Working for you
Knowsley Training Academy
14 Dec 11
Last week, I visited the Knowsley Training Academy. Since it opened in September this year, almost 200 people have been trained their and over half of the first group to complete the course are now employed. I hope the academy will be a great success. Read coverage of the visit in the Liverpool Daily Post.
QVC must be treated fairly
23 Nov 11
The shopping channel QVC, which is the largest employer in my constituency, faces an unfair threat from larger broadcasters which could force a change in its channel position. This could hit sales and threaten job cuts. Read the the debate in Parliament and coverage in the Liverpool Echo in which I call for fairer regulation to safeguard local jobs.
The Intelligence and Security Committee
21 Nov 11
In a debate on the role of the Intelligence and Security Committee, on which I sit, I made a number of key points:
- it is a great strength that the Committee's members are politically impartial;
- it would be beneficial if the current Chairman stays in position for the duration of this Parliament;
- while the Committee should adopt a more open approach this will not mean a free-for-all and we should be honest about that;
- cyber-security is a critical issue for the nation's security;
- we need clarity on whether the Baroness Neville-Jones speaks for the Government or not, particularly when she speaks in the media about Russia and China's involvement in cyber attacks;
- the amount of intelligence we have received from the US since the Binyam Mohamed case has declined and we therefore need to be careful about what information is brought into public through court cases.
Read my full speech in Hansard
Immigration and threats to UK workers
21 Nov 11
In response to reports that the Government may be considering allowing workers to come to the UK from India to be employed at below UK rates, I asked questions to ascertain the exact situation. The employment Minister confirmed that the 'requirements of EU and member state laws and regulations regarding entry, stay, work and social security measures shall continue to apply' meaning that UK workers cannot be undercut. Read the full questions and answers here and here.
Peace must be a more compelling option than violence
21 Nov 11
In the wake of yesterday's Spanish elections, there is a real opportunity to secure peace in the Basque region. We need strong commitments by all sides to ongoing peaceful processes, the rule of law and primacy of democracy. Working together, and with the support of the international community, there is now an opportunity to achieve lasting peace for the first time in generations. Read the full article published by Progress.
Allocation of Freeview channels, TV regulation and their impact on QVC
14 Nov 11
The allocation of TV channel numbering is key to the success of smaller broadcasters such as QVC which employs around 2,000 people in the UK, most of whom are in Knowsley. I'm putting pressure on the Government to make sure that this process is fair - local jobs depend upon it. That's why I asked this question about regulation of the channel allocation process and this question about who the Government has consulted.
Responsibility of the Home Secretary for border control breach
9 Sep 11
During a debate on ministerial responsibility following the revelations that border controls had been relaxed last summer, I drew attention to the importance of Ministers taking responsibility for the actions taken by Government Deparments. Read the debate in Parliament here.
The EU referendum debate
24 Oct 11
During the debate in Parliament on a referendum for the EU, which saw over 80 Conservative MPs vote against the Government, I questioned Labour colleagues about the wisdom of voting with Tories intent on redistributing powers to employers away from workers. Read the debate in Parliament here.
Securing intelligence sharing with the US and other close allies
19 Oct 11
During a debate on a report by the Intelligence and Security Committee, I asked the Justice Secretary about the risk that co-operation with close allies may be jeopardised by decisions made by judges. Read the debate in Hansard.
Parliament debates the release of Government documents about the Hillsborough disaster
17 Oct 11
The Government has agreed to publish previously secret documents after pressure from the families of the Hillsborough 96 and Merseyside MPs. In the debate that followed I called for the Government to explain how it will manage the process to ensure that nothing has been inappropriately witheld. Read the full debate in Parliament and coverage in the Daily Mirror.
33,000 people sign petition against Whiston hospital
7 Sep 11
Campaigners against the potential privatisation of two Merseyside hospitals have handed over a 33,000-strong petition to Downing Street. More
8 Aug 11
I would like to express my sincerest sympathies to the family of the man who lost his life at Sonae last Saturday.
There have been conflicting accounts of the exact circumstances which led to this sad loss. It is important that the police and Health and Safety Executive are able to carry out a proper investigation into how the tragedy occurred so that appropriate action can be taken to prevent similar tragedies occurring in the future. We need Sonae and its subcontractors to cooperate fully with those investigations and be completely open about the circumstances which led to this incident.
I have commented extensively on the more general matter of the future of Sonae during the past few weeks. There is still little, if any, evidence that Sonae has resolved the underlying problems with safety and stability at the plant. When the recent fire broke out in June, Sonae's management expressed concern that its safety record had been misunderstood. In the interests of openness and transparency, now would be a good time to publish Sonae’s health and safety record in full. This would allow misconceptions to be corrected and genuine concerns to be addressed.
