruit and retain staff. As you will be aware, there is solid evidence of hardship experienced on the part of public sector workers and of unfilled posts.

Lloyds Bank Foundation
21 November 2017
I recently attended a Parliamentary Reception, hosted by the Lloyds Bank Foundation, where I met with local charities who have benefited from the Foundation's support.
Over the last 30 years the Foundation has donated £600 million to charities across the UK. If you think your charity could be eligible for support please click here.

Early Intervention for Eating Disorders
20 November 2017
I am supporting Beat’s campaign calling on the Government to encourage more people with eating disorders to seek help as soon as possible, and for more funds to be made available nationwide so that everyone can get the treatment they need once they have been referred to mental health services.
Beat have recently published new research highlighting the impact of delayed treatment for eating disorder sufferers and their families. The report, entitled ‘Delaying for years, denied for months’, found that, on average, it takes sufferers over 18 months to realise they have an eating disorder and over a year following this before they seek help. The research also found an average wait of six months between sufferers first visiting a GP and receiving treatment. Successfully treating anorexia becomes harder after three years, therefore, this wait means that many people are seeing help when their illness is still highly treatable, but not receiving it until later, when the likely outcome is more negative.
You can find out more about the campaign by clicking here.

Improve Social Care
15 November 2017
I recently met social care users being let down by the care system, as part of The Care and Support Alliance campaign to improve the social care system.
Currently more than 1.2 million older and disabled people do not get the care they need. Social care is a lifeline for the many older and disabled people who rely on care for support with everyday tasks such as washing and cooking. Yet despite more of us needing it, 50% fewer people receive care now than in 2010.
The Government has said it plans to consult on plans to fix the social care system ‘once and for all’. The Care and Support Alliance are calling for the consultation to be published as soon as possible, setting out a sustainable solution for funding the whole system.
You can find out more about the work the Care and Support Alliance do by clicking here, and sign their petition, calling on the Government to bring forward social care proposals by early 2018, by clicking here.

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill
15 November 2017
A number of constituents have contacted me about the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.
I have already added my name to some fifty amendments and New Clauses to the Bill. If you have not had the opportunity to study the Bill and associated amendments and New Clauses, you can do so here.
There are currently 184 pages of amendments and New Clauses, however, at this point I do not know which New Clauses and amendments will be selected by the Speaker.
You can follow the progress of the Bill here and see how I vote here.

Ring-fence mental health spend
10 November 2017
Luciana Berger MP, Shadow Minister for Mental Health, is calling on the Chancellor to ring-fence mental health spend in his Autumn Budget. The government has announced additional funding for mental health but is only a fraction of what mental health services need to meet growing demands. Across England, for the second year in a row, over half of Clinical Commissioning Groups – the bodies that decide how money is spent locally - say they plan to reduce the proportion of their budget spend on mental health. This is unacceptable. The money needed to transform mental health services and save lives is just not reaching the front line. Waiting times are too long, people are not receiving the best care in the community and people are having to travel too far for in-patient services.
Please sign this petition today to urge the Chancellor to ring-fence mental health spending on November 22nd 2017.

Public Sector Pay - HM Treasury response
7 November 2017
Please click here to read a response from Liz Truss, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, concerning public sector pay.

Neonicotinoids
1 November 2017
Please click here to read a response from Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, concerning neonicotinoids.

British Stammering Association - Merseyside Open Day
1 November 2017
The British Stammering Association are hosting an Open Day in Liverpool on Saturday 11th November.
The event will take place at the Quaker Meeting House on School Lane from 10.30am, and will be an opportunity to meet other people who stammer, take part in workshops and listen to guest speakers.
You can reserve a place and find out more information about the event by clicking here.

Finance Bill 2017-19
31 October 2017
A number of constituents have contacted me about upcoming votes of the Finance Bill. I chaired the Finance Bill at the Committee Stage. This means that, in accordance with the protocol of the House, I am not permitted to vote at any stage of the proceedings on the legislation. Nor am I able to make further public comment upon the progress of the legislation, the content of the Bill or proposed amendments as I am required to maintain strict impartiality.

Stem Cell Transplants
30 October 2017
Please click here to read a response from Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, concerning stem cell transplants.

Macmillan Cancer Support
30 October 2017
I recently showed my support for Macmillan Cancer Support on Wednesday 18 October, by attending a World’s Biggest Coffee Morning event in Parliament.
The occasion marked the launch of a new report, ‘Am I Meant To Be Okay Now?: Stories of Life After Treatment’, which focuses on the challenges people face after cancer treatment ends.
Having raised over £29.5 million in 2016, the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning is Macmillan’s biggest fundraising event of the year – and there is still time to get involved. For further information, please visit www.macmillan.org.uk/coffee.

Supported Housing and Local Housing Allowance

27 October 2017
Conservative housing benefit cuts, due to take effect in April 2019, risk closing thousands of supported housing schemes including homelessness hostels, sheltered housing, specialist accommodation for former members of the armed forces and refuges for victims of domestic violence. Although these cuts have not yet come into force, the threat of these changes has already led to an 85% drop in new supported housing development.
This is part of a wider attack on the housing safety net by this government, including slashing funding for new affordable homes, withdrawing housing benefit for under-21s and reductions in local housing allowance for private tenants which are making large swathes of the country unaffordable for low income households. Labour is calling on the government to halt these cuts and safeguard funding for this vital accommodation for the long term, building on the recommendations of a cross-party joint select committee report.
I recently took part in a debate on Supported Housing, a transcript of which you can view here. I also raised my concerns about the impact of freezing Local Housing Allowance with HM Treasury, and received a response from Elizabeth Truss, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, which you can view here.

Capped Expenditure Process
24 October 2017
Please click here to read a response from Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, concerning the Capped Expenditure Process.

Stay Warm this Winter
18 October 2017
Research undertaken by Atomik, on behalf of British Gas, indicates that many people have not taken action to ensure their homes are ready for winter.
There are a number of practical steps that can be taken to ensure you are prepared. You can click here to view ten simple tricks which will help keep you warm this winter, published by British Gas.

Home Carbon Emissions
16 October 2017
Please click here to read a response from Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, concerning carbon emissions from homes.

Home Carbon Challenge
16 October 2017
Please click here to read a response from Claire Perry, Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry, concerning the World Wildlife Fund Home Carbon Challenge.

Yemen & Saudi Arabia
16 October 2017
Please click here to read a response from Alistair Burt, Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, concerning Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

PIP
16 October 2017
Please click here to read a response from David Gauke, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, concerning Personal Independence Payments.

Charity Aid Foundation
29 September 2017
I recently attended the Charities Aid Foundation’s ‘soft power station’ at the Labour Party Conference, to discuss the role that the UK’s soft power can have in amplifying global civil society.
CAF recently published a report which explores the potential impact that the UK Government could generate by investing in civil society infrastructure across the world as part of our international development work.
Their report highlighted that if people in the growing global middle class – set to increase by 2.4 billion by 2030 - give 0.5% of their income to charity it could generate $319 billion in donations towards civil society organisations annually.
However, the potential for unlocking this new source of generosity is hampered by low levels of giving in emerging economies, a history of public distrust of charities and other barriers that prevent the kind of thriving civil society that contributes so much to life in the UK. We can overcome these barriers by putting in place the infrastructure needed to empower people to use their resources to create change.
For more information about the work of the Charities Aid Foundation, please visit www.cafonline.org.

Guide Dogs UK - Disability Equality Traning
29 September 2017
I am supporting Guide Dogs UK call for all taxi and minicab drivers to undertake disability equality training, so they understand the rights and needs of disabled passengers and feel confident to offer assistance.
The campaign is supported by more than 30 organisations, including trade bodies, local government representatives and disability groups.
You can find out more about the work Guide Dogs UK do by clicking here.

Ivory Trade
27 September 2017
Please click here to read a response from Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, concerning the trade of ivory.

Gamebird Welfare
27 September 2017
Please click here to read a response from Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, concerning the rearing of gamebirds in cages.

'Wear it Pink'
26 September 2017
I am supporting Breast Cancer Now’s flagship fundraiser, 'Wear it Pink', which will see thousands of people across the UK wearing pink on Friday 20th October to raise vital funds for breast cancer research.
The event, which takes place during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is in its 16th year and has raised over £30 million to date for Breast Cancer Now’s life-saving research.
You can find out more about the campaign by clicking here.

#NHSTakeback
22 September 2017
I am supporting the 'We Own It - #NHS Takeback' campaign to keep the NHS in public ownership.
You can find out more about the campaign by clicking here.

Executive Remuneration

20 September 2017
Please click here to read a response from Margot James, Minister for Small Business, Consumers & Corporate Responsibility, concerning executive remuneration.
Labour’s 2017 Manifesto included commitments to reduce pay inequality through legislation, by introducing an "excessive pay levy" on companies with high numbers of staff on high pay, and a 20:1 limit on the gap between the lowest and highest paid workers in companies given Government contracts.

Grenfell Tower
19 September 2017
Please click here to read a response from Alok Sharma, Minister of State for Housing and Planning, concerning the Grenfell Tower fire.

Protect the Rohingyas
18 September 2017
I am a signatory to a campaign launched by the Elie Wiesel Network, calling for the protection of the Rohingyas.
The Rohingyas are one of the largest stateless people of the world. Today, the Muslim Rohingyas of Myanmar are the victims of violent abuses by the army, with more than 300,000 children, women and men seeking refuge, primarily in Bangladesh.
You can find out more about the campaign by clicking here.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2018
18 September 2017
I recently attended the launch of Holocaust Memorial Day 2018, where I met Dr Martin Stern who survived the Holocaust as a child.
Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) is commemorated each year on 27 January, which is the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death and concentration camp. HMD provides an opportunity for everyone to learn lessons from the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. HMD asks people to apply these lessons to the present day to create a safer, better future. Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) promotes and supports HMD activities across the UK. Each year HMDT selects a theme around which HMD activities can focus. The theme for 2018 is The Power of Words.
You can find out more about HMDT by clicking here.

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill
14 September 2017
A number of constituents have contacted me about the recent Second Reading debate for the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. I did speak in the debate and my views can be found here. At the conclusion of the debate, I voted for the opposition amendment.

Opposition Day Debate – Public Sector Pay Cap
14 September 2017
A number of constituents have contacted me about the Opposition Day debate on the public sector pay cap.
The opposition motion which was subject of the vote was put in motion. At the conclusion, the Government did not oppose Labour’s motion and, consequently, it was passed without a vote. They did so because, had it been put to a vote, they would have lost it as the Democratic Unionist Pary had indicated that they would support Labour’s motion. I am not at this stage certain what impact this will have. The Government’s so-called lifting of the cap earlier in the week, for example, was the most grudging and limited climb down imaginable.
The status of our Labour motion in parliamentary terms is advisory, although I personally think that it has a moral force which the Government should accept. Please be assured of my continuing support on this important matter.

Migration and Resettlement of Refugees
13 September 2017
Please click here to read a response from Brandon Lewis, Minister of State for Immigration, concerning the migration crisis and resettlement of refugees.

Environmental Protection
13 September 2017
Please click here to read a response from Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, concerning environmental protection.

Beer Duty and Business Rates
13 September 2017
Please click here to read a response from Andrew Jones, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, concerning beer duty and business rates.

Rail Improvements in the North
13 September 2017
Please click here to read a response from Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, concerning rail improvements in the North.

Leaseholders
5 September 2017
Please click here to read the response from Alok Sharma MP, Minister of State for Housing and Planning, regarding existing leaseholders and their onerous lease terms.
There is currently an Government consultation looking at tackling unfair practices in the leasehold market. This consultation is looking for views on prohibiting the sale of new build leasehold houses, limiting ground rents and protecting leaseholders from possession orders. This consultation closes at 11:45pm on 19 September 2017. You can respond online or by emailing LeaseholdHousesConsultation@communities.gsi.gov.uk

Organ Donation Week in Knowsley
5 September 2017
I proudly support Organ Donation Week and appeal for my constituents to talk about organ donation.
28483 people in Knowsley are on the NHS Organ Donor Register but hundreds of lifesaving transplants are being missed around the country every year because families don’t know what their relative wanted.
I’m proud to support this lifesaving appeal and it’s really easy for everyone to take part – just have a chat. That chat might be the next time you sit down for a meal, when you are shopping or working, or when you are just driving in the car. If you want to be a donor, your family’s agreement is still needed for donation to go ahead, even if you are on the NHS Organ Donor Register.
Families who agree to donate say it helps with their grief and that they feel enormous sense of pride at knowing their relative gave others the chance of a new beginning.
Fiona Loud, Policy Director of Kidney Care UK, commented: “At least one person dies every single day whilst waiting for a kidney transplant and of the 7 people on the waiting list in Knowsley around 90% of them are waiting for a kidney. You are more likely to need a transplant than to be a donor so please, this Organ Donation Week, just take a few minutes to have a think about what you would do if you needed a transplant, and have that life-saving chat with your family so they know your wishes.”
To find out more about Organ Donation, click here.

Acid Attacks - NHS Guidance
1 September 2017
NHS England has launched new guidance and information for the public on acid attacks.
A new page has been created on the NHS Choices website, containing information on what to do as a victim or a bystander immediately following an attack with a corrosive substance, as well as how the NHS treats injuries caused as a result. The website can be viewed here.
In addition, NHS England has also endorsed an infographic produced by burns specialists giving three clear and memorable actions to take – Report, Remove, Rinse. The infographic can be viewed here.

Grenfell Tower Fire – Aspire blog
1 September 2017
Aspire is a national charity that provides practical help to people who have been paralysed by Spinal Cord Injury. Aspire is very concerned that the public inquiry should not overlook the experience of disabled occupants affected by the Grenfell Tower fire and the implications for new and existing buildings this reveals.They have published a blog to highlight their concerns.

Puppy smuggling
30 August 2017
Please click here to read the response from the Secretary of State for Envrionment, Food & Rural Affairs, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, about puppy imports.

Torture and asylum: Home Affairs Committee
29 August 2017
Please click here to read the response from Yvette Cooper, Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, about the way that the Home Office handles expert medical evidence in asylum claims.

People's Postcode Lottery
21 August 2017
Applications for the latest round of funding from the People's Postcode Lottery are now open and will close on the 28th August.
Charities and community groups are eligible to apply for the grants of between £500 and £20,000.
Over 400 projects were awarded with grants in the last funding round, with previously funded projects ranging from sports clubs, to mental health groups and wildlife conservation charities.
For more information on how to apply for funding, please visit the Trusts’ websites:
www.postcodetrust.org.uk
www.postcodelocaltrust.org.uk
www.postcodecommunitytrust.org.uk

Mersey Gateway and Silver Jubilee Bridge

26 July 2017
Work started on the Mersey Gateway Project on 7th May 2014. In autumn 2017 a new six lane toll bridge over the River Mersey, between the towns of Runcorn and Widnes, will open to relieve the Silver Jubilee Bridge and reduce journey times.
Both the new Mersey Gateway Bridge and the Silver Jubilee Bridge will be tolled, but they will be free for eligible Halton residents to cross. It is unfair that the bridges will be free to use for Halton residents but not for residents of Cheshire West and Chester, Warrington and Merseyside.
The proposed cost of the tolls is unaffordable and will cause many residents, not just those living in Knowsley, to seek employment elsewhere. I am calling on the Government to extend the free toll scheme to residents of Cheshire West and Chester, Warrington and Merseyside.
In light of this, I tabled Early Day Motion 171 Mersey Gateway and Jubilee Bridge, signed by many local MPs.
The communications union (CWU) have created a petition titled ‘Removal of Mersey gateway toll within the Northwest area’ and if you support the campaign, I would encourage you add your name to this petition and/or share it on social media.
To find out more about the proposed tolls, please click here.

Cancer Research UK - Beat Cancer Sooner
18 July 2017
I recently attended an event in Parliament, held by Cancer Research UK, to ensure cancer is kept at the top of the new Parliament’s agenda. Over the course of this parliament, two million people will be diagnosed with cancer across the UK. In Knowsley alone there are around 920 cancer cases per year. Survival in the UK has doubled in the last 40 years, but cancer survival in the UK is still lagging behind other countries and too many cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage, when they are harder to treat successfully.
You can find out more about the work Cancer Research UK do by clicking here.

Support Musicians Working in the EU
11 July 2017
I am supporting the Musicians Union campaign to ensure musicians are able to travel easily across Europe post-Brexit for touring and performing with minimum administrative burdens.
Musicians are very concerned that the Brexit process may lead to the introduction of individual member state work permits and/or visas for British musicians touring and working across Europe. Most professional musicians and performers rely on touring and travelling for their careers and livelihoods, and gigs are often organised at short notice. As some performers can be working in several different European countries over the course of a few days, the possible introduction of work permissions and/or visas for British musicians touring and working in Europe could be extremely detrimental.
You can find out more about the campaign by clicking here.

Which? Fixing Bad Broadband campaign
11 July 2017
I am supporting Which? Fixing Bad Broadband Campaign. Which? want to put consumers in control of their broadband. Their Fix Bad Broadband campaign will give you the tools you need to check your actual broadband speeds, complain to your provider if you’re not getting the service you are paying for, improve your home setup and switch broadband providers. If you’re frustrated by a slow connection, you may find Which? tips helpful. If you are not getting the broadband that you think you should be, you can use Which? Broadband Complaint Tool.

