Conversations and post bag issues September and October 2017
Every month I hear from constituents about issues close to their hearts. Here I will try to summarise the issues that have generated a high volume of correspondence from constituents and my response so that you can keep up to date with my work in the constituency, as well as in Parliament. I hope you find this information helpful, and if you would like to get in touch about a particular matter, please send me an email.
The Bootle constituency community is committed, involved and passionate about issues that affect us in our “neck of the woods”, and more broadly, the country.
Assaults on Emergency Workers
Many constituents contacted me about the Assault on Emergency Workers Bill with some sharing harrowing experiences of personal attacks whilst working in roles in the public sector. I attended the sessions on Friday 20 October and it had all party support. Hopefully with the support of the Government, the Bill will become law once it has been amended to take account of the views of various interested parties.
The Bill proposes to introduce new offences protecting all emergency service workers, including police officers, firefighters, paramedics and nurses. Indeed, while there were 24,000 assaults on police officers across England and Wales last year, there were also over 70,000 reported physical assaults against NHS staff in 2015/16. I therefore believe it is right that they receive better legal protection.
Our emergency service workers do a brilliant job and their safety must be paramount. I believe the tougher sentences in the Bill will send a message that we will never accept that our emergency service workers can be assaulted while doing their job and we will do everything in our power to protect them. However, I also believe they must be paid properly for the essential work that they do and this is why I will continue to press the Government to lift its cap on public sector pay for all public service workers.
I sympathise profoundly with anyone who has been affected by cancer and I pay tribute the many charities for the work they do in funding research, championing improved access to medicines, and in providing support to affected individuals and their families.
I believe we should set an ambition for the NHS to have the best cancer survival rates in Europe. Key to this will be improving early diagnosis, public awareness and screening programmes, as well as ensuring that GPs have the training, resources and support they need to identify symptoms and refer patients quickly.
However, I remain concerned that the Government has repeatedly missed the national cancer target since January 2014, and in the past year: waiting lists have topped 4 million; the number of patients spending more than 4 hours in A&E has risen 250%; and the Royal College of Nursing has warned of a 40,000 shortfall of nursing staff in the NHS.
At the General Election I stood on a manifesto which pledged to invest an additional £30 billion in the NHS to give patients the modern, well-resourced services they need. The manifesto also promised to guarantee access to treatment within 18 weeks and take one million people off NHS waiting lists by the end of the next parliament.
Royal British Legion Manifesto
Many residents contacted to ask that I support the Royal British Legion Manifesto
Firstly, I support the Royal British Legion's calls for there to be questions for the next census about membership of the Armed Forces community. I believe this would be a simple way of acquiring an additional source of information about the veterans living in our area to allow public services to better meet their needs. I also believe we must promote greater awareness of the Armed Forces Covenant, seek greater consistency in its implementation by public authorities, and also promote increased participation in the Corporate Covenant.
I can assure you that I am fully committed to supporting our Armed Forces community within our constituency and at a national level.
Many people with differing views and concerns about multiple aspects of the Brexit process have contacted me through early autumn and beyond. I accept and respect the result of the EU referendum. It is therefore important that the Government get this vital legislation right. Unfortunately, I believe the Government's Bill as presented in September was not fit for purpose. I therefore could not support it at its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 11 September.
I believe Brexit must not lead to any drop in rights and protections, and that powers should be brought back to Parliament and local communities. Unfortunately, the Government's Bill would do the precise opposite. It would put huge and unaccountable power into the hands of Government Ministers, side-line Parliament on major decisions, and put crucial rights and protections at risk. It would also undermine and introduce restrictions on devolved administrations rather than leading to the wider devolution of power we need to see.
Ideally, the Government would introduce a new bill that respects the referendum and enhances, rather than undermines, our democracy. However, as the current Bill passes through Parliament, I can assure you that I and my colleagues intend to support amendments aimed at repairing and removing its worst aspects.
I am sure this important issue will continue to be a key issue that I am contacted about as the process progresses.
The plight of bees is an issue I receive a lot of communications on.
The importance of bees to our food supply, biodiversity and economy is clear and I share my constituents concerns about declining bee numbers.
I support the current European-wide ban on the use of neonicotinoids on crops that are attractive to bees and other pollinators because I believe that it is a proportionate response to the mounting scientific evidence which demonstrates the risk of neonicotinoids to bees.
The UK Government has said that current environmental regulations - including the ban on neonicotinoids - will remain in place until we leave the EU. I also believe that the UK Government must set out how it intends to ensure that existing environmental protections are maintained and enhanced once the UK has left the EU.