Latest tragedy at Sonae
6 Aug 11
My first thoughts are with the family of the man who died earlier today at the plant. I'm deeply saddened by this latest tragic incident.
It's barely three weeks since I said that "as matters stand I don't see how anyone can have any confidence in Sonae to operate safely and with stability." It's too early to comment on the details about this tragic incident, but I sincerely hope that this will never happen again.
Visit to QVC
2 Aug 11
Earlier today I visited the QVC headquarters at Knowsley Industrial Park which is a major local employer. During the tour I saw the technology used by QVC to process orders and to make sure that the warehouse can respond to the 24/7 demands of customers from across the country as well as visiting the call centre and learning about the company's plans for growth.
Above: viewing QVC's control room with technical director, Mark Bennett, and CEO, Dermot Boyd.
Sonae re-opening is wholly inappropriate
21 Jul 11
As matters stand at the moment I don’t see how anyone can have any confidence in Sonae to operate safely and with stability. The re-opening of the plant is wholly inappropriate because there can be no guarantees that Sonae has resolved the underlying problems with safety and stability at the plant. Read the full story by the Liverpool Daily Post.
More questions about Cameron's links with Murdoch
20 Jul 11
Following the Prime Minister's evasion of my question during a debate in the Commons, I have tabled two written parliamentary questions to find out exactly what the Prime Minister discussed during his many meetings with News International executives. The questions are:
- To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to the Statement of 20 July 2011, what advice he received prior to taking his decision to take himself out of the decision-making process in respect of the acquisition of BSkyB; and whether contacts during the course of his meetings with senior staff from News International at formal meetings or socially, constrained him from taking part in that process.
- To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to the Statement of 20 July 2011, for what reasons it was not appropriate for him to take a view on the proposed takeover by NewsCorp of BSkyB; what record was taken of his meetings with senior staff from News International; and if he will place a copy of such records in the Library.
Under parliamentary protocol, the Prime Minister is not obliged to answer these until Parliament returns in September, but I intend to write to him demanding a more urgent response.
What does the Prime Minister have to hide about News International?
20 Jul 11
The Prime Minister has now admitted that he has met News International representatives an astonishing 32 times. Says that he did not have any 'inappropriate' conversations about the BSkyB deal, but he needs to go further to clarify exactly what he did discuss during those meetings. During an emergency debate in Parliament, I asked the Prime Minister, 'what has got to hide’ and I pushed him on why he felt he had to remove himself from the ongoing phone-hacking scandal. Read the debate in Hansard here.
Water main bursts in Huyton
18 Jul 11
United Utilities must act now to address the cause of the latest water main burst in Huyton. This is the fifth burst in recent years and the third time that residents' homes have been flooded. That things have gone wrong so often shows United Utilities has not addressed the underlying cause. The Government needs to carry out an urgent investigation into this and United Utilities' practices. Read the motion I've tabled in Parliament about the burst mains and United Utilities' responsibilities here calling for immediate compensation for those affected. You can read coverage on the BBC and in the Liverpool Echo.
Dismissal of staff at Liverpool passport office
30 Jun 2011
Following the dismissal of 14 members of staff from the Liverpool passport office, together with colleagues, I raised the issue with the responsible minister and called on the Minister to avoid a tribunal and instead consider the moral case. My contributions to the debate can be read here and here.
Answers to my Parliamentary Questions about Sonae
28 Jun 11
Government Ministers have answered some of the Parliamentary Questions I tabled about Sonae on 17 June:
- Number of complaints about air pollution
- Impact of the plant on public health
- Number of inspections by the Health and Safety Executive
- Number of investigations by the Health and Safety Executive
- Cost of police visits to the Sonae factory
- Number of times the Fire Service has been called to Sonae
The Government’s answers to my questions reveal:
- the Health and Safety Executive has run nine investigations into Sonae since 2007 and fourteen in total over the past decade resulting in three prosecutions.
- the Fire Service has been called to Sonae 28 times over the past decade, not including the most recent fire.
It’s clear that several organisations hold more information on Sonae and that should be brought into the public domain so an informed decision can be made about its future. I’ll be working towards that over the coming days.
Read coverage of these PQs and the reaction of local residents in the Liverpool Echo.
Sonae and air quality
28 Jun 11
Last night I met with local residents concerned about Sonae. The Liverpool Echo reported the meeting here.