Updated - Grenfell Tower fire
10 July 2017
A number of constituents have contacted me about the recent catastrophic fire in Grenfell Tower Block.
It is vital that we get to the bottom of how this fire happened, hold those responsible to account, and do what is needed to make sure it does not happen again. Labour in Government acted to require the fitting of sprinklers on new high-rise buildings. We also launched a new fire safety protocol in 2007 and updated guidance in 2008, but it’s clear now that more needs to be done. More recently, as part of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fire Safety, I have been involved in raising the issues of building regulations and the need for sprinkler systems with the Government. Unfortunately – tragically – our warnings were ignored.
Please be assured that, alongside Labour colleagues, I will be pressing Government Ministers hard on the following areas:
- to ensure those who are affected by the fire are given the support they need including full support and local rehousing, now and in the years ahead;
- to ensure that there is adequate opportunity for Parliament to hold the Government to account and for MPs to have their questions answered as soon as possible;
- to ensure Ministers answer questions about why the findings of previous inquiries into high-rise fires were not acted upon;
- to ensure that a report with emerging findings is completed by the summer and before the conclusion of the full public inquiry, allowing swift measures to be taken where necessary to reassure residents in other high-rise residential buildings who will now have concerns; and
- to ensure that the public inquiry is set up in the right way so it gets to the bottom of what went wrong at Grenfell Tower, holds those responsible to account, and makes sure a tragedy of this sort is never repeated.
Jeremy Corbyn wrote to the Prime Minister on Friday 16th June to press these issues; you can read his letter here.
I have written to both the Housing Minister and Home Secretary to raise constituents' concerns about the Grenfell Tower fire and will post copies of any substantive responses that I receive on my website.

'Women at War 100'
26 April 2017
On Friday 7th July 2017, the Royal British Legion will mark the centenary of the formal recognition of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) by holding a Drumhead Ceremony and Reception at The National Memorial Arboretum.
Women who have served the Crown on military operation or in uniform can apply to attend the Drumhead Ceremony by clicking here. Alternatively, the ceremony will be shown on a screen at the National Memorial Arboretum. The Arboretum is open to the public from 9am-5pm and includes more than 300 thought-provoking memorials.
If you have any queries, please email women100@britishlegion.org.uk or phone 020 3053 7216.

'Time to talk about NHS pay' campaign email
20 April 2017
Please click here to read the response from the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health, regarding NHS pay.

'New two-child limit cuts essential support for children' campaign email
18 April 2017
Please click here to read the response from the Rt Hon Damian Green MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, regarding the Government policy to limit support through Tax Credits and Universal Credit to two children.

Finance (No.2) Bill 2017
18 April 2017
I have been asked to chair the Committee Stage of this Bill which will be discussed by a Committee of the whole House. This means that, in accordance with the protocol of the House, I am not permitted to vote at any stage of the proceedings on the legislation. Nor am I able to make further public comment upon the progress of the legislation, the content of the Bill or proposed amendments as I am required to maintain strict impartiality.

UK Ban on neonicotinoids
5 April 2017
A number of constituents have contacted me about the current UK ban on neonicotinoids. I have written to Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP, Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs to ask for an update and will post a copy of any substantive response that I receive on my website.

Action Aid's campaign against UK tax havens
3 April 2017
Please click here to read the response from Jane Ellison MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, about the international tax system.

Proposed changes to Personal Independence Payments - DWP response
30 March 2017
Please click here to read the response from The Rt Hon Damian Green MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, regarding Personal Independence Payments.

Unaccompanied Refugee Children
14 March 2017
Please click here to a read a response from Robert Goodwill MP, Minister of State for Immigration, concerning UK support for unaccompanied refugee children.

'A full ban on microbeads' campaign emails
13 March 2017
Please click here to read the response from the Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom, Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs about microbeads and their impact on the environment.

'Please help make the UK a global leader on refugee rights' campaign email
13 March 2017
A number of constituents have contacted me about the rights of refugees and displaced people fleeing war and insecurity. I have written to the Secretary of State and will post a copy of any substantive response that I receive on my website.

Children's Funeral Fund
10 March 2017
Please click here to read a response from Caroline Nokes MP, Minister for Welfare Delivery, concerning the creation of a Children's Funeral Fund.

Insurance Premium Tax (IPT)
8 March 2017
Please click here to read the response from Jane Ellison, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, regarding insurance premium tax rises.

Beat’s Eating Awareness Disorder Week
6 March 2017
I recently attended the launch of Beat’s Eating Awareness Disorder Week in Parliament.
I was delighted to support Beat in their Eating Awareness Disorder Week. It is vital that we raise awareness of eating disorders and ensure that adequate treatment is available for everyone who needs it. Beat carries out crucial work, especially by continually highlighting the importance of spotting the first signs of eating disorders to ensure people access the help they need very early on. Visit www.b-eat.co.uk for information about eating disorders, message boards and online support groups. Use HelpFinder.b-eat.co.uk to find services in your area.

‘Make Every Daffodil Count’ for Marie Curie this March
2 March 2017
This week, I attended the launch of Marie Curie's ‘Make Every Daffodil Count’ campaign. This campaign will help Marie Curie provide care and support to people living with a terminal illness. I support this appeal and encourage local people to help the charity raise more money than ever before by simply giving a donation and wearing a Marie Curie daffodil pin, available from volunteers across the country, or Superdrug, Spar, Poundworld stores and Wyevale Garden Centres, during March. Morrisons supermarkets will also be holding GDA fundraising collections on 10, 11 & 12 March.
For more information about volunteering for a local collection call 0800 304 7025 or visit www.mariecurie.org.uk/daffodil

Brexit: Make it work for everyone
1 March 2017
Please click here to read the response from the Secretary of State, Department for International Trade & President of the Board of Trade, Rt Hon Liam Fox MP, on ensuring that the UK's new trade approach works for the world's poorest people.

Debates on the NHS
28 February 2017
On 27th February, I attended the Westminster Hall debate about attacks on NHS staff. You can read a transcript of the debate that took place in Hansard here.
In addition, on 27th February, there was a debate in the House of Commons on the financial position of health and social care. If you would like to read the transcript of the debate that took place, please click here. Following this debate, I have written to the Chancellor about the current state of NHS funding and will post a copy of any substantive response that I receive on my website.

Bereavement benefit reform
27 February 2017
Please click here to read the response from the Minister for Welfare Delivery, Caroline Nokes MP, regarding bereavement benefit reform.

'A full ban on microbeads' campaign emails
24 February 2017
A number of constituents have contacted me about microbeads and their impact on the environment. I have written to the Secretary of State for the Department of Envrionment, Food & Rural Affairs, Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom and will post a copy of any response that I receive on my website.

UK Arms Exports to Saudi Arabia
24 February 2017
Please click here to read a response from Tobias Ellwood MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, concerning the conflict in Yemen and UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

Bowel Cancer Screening
22 February 2017
Please click here to read a response from David Mowat MP, Under Secretary of State for Community Health and Care, concerning bowel cancer screening.

Welfare at the time of slaughter (CCTV in slaughterhouses)
21 Feburary 2017
Please click here to read a response from Andrea Leadsom, Secretary of State for the Envionment, Food & Rural Affairs, regarding the welfare of animals at the time of slaughter.

Mubarak Assets
13 February 2017
Please click here to read a response I have received from Brandon Lewis, Home Office Minister of State, concerning the return of assets held in London by the son of Hosni Mubarak, Mr Gamal M H Mubarak.

Alcohol Duty
13 February 2017
Please click here to read a response I have received from Jane Ellison, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, concerning alcohol duty.

A&E Pressures
10 February 2017
Please click here to read a response I have received from Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, concerning pressures on A&E in the NHS.

Fur Trade
7 February 2017
A number of constituents have contacted me asking me to attend a meeting of the APPG on Animal Welfare today, to discuss the animal fur trade in the UK.
Unfortunately, I am unable to attend but I did raise this matter with Andrea Leadsom, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and received a response which you can view by clicking here.
You will be able to view transcript of the APPG meeting by clicking here.

Article 50 – The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill
31 January 2017
I have been asked to chair the Committee Stage of this Bill which, because it is a constitutional matter, is discussed by a Committee of the whole House. This means that, in accordance with the protocol of the House, along with my co-chair, I am not permitted to vote at any stage of the proceedings on the legislation. Nor am I able to make further public comment upon the progress of the legislation, the content of the Bill or proposed amendments as I am required to maintain strict impartiality.

I apologise to any constituents who have contacted me about this matter and not received a response – this is because I was aware of the likelihood that Sir Roger Gale MP and I would, as the longest-serving members of the Speaker’s Panel of Chairs, be co-chairing the Bill.

Local road funding
23 January 2017
Please click here to read correspondence I have received from Andrew Jones MP, Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport, concerning capital funding that will provided to local councils to support infrastructure projects on local roads and ease congestion.

Syria
20 January 2017
Please click here to see a response from Tobias Ellwood MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, concerning the situation in Syria.

Survivors of torture
20 January 2017
Please click here to see the response from UK Visas and Immigration about victims of torture.

Finn’s Law to protect police support animals

13 January 2017
A number of constituents have contacted me about ‘Finn’s Law’, a proposal that UK Police Dogs and Horses are given protection that reflects their status if assaulted in the line of duty.
A Government e-petition on this issue received over 124,000 signatures. The Government responded to this petition and the topic was debated on 14th November 2016.
The Government has since changed its response to this petition and agreed to explore whether there is more that the law should do to offer the most appropriate protections to police animals and all working animals. The Government “has requested that the Sentencing Council considers assaults on police animals as an aggravating factor as a part of their current review on guidelines for sentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts, which includes animal cruelty offences."

Age UK
12 January 2017
Age UK Mid Mersey are highlighting the companionship and support they provide to older people in the local area.
There are a number of ways Age UK Mid Mersey can provide support to older people who may be worried about a range of issues, from claiming benefits to moving to a care home. There are also opportunities for older people across Merseyside to meet others in the local community via their local Age UK.
For more information please click here or call 01744 752 644.
Age UK are also looking for support from the local community to help them become supermarket Morrisons’ next chosen charity of the year. If Age UK are picked, it means they will be able to do more for thousands of older people. To find out more please click here.

Gambling machines and advertising
12 January 2017
Please click here to read the response from Tracey Crouch, Minister for Sport about gambling.

Crisis in the NHS

11 January 2017
The current crisis our NHS faces is unprecedented. Our health service is on its knees with one third of hospitals having declared they need urgent help to deal with the number of patients coming through their doors. A&E departments have turned patients away more than 143 times between 1 December 2016 and 1 January 2017. In one day last month 15 hospitals ran out of beds with elderly patients languishing on trolleys in corridors, sometimes for over 24 hours. Instead of dealing with the crisis, on Monday Jeremy Hunt suggested that the four hour A&E target may be downgraded and no longer apply to minor injuries. Today, I have written to Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, to ask him to put measures in place to ensure that hospitals have the resources they need to cope throughout winter, in order to make sure patients get the care they deserve. I am also calling on the Government to bring forward the £700m of social care funding planned for 2019/20 now and to pledge a new funding settlement for health and social care in the Budget in March. I will post a copy of any substantive response I receive on my website.

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.

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 in the 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.

EU Nature Directives Review
21 December 2015
Please click here to read a response from Rory Stewart, Minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, concerning the EU Nature Directives Review.

Welfare Reform and Work Bill
17 December 2015
Please click here to read a response from Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, concerning the Welfare Reform and Work Bill and its impact on people with Parkinson's Disease.

Prepay Rip Off
17 December 2015
Today I pledged my support to Dawn Butler’s campaign to end the ‘PrePay Rip Off’ scandal. Millions of the poorest and most vulnerable families are forced to use prepayment meters to heat their homes and cook food. But the poorest Londoners are paying the highest fuel bills as prepayment tariffs cost £226 a year more than the cheapest direct debit deals.
The ‘PrePay Rip Off’ is getting worse, not better, under David Cameron and George Osborne. The number of people forced to use prepayment meters has risen from 5.3million to over 6 million between 2010 to 2013 and could rise by a staggering 56 per cent by 2019.
Dawn Butler’s campaign to end the ‘Prepay Rip Off’ urges the government and energy companies to take five simple steps and:
1. Cut the cost of prepayment meters in line with the cheapest direct debit fuel tariffs saving consumers £226 a year
2. End debt collection by energy companies during the winter (as Scottish Energy have done)
3. Ensure homes with pensioners, disabled people and children don't have prepayment meters fitted
4. Stop installation of prepayment meters during the winter
5. Prioritise prepayment customers in the smart meter UK rollout
If you would like to support the end of the ‘Prepay Rip Off’, you can sign the petition here.

Climate Change
15 December 2015
Please click here to read the response from Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, concerning climate change.

TTIP
11 December 2015
On Thursday 10th December, I attended the Backbench Business Debate on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the proposed EU-US trade deal.
A number of constituents have contacted me to raise concerns on TTIP, arguing that it could include insufficient exemptions for the NHS and other public services; that it could lead to serious legal challenges; and that the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) could result in transferring power away from people. These are all reasons why pushing for more transparency and accountability is vital. We also need to recognise potential benefits that a deal on trade could provide for Britain’s workers and industries. Britain is a trading nation and balanced trade deals have a positive impact on jobs and growth. It is therefore crucial then that any benefits which an EU-US trade deal delivers filters down to employees, small businesses and consumers, that the deal is open and accountable, and that it does not dilute current labour, consumer, environmental and food safety standards. Trade deals also provide unique opportunities to properly regulate global trade. This means we need careful and reflective thinking because in a rapidly changing global economy we are increasingly trading with countries, for example China, whose labour laws do not match our high standards. A balanced TTIP, one that promotes, rather than weakens social, labour and environmental standards, regulating a quarter of all global trade, could provide a welcome departure from a race to the bottom.
The proposals should receive proper scrutiny at both a UK and EU level and that any final deal must have transparency and accountability at its heart. I was disappointed that the Coalition Government paid such little attention to these concerns and I believe it is important the current Government ensure they are covered in the negotiating process.
I fought the General Election on a Labour manifesto that recognised the potential benefits of TTIP, but emphasised that any final agreement needs to ensure that the NHS is protected, promotes decent jobs and avoids a race to the bottom. Labour MEPs have also made the case in the European Parliament to exclude public services - including our NHS - from TTIP negotiations and to ensure workers' rights, environmental standards and food safety standards are protected. A number of worries similar to our own have been raised by other EU member states and these will need to be reflected to secure agreement and therefore will have to be taken on board by the European Commission. I hope that the Government now listen and respond to these concerns.
I can assure you that I will follow this issue very closely and press the Government to ensure that TTIP delivers the jobs, growth and fairer deal for consumers we all want to see.
You can view a transcript of the debate here.

Bee Killing Pesticides
11 December 2015
A number of constituents have contacted me about the use of Neonicotinoids on crops and its impact on bees.
I was able to attend the recent Westminster Hall debate on this issue and I will continue to monitor the matter closely.
You can view a transcript of the debate by clicking here.

Proposal for a Shakespeare theatre in Knowsley
8 December 2015
Today I was successful in securing a Westminster Hall debate on a proposal for a Shakespeare theatre in Knowsley.
You can read my speech and a full transcript of the debate here.

Sunday Trading
7 December 2015
Please click here to read the response from Anna Soubry, Minister of State at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, concerning Sunday trading hours.

UK air strikes in Syria
4 December 2015
On Wednesday evening, I voted for the government’s motion authorising UK air strikes in Syria.
I did not arrive at the decision to do so lightly and gave a great deal of thought both to the consequences and the challenges implicit in arriving at that conclusion.
I did consider carefully all opinions expressed to me in emails or in person and did signal my thinking to our Constituency Labour Party last week. It is of course, important that we all respect each other’s opinions but to disagree with somebody is not the same thing as disrespecting them.
The Labour front-bench speech at the end of the debate by Hilary Benn, in my view, summarised the case for supporting the government motion with clarity and fluency.
My own reasons for supporting the government motion are based on a number of important factors.
First, UN Security Council Resolution 2249 is clear and specific. If we are serious about collective security, then I strongly believe that we have to accept the obligations that go with that principle, otherwise the UN is little more than a talking shop.
Secondly, I do sincerely believe that the so-called caliphate (Daesh) does represent a challenge that cannot be ignored lightly. The sheer barbarity of their actions in ungoverned spaces in both Iraq and Syria challenges our democratic and humanitarian principles. Its continued existence also acts as an attraction for young radical Muslims in the UK and elsewhere in the world. As a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee, I am aware of a number of plots to carry out Paris-style atrocities in the UK which originated in the so-called caliphate. Thankfully, those plots were prevented but it is possible that one will eventually succeed. Degrading ISIL’s capability in Syria, far from making us less safe, potentially will make such an attack less likely. Thirdly, UK forces are already carrying out air strikes on areas in Iraq which ISIL are currently occupying. From their point of view, the border between Iraq and Syria simply does not exist; they consider it all to be part of the so-called caliphate. Logically, it makes no sense to us to differentiate between Iraq and Syria.
Finally, as Hilary Benn eloquently put it, Labour’s tradition is internationalist. To be truly internationalist means being willing to stand up to evil wherever it exists and I find it impossible to avoid concluding that the ideology of ISIL is anything other than evil: any argument to the contrary fails to acknowledge the random brutality it promotes and practises.
Of course, this is not a simple matter and, as I previously have acknowledged, there is no absolute certainty about how a legitimate transitional government will be put together and how the different groups competing for power, other than ISIL, will be reconciled. I do, however, think that there is a good prospect that the Vienna talks will progress towards a power-sharing solution. My own direct experience in Northern Ireland, as a Minister involved in the Peace Process, has taught me that the human impulse for peace and reconciliation will eventually overcome sectarian division and conflict.
It has rightly been said that strategic air attacks alone will not eradicate the so-called caliphate and it will require military action on the ground. I do, however, have doubts about the use of Western troops on the ground as it is far better that those with a direct regional involvement take action on the ground. Although it will be a complicated matter to co-ordinate air strikes and action on the ground, I am, as a result of the briefing I have had, persuaded that there are sufficient non-Islamist forces available and willing to take strategic and tactical direction to overcome that challenge.