Many people expressed concerns about the impact of the factory on local residents' health. I undertook to post this report into local air quality carried out by the council and PCT in 2008 on my website. A summary is also available here which was considered at a board meeting of the PCT in February 2008.
Letter to Kirkby residents about Sonae
20 Jun 11
Together with local councillors, I have written to local Kirkby residents about Sonae. You can download that letter here.
Questions in Parliament about Sonae
17 Jun 11
Following the Sonae fire, I have asked questions in Parliament to find out more about the safety risks posed by the plant and cost of plant to the taxpayer, including:
- How many times have the fire service been called to Sonae in the past ten years, how much did it cost and were any firefighters injured?
- How many complaints have the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs received about Sonae in the past ten years and how much have they cost to investigate?
- What assessment has the Department of Health made on Sonae’s effect to public health and how much will it cost the NHS to - treat?
- When and how often have police been called to Sonae and how many investigations have they carried out?
- How many times have the Health and Safety Executive investigated Sonae since it opened and how much did it cost?
Read the Liverpool Echo's coverage here.
South China Sea disputes
16 Jun 11
As Chair of the Vietnam All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), I have proposed an Early Day Motion in Parliament alongside the Chair of the China APPG, calling for a peaceful resolution of the disputes between China, Vietnam and other countries in the region over areas in the South China Sea. As well as threatening global security, tensions in that area risk pushing up the price of UK fuel and other commodities. The motion has been covered in the media by the Voice of Vietnam news.
Civil service job losses
14 Jun 11
I have asked the Cabinet Office about civil service job losses on Merseyside and in Knowsley because it is important that the impact of cuts on the local economy should be fully understood. Unfortunately, the response from the Cabinet Office is less than helpful: they do not collect that information centrally. You can read my questions and their official responses here.
Parliamentary motion calling for Sonae to be closed
14 Jun 11
I have tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament calling for Sonae to be closed down for good. Read the EDM here and coverage by the BBC and the Liverpool Echo as the Health and Safety Executive announces another investigation.
15 Jun update: more coverage of the Early Day Motion in the Liverpool Echo.
Sonae should be closed - permanently
13 Jun 11
In a Parliamentary debate about health and safety legislation, I asked the Minister responsible for the Health and Safety Executive, if 'he will take into account the problems that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has had at Sonae in my constituency. A major fire incident over the last few days has covered much of the industrial area as well as residential areas in acrid black smoke. Will he assure me that the HSE will work with the local authority, Knowsley council, the fire service and everybody else in the town, because we have reached the conclusion that this place should be closed down?"
The Minister, Chris Grayling, replied "I am aware of the very unfortunate incident in the right hon. Gentleman’s constituency. I cannot comment specifically on that investigation, but I can assure him that the HSE is investigating carefully what happened. Clearly, lessons must be learned. However, that underlines my view that the HSE should concentrate its resources on dealing with genuinely serious incidents and problems, and not on trivial matters."
I've asked for Sonae to be closed because its record of fires and accidents poses too many risks to its employees as well as local residents. Over the next few days and weeks I will be taking more action in Parliament as well as meeting key local organisations to make sure that no more risks are taken with local people's lives.
13 Jun 11
I'm pleased to support Carers Week that recognises the value and hard work of carers up and down the country. Read more to find out about the valuable work done each and every day by local carers.
Above: discussing Carers Week with Angela Rippon
Future for Sonae in doubt after latest blaze
10 Jun 11
Following another fire on Friday night, the Fire Service, Knowsley Council and the Health and Safety Executive should come together to decide whether Sonae can be allowed to continue given the risks to the community. Read coverage on the BBC and by the Liverpool Echo.
Government plans to reduce the time criminals spend in prison
23 May 11
The Government is proposing to reduce the amount of time criminals spend in prison. During a debate in Parliament I made the point that prison protects communities from offenders while they are inside and it is important to make sure the public still trusts the justice system. Read the debate in Hansard here.
Prof Michael Chester and the National Refractory Angina Centre
18 May 11
I have tabled a Parliamentary motion about the relationship between the patient support group and the hospital authorities at the National Refractory Angina Centre (NRAC) based at the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen. Read the Liverpool Daily Post's coverage here and the Early Day Motion here.
Closure of Huyton's Jobcentre Plus is outrageous
14 May 11
Proposals to close Huyton's Jobcentre Plus are outrageous and disgraceful. It should be unthinkable to take away these facilities from an area with high levels of deprivation at a time when unemployment is rising. Read the full story in the Liverpool Echo.