Syria
2 December 2015
There will shortly be a vote in Parliament as to whether or not we agree to air strikes in Syria.
In principle, I do not have a firm objection to taking such action. My support would, however, be subject to being convinced as to the political strategy for the political reconstruction following any such action. I did seek further clarification on this from the Prime Minister in the House of Commons on Thursday 26 November 2015. As yet, I am not fully convinced by his response but still have an open mind.
My in-principle support is based on my assessment of ISIL’s interest and capacity to continue their activities in Syria and Iraq and, as a consequence, further destabilise the Middle East and North Africa. It is also based on my assessment of their intentions towards other countries and our own. As we saw so tragically in Paris, ISIL’s activities are not confined to the so-called caliphate which is currently, although not exclusively, understood to be in Syria, Iraq and the Levant. Some have argued that, by intervening in Syria, we would effectively be contributing to the radicalisation of further young Muslims towards violent extremism. This view, however, fails to take into account the fact that the ‘caliphate’ is one of the most powerful inspirations for people open to violent extremist narratives. They see it as the embodiment of Salafist violent extremism. Any cursory reading of the motives of those involved or sympathetic to the ‘caliphate’ in their own words would bear this out.
One thing we have painfully learnt over the last twenty years or so is that ungoverned spaces provide an ideal safe haven for extremist violence, both in terms of the ungoverned space itself and as a base for terrorist activities elsewhere. That is why I am still looking for further assurance that the UN and those involved in talks about what will happen next, do have a political strategy that is coherent, practical and sustainable. Of course no guarantees can be given but that issue still needs to be explored further. I will listen carefully to all views before making my final decision.

BBC Charter Review
27 November 2015
Please click here to read the response from John Whittingdale, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, about BBC funding and the Charter Review.

Science and Technology Funding: Treasury response
27 November 2015
Please click here to read the response from Greg Hands, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, about science funding.

Homelessness: Treasury response
27 November 2015
Please click here to read the response from Greg Hands, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, about homelessness and rough sleeping.

Fire and Rescue Services: Treasury response
27 November 2015
Please click here to read the response from Greg Hands, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, about reductions to fire and rescue services.

CCTV in slaughterhouses
23 November 2015
Last week, I attended an event to show my support for Animal Aid’s campaign for mandatory CCTV inside UK slaughterhouses. The campaign – which has widespread political and public support – was launched by Animal Aid, after five-years of investigating animal welfare breaches inside British slaughterhouses. The national organisation has placed fly-on-the-wall cameras inside ten slaughterhouses and found nine were breaking animal welfare laws. The footage revealed: slaughterhouse workers kicking, punching and beating animals in the head and face; picking them up by ears, legs and fleeces and throwing them; burning them with cigarettes; using the electrical stunning tongs to inflict painful electric shocks on the animals; and hacking away at the throats of fully conscious sheep. Failure to stun animals properly was also common and a serious breach of the law. I have signed EDM 153 which calls for mandatory CCTV to monitor working practices inside UK slaughterhouses.

Syria
23 November 2015
ISIL/Daesh poses a threat both regionally in its main area of military operations and internationally through terrorism. Labour agrees that we must act to end the threat from ISIL/Daesh to the region and internationally and that it is a vital national interest to defeat ISIL/Daesh. The tragic events in Paris have emphasized just how important this is to us all. Labour has consistently called on the government to strain every sinew to secure international agreement on a plan to end the Syrian civil war – which has created the chaos, fear and violence in which ISIL/Daesh has thrived and has led to a large number of refugees seeking shelter in Europe – and to develop a plan to end the threat from ISIL/Daesh.
Labour has also called on the Government to take more refugees from Syria, and communities up and down the country are preparing to welcome them after the horrors that they have fled from. Labour has been critical of the Government’s narrow focus on possible UK involvement in air strikes in previous months and has called for a more comprehensive plan to end the civil war in Syria and to defeat ISIL/Daesh. The Foreign Affairs Select Committee was also critical in this regard of the Government’s approach in its recent report. It is clear that aerial bombing by itself cannot defeat ISIL/Daesh in Syria. It is different in Iraq where there is an integrated ground/ air campaign involving a number of countries – this integrated approach is how Kurdish peshmerga forces retook Sinjar last week with US air support.
I believe Britain should push for a UN Chapter VII Security Council Resolution which could cover both a peace process for Syria and action to end the threat from ISIL/Daesh. Such a resolution may be vetoed, though the extensive Russian involvement in military action against ISIL has changed the picture. In the event of a veto MPs would need to look at the position again. But the Labour Party has the clear view that it is essential the Government should work to bring the issue before the Security Council. At the second round of talks in Vienna (14th-15th November), the outline of a Syrian peace plan emerged in which President Assad and certain opposition groups would start formal talks on 1st Jan about the formation of a transitional government prior to national elections. This would include a ceasefire, possibly with United Nations peacekeepers as an observer force. One major issue to be resolved is which opposition groups should take part. These groups would not include ISIL/Daesh or Jabhat al-Nusra with which there can clearly be no negotiation.
Getting a Syrian peace process going will help in the fight against ISIL/Daesh because ISIL/Daesh thrives in the vacuum of governance and the chaos, fear and violence created by the Syrian civil war. It is important to note that over 90% of all civilian deaths in Syria – over 200,000 - are attributable to forces controlled or loyal to President Assad and half the population has fled their homes as a result of a civil war for which the ultimate blame lies wholly with Assad. On British military involvement, the UK is already taking action in Iraq and contributing to action in Syria through intelligence, surveillance and refuelling using RAF drones and planes. If the government now has a proposal to bring forward relating to airstrikes against ISIL/Daesh in Syria then – as we have consistently said, and our position has not changed – we will consider it against the tests we have set. We need to be clear about what difference any extension of military action would make to our objective of defeating ISIL/Daesh, the nature of any intervention, its objectives and the legal basis.
Any potential action must command the support of other nations in the region, including Iraq and the coalition already taking action in Syria. And, crucially, it must be part of a wider and more comprehensive strategy to end the threat they pose and the Government must seek a Security Council resolution for it.

'Care Around the Clock'
20 November 2015
I am supporting Together for Short Lives’ ‘Care Around the Clock’ campaign, which calls for children with life-limiting conditions – and their families – to have access to a range of children’s palliative care services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, when and where they need it.
Sadly, many children are unable to access the 24/7 palliative care they need because it is not commissioned in their area - or because there are not enough professionals with the skills, knowledge or experience needed to provide it.
You can find out more about the campaign by clicking here or using #carearoundtheclock.

Merseyside Police Cuts
20 November 2015
Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Jane Kennedy, has joined forces with Merseyside Police Federation to launch a petition to end cuts to Merseyside Police.
Merseyside Police are being forced to consider cutting PCSO jobs, disband the mounted section and the basic command unit structure which has served Merseyside well for over forty years. The extent of the cuts means that every team within Merseyside Police is facing cuts. This includes the teams of officers and staff who investigate sex offences, hate crimes and the Matrix teams who combat serious and organised crime.
You can view and sign the petition asking the government to end cuts to Merseyside Police by clicking here before November 25th.

Carers Rights Day
19 November 2015
One in eight people in Knowsley is a carer.
Carers Rights Day, taking place on Friday 20th November 2015, is a national awareness campaign designed to ensure carers get the advice and information that need so they can access the help and support they are entitled to. Having the right information at the right time can make a huge difference when you are looking after someone. Every year, more than 2 million people take on a new caring role. Yet many struggle to navigate the maze of services and entitlements, and miss out on financial and practical support as a result. And it’s not just people who are new to caring – even those who have been caring for years sometimes aren’t aware of all their entitlements. As a result, many carers can find themselves facing financial hardship, health problems, emotional stress and relationship breakdown.
Carers UK have produced the new 2015/16 Carers Rights Guide, which is a booklet that outlines carers’ essential rights and signposts them to financial and practical help. You can download a copy by clicking here.
Carers UK’s also run a free Advice Line, which provides expert advice on financial and practical matters related to caring: 0808 808 7777 (Open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm) or advice@carersuk.org.
You can also find more information about the local carer services in Knowsley by clicking here.

Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories
18 November 2015
Please click here for a response from Tobias Ellwood MP, Minister with responsibility for UK relations with the Middle East, regarding violence in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Palliative Care
16 November 2015
I am supporting Marie Curie’s campaign to ensure everyone has the right to palliative care when they need it.
Even with all the care and support the NHS and its partners provide across the UK, 110,000 people each year who need palliative care miss out on it because their needs are not recognised and they are not referred onto the right services. This means that one in four people are not receiving the care and support they need at the end of their life.
I have signed Marie Curie’s pledge card, pledging to work with constituents to ensure that any who have a terminal illness know what services and benefits they are entitled to; work with my local NHS to improve access to and quality of palliative care in my constituency; and champion the concerns of people with a terminal illness to ensure fairer access to higher quality services throughout this parliament.
You can find out more about this campaign by visiting www.mariecurie.org.uk/change.

Taking Control Campaign
11 November 2015
I am backing Diabetes UK’s ‘Taking Control’ campaign, that calls for education for all people with diabetes to be commissioned everywhere, along with a proper local system that explains to people with diabetes the benefits they will gain from attending an education course and ensures that courses are well run.
At the moment, for individuals newly diagnosed with diabetes, less than 1 per cent of people with Type 1 and just 3.8 per cent with Type 2 are recorded as receiving a diabetes education course. Access to high-quality diabetes education is essential for people with diabetes as they have to manage their condition themselves on a daily basis, and may only see their healthcare professionals a few times a year.
Diabetes UK warn that the poor delivery of diabetes education is fuelling devastating health complications for people with the condition and huge costs to the NHS. This is because failure to manage diabetes effectively can lead to life-threatening complications such as blindness, stroke and amputations. These complications cause personal devastation and are also extremely costly. The NHS spends nearly £10 billion annually on diabetes, 80 per cent of which is spent on treating potentially avoidable complications.
To find out more about going on an education course, speak to your GP or healthcare professional. To find out more about the Taking Control campaign and how you can take action, please click here.

Fuel Poverty
9 November 2015
Please click here for the response from Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for the Department of Energy & Climate Change, regarding fuel poverty.

Universal Infant Free School Meals
9 November 2015
Please click here for the response from Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education, regarding free school meals.

Off-Patent Drugs Bill
9 November 2015
I was in attendance for the Second Reading of the Off-patent Drugs Bill 2015-16 in the House of Commons on Friday 6th November. The Bill had cross-party support, and would have given people with long term conditions access to the vital treatments they need. Unfortunately, Alistair Burt, a Tory health minister chose to ‘talk-out’ the Bill so that the Commons did not have the chance to vote on it.

Investigatory Powers Bill
3 November 2015
I am a member of the Intelligence & Security Committee of Parliament and we have been asked to carry out some pre-legislative scrutiny of this Bill. That being the case, it would be unwise to give any assurances before the Committee has had an opportunity to carry out the exercise with which we have been charged. However, the Committee has issued a statement as follows:
“The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament published a comprehensive Report in March which set out the full range of the Agencies’ capabilities, some of which were acknowledged for the first time. We made 54 recommendations and conclusions in that Report, aimed at increasing privacy protections, improving transparency and bringing clarity to what the Committee described as a confusing, overly complex and unnecessarily secret legal framework. We will be considering the extent to which the Government has taken those recommendations on board in the draft Investigatory Powers Bill which was published today. While there will be a formal legislative scrutiny committee considering the draft Bill, the Intelligence and Security Committee will focus on those aspects most relevant to the Security and Intelligence Agencies. The draft Bill is an important new piece of legislation and it is essential that the Government gets it right.”
The Committee’s Report, Privacy and Security: A modern and transparent legal framework (March 2015) can be viewed here. Hopefully, this will provide some idea of my approach to this issue, although it was completed before the current proposed legislation.
Another Inquiry was carried out by David Anderson QC, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, and his report, A Question of Trust, which was published in June 2015 may also be of interest.
On the wider issue of privacy and communications data, constituents should be aware, and may be concerned to know, that their own communications provider is already able to exploit customers’ data for commercial benefit. Please be assured that this is an issue I take very seriously and have looked at, and continue to look at, in great depth.

Homelessness Prevention Grant
3 November 2015
Please click here for a response from Marcus Jones, Minister for Local Government, regarding the Homelessness Prevention Grant.

Trade Union Bill
3 November 2015
The Trade Union Bill is the most significant, sustained and partisan attack on the trade union members in a generation; it is draconian and counter-productive. Despite opposition by Labour and the Scottish National party to the bill, it passed its second reading on Monday 14 September by 317 votes to 284. Please be assured that, alongside Labour colleagues, I will continue to oppose this Bill at later stages.
You may be interested to read the House of Commons library briefing note on this Bill. You can follow the progress of the Bill here

National Citizen Service
3 November 2015
I recently met Hannah McLellan, a pupil at St Julie’s High School in Liverpool, who, after taking part in National Citizen Service (NCS), was selected as one of just 100 young people across the country, from the 80,000 that took part, to become a national ambassador for NCS.
Established in 2011, NCS is a three week programme that brings together 16 & 17 year olds from a range of backgrounds to face outdoor challenges, learn skills for life and work, extend their social networks and make their mark on their community – spending 30 hours delivering a volunteer project of their choice..
NCS ambassadors are selected not only for their ability and enthusiasm, but for demonstrating development during the programme and overcoming personal challenges or supporting others to do the same.
NCS provides programmes for 16 and 17 year olds across England and Northern Ireland during the summer holidays and February and October half terms. The programme costs no more than £50, and is free for some. Extra support is provided to those with additional needs. To find out more click here.

Pay of civil servants
2 November 2015
Please click here for the response from Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), regarding pay of civil servants in the DWP.

'Every Child a Lifesaver'
29 October 2015
I recently attended an ‘Every Child a Lifesaver’ First Aid skills event in Parliament.
The ‘Every Child a Lifesaver’ campaign is backed by The British Heart Foundation, British Red Cross and St John Ambulance, and aims to get first aid taught in all state funded secondary schools in England.
Currently, just seven per cent of people in the UK are trained in first aid and it is disturbing that around 150,000 people die needlessly each year in situations where first aid could have made a difference.
There is a Compulsory Emergency First Aid Education Bill currently progressing through parliament and you can view its progress by clicking here.
You can find out more about the Every Child a Lifesaver campaign by clicking here here.

No Patient Left Behind
29 October 2015
I recently attended the ‘No Patient Left Behind’ event in Parliament, pledging my support to improve Hepatitis C diagnosis, treatment and care for patients in the South Asian community.
The Hepatitis C prevalence rate amongst South Asians is over five times higher than in the general adult population of England, and the genotype 3 strand, one of the more aggressive and difficult to treat forms of the virus, is most prevalent amongst this community. Despite the higher prevalence, Hepatitis C diagnosis and treatment rates remain low amongst South Asians due to a number of barriers including cultural stigmas. Therefore, it is important that NHS services for Hepatitis C are designed with South Asian patients in mind to ensure that no patient is left behind.
You can find out more about the challenge of tacking Hepatitis C amongst the South East Asian community by clicking here.

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month
29 October 2015
I recently attended an event at the House of Commons, organised by Pancreatic Cancer UK, to help spread the word about Pancreatic Cancer ahead of pancreatic cancer awareness month in November.
There were nearly 8,800 new cases of pancreatic cancer diagnosed across the UK in 2013, 1071 of whom live in the North West. Tragically, only four per cent of patients live for five years or more after diagnosis. Pancreatic cancer is the fifth most common cause of all cancer deaths in the UK and currently has the lowest survival rate of all the 21 common cancers. One person dies every hour of the disease, and it is predicted that by 2030 pancreatic cancer will overtake breast cancer as the fourth most common cancer killer.
I know there are many people within my constituency who have been touched by pancreatic cancer and we need to do more to improve awareness of the disease, its signs and symptoms, and do more to radically improve the shockingly low survival rates. That’s why I’m supporting the charity and its Purple Lights for Hope campaign as part of pancreatic cancer awareness month this November.
You can find out more about Pancreatic Cancer and Pancreatic Awareness Month by clicking here.

Fracking

28 October 2015
A number of constituents have contacted me regarding concerns over the government’s proposed weakening of fracking regulations. I am strongly opposed to this and will vote against it when these regulations come to the floor of the house. Earlier this year Labour secured a series of amendments to the Infrastructure Bill that put in place a series of environmental safeguards which had to be met before shale gas drilling could go ahead. This included a ban of fracking in areas where drinking water is collected and protecting sensitive areas such as our national parks or important wildlife sites.
However just weeks after agreeing to these amendments the government did a complete U-turn in the Lords sneaking through a weakened version of Labour’s protections. In the Commons we tried to reinstate our more stringent safeguards. However the Tories used parliamentary procedures to ensure that the debate overran so MPs were denied the opportunity to reverse those changes.
Yesterday (Tuesday 27th October) the government once again attempted to push through these weakened fracking regulations through a parliamentary backdoor. Many people have legitimate and understandable concerns over fracking so it is only right and proper that parliament has the time and ability to properly scrutinise these regulations.
If these weakened fracking regulations are passed, shale gas drilling will be allowed in in drinking water protection zones, important wildlife sites, as well as under the ground below protected areas such as national parks, areas of outstanding national beauty and world heritage sites.
Labour believe Britain must pursue a socially-just energy policy that considers the impact on the environment and climate change, as well the need for a secure, affordable energy. The Government must listen to people’s worries and not railroad through changes to the legislation which may have damaging and long lasting effects on our natural environment.
We are clear that environmental safeguards cannot be cherry picked. All of the safeguards that Labour pushed for during the Infrastructure Bill must be in place before we can be confident that shale gas extraction should proceed.
Please be assured that I will continue to oppose any measures by this government to weaken these vital environmental safeguards, now and in the future.

Employment and Support Allowance

28 October 2015
Please click here for the response from Priti Patel MP, Minister for Employment, regarding welfare reform and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

Bliss Baby Report 2015
22 October 2015
I recently attended the launch of the Bliss baby report 2015: hanging in the balance, which shows that there is a severe shortage of neonatal nurses and doctors, meaning units are not meeting national standards on safe staffing levels for premature and sick babies.
Bliss is calling for urgent action from the government, the NHS and health education bodies to address these problems and ensure neonatal units have the resources they need to meet national standards for quality and safety.
These findings are very concerning and highlight that more must be done to ensure that the estimated 151 vulnerable babies born premature or sick every year to parents in Knowsley have the best possible chance in life.
You can find out more about the report by clicking here.

Off-Patent Drugs Bill
20 October 2015
Nick Thomas-Symonds has presented a Bill to require the Secretary of State to seek licences for off-patent drugs in new indications; to require the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to conduct technology appraisals for off-patent drugs in new indications; and for connected purposes.
I have noted the dated of the 2nd Reading in my diary and will be in attendance. Once the bill documents are published, I would want to listen carefully to the debate and consider any views put to me by constituents, like yourself, before deciding how to vote. You can follow the progress of this Bill here.

Tax Credits (updated)
19 October 2015
The cuts to tax credits in the summer Budget amount to a ‘work penalty’ and will hit families on middle and lower incomes. The Tories have broken their promise to be on the side of working families, cutting the tax credits they rely on - around three million working families will be on average £1,300 worse off next year as a result.
Data supplied by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) shows that more than 2.7m working families will have their family incomes fall, with some losing as much as £3,000 a year next April if the cuts are implemented as planned. Labour has launched a campaign to stop the tax credits cuts - you can join our campaign here.
Labour has secured an Opposition Day debate in Parliament tomorrow. Please be assured that, alongside colleagues, I will continue to raise my objections to these pernicious tax credits cuts.

Taxation of Dividends
16 October 2015
Please click here for a response from David Gauke MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, concerning the taxation of dividends.

Live Animal Exports
16 October 2015
Please click here for a response from George Eustice MP, Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, concerning the export of live animals.

Secondary Breast Cancer Care
15 October 2015
I recently met with Breast Cancer Care in Parliament to pledge support for people living with incurable secondary breast cancer by calling for data collection to improve the care available.
Currently data for primary breast cancer is recorded, yet no accurate figures exist around the number of people diagnosed or living with incurable secondary breast cancer. Breast Cancer Care believes the poorer care people with the incurable disease often receive is due to these missing numbers making it near impossible to plan the vital services needed.
It is wrong that we don’t have accurate data on those living with the incurable disease and this must be made a priority.
You can find out more about Breast Cancer Care’s campaign by clicking here.

Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) Scheme
7 October 2015
Please click here for the response from Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, regarding the FIT scheme.

Guide Dogs for the Blind
2 Ocotber 2015
I am supporting the Guide Dogs for the Blind 'Streets Ahead' campaign, encouraging MP's to support Simon Hoare's Pavement Parking Bill which would give local authorities the power to prohibit pavement parking while enabling them to permit pavement parking where it is needed.
There are nearly two million people in the UK who are living with sight loss, and by 2050 there could be nearly four million. So it is more important than ever that our streets are safe for people who are blind or partially sighted.
You can find our more about the campaign by clicking here.

UN Climate Talks - Paris
30 September 2015
Please click here for the response from Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, regarding the climate change talks taking place in December.

Reconstruction of Gaza
29 September 2015
Please click here for a response from Tobias Ellwood, Foreign Office Minister with responsibility for the Middle East, regarding UK support for the reconstruction of Gaza.

Sustainable Development Summit 2015
22 September 2015
The United Nations Sustainable Development Summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda will be held from 25 to 27 September 2015 in New York and convened as a high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly. The Labour Party are committed to helping to eradicate extreme poverty, tackle growing economic inequality and place human rights at the heart of development.
In a speech in January, Mary Creagh said:
“Fifteen years ago, a Labour Government led global efforts to tackle extreme poverty, which led to the millennium development goals. These goals have produced fantastic results. Every day, 17,000 fewer children die. Nine out of 10 children in developing regions now attend primary school and we have halved the number of children who die before their fifth birthday. In 2002, just 700,000 people received treatment for HIV. The last Labour Government helped to found the global fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria. Today, 13 million people access life-saving HIV treatment. We cancelled debt, increased aid and outlawed cluster bombs, and when my right hon. Friend the leader of the Labour party was Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, the UK became the first country in the world to put into a law a target to reduce carbon emissions. Other countries, such as Finland, Denmark and Brazil, have followed that lead. But, today, more than 1 billion people still live on less than $1.25 a day, so the new sustainable development goals must go faster to eliminate extreme poverty and, vitally, tackle growing economic inequality.”
With the political will of both developed and developing nations; it is possible to end world hunger. The Sustainable Development Summit provides a forum for nation-states to express that will and commitment, and I hope that they take the opportunity to do so.

Free School Meals
21 September 2015
Section 106 of the Children and Families Act 2014 makes provision for free school meals to be provided for all pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2. This came into effect in September 2014 and is applicable for maintained schools, academies and free schools. It was reported in the press that, as part of the November Spending Review, George Osborne is considering scrapping the scheme.
Lucy Powell MP, shadow Education Secretary, commenting on reports the government is going to drop free school meals for infants, said:
"Schools have, at their own cost, installed new kitchens to deliver this scheme. Yet before it can be properly evaluated for its impact on pupils’ performance at school, they are shutting the door. The Tories never liked this scheme - we all know that - but schools have gone to a huge amount of trouble and effort to deliver it. This will be a slap in the face for them and for the hard-pressed families it supports. This decision also underlines how little the government is protecting the education budget which is vital for the future success of our children and our country. This comes at a time the government is cutting tax credits for working families. This decision will see over three million families lose an average of £1,000 a year and directly increase levels of poverty in Britain. There is a very real risk that scrapping free school meals combined with tax credit cuts could see millions of children going hungry as a result of this decision."
I have written to George Osborne to express my concerns and I will ensure that his response is posted on my website.

Tax Credits
16 September 2015
The Tax Credits (Income Thresholds and Determination of Rates) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 were debated yesterday in the House of Commons.These changes will affect almost all in-work recipients of tax credits and the average impact across all affected families can be roughly estimated at around £1,300 in 2016-17. Despite voting against this proposal last night, alongside Labour colleagues, the Conservatives won a vote to cut tax credits by 35 votes. If you would like to find out more about tax credits changes from April 2016, click here.

Make Your Mark Campaign
16 September 2015
I recently attended the launch of the UK Youth Parliament's ‘Make Your Mark’ campaign.
The campaign encourages 11-18 year olds to vote on what issues the Youth Parliament should debate when it meets on Friday 13th November. The ballot will close on Friday 9th October.
You can find out more information by clicking here.

Proposals to cut support for ill and disabled people
15 September 2015
Please click here to read the reponse from Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, regarding proposals to cut support for people placed in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) of Employment and Support Allowance from April 2017, down to the rate paid to people on Job Seeker's Allowance (JSA).
I share constituents' concerns on this issue and don't believe that reducing financial support and increasing conditionality is appropriate for vulnerable people. Please be assured that I will continue to raise this issue when the opportunities arise.

Trade in illegal timber
15 September 2015
Please click here for the response from Elizabeth Truss, Secretary of State for the Department for Food & Rural Affairs, regarding the illegal trade in timber.

Abortion in Northern Ireland
15 September 2015
Please click here for a response from Theresa Villiers, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, to campaign emails about abortion in Northern Ireland.

Breast Cancer Now's 'wear it pink' campaign
14 September 2015
wear it pink, the UK’s biggest pink fundraiser, calls on supporters across the country to ditch the day-to-day colours and pull on some pink to raise money for Breast Cancer Now’s life-saving breast cancer research.
I joined fellow parliamentarians in wearing it pink in Westminster last week to encourage people across the UK to get involved. Now in its 14th year, wear it pink raises over £2 million each year for world-class research into breast cancer, and this year it is back and bigger, brighter and bolder than ever before. Anyone can take part, whether in school, at work or at home. All you have to do is wear something pink and donate whatever you can.
I have expressed my support for women with breast cancer by becoming a parliamentary ambassador for Breast Cancer Now, joining 190 MPs across the country in urging fellow politicians and constituents that immediate action must be taken to stop the disease taking lives. Right now breast cancer is at a tipping point. Every year in the UK around 50,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer, and sadly nearly 12,000 women still lose their lives to the disease. This is why we all must come together to support Breast Cancer Now’s cutting-edge research, and, in wear it pink, there is a fun and simple way for everyone to get involved.
As a Breast Cancer Ambassador, I am particularly passionate about standing up for the women and families affected by the disease in Knowsley] and I am very proud to take part in wear it pink. I hope everyone in the local community will join me in wearing it pink on Friday 23 October and show their support for Breast Cancer Now.

Trade Union Bill
8 September 2015
The Trade Union Bill is intended to make provision about industrial action, trade unions, employers' associations and the functions of the Certification Officer.
Responding to the publication of the government’s Trade Union Bill, Chuka Umunna MP, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, said:
“This Bill is the latest in a long line of attempts by the Government to stifle reasonable democratic scrutiny, protest and challenge – put simply, this is another Gagging Bill. This Bill does nothing to tackle the pressing national challenge our public services, businesses and industries alike are facing; that of addressing Britain’s productivity gap and skills shortages. Instead the Bill tries to drive a false wedge between government, industry, employees and the public by restricting rights – and at worst criminalising – ordinary working people, from midwives to factory workers to challenge low-pay or health and safety concerns. All those who care about our democratic rights and an economy where business, employees and government work together for the mutual benefit should expose this Bill for what it is – a divisive piece of legislation which puts to bed any notion that the Government is taking a one nation approach. After muzzling charities and restricting access to justice this is the latest attempt to silence critics of this Government and its policies.”

Stephen Doughty is Shadow Minister for Trade and Industry wrote an article for Labour List in July about the Trade Union Bill which you may be interested to read. A date has not yet been scheduled for the Second Reading of this Bill. You can read the Bill documents and track the progress of the Bill here. Please be assured that, alongside Labour colleagues, I will continue to monitor the progress of this Bill and raise concerns when the opportunities arise.

Refugee crisis in Europe
3 September 2015
Many constituents have contacted me about the refugee crisis in Europe as a result of instability in the Middle East and North Africa. I wholeheartedly agree that this is an appalling humanitarian tragedy and that our own government and the wider EU should come up with a way of dealing with this issue with greater urgency and sensitivity in the immediate future, and as and when the opportunity arises, in the House of Commons. I do think Yvette Cooper’s suggested way forward for the UK is a good starting point. You may also be interested to read a letter that Harriet Harman has written to David Cameron today.
Beyond that, the wider international community needs to agree on a meaningful and effective way of dealing with the underlying causes of this crisis, particularly in Syria and Libya, otherwise more lives will be needlessly lost, as the reasons for people taking very dangerous means of migrating will remain unaddressed. I would not wish to give the impression that all of this can be easily achieved. The barriers to doing so, not least in terms of our own government’s response, are formidable.

Arms trade with Israel - Ministerial response
3 September 2015
Please click here for the response from Tobias Ellwood, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to campaign emails about an arms embargo on Israel.

BBC Charter renewal
2 September 2015
The BBC Charter review will focus on governance, changing viewing habits and licence fee funding. In July 2015, during a speech in the House of Commons, Chris Bryant, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport said:
“The BBC is our cultural NHS. It is a beacon of accuracy and impartiality around the world. It is not just part of the national furniture; it is our greatest cultural institution. It is a miracle of constitutional engineering: independent of Government, yet funded by the public. It is the cornerstone of our creative industries, earning respect and money for Britain and British values.”
You can read the full transcript of his speech in Hansard here.
I recognise the importance of the BBC and remain committed to ensuring it remains value for money. The Government is currently consulting on the review of the BBC's Royal Charter until 8th October. You can find out more here.

UPDATED New evidence on impacts of G7's New Alliance
24 August 2015
A number of constituents have contacted me to raise concerns about the G7's New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.
I wrote to the Secretary of State for International Development, Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, about this issue.
You can read her response here.

Penalties for taxi drivers who break the law
24 August 2015
A number of constituents have contacted me about sentencing guidelines for magistrates when considering cases of taxi drivers who refuse to allow guide dogs in their vehices.
I took this issue up with the Secretary of State and you can read the response by the Department for Transport here.

Mayfair Tax Loophole
21 August 2015
Recently, a number of constituents contacted me about the 'Mayfair Tax Loophole', which enables private equity bosses to avoid paying around £700m of tax every year.
I raised this issue with the the Chancellor of the Exchequer last month, and I have received a response which you can view by clicking here.
In addition, the Government have launched a consultation which aims to determine the criteria for determining when rewards arising to investment fund managers are to be taxed as income. You can find out more about the consultation by clicking here.

Welfare Reforms
13 August 2015
Recently, a number of constituents contacted me about cuts to housing benefit for 18-21 year olds.
I raised this issue with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, and received a response which you can view by clicking here.

UK Youth Parliament's Make Your Mark ballot 2015

11 August 2015
Last Autumn term over 875,000 secondary school pupils took part in a national ballot, Make your Mark. This ballot decides what Members of the UK Youth Parliament (MYPs) should debate and vote on to be their campaign for the year ahead. MYPs have previously debated in the House of Commons Chamber in mid November. This year’s online ballot will go live from Wednesday 12th August 2015 at 1pm. Follow all the action on twitter via #MakeYourMark
Be the first to find out what the 10 issues that made the ballot, by signing up to Make your Mark's Thunderclap.

Cycling and walking investment strategy
5 August 2015
A number of constituents contacted me about the implementation of a cycling and walking investment strategy. I wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport about this issue and you can find his response here.

Cancer Research UK
22 July 2015
I recently attended a Cancer Research UK event in Parliament, where we discussed how MPs can help keep cancer at the top of the new parliament’s agenda.
One in two people are set to be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, and UK cancer survival rates are still lagging behind other countries with too many cancers being diagnosed at an advanced stage.
Survival rates in the UK have doubled in the last 40 years, but there is still much more to do.
For more information please visit cruk.org.

Destination Cure Report
22 July 2015
On 15th July I attended the parliamentary launch of the Anthony Nolan Trust’s Destination Cure Report.
This report highlights the steps that the Government needs to take in the next five years to help find a cure for blood cancers. You can find out more about Anthony Nolan's vision and download a copy of the report here.

#2020 vision for credit unions
21 July 2015
I am supporting a campaign from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Credit Unions in support of a #2020 vision for credit unions aiming to increase credit union membership to 2 million by 2020. Credit union membership today stands at 1.2 million meaning that credit unions would need to grow by two thirds to achieve the target.

In pursuit of this the All-Party Group, supported by the Association of British Credit Unions Limited (ABCUL), is asking the Government to press ahead with commitments made in the last Parliament:
• review credit union legislation to remove barriers to growth
• ensure credit union regulation remains proportionate
• support investment in sustainable business models for credit unions
• encourage employers to provide credit union services via payroll deduction
• support greater skilled volunteering in credit unions

Credit unions are deposit-taking savings and loans institutions which provide a source of affordable credit and safe savings as well as, in an increasing number of cases, banking services, insurance products with one or two providing mortgages. They provide services to those who would otherwise find difficulty in accessing finance and offer choice and competition in the wider market.
The credit union for Knowsley is Knowsley Mutual Credit Union. You can contact them via:
T: 0151 545 3380
A: 11 Market Square, Kirkby, L32 8RG
E: knowsleymutualcu@yahoo.co.uk
W: www.knowsleycu.co.uk
T: @KnowsleyMutual

I’m supporting the #2020 vision for credit unions because credit unions provide a vital service to communities up and down the country. They help people who find themselves in financial difficulty through providing affordable loans and a protected place to save and they are also helping to make banking more competitive in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis. Here in Knowsley, Knowsley Mutual Credit Union is a real lifeline for people who are struggling to make ends meet and find themselves in debt as well as providing a competitive range of loans for a whole range of purposes, including setting up in business, buying a new car or getting away for the summer. They also play an invaluable role in encouraging people to save for a rainy day or towards retirement.