Safety of deepwater oil drilling
9 May 11
A year after the BP oil disaster of the coast of the US, I tabled a Parliamentary Question to find out what measures the UK Government has taken to ensure a similar disaster does not happen here. Read the Government's answer here.
The future of Whiston Hospital
4 May 11
Following the Freedom of Information requests I made in April, I've now used a debate in Parliament to press the Health Minister, Simon Burns, on whether there have been discussions with the Department of Health to privatise Whiston Hospital, and what options are on the table. Read the debate here.
Why I will be voting to keep the current electoral system
22 Apr 11
"AV is designed not to give people a choice between the big ideas and the big parties, but to give third and fourth preference candidates a greater status than people’s real choices". Read how other Merseyside MPs are intending to vote here.
Possible plans to privatise Whiston Hospital
21 Apr 11
Following rumours of plans to privatise Whiston Hospital, I have tabled Freedom of Information requests to find out exactly what discussions have taken place about the future of St Helens and Knowsley Hospitals NHS Trust. More information.
Campaign to review 'soft' sentences to burglary gang goes to appeal
31 Mar 11
I welcome the review of the sentences of three members of a gang of burglars who subjected their victims to terrifying ordeals. More information.
The Big Society
22 and 30 Mar 11
Read my article in Progress Magazine and the full pamplet in which I argue Labour should engage with the 'big society' and put universality and equity at the heart of our alternative.
Defend Radio Merseyside's daytime shows
26 Mar 11
BBC bosses should abandon plans to axe Radio Merseyside's daytime shows including Billy Butler, Roger Phillips and Sean Styles. More information.
21 to 27 March 2011
I'm pleased to be supporting Climate Week - one week to show how we can combat climate change. Thousands of events and activities, highlighting the positive steps being taken to help combat climate change, are being planned by organisations from every part of society for the UK's first Climate Week. To find out more go to www.climateweek.com, email email@example.com or telephone 020 3397 2601.
Costs of rock salt procurement
17 Feb 11
In a written Parliamentary Question, I have asked the Transport Minister about the costs of procuring the emergency supply of rock salt. George has received information that the charges made by central Government to local authorities seem to be disproportionately expensive, so this question is aimed at finding out the facts. Read the Government's response here.
Pilch Lane Pharmacy
7 Feb 11
I have been liaising with Knowsley Council and the PCT to ensure that residents' concerns are taken into account in relation to the 100 hour pharmacy licence application for the Pilch Lane pharmacy. Read the letters from the Council and PCT sent on 3 February and 4 February about the process. The local health service's 'Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment' which outlines the context for considering the proposal is available here.
Advice and levels of deprivation
3 Feb 11
In a debate on the provision of advice, I stressed the importance of organisations such as Kirkby Unemployed Centre, Merseyside Welfare Rights and Knowsley citizens advice bureau. Read the debate here.
How to prevent publishing information about how to make bombs
31 Jan 11
Read the Home Office Minister's reply here to my question to the Home Secretary about how to protect the public in the light of publications about how to make explosives by radical groups.
Bank lending and business rates
25 Jan 11
The Government answers my Parliamentary Questions on their review of business rates and levels of bank lending across the regions.
George warns of the risks of scrapping Educational Maintenance Allowance
19 Jan 11
George speaks out for the 80% of Knowsley students aged between 16-18 who will lose Educational Maintenance Allowance as a result of the ConDem's plans to slash education funding. Read the debate in Hansard here.
George calls for National Insurance holiday to apply to charities
11 Jan 11
In a vote on whether to allow charities to benefit from the NI holiday for newly formed companies, I said "I am slightly surprised that the minister has taken that line, because charities are important players in our economy. Although they may not be out to make a profit, they are often enterprising institutions – and employing institutions, hiring various staff in many different cases – and they deserve our support and encouragement.” Unfortunately, the Government opposed the measure, so charities will lose out. Read the full story in Civil Society.
Bank lending to local economies
11 Jan 11
Following the Government's relaxation of bonuses paid to top bankers, I have pressed the Chancellor of the Exchequer for information on how much banks will be expected to set aside for local economies. Read the Chancellor's response here.
You can see earlier press appearances and speeches here: 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010
View the Parliamentary achive here: 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010
To search Hansard for more examples of George speaking in Parliament, click here. These current Hansard pages cover the period from 2005 to the present day
To search Hansard's archives to see George's speeches and questions in Parliament since his election, click here.
Early Day Motions
As well as making speeches and asking questions in Parliament, you can view the Early Day Motions (EDMs) George has signed here. 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 factsheet.
©2007-11 Rt Hon George Howarth MP, Labour Member of Parliament for Knowsley