Changes to the Hunting Act - plans to relax the fox-hunting ban
10 July 2015
This week the government published proposals to amend the statutory instrument, entitled Hunting Act 2004 (Exempt Hunting) (Amendment) Order. This amendment would allow foxes to be hunted by packs of dogs in England and Wales.
MPs will be given a free vote during a 90 minute debate on Wednesday 15th July.
I am opposed to repealing the Hunting Act and will vote accordingly.

Assisted Dying Bill (No.2)
7 July 2015
I do not have a firm position on this issue and I can see merit on both sides of the argument. Once the bill documents are published, I would want to listen carefully to the debate and consider any views put to me by constituents before deciding how to vote. I have noted the date of the 2nd reading in my diary (Friday 11th September 2015). To follow the progress of this bill, click here.

Bees and Neonicotinoids
6 July 2015
I recently wrote to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, on behalf of a number of constituents, to raise my concerns over plans to temporarily lift a ban on bee-harming pesticides.
I have since received a response from the Secretary of State, which you can view by clicking here.

Child Tax Credits

2 July 2015
A number of constituents about contacted me about government proposals to cut Child Tax Credits (CTC).
David Cameron and George Osborne have still not announced exactly what cuts to tax credits they are proposing. But it’s clear that low paid working families in Knowsley are in the firing line. The Tories concealed their proposals from public view throughout the election campaign.
It has been reported that the Government are considering a proposal outlined in the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ (IFS) Green Budget 2015 to cut the childcare element of Child Tax Credit back to its 2003/04 level, saving £5.1bn per year. The IFS has said cutting £5bn from tax credits would mean some 3.7 working families losing £1,400 a year on average, and will push a further 300,000 children in to relative poverty.
72% of Tax Credit recipients in the North West are in work. New figures show that there are 9,900 families with children claiming tax credits in Knowsley - 5,700 of these are working families with children.
Labour wants to see a higher wage economy where people are less reliant on tax credits to make ends meet. Our 2015 manifesto included plans to tackle low pay by raising the minimum wage to at least £8 an hour by 2019 and incentivising more businesses to pay a living wage by introducing Make Work Pay contracts, which would offer tax rebates to firms paying their staff a living wage.
I have written to the Chancellor to raise my concerns ahead of the Budget on 8th July. Please be assured that this is an issue that I will continue to raise in parliament when the opportunities arise.

Repeal of the Hunting Act

26 June 2015
A number of constituents have contacted me about Tory proposals to repeal the 2004 Hunting Act.
The Government has a record of failure where animal rights are concerned, notable examples include the badger cull, inaction about slaughterhouse cruelty and the failure to ban circuses from using wild animals.
I am opposed to repealing the Hunting Act and will continue to monitor the situation.

UNICEF's End Violence Against Children campaign - Ministerial response
23 June 2015
A number of constituents have contacted me about UNICEF's End Violence Against Children campaign. I wrote to the Secretary of State for International Development about this issue. You can read the response from her Department here.

Thingwall Hall Swimming Pool
23 June 2015
The Brothers of Charity have issued the following statement regarding the future of Thingwall Hall Swimming Pool:

‘We confirm that the Thingwall Hall Swimming Pool will be closed for public use from the 15th June, until further notice. This is due to health and safety concerns in regard to the Thingwall Hall Swimming Pool building itself. Due to the legal process surrounding the closure of the swimming pool we have been unable to comment further, we understand and empathise with the community and are considering options for the Thingwall Hall Swimming Pool’s future.’

In response to this announcement, below is a statement from Stephen Twigg (MP for West Derby) and I:

‘A positive discussion was held with representatives from the Brothers of Charity recently over the future of Thingwall Hall Swimming Pool. We do fully understand that this decision, which we hope will be short term, has come about entirely because of health and safety concerns in regard to the building itself. As the two MP’s representing the area, we, together with local councillors, have strongly committed ourselves to working with the Brothers of Charity to identify potential funding and support to bring the building up to the necessary standard, because we are all too well aware that this a well-used local facility. If we can achieve that then there is a good prospect of the pool re-opening.’

Help Keep Bees Safe From Harmful Pesticides
22 June 2015
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.

Government ministers are looking at requests to let a dangerous pesticide, known as neonicotinoids, back into UK soil this autumn, despite clear evidence of how much damage they do to our bees.

The ban was voted for by European governments in 2013 after numerous scientific studies found that certain pesticides were particularly harmful to bees. Since then even more studies have supported the need for this ban.

Recent figures show that bees contribute £651 million to the UK economy each year - up 51% since 2007. For instance 85% of the UK’s apple crops and 45% of our strawberry crop relies on bees to grow. Therefore, it is essential the government keep this ban in place.

Anthony Nolan 'Destination: Cure' campaign

17 June 2015
A number of constituents have contacted me asking me to support Anthony Nolan's 'Destination: Cure' campaign.
Destination: Cure is a new policy report highlighting what must be done to ensure that the destination for every person with blood cancer is a cure. You can read a copy of the full report here.
I fully support this campaing and have written to the Secretary of State for Health asking him to take urgent action on this issue.

Guide Dogs

17 June 2015
Last week I attended the Guide Dogs’ event at the Houses of Parliament in support of their campaign. The Guide Dogs charity wants people living with sight loss to feel confident and independent when they are out and about, and believes that vehicles parked on pavements put people living with sight loss in danger.
The event in parlia ent highlighted the problems faced daily by guide dog owners who are being forced to walk into the road to avoid cars blocking their path. Pavement parking is already an offence in London, but the rules in the rest of the country are complex and patchy, leaving drivers uncertain of where they can and cannot park. Guide Dogs is calling for the introduction of comprehensive laws across the UK, which will outlaw pavement parking, but allow local councils to grant an exemption in areas where pavement parking is unavoidable.
For more information about the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, click here.

Carers Week
16 June 2015
Last week was national Carers Week 2015. There are 6.5 million people in the UK who care for a partner, relative or friend, of which 12,843 carers are in Knowsley.

Without the right help and support, caring can have a devastating impact – carers can quickly become isolated, with their physical and emotional health, work and finances all hit hard. The six charities driving Carers Week 2015 are calling on individuals, organisations and services throughout the country to take action to improve the lives of carers by building ‘carer-friendly communities’ that consider and support their needs. The call comes after research for Carers Week revealed that the variation in the support and recognition carers experience from services across the country is putting the health of many carers, and their ability to support the people they care for, at risk.

Carers make a hugely valuable contribution to society and they need support to carry on the work they do. That is why I am supporting this initiative to encourage services in my community to think about the needs of carers and reach out to carers across Knowsley and help ensure they don’t miss out on support.

Seal culling in UK waters
4 June 2015
A number of constituents have contacted me about the seal culling in UK waters.
There are a number of online petitions calling for action to stop the fishing industry from killing seals in UK waters. One petition has over 174,000 signatories.
Seals are a protected species under EU law but there are exemptions in place for fishermen to cull seals in order to protect fish or their equipment. In Scotland farmers and waterways managers need a licence to cull seals. The fishing industry say the seal culls are essential to stop the animals from destroying fish stocks off the coast of Scotland and northern England.
I am hopeful that a balance can be struck between the difficulties faced by the UK fishing industry and the preservation of seal stocks.
I will bear constituents’ concerns in mind, if and when this issue is debated in parliament.

Canine fatalities on roads
28 April 2015
Last month I attended a Debate of the Backbench Business Committee, which considered an e-petition relating to the handling of canine fatalities on the strategic road network.
I have since received a letter from the Rt Hon John Hayes, Minister of State at the Department for Transport, in which he sets out two commitments:
• The Highways Agency immediately make the necessary arrangements to ensure it is mandatory for all their new contracts to collect and identify cats and dogs killed on our strategic road network and contact their owners, where possible
• The Highways Agency will review how to retrofit the above to their existing contracts.
You can view a copy of the minister’s letter by clicking here.

Royal College of Nursing 'Nursing Counts' manifesto
16 April 2015
I have signed the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) ‘Nursing Counts’ manifesto which calls on the next Government to address the following priorities:
1. Improve patient care: we're calling for safe staffing levels, access to training and environments where staff concerns are listened to.
2. Value nursing: we're calling for fair pay for nursing staff, an end to downbanding and for a focus on the future of nursing.
3. Invest in health and care: we're calling for no more cuts to nursing, increased community resources and workforce planning around patient need.

Below are some of Labour’s NHS Care and Social Care policy commitments:
NHS Care

• Recruit 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 more GPs paid for by a tax on properties worth £2 million or more.
• Guarantee a GP appointment within 48 hours – and on the same day for those who need it
• Repeal the Tories’ Health and Social Care Act
• Integrate health and social care services into a system of “whole-person care”
• Give mental health the priority it deserves with a new right to access talking therapies enshrined in the NHS Constitution
• Guarantee that patients will wait no longer than one week for vital cancer tests and results by 2020
• Ensure that when changes are proposed to local hospital services patients and the public have a seat round the table from the very start, helping design and decide on plans for change

Social Care
• Integrate physical health, mental health and social care services so we can give people a personal care plan and single point of contact for those with the greatest needs
• Train, recruit and pay new staff through a ‘Time to Care’ fund, including 5,000 new homecare workers in the NHS to support people to stay in their home
• Create greater rights to care at home
• Work with local authorities and care providers to end time limited 15-minute visits
• Tackle the exploitation of care workers, so that travel between appointments is not an excuse for paying below the minimum wage and ban exploitative zero hour contracts

NHS free at the point of use
9 April 2015
The Tory’s extreme spending cuts will put the NHS at risk; the NHS as we know it won’t survive five more years of the Tories.
Labour is committed to investing in 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 more GPs for the NHS. We will join up services from home to hospital, guaranteeing GP appointments within 48 hours and cancer tests within one week.
Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary said:
“Labour will never introduce charges for any NHS service. It must remain free at the point of use, and only our fully funded plan to put in an extra £2.5bn each year – over and above the Tories – gives the NHS the money it needs.”
I give my firm assurances that there are no circumstances in which I would support charges for basic services.

Live Below the Line challenge
2 April 2015
I am participating in this year’s Live Below the Line challenge.
Live Below the Line is a fundraising campaign to raise awareness and vital funds for the1.2 billion people living below the extreme poverty line of less than £1 a day. You could fundraise by living on just £1 a day for all food and drink for 5 days, and help Progressio fight against extreme global poverty.
To find out more about the Live Below the Line challenge or make a donation, please click here.

Shale Gas
2 April 2015
As well as making sure that energy is affordable, we need to ensure that we have a secure energy supply for the future, from a diverse range of sources. Labour will create an Energy Security Board to plan for and oversee our long-term energy needs.
In the foreseeable future, it is likely that gas will continue to be the dominant fuel used by householders to heat their homes. As a result of this, shale gas may have a role to play in displacing some of the gas that we already import; but this cannot come at the expense of robust environmental protections or climate change commitments.
Labour will ensure a robust environmental and regulatory regime for the extraction of shale gas before it can take place. This will include measures designed specifically to tackle the climate change impact of shale gas, and forcing shale gas companies to protect sources of drinking water. Under Labour fracking will not take place in National Parks.

Finance Bill & Tax Avoidance
27 March 2015
Tax dodging by multinational corporations has been estimated to cost the UK £12 billion every year, and the world’s poorest countries an estimated £105 billion. Labour is committed to pursuing a new global system in which multinational companies are forced to publish key corporate information, including revenues and profits, for each country in which they operate. If an international agreement cannot be found, multinationals would be forced to publish such information in the UK alone. A Labour government would also work to reform ‘transfer pricing’ legislation, which would prevent companies from moving money to other parts of their business in tax havens. In addition, Labour would make it a legal requirement for multinationals operating in the UK to disclose details of any tax avoidance schemes they are using globally.

Ed Miliband spoke at a Google event in 2013, and said: ‘I can't be the only person here who feels disappointed that such a great company as Google, with such great founding principles, will be reduced to arguing that when it employs thousands of people in Britain, makes billions of pounds of revenue in Britain, it's fair that it should pay just a fraction of 1 per cent of that in tax’. You can watch a recording of the speech by visiting the following link.

I have raised concerns previously about tax dodging with the Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Chris Leslie MP. Labour has already announced a number of measures to tackle tax avoidance, including:
- Ensuring stronger independent scrutiny of the tax system, including reliefs, and the government’s efforts to tackle tax avoidance - Forcing the UK’s Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies to produce publicly available registries of beneficial ownership
- Making country-by-country reporting information publicly available
- Ensuring developing countries are properly engaged in the drawing up of global tax rules

In the meantime, the Labour Party are currently in the process of finalising policies for the 2015 General Election manifesto. If you would like to keep up-to-date with Labour’s policy consultations, you can do so by accessing Labour’s Your Britain website. There are a number of policy consultations currently in progress, and you can share your ideas and recommendations directly via the website.
You can read the transcript of the debate that took place on the Finance Bill here.

Badger Cull
23 March 2015
Labour will end the ineffective and inhumane badger culls.
Badger culls are supposed to reduce Bovine TB but experts say the Tories’ culls will make the problem worse. Following repeated failures to meet deadlines and targets, the Tories are effectively pursing an unscientific mass cull with no rigorous monitoring or evaluation. Labour will end this and develop a better plan to eradicate Bovine TB.

The Future of the NHS
23 March 2015
Last week, the Tories confirmed plans for extreme spending cuts in the three years after the election - which will put our NHS at risk.

The Tories' approach is to let private companies cherry-pick the most profitable NHS services, regardless of patient need, and spend more money on ecnomic regulators and competition lawyers.

Labour will ensure that the NHS puts patients before profits. Labour is committed to protecting and strengthening the NHS and has pledged, if there is a Labour government in 2015, that we would repeal the Health and Social Care Act. Labour has also pledged to:
- Recruit 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 more GPs paid for by a tax on properties worth £2million or more;
- Guarantee a GP appointment within 48 hours - and on the same day for those who need it;
- Integrate health and social care services into a system of "whole-person care" which will bring together three separate services of care into a single service coordinating all of a person's needs - physical, mental and social, with preventing illness and promoting good health at its heart;
- Give mental health the priority it deserves with a new right to access talking therapies enshrined in the NHS Constitution;
- Guarantee that patients will wait no longer than one week for vital cancer tests and results by 2020; and
- Ensure that when changes are proposed to local hospital services, patients and the public have a seat round the table from the very start, helping design and decide on plans for change.

In January 2015, Andy Burnham, Labour's Shadow Health Secretary, outlined Labour's 10-year plan for health. You can read his speech here.
Last week's Budget said nothing about the NHS. Labour has a better plan, to invest in and improve the NHS so that it has time to care for you and your family.

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
13 March 2015
A number of constituents have asked me to complete IFAW's animal survey. You can see my answers below:
If you were re/elected, would improving the welfare of animals be one of your top priorities? Yes
Do you think that the UK should continue to lead international efforts to combat the illegal trade in endangered wildlife and wildlife products? Yes
Do you support an end to commercial whaling? Yes
Do you think the Hunting Act should remain in place? Yes
Would you be likely to support initiatives to better protect native wildlife species? Yes
For more information on the work of IFAW, click here.

Flood Free Homes
4 March 2015
Flooding has long been recognised as the greatest natural threat the UK faces. Environment Agency data shows that around 2 million homes in England and Wales are at risk of flooding from rivers and the sea.
I am supporting the Flood Free Homes campaign, which calls for effective management of our land and water to prevent homes and local business suffering from destructive floods in the future. Flood Free Homes is campaigning for £1 billion per year to be spent by 2025 managing flood risk in order to keep pace with climate change; a zero tolerance of inappropriate new developments in areas at risk of flooding; and a cross party consensus on ambitious long term solutions that manage all types of flood risk.
The need for to address the UK’s rising flood threat has never been more important. Last winter’s floods highlighted the trauma and devastation flooding brings, and no action is not an option.
You can find out more about the Flood Free Homes campaign by clicking here.

Kirkby Crown Post Office

4 March 2015
Post Office Ltd are proposing to move Kirkby Crown Post Office from its current premises in Simonswood House to 2 St Chad’s Parade, L32 8RD (formerly occupied by Textiles Direct).

Post Office Ltd are currently undertaking a six week public consultation on the proposals, giving customers an opportunity to put forward their views on the suitability of the new location. You can share your views on the proposals by completing an online questionnaire, which you can access by clicking here and entering the code: 00742099.

Posters and leaflets will be displayed in the current branch, letting customers know about the changes and providing details of the customer forum which is due to be held in the coming weeks. You can also find out more about the changes and consultation by clicking here.

Read On, Get On
4 March 2015
Research conducted by Save the Children shows that 1 in 5 of all children leave primary school unable to read well, rising to 2 in 5 for children from low income families. The ‘Read On, Get On’ campaign, supported by Save the Children, is working towards ensuring that all children are able to read well by the age of 11 by the year 2025. One way of achieving this is to spend just ten minutes a day reading with young children, helping them fall in love with books and reading. Children who don't enjoy reading are ten times more likely to fall behind by the time they are 11.
You can find out more information about volunteering to help children improve their reading by clicking here. You can also find out more about the ‘Read On, Get On’ campaign by clicking here.

Harvey's Law (update)
4 March 2015
Area Management Memo (AM 67/05) was introduced in November 2005, and states that all highway depots would carry microchip scanners and provide refrigeration facilities. In the event that a pet was killed on the highways it was their responsibility to scan a domestic pet for a chip and check for other details to try to identify the pet, and contact the owners of that pet. In 2010, the Highways Agency (HA) took the decision to withdraw the routine scanning of domestic pets retrieved from the highways so that their owner could be identified and notified.
You may be aware that a debate on ‘Harvey’s Law’ took place in Westminster Hall yesterday - you can read a transcript of the debate that took place here. During this debate, the Transport Minister, John Hayes, said he would ask the Highways Agency to review the phasing out of the HA policy.
Transport minister John Hayes told MPs:
"I have asked the Highways Agency to ensure that indeed they do collect and identify every animal that is killed and contact the owners by whatever practicable means. I have told the Highways Agency that is what I expect. It will be a requirement and that is what will happen”.
Labour has said that if the Highways Agency refuses to act, we would look to introduce new legislation – Harvey’s Law – and make it compulsory to scan and log dog deaths on the roads.
Commenting on Harvey’s Law, Michael Dugher MP, the Shadow Transport Secretary, said:
“Scanning and logging dogs who have sadly been killed on our motorways is a simple procedure for the Highways Agency to undertake, but it makes such a big difference to people. It brings real peace of mind to dog owners. Ministers have clearly failed to manage the Highways Agency. Britain is a nation of dog lovers and ensuring the Highways Agency continues to implement these procedures will save untold heartache. Labour will act to ensure that ID checks are always done so that families can be informed if their dog is found dead.”

TTIP
3 March 2015
A number of constituents have contacted me about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a free-trade agreement that is currently being negotiated between the USA and the EU. The Labour Party supports trade agreements which can bring significant benefits through boosting trade and growth, securing and creating jobs, and bringing down costs and extending choice for consumers.

We do however have four main areas of concerns:
- Public services: we share the concerns about the impact that TTIP could have on public services encouraging commercialisation, particularly in the NHS. Labour believes that the NHS and all public services need to be more, not less, integrated. That is why we believe that the NHS should be exempt from the agreement. Other countries have sought to exempt areas from the agreement but this Government has not done this. Labour will continue to press for exemption.
- Investor State Dispute Resolution (ISDS): this is a dispute mechanism, commonly used in trade agreements and bilateral investment treaties. It allows investors to take proceedings against a government that is party to that trade agreement. If the government is found to be in breach of the obligations, the investor can receive redress. There is a major concern that the ISDS provisions could hinder our plans to reverse the privatisation of the NHS as it could result in those companies seeking compensation for loss of potential earnings. We believe that it is a right of governments to be able to legislate in the public interest and this should be protected effectively in any dispute resolution mechanisms. The European Commission has instigated several changes which have improved the transparency of the agreement which Labour welcomes. However, it is right that the European Commission has decided to temporarily suspend negotiations on ISDS until the final stages of the negotiations. Labour will be urging the Government to use this opportunity to call for far greater transparency around an exclusion for legislation in the public interest, like the NHS.
- Standards: the benefits of any treaty must filter down to employees and consumers. Treaties can cement and even increase labour, consumer, environmental and safety standards. Concerns have been raised that TTIP could reduce standards, although the principle behind the treaty is to keep or raise standards rather than reduce them. Labour will only support an agreement that avoids a race to the bottom and promotes decent jobs and growth and would safeguard standards.
- Non-inclusion of the US States: A significant stumbling block has been raised that the US states are not covered by the agreement and therefore procurement will not opened up. This mean we could be at a disadvantage as our markets are opened up but not to the same extent in the US. This is important because significant procurement spend in the US is at the State level.
A number of worries similar to our own have been raised by member states. These would need to be reflected to secure agreement and will need to be taken on board by the European Commission.
The European Commission published its analysis of the almost 150,000 replies to its online consultation on investment protection and investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in January. It can be read here. You can find out more about TTIP on the European Commission website.


Home Heat Helpline
27 February 2015
As the cold weather continues to affect various parts of the country, many people will be concerned about staying warm and paying their energy bills.
Anyone who has concerns can contact the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99. The Home Heat Helpline is a free and offers an impartial and confidential service, providing advice on rebates, grants for insulation and new boilers, and tips on saving energy. Around one in ten households across the country could benefit, but many people don’t realise what support is available.
There are also some other simple steps people can take to help reduce their energy usage. For example:
• A third of the cost of heating a home is lost through the walls, so insulating them is the best way to save energy in the home. Installing cavity wall insulation can save up to £160 per year on bills.
• Laying the loft with 10 inches/25 centimetres of insulation can save a quarter of a home’s heating costs.
• Replacing just one old light bulb with an energy saving recommended one can reduce lighting costs by up to £78 over the lifetime of the bulb. Plus they last up to 12 times longer than the ordinary light bulbs.
• Turning the thermostat down by 1˚C could cut bills by up to 10 per cent.
You can find out more information about the Home Heat Helpline by clicking here.

Equitable Life Payment Scheme
25 February 2015
The Equitable Life Payment Scheme was set up by the government to make payments to Equitable Life policyholders who suffered financial losses as a result of government maladministration which occurred in the regulation of Equitable Life.
As of the 31st January 2015, the Equitable Life Payment Scheme has issued payments surpassing £1 billion to 896,367 policyholders.
Anyone who thinks they may be eligible for a payment can contact the scheme on 0300 0200 150. The scheme is able to verify the identity of most policyholders by telephone, which means any payment due can usually be received within two weeks.
You can find out more information about the Equitable Life Payment Scheme by clicking here.

Tax Dodging
17 February 2015
Tax dodging by multinational corporations alone has been estimated to cost the UK £12 billion every year, and the world’s poorest countries an estimated £105 billion.
Last week, Labour set out the measures it will take to tackle tax avoidance in the first months of a Labour Government, which includes using our first Finance Bill to close loopholes that cost the exchequer billions of pounds a year; increasing transparency; and toughening up penalties.
The government have failed to deliver on tackling tax avoidance in the last five years, and have failed to close the loopholes Labour has highlighted. The choice at this election is between the Conservative’s failing plan and Labour’s plan that offers a better future for working families.

Fairtrade Fortnight
13 February 2015
I am supporting Fairtrade Fortnight (23rd February - 8th March), which calls on people to purchase Fairtrade products as a way of changing lives.
Fairtrade products are produced by small-scale farmer organisations or plantations that meet Fairtrade social, economic and environmental standards. The standards include protection of workers’ rights and the environment, payment of the Fairtrade Minimum Price and an additional Fairtrade Premium to invest in business or community projects.
Tackling poverty isn’t just about giving aid and Government assistance, it is about increasing trade opportunities and ensuring that producers are paid a fair price for their work. Fairtrade Fortnight reminds us all that by making a few small changes to our shopping habits, we can make a real difference to producers in the developing world.
You can find out more about Fairtrade Fortnight by clicking here.

Time to Talk
6 February 2015
I recently attended a Labour Campaign for Mental Health event, to celebrate Time to Talk Day.
Time to Talk is a campaign led by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, which aims to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination by encouraging people to talk about their experiences. One in four people will be affected by a mental health illness every year, yet nearly nine out of ten people who suffer from mental health problems say they face stigma and discrimination as a result.
You can find out more about Time to Talk’s campaign, and pledge your support to end mental health stigma, by clicking here.

Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat
3 February 2015
This year, one in four constituents will experience a mental health problem and countless more will be affected through friends, family, work colleagues and other people in their lives.
I am supporting Mind’s campaign to improve mental health crisis care, which encourages leaders of key services to sign the Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat and deliver on their promises. The concordat is an agreement that sets national standards for the care of people suffering with a mental health crisis, and aims to ensure excellent crisis care is available everywhere.
You can find out more about the concordat by clicking here, and more about the work Mind do by clicking here.

Infrastructure Bill – Shale Gas (Update)
27 January 2015
Last year, the government published a consultation on changes to trespass regulations and confirmed their intention to legislate in the forthcoming Infrastructure Bill. You may be interested to read the consultation outcome and Government response ‘Underground Drilling Access' here
The changes in trespass regulations will mean that while shale gas companies will still need the permission of landowners for surface access and still require local planning consent, underpinned by environmental impact assessments, they will not need permission for underground access at depths of 300m or more. The issue of underground access rights is separate from the environmental and safety framework. Only by fully addressing legitimate environmental and safety concerns about fracking with robust regulation, comprehensive monitoring and strict enforcement will people have confidence that the exploration and possible extraction of shale gas is a safe and reliable source that can contribute to the UK’s energy mix.
Yesterday, the Government accepted Labour’s amendment to the Infrastructure Bill to introduce new protections before fracking can go ahead. Labour’s amendment will prevent any shale gas development unless thirteen necessary conditions are established:

a) unless an environmental impact assessment has been carried out;
b) unless independent inspections are carried out of the integrity of wells used;
c) unless monitoring has been undertaken on the site over the previous 12 month period;
d) unless site-by-site measurement, monitoring and public disclosure of existing and future fugitive emissions is carried out;
e) in land which is located within the boundary of a groundwater source protection zone;
f) within or under protected areas;
g) in deep-level land at depths of less than 1,000 metres;
h) unless planning authorities have considered the cumulative impact of hydraulic fracturing activities in the local area;
i) unless a provision is made for community benefit schemes to be provided by companies engaged in the extraction of gas and oil rock;
j) unless residents in the affected area are notified on an individual basis;
k) unless substances used are subject to approval by the Environment Agency;
l) unless land is left in a condition required by the planning authority, and
m) unless water companies are consulted by the planning authority.

In addition, the Government agreed to an outright ban on fracking in national parks, sites of special interest and areas of natural beauty. You can read a full transcript of yesterday’s debate in Hansard here.
In practical terms, I think the safeguards in Labour’s amendment are sufficiently stringent that it would be very difficult for any fracking operation to go ahead without first having put in protections that cover all of people’s concerns and being able to demonstrate that there is public support for such a proposal.
I believe shale gas extraction should only go ahead in the context of robust regulation, comprehensive monitoring and strict enforcement, and in a way which is consistent with decarbonising our electricity supply by 2030.
I will continue to push for the environmental framework to be strengthened. Please continue to check my website for updates on this Bill and other policy issues.

Individual Electoral Registration (IER)
27 January 2015
Anyone who wishes to vote in the General Election on 7 May this year, must be registered by 20 April, and can now do this quickly and easily using a new online system.
Individual Electoral Registration (IER) has been introduced nationally to help tackle electoral fraud and enable online registration, which will make it easier and more convenient for you to register to vote. Each person now needs to register to vote individually, rather than as a household. You can register to vote online here.
To find out more about Individual Electoral Registration, visit Knowsley Council’s website’s Frequently Asked Questions here.

Infrastructure Bill – Shale Gas
26 January 2015
Today, Labour will force a vote today to prevent shale gas developments in the UK unless loopholes in the environmental regulation are closed. There are outstanding concerns about management of drinking water, the integrity of the wells and protection for areas such as national parks. For these reasons, Labour will vote to prevent shale gas developments.
Labour have always said that shale gas cannot happen unless we have a system of robust regulation and comprehensive inspection. But despite clear flaws in the regulatory framework for shale gas, the Government has chosen to ignore genuine and legitimate environmental concerns.
Labour has submitted an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill that will prevent any shale gas development unless thirteen necessary conditions are established. Our amendment proposes that until these regulations are in place, no fracking should be allowed to happen. You can read the full list of amendment papers relating to the Infrastructure Bill here.

'Advice for the Future' Campaign
21 January 2015
I have recently signed a pledge in support of the Citizens Advice campaign ‘Advice for the Future’.
The campaign aims to promote the Citizens Advice service and ensure that the excellent work they do continues.
For 75 years the Citizens Advice service has provided free and confidential advice to the public and, at a time when so many people are feeling the effects of welfare reform and rising energy bills, this service is more important than ever.
You can find out more about the campaign by clicking here, and can sign a pledge in support of the campaign by clicking here.

Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME)
20 January 2015
It is estimated that around 250,000 people in the UK are affected by Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME), which is also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS); Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome (PVFS); and Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS).
The illness effects people of all ages and, although the cause is unknown, the onset is often linked to a viral infection. Symptoms of ME include severe and debilitating fatigue, painful muscles and joints, disordered sleep, poor memory and concentration, and gastric disturbances.
ME can have a major impact on the lives of those suffering from the illness, with social and family life becoming restricted and some people becoming housebound or bedbound for months or years. For younger people, schooling can be severely disrupted whilst employment can become impossible for the working population.
There is currently no accepted cure or universally effective treatment. Those treatments which have helped reduce particular symptoms in some people have proved ineffective or counterproductive in others. An early diagnosis, together with adequate rest during the acute phase and during any relapse, appears to bring the most significant improvement.
The ME Association can offer help and support to those affected by the illness. You can find out more information by visiting their website here.

Fairer funding for Sixth Form Colleges

16 January 2015
Sixth Form Colleges are required to pay VAT on their purchases. By contrast, schools and academies can reclaim these costs - in the case of maintained schools, through the local authority VAT refund scheme, and in the case of academies, via section 33b of the VAT Act 1994. This leaves the average Sixth Form College with £335,000 less to spend on the education of students each year, around 4% of average turnover.
It is worth noting that whilst Sixth Form Colleges used to have their VAT costs taken into account as part of their up-front funding allocation, this changed with the introduction of the new 16-19 funding formula. This resulted in all 16-19 providers (including school and academy sixth forms, free schools and Sixth Form Colleges) being funded in the same way, using the same methodology. Schools, academies and free schools continue to benefit from a mechanism to recover their VAT costs, while Sixth Form Colleges do not.
As the Sixth Form Colleges Association has previously highlighted, the VAT refund scheme was extended to Academies to ensure that they were not at a financial disadvantage when leaving the local authority. If this principle is extended, Sixth Form Colleges should not be put at a financial disadvantage because of their VAT treatment either.
The introduction of a VAT refund scheme for Sixth Form Colleges would help equalise funding arrangements across the different further education providers and go some way in ensuring that no students are disadvantaged because of where they choose to study.
I recently signed a Sixth Form College Association (SFCA) petition, calling on the government to refund sixth form colleges VAT costs. If you wish to support the SFCA’s ‘Drop the Learning Tax’ campaign and sign their petition you can do so by clicking here.

Tesco
15 January 2015
Tesco’s decision to close its headquarters and 43 stores and to shelve the opening of 49 other stores, including the one planned for Kirkby, is deeply disappointing.
Following the announcement, I was able to talk to Steve Rigby of Tesco in more detail about their future intentions as regards the land and property they still own in the town centre. Knowsley Council had similar discussions.
During the discussion with Tesco, I made it clear that their obligations to the town, regardless of the company’s financial situation, should not be abandoned, particularly so given that the Council and community have been long engaged with them about the town’s regeneration.
I did secure three commitments from Tesco. First, they undertook that work already underway in the town centre – excluding the new store – would be completed. Secondly, they would work closely with Knowsley Council to secure alternative developers for the existing town centre and to continue the regeneration of the area. Thirdly, they gave an assurance that they would not stand in the way of another major supermarket chain developing the proposed site in Kirkby.
The letter from Mr Dave Lewis, the Chief Executive of Tesco, informing me of Tesco’s intention not to proceed can be found here, together with my response here, and Tesco's subsequent response here.
Further information can be obtained on Knowsley Council’s website here.
I know that Knowsley Council is currently working hard to attract an alternative developer for the site and I will work closely with both local Councillors and Council officers to do everything in our power to secure an alternative developer for Kirkby Town Centre.

Infrastructure Bill
14 January 2015
Last year, the government published a consultation on changes to trespass regulations and confirmed their intention to legislate in the forthcoming Infrastructure Bill. You may be interested to read the consultation outcome and Government response ‘Underground Drilling Access' here.
The changes in trespass regulations will mean that while shale gas companies will still need the permission of landowners for surface access and still require local planning consent, underpinned by environmental impact assessments, they will not need permission for underground access at depths of 300m or more. The issue of underground access rights is separate from the environmental and safety framework. Only by fully addressing legitimate environmental and safety concerns about fracking with robust regulation, comprehensive monitoring and strict enforcement will people have confidence that the exploration and possible extraction of shale gas is a safe and reliable source that can contribute to the UK’s energy mix.
I believe shale gas extraction should only go ahead in the context of robust regulation, comprehensive monitoring and strict enforcement, and in a way which is consistent with decarbonising our electricity supply by 2030. I will continue to push for the environmental framework to be strengthened.
In 2012 Labour set out six tough environmental conditions which should be in place prior to any shale gas extraction taking place in the UK. While the government accepted four of the six conditions in December 2012, we still believe that the regulatory framework is not sufficiently robust. It is clear that the level of methane in groundwater should be assessed prior to any drilling. Methane can occur naturally in groundwater, so it is important that robust baseline information exists to monitors activity against. Further, all monitoring activity should take place over a twelve month period, to allow sufficient time to gather all of the evidence required to make an informed decision on whether to proceed with exploration. Labour will continue to push for the environmental framework to be strengthened in these areas and for assurances that the responsibility for clean-up costs and liability for any untoward consequences rests fairly and squarely with the industry, not with taxpayers or homeowners. Many other concerns remain, particularly regarding the effectiveness of the monitoring process and the capacity of the relevant bodies to undertake that monitoring and enforce the regulations, which must be addressed.
The Infrastructure Bill is currently in the Committee Stage. You can follow the progress of this Bill here.

International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill
15 December 2014
On the 5th December I voted in favor of the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill, which would enshrine in law the UK’s commitment to spend 0.7% of national spend on overseas aid.
UK aid changes and saves lives every day. In 2013, British aid supported 10.2 million children – 4.9 million girls – to go to primary and lower secondary school; ensured that 3.6 million births took place safely with the help of nurses, midwives or doctors; prevented 19.3 million children under 5 and pregnant women from going hungry; and distributed over 33.5 million insecticide treated bednets.
Since 1990 the number of children dying unnecessary deaths has been cut almost in half, from 12 million a year to 6.9 million. Aid has also contributed to improving education, health, sanitation, gender equality, and other public services that sustain a developing economy and add to global growth. We have a duty to care for the world's poorest, and it is in our interest to help build a more peaceful and stable world.
If you wish to view the progress of the Bill, you can do so by clicking here.

Harvey's Law
2 December 2014
On the 23rd November 2013, a pet poodle called Harvey went missing. Harvey was later found dead on the M62 motorway. Despite Harvey being microchipped, Harvey’s owners did not find out about his fate until February 2014, and this was only by chance.
As a consequence, Harvey’s owners and their supporters have launched the Harvey’s Law e-petition, which proposes three new Highways Agency requirements:
• Compulsory scanning of all domestic animals retrieved from the highways
• Log report filed and circulated to both Police and Dog Warden
• Photographs of the deceased to be held with the log report to be used for identification purposes.
If you wish to sign the e-petition, you can do so by clicking here. Should the e-petition receive over 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate by the Backbench Business Committee.

Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) campaign
28 November 2014
Every week in the UK at least 12 young people die of undiagnosed heart conditions. Since its formation in 1995, Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) has been working to reduce the frequency of young sudden cardiac death (YSCD). CRY supports young people diagnosed with potentially life-threatening cardiac conditions and offers bereavement support to families affected by YSCD. CRY promotes and develops heart screening programmes and funds medical research.
This week, CRY launched a new short film about young sudden cardiac death, as part of their ongoing mission to raise awareness of young sudden cardiac death and to highlight the importance of their pioneering cardiac screening programme. CRY's video can be seen here.
For more information about CRY, please click here.

Carers Rights Day
28 November 2014
Today is Carers Rights Day which is organised by Carers UK to increase the take up of carers’ rights and entitlements and to raise awareness of the needs of carers.
There are around 6.5 million unpaid carers in the UK who provide care and support to family, friends and neighbours, saving the country an estimated £119 billion each year.
Carers are fulfilling a vital role in our society, but too often they go without the support they need because they don’t know about the support available. We must all play a role in helping to identify and support people who are looking after ill, frail or disabled loved ones and making sure they get the right information and advice about the support they are entitled to as early as possible.
To find out more about Carers Rights Day, please click here.

Children's Heart Foundation
28 November 2014
The Children’s Heart Federation (CHF) is the UK’s leading children’s heart charity and an umbrella organisation for 21 member groups who support heart children and their families. CHF supports families through its information service, small grant programmes, peer support events and provision of equipment. The charity also lobbies for changes to the health, social care and education systems for the benefit of heart families.
I’m supporting the CHF in their call for all political parties, including my own, to commit to raising awareness of the need for heart donors for children. We’ve come a long way with medical advancements for these children over the years - we now need to look to their future.
For more information on the Children’s Heart Federation, please click here.

Wildlife Cybercrime on UK websites
28 November 2014
A number of constituents have contacted me about wildlife crime on UK websites. Our wildlife is facing unprecedented challenges from climate change and habitat loss. I am deeply concerned that the Government is not doing enough to stop this wildlife loss and overcome the threats to our natural world. It is vital that politicians of all parties face up to this challenge of protecting wildlife for future generations.
David Cameron promised to lead the “Greenest Government Ever” but instead his Government has set back efforts to protect Britain’s wildlife and natural environment. Labour developed a new approach to environmental policy in government, based upon whole ecosystems rather than individual species or habitats. We commissioned the world’s first National Ecosystem Assessment, made a binding commitment to reverse the decline of biodiversity by 2020 and committed to make space for nature in every region of the UK. Unfortunately this Government has abandoned our approach. Government has a duty to protect our natural environment and wildlife so that all can enjoy them, including future generations.
I have written to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Liz Truss about this issue and will post her response on my website.

National Health Service (Amended Duties and Powers) Bill
25 November 2014
A number of constituents have contacted me about the National Health Service (Amended Duties and Powers) Bill.
I attended the debate on Friday 21st November. I voted in favour of this Bill as it will end the move towards NHS privatisation and will put patients back at the heart of the NHS. You can read the transcript of the debate that took place in Hansard.
The Bill passed and will now be considered by a committee of MP’s in approximately two weeks time. You can view the progress of the Bill by clicking here.

Firefighters' Pensions
4 November 2014
I have been in contact with a number of firefighters' in my constituency, union representatives and Ministers since spring 2013 on the issue of firefighters’ pensions and fire station closures.
On 28th October, Penny Mordaunt MP, the Fire Minister, released an open letter on reforms to firefighters’ pension scheme, outlining the final changes to the pension scheme and laying the pensions regulations in Parliament.
I have raised constituent’s concerns with the Fire Minister and will continue to do all that I can to help firefighters in their efforts to achieve a workable, fair and affordable solution to negotiations with the government on pension reforms.
I will sign Early Day Motion 454 ‘Public Service Pensions’.

Recall of MPs Bill (updated)
29 October 2014
As you may know, the Bill passed its Second Reading stage in the House of Commons on Tuesday 21 October, and had a day of consideration in committee on Monday 27th. During committee stage, Labour’s frontbench proposed some amendments to strengthen the Bill. These would have reduced the number of days of suspension from the House which would trigger the recall process and would have widened the scope of offences caught by the Bill. The Government indicated they would accept three of these amendments - to include within the scope of the Bill offences committed but not convicted prior to the Bill coming in to force, to lower the suspension threshold and also to trigger recall for all convictions for fiddling expenses fraud. This is a welcome step, and we look forward to returning to these amendments at Report Stage.

During the debate, the Labour frontbench also made clear that we want to find a way to support the suggestion from backbencher David Heath and others to provide a third trigger for recall in the case of misconduct that the public can instigate. If we can find a way to make this suggestion work, I think it will be a good way to help ensure the public have faith in a recall process because it will provide a mechanism completely independent of the Houses of Parliament and MPs.

At the conclusion of day one of committee stage, the House voted against Zac Goldsmith’s amendments to the Bill which would have allowed a form of recall that would let an MP be removed from parliament for any reason, not just misconduct. I voted with MPs across all parties against these amendments because I think they would have given too much power to well-funded interest groups to pressure MPs into supporting their agenda with a constant threat of recall petitions. I think it is critical that MPs are able to vote with their conscience on the issues of the day and then face the electorate at a General Election. A balance must be drawn between giving the people the opportunity to recall an MP for misconduct and allowing MPs to make difficult decisions that might anger certain organisations or groups. Now the House has spoken on Zac Goldsmith’s amendments, we must now focus on improving and strengthening the proposals in the Government’s Bill.

I think if we can find a workable way of creating a public trigger for recall when an MP has done something wrong, and we can toughen up the rest of the government’s proposals, then we will hopefully have a system of recall that commands public trust and ensures people don’t have to wait until the general election to get rid of their MP when they have done something seriously wrong.

Recall of MPs Bill
28 October 2014
A number of constituents have contacted me about the Recall of MPs Bill 2014-15.

I support the principle of a right of recall where an MP has been involved in serious misconduct as I believe this would provide greater accountability and would further empower constituents. The right of recall could also increase public engagement in politics and help to restore public trust.

The previous Labour Government had plans to introduce a right of recall and there was broad cross-party support for this at the last General Election.

My view is that the Recall Bill is not strong enough, and Labour would seek to strengthen this Bill at future stages. I am not in favour of a system of recall that simply enhances the House of Commons’ internal disciplinary procedures. There is a real risk that such a system will be seen as the political establishment closing ranks and could lose the confidence of the public. In addition, any system of recall must not allow powerful vested interests to take action against MPs where no wrongdoing has occurred but there is simply disagreement on the way a politician voted on a particular issue.

Recall could play an important role in giving people a bigger say if we get the detail right. That is why I will be closely following this Bill and any future amendments. You can follow all of the stages of the Recall of MPs Bill 2014-15 here.


Palestinian Statehood - Debate on 13th October
9 October 2014
A number of constituents have contacted me about the debate on Palestinian statehood on Monday 13th October.

Labour has supported Palestinian recognition at the United Nations since 2011. I fully support two states living side by side in peace, and recognised by all of their neighbours and it is clear that the events of recent months only underline the dangers for both Palestinians and Israelis of a resumption of violence and bloodshed. Labour is clear that this conflict will only be resolved through negotiations. However, after decades of diplomatic failure, there are those on all sides that today question whether a two-state solution is any longer possible. Labour believes that the international community must take concrete steps to strengthen moderate Palestinian opinion, encourage the Palestinians to take the path of politics, reject the path of violence, and rekindle hopes that there is a credible route to a viable Palestinian state and a secure Israel achieved by negotiations.

In 2011 and 2012, Labour called on the then Foreign Secretary, William Hague, to commit Britain to supporting the Palestinians' bid for recognition at the UN, not as a means of bypassing the need for talks, but as a bridge for restarting them.

Labour’s consistent support for the principle of recognising Palestinian statehood, as part of continuing steps to achieve a comprehensive negotiated two state solution, is why I will be voting to support the principle of Palestinian statehood when the House of Commons debates the issue on Monday. This motion does not commit Labour to immediate recognition of Palestine but it does reaffirm Labour’s support for the principle of recognising Palestinian ‎statehood.

Open letter to Islamic State from Muslim Scholars
8 October 2014
Last month, over 120 Islamic scholars from around the world issued an open letter denouncing Islamic State militants and refuting their religious arguments. To read the Executive Summary and full 23 page letter, please click here.

Police Estates Strategy
6 October 2014
Last week, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside, Jane Kennedy announced the launch of the Police Estates Strategy. This link will detail the proposed changes and outline the planned locations of new Neighbourhood/Patrol Hubs and Community Police Stations.

There will be two public meetings with the Commissioner and Knowsley’s Police Area Commander along with 4 public road-shows in the Knowsley area where members of the public can attend.

Roadshows:
Weds 22nd Oct 1.00pm-3.00pm Asda Huyton, Huyton Lane, Huyton, L36 7TX
Mon 27th Oct 4.00pm – 6.00pm Aldi Halewood, Leathers Lane, L26 0TX
Weds 29th Oct 10.30am – 12.30pm Kirkby One Stop Shop, The Kirkby Centre, Norwich Way, Kirkby, L32 8XY
Mon 3rd Nov 12.00pm – 2.00pm Prescot One Stop Shop, Prescot Shopping Centre, Eccleston Street, Prescot, L35 5GA

Public Meetings:
Thurs 30th Oct 6.00pm – 8.00pm Kirkby – All Saints Catholic High School, Roughwood Drive, Kirkby, L33 8XF
Weds 12th Nov 6.00pm- 8.00pm Huyton Suite, Civic Way, Huyton, L36 9GD

If you are unable to attend the roadshows or public meetings, there is also an opportunity to provide feedback via the Police Commissioner’s website, please click here for more details.

Iraq: Coalition against ISIL

26 September 2014
That this House condemns the barbaric acts of ISIL against the peoples of Iraq including the Sunni, Shia, Kurds, Christians and Yazidi and the humanitarian crisis this is causing; recognises the clear threat ISIL poses to the territorial integrity of Iraq and the request from the Government of Iraq for military support from the international community and the specific request to the UK Government for such support; further recognises the threat ISIL poses to wider international security and the UK directly through its sponsorship of terrorist attacks and its murder of a British hostage; acknowledges the broad coalition contributing to military support of the Government of Iraq including countries throughout the Middle East; further acknowledges the request of the Government of Iraq for international support to defend itself against the threat ISIL poses to Iraq and its citizens and the clear legal basis that this provides for action in Iraq; notes that this motion does not endorse UK air strikes in Syria as part of this campaign and any proposal to do so would be subject to a separate vote in Parliament; accordingly supports Her Majesty’s Government, working with allies, in supporting the Government of Iraq in protecting civilians and restoring its territorial integrity, including the use of UK air strikes to support Iraqi, including Kurdish, security forces’ efforts against ISIL in Iraq; notes that Her Majesty’s Government will not deploy UK troops in ground combat operations; and offers its wholehearted support to the men and women of Her Majesty’s armed forces.

I will be voting for this motion today. My reasons for doing so, are, first of all, the motion proposed is measured and limited. For example, it specifically rules out any actions which would include troops on the ground and extending the role into Syria. Secondly, such limited action that is proposed, is at the specific request of the democratically elected Iraqi government. On that basis, given the humanitarian crisis brought about by the actions of ISIL, I think that this is the right thing to do.

Scottish Independence Referendum
19 September 2014
Congratulations to Scotland for the example they have set in democratic engagement. With a turnout of 85% and, following a lively debate, there are lessons we can all learn about the importance of identity and the instinct we share for much greater fairness.

Because of the promises given by Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg to the people of Scotland, it is now inevitable and welcome, that the UK as a whole makes some big decisions about how resources are distributed to communities and what mechanisms are put in place to ensure that they are distributed more fairly.

In his statement this morning, the PM, David Cameron, said that: “It is absolutely right that a new and fair settlement for Scotland should be accompanied by a new settlement that applies to all parts of the United Kingdom […]”

And, the Leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, said that: “’How can we build a better future for our children and grandchildren?’ We know those were the questions that people were asking, they were not just asking questions about the constitution and about the way our politics works, they were asking about whether our country works for them and they were telling us, and they are telling us this in Scotland, they are telling us this throughout our country, that our country only works for a tiny elite few at the top”.

For some time now, I have been campaigning in Parliament for greater recognition that areas like Knowsley are not being treated fairly by the Coalition government. For example, Knowsley Council’s grant settlement means that they will lose between £65-£74 million in government support over the lifetime of this government. Liverpool City Council will experience equally savage cuts over the same period. Yet both are by all official statistics amongst the poorest Council areas in the UK.

At the same time some of the most prosperous areas such as Wokingham and West Oxfordshire, with far less need than Liverpool and Knowsley, are having virtually no cuts or even an increase in the Government Grant they receive. This strikes at the heart of the fairness debate. Whilst it is welcome that the main party leaders recognise this need, any solution on new arrangements must recognise that a Whitehall/Westminster-centric fix will not any longer be an acceptable way forward. What we now need is a new way of doing things which is rooted in local communities and reflects local needs.

My strong belief is that more powers and resources should be invested in local councils. In our case we have a relatively new combined authority, the Liverpool City Region, which incorporates Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral. Elsewhere, it could involve county councils such as Lancashire or Cheshire.

I see the post-Scottish referendum as an opportunity to redress the imbalance of power and resources that, for too long, has held back our communities on our city region. So, in congratulating Scotland, we now need to make it clear that areas like the Liverpool City Region are now seeking the same powers, fairness and resources to control our own destiny. .

Knowsley Foodbank Xtra
16 September 2014
Knowsley Foodbank is a wonderful local organisation, who help those in need get back onto their feet. I have long been a supporter of their invaluable work, not only in offering food, but also debt and employment advice, and support for those with newborn babies. Their new project - Foodbank Xtra – will make a big difference to how clients use the food they receive. In addition to this extra food, Knowsley Foodbank will also provide nutrition-related health advice and signposting for clients to make the most of what they have. If you would like further information on the work that Knowsley Foodbank do, please click here.

Affordable Homes Bill
10 September 2014
A large number of constituents have contacted me regarding Andrew George’s Private Member’s Bill in respect of the Bedroom Tax, which had its Second Reading on 5th September. I am wholly opposed to the Bedroom Tax and know all too well the effect it is having in Knowsley. The Labour Party are committed, if we are successful at the next general election, to scrapping the Bedroom Tax and I fully support that policy.

I attended the debate last Friday, and voted with Labour colleagues to support the Affordable Homes Bill. It is my intention to continue supporting this Bill.

To read the Hansard transcript of the debate, please click here.

UK's 0.7% Aid Promise
10 September 2014
On Friday 12th September, I will be attending the Second Reading of Michael Moore's Private Member's Bill on International Development (Official Development Assistance Target).

The Labour Party is supportive of legislation, to enshrine in law, the UK’s commitment to spend at least 0.7% of Gross National Income on international development.

Youth Debate
22 August 2014
Youth Debate is a website where young people from the age of 14 – 25 can post and debate their views on politics.
Youth Debate describe their primary principles, and goals as follows:
1. To be welcoming to all, no matter their views.
2. To encourage healthy debate.
3. To inspire youth to engage in politics.
4. To provide information to young people who want to physically get involved in politics.
5. To influence mainstream politics by engaging in intelligent, thought-provoking debate.
If you are interested in finding out more about Youth Debate, visit their website www.youthdebate.co.uk

Equality and Human Rights Commission call for evidence
20 August 2014
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have launched a call for evidence from individuals and organisations about the impact of religion or belief on people as employers or service providers or as employees or service users.
The EHRC intend to use this information to assess how employers and service providers are taking religion or belief into account and the impact this has on individuals.
If you would like to take part, please visit www.equalityhumanrights.com/religion

Living with Diabetes Day
20 August 2014
On Saturday 18 October, Diabetes UK will be running a free support event for anyone diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in the last few years, or who may have been diagnosed for longer, but has little knowledge of their condition. Over 80,000 people are estimated to have Type 2 diabetes across Merseyside. Improving people's understanding of the condition and how to look after themselves will not only help improve their day-to-day health, but will also help them to avoid serious complications in the long-term.

Throughout the day, people will be given information they need to help them start taking control of their condition so they can enjoy a healthy life. Healthcare professionals will provide information on local healthcare and the services available to people with Type 2 diabetes in the area.

The event is free but places are limited so people need to book a place online at www.diabetes.org.uk/lwdd or by calling 0345 123 2399. The event will be at Liverpool's Crown Plaza Hotel, St Nicholas Place, Princes Dock, Liverpool.

Deregulation Bill - Private Hire Vehicles
21 July 2014
A large number of constituents have contacted me about the three taxi and private hire related clauses in the Deregulation Bill. I wrote to the Minister for Government Policy at the Cabinet Office, Oliver Letwin MP regarding this issue. You can read his response here.

Save grass roots football
21 July 2014
I recently signed an e-petition titled 'Save Grass Roots Football', set up by David Crausby MP.
This petition calls on the Government to ensure that grass roots football receives financial support from the Premier League. Every child should have the chance to take part in organised sport, but poor quality pitches and ever increasing fees are driving people out of grass roots football.

Government cuts mean that many Local Authorities are no longer able to fund grass roots football; we need a bigger investment from the professional game. The Premier League is the focus of huge amounts of money in English Football, it is right for them to support football from the ground up to ensure its future. Global broadcasting rights give the Premier League as much as £5bn over three seasons. The Government must work with the FA and Premier League to ensure that 7.5% of broadcasting rights is committed to grass roots football. You can add your name to the petition by clicking here.

Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill
11 July 2014
A number of constituents have contacted me about the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill. I should begin by saying I do share the concern about emergency legislation. It is never an ideal way to conduct legislative business. However, I do acknowledge that there are circumstances where it is necessary. I am a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (ISC), the body responsible for the oversight of the UK’s intelligence and security agencies and, as regards counter-terrorism, the police. My reason for stating this is that I do have quite a detailed knowledge of the practices involved and the reasons why they are considered necessary. It is also worth drawing your attention to Clause 6(3) of the Bill which sets a limit on the provisions – known as a ‘sunset clause’ – at 31st December 2016. I do think such a time-limit is appropriate for an emergency Bill.

The legislation has been introduced, with the agreement of the two coalition parties and the Labour Party as a response to the recent European Court of Justice judgment, the result of which is that 95% of the information needed to police online child abuse, serious and organised crime and to counter terrorism will become unobtainable. As a member of the ISC, I have good reason to know that this is a real problem which does need to be addressed urgently by UK legislation.

The effect of the European Court of Justice decision is that internet providers, unless they are have a business reason to hold data, will not be obliged to retain communications data for law enforcement purposes for up to 12 months. Unless addressed, this will seriously affect the law enforcement and intelligence agencies’ ability to conduct ongoing investigations. Because of the European Court of Justice decision, several of the more prominent communications data providers have been requesting a clearer legal framework in order to give a legal basis for cooperation with law enforcement and intelligence agencies in order to intercept what terrorists and serious criminals are saying to each other.

It should also be noted that the police and intelligence agencies can only access such communications with a warrant - the interception of communications is only allowed under the authority of a warrant signed by a Secretary of State (usually the Home Secretary) - this is an existing safeguard which will still apply. The new Bill actually narrows the grounds on which a warrant can be applied to national security and serious crime. The previous legislation covering this matter – the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) - included the economic wellbeing of the UK as one of the grounds on which a warrant can be applied for. Clause 3(4) of the Bill, however, requires economic wellbeing to be linked to national security. The Interception of Communications Commissioner will continue to audit the work of the Security Services. Their primary task is to keep under review the issue of warrants for the interception of communications and the adequacy of arrangements for ensuring the product of interception is properly handled. To further strengthen oversight, the government will establish a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. This will be based on David Anderson’s existing role as the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation. Without such legislation, terrorists and serious criminals will have a safe haven on the internet to communicate without inhibition.

You can read a copy of the Bill and the explanatory notes here.
I am, for these reasons, in favour of the Bill. I hope you will understand that I have not arrived at my conclusions lightly.

HMRC data sharing
1st July 2014
A large number of constituents have contacted me asking me to attend a data-sharing roundtable on Tuesday, 8th July. Unfortunately, I am unable to attend due to longstanding parliamentary commitments in my Westminster diary. A consultation on proposals for data sharing and publication was launched last year by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), and the results were first published in December 2013. You can read the latest version of the published report here.

You may be aware that a 38 Degrees’ petition against HMRC’s plans has garnered over 260,000 signatures. In response to the petition, a spokesperson for HMRC wrote a letter to address some of 38 Degrees’ concerns. A copy of HMRC’s response can be found here. I would like to draw your attention to paragraph 7 of HMRC’s response which details the next steps that the Government has announced it will take:
- Go ahead with the next steps for making aggregated and anonymised tax data
- Legislate to enable implementation of the proposals for controlled release for non-financial VAT registration data for specific purposes (principally, credit scoring) to a small number of qualifying parties (for example, credit reference agencies); and
- Explore options for public release of a limited subset of VAT registration data, for example whether a business is VAT-registered or not; no decision has been made about whether to take this proposal further.

HMRC’s proposals are subject to parliamentary approval. It is not possible to judge them fully until a draft Bill has been presented to the House and we are able to see to what extent HMRC have accepted concerns that have been raised and adequate safeguards implemented. I will continue to monitor the situation.

Motor Neurone Awareness Month
30th June 2014
The ability to communicate is a basic human right. But for many people with Motor Neurone Disease this is not possible because MND takes away their ability to speak.
80-95% of people with MND will experience communication problems as their speech deteriorates. That's why this month I am supporting the Motor Neurone Disease Association who works to ensure that thousands of people with MND have a voice during MND awareness month and beyond. Visit www.mndassociation.org

Shale Gas Extraction
16th June 2014
I believe shale gas extraction should only go ahead in the context of robust regulation, comprehensive monitoring and strict enforcement, and in a way which is consistent with decarbonising our electricity supply by 2030.

Gas is a fuel which remains vital to the operation of our homes, services and businesses in the UK. 80% of our homes rely on gas for heating, while around 30% of our electricity comes from gas fired power stations. While low carbon power generation will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels over time, we will still need flexible power to help manage peaks in demand. Projections from National Grid expect gas continuing to play a vital role in our energy system for many years to come. While demand for gas continues to be high, our ability to source this fuel from within our own borders has been steadily declining. In 2004, the UK became a net importer of gas for the first time since North Sea extraction began. For those reasons, the possibility to source gas from the UK should not be ruled out without careful consideration.

The Government’s Infrastructure Bill proposes changes to the regulations on fracking for shale gas. Conventional oil and gas exploration and production mostly involves vertical or near-vertical drilling from one spot at the surface. A well for shale gas, however, will usually run vertically down and then extend horizontally for some distance – this could be as much as 2 miles, or even more. This would mean that companies would have to seek permission from a large number of landowners. As it stands, the existing legislation allows coalmining, water, sewage and gas transportation pipelines to have underground access without needing the permission of the landowner, but not shale gas or deep geothermal. In reality it would provide an effective block on fracking activity and deep geothermal in the UK. At the end of May the government published a consultation on changes to trespass regulations and confirmed their intention to legislate in the forthcoming Infrastructure Bill. These changes will mean that while shale gas companies will still need the permission of landowners for surface access and still require local planning consent, underpinned by environmental impact assessments, they will not need permission for underground access at depths of 300m or more. I therefore do not oppose these reforms. However, the issue of underground access rights is separate from the environmental and safety framework. Only by fully addressing legitimate environmental and safety concerns about fracking with robust regulation, comprehensive monitoring and strict enforcement will people have confidence that the exploration and possible extraction of shale gas is a safe and reliable source that can contribute to the UK’s energy mix.

I will therefore continue to push for the environmental framework to be strengthened. In 2012 Labour set out six tough environmental conditions which should be in place prior to any shale gas extraction taking place in the UK. While the government accepted four of the six conditions in December 2012, we still believe that the regulatory framework is not sufficiently robust. It is clear that the level of methane in groundwater should be assessed prior to any drilling. Methane can occur naturally in groundwater, so it is important that robust baseline information exists to monitors activity against. Further, all monitoring activity should take place over a twelve month period, to allow sufficient time to gather all of the evidence required to make an informed decision on whether to proceed with exploration. Labour will continue to push for the environmental framework to be strengthened in these areas and for assurances that the responsibility for clean-up costs and liability for any untoward consequences rests fairly and squarely with the industry, not with taxpayers or homeowners. Many other concerns remain, particularly regarding the effectiveness of the monitoring process and the capacity of the relevant bodies to undertake that monitoring and enforce the regulations, which must be addressed.

Recall of MPs
16th June 2014
Labour supports recall, it was in our 2010 General Election Manifesto. The Government has committed to bring forward a Bill, which whilst late in the day, is to be welcomed.

Labour are now awaiting the details of their Bill but there are two key points I would make. First, we are not in favour of a rerun of the proposals in Nick Clegg’s draft Bill. This would have seen the recall process in the hands of Members of Parliament. There is a real risk that such a system will be seen as the political establishment closing ranks on the behaviour of a fellow politician and could lose the confidence of the public. Secondly, any system of recall needs to be designed to avoid powerful vested interests kicking out MPs where no wrongdoing has happened simply because they dislike the way a politician has voted on controversial issues.

Recall could play an important role in giving the people a bigger say if we get the detail right. That’s why we’ll be closely studying the Government’s plans as and when they are published.

Carers Week
16 May 2014
Carers make a hugely valuable contribution to society and they need support to carry on the work they do - without carers the UK would face a £119 billion care bill. That is why I am supporting this campaign to reach out to carers across Knowsley and help ensure they don’t miss out on support. Events will be taking place across the UK during Carers Week in June, to provide carers with advice, information and support with caring. To find out more about events in Knowsley or sign the Quest Pledge Wall, visit Carers Week Quest.

Carers Week 2014 runs from Monday 9 to Sunday 15 June.

Carers Week is an annual UK-wide awareness campaign which takes place to celebrate and recognise the vital contribution made by the UK’s 6.5 million carers. It is also a time of intensive local activity with thousands of events planned for carers right across the UK. In 2013 more than 2,600 organisations registered to take part in the campaign.

Launch of 'My Ticket', a new bus ticket for young people
1 May 2014
Today, Merseytravel and the bus operators of Merseyside are introducing a new ticket for young people called My Ticket. This means younger travellers can make as many journeys as they like within Merseyside on the day they buy the ticket.
My Ticket is a new bus ticket for young people aged 5 to 15. It costs £2 and is valid on participating buses in Merseyside any day, at anytime. It will be available on buses from ticket machines Young people will be able to make as many journeys as they like on the day they buy the ticket. For more information, please click here.

Type 1 Diabetes and Young People
1 May 2014
Yesterday I led on a Westminster Hall debate on Type 1 Diabetes and Young People. To read the full debate in Hansard, click here.

NHS Pay
22 April 2014
A number of constituents have contacted me regarding the government’s decision to ignore NHS pay review body recommendations. My view is that the government should take into account the recommendations of the NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) to award a cost living increase for all staff in the NHS. I have written to Dr Peter Carter, the Chief Executive & General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing to offer my support.

Opening of the new Kirkby Centre
8 April 2014
The new £5m Kirkby Centre is now open, bringing together a range of key local services under one roof. The project is a key part of the regeneration of Kirkby Town Centre. The Kirkby Centre is home to:
- Library
- Gallery
- Local history archive
- One Stop Shop
- Kirkby’s Knowsley Works team
- Adult Disability Day Service
- Community meeting rooms
- Independent coffee shop
- Changing Places changing and toilet facilities

The Kirkby Centre will also be the new home of my advice surgeries in Kirkby. To find out when I am next sitting in Huyton and Kirkby, please click here.

Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning, and Trade Union Administration Act – ‘Gagging Law’
Updated 4 April 2014
A number of constituents have contacted me to ask if Labour intend to repeal the ‘Gagging Law’ if they win the election in 2015. Labour opposed this bill throughout its passage through the Houses of Parliament but, despite this, it gained Royal Assent on 30th January 2014.

On 3 April, Labour announced that should we win the next general election we will repeal the Lobbying Act. To read more about Labour's plans, click here.

Care Bill - the identification of carers
25 Mar 2014
Amendment NC3 on the identification of carers, tabled by Paul Burstow, was debated in the Commons on 10th March. Following the debate, the Care Minister Norman Lamb MP responded to this Amendment stating:
“On new clauses 3 and 19 about NHS work to identify and promote the health of carers, I can confirm that the guidance will absolutely reinforce the importance of co-operation between the NHS and local authorities on local authorities’ duty to identify carers. NHS England is developing its own action plan for identifying and supporting carers. In addition, our vision for out-of-hours hospital care, which will be published in April, will build on changes to the GP contract for 2014-15. All patients aged 75 and over will have a named accountable GP with responsibility for their care, and we will consider how we can extend this approach to all people with long-term conditions. The plan will emphasise the importance of GPs identifying carers and supporting them in their caring role by directing them to information, advice and support”.

As a result of this reassurance from the Minister, who confirmed that statutory guidance on this issue would accompany the Bill, Paul Burstow withdrew his amendment.

Hunting Act 2004
21 Mar 2014
A number of constituents have contacted me about the proposed changes to the Hunting Act 2004. The Government is considering an amendment to the 'stalking and flushing out' exemption which would render the existing Hunting Act unenforceable. I am opposed to repealing the Hunting Act and will continue to monitor the situation.

Badger Cull
17 Mar 2014
On Thursday 13 March, MPs took part in a debate on a motion relating to the badger cull. This debate was scheduled by the Backbench Business Committee. Alongside Labour colleagues, I voted to halt the badger cull. The result of the vote was 249 votes to 1 in favour of the Government halting the existing culls and granting of any further licences, pending development of alternative strategies to eradicate bovine TB and promote a healthy badger population. I have written to the Prime Minister to call for an independent committee to be set up to review the policy of bovine TB.
To read the full transcript of the debate in Hansard, please click here.

Clause 119 of the Care Bill
17 Mar 2014
On Tuesday 11th March, there was a debate in the House of Commons regarding Clause 119 and amendment NC16 to the Care Bill. Clause 119 gives the Health Secretary sweeping powers to force hospital closures over the heads of local communities. I voted to reject clause 119 in Parliament.
Amendment NC16 to the Care Bill, which received cross-party support, would have ensured that all commissioners of services affected by a trust special administrator’s report would have the right to define local specified services and, save for the trust in administration, local commissioners would remain the decision makers for services they commission. This amendment was defeated by the Tories and Lib Dems.
To read a full transcript of the debate in the Commons and details of the vote please click here.

Fuel Poverty 'Mind the Gap' Campaign
17 Feb 2014
I have pledged my support for ‘Mind the Gap’, a campaign run by the national charity Turn2us, aimed at raising awareness of the help available for people affected by fuel poverty. Fuel poverty is an extremely important issue that can have a hugely damaging effect on people from all backgrounds. It’s vitally important that people realise that they do not have to struggle alone and that help is available to help manage energy bills. I’m pleased to be able to support Turn2us’ ‘Mind the Gap’ fuel poverty campaign and I encourage anyone that is worried to take action and use the six steps to manage their bills.
More information about this campaign can be found here.

Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill
24 Jan 2014
A large number of constituents have contacted me about the Transparency in Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill. I voted for Labour's amendments, but unfortunately we were defeated by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government.
To read the debate in Hansard that took place on Wednesday 22nd January, please click here. To track the progress of this Bill click here.


You can see earlier press appearances and speeches here: 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 I 2012 I 2013

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As well as making speeches and asking questions in Parliament, you can view the Early Day Motions (EDMs) George has signed EDMs. EDMs draw attention to specific events or campaigns, and demonstrate parliamentary support for a particular cause or point of view. You can find out more from the House of Commons advice sheet.


 


 

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