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2012 Archive

You can see earlier press appearances and speeches here:
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View the Parliamentary achive here:
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Ambitious Knowsley Young People
26 Nov 12
Over the summer of 2012, I carried out a project to help gain an understanding of the aspirations and ambitions of young people in Knowsley. A number of valuable points surfaced from the discussions with young people but perhaps the most interesting was that despite the social and economic disadvantages they face, the young people in Knowsley are no less ambitious than young people elsewhere in the country. Read the full report here.

28 Sep 12
The memo from Linda Rushton (dated 12 February 1998) did not convey the specific terms of any discussion between me and Jane Kennedy or Peter Kilfoyle.

The terms ‘on message’ and ‘neutralise the local media’ were her words and not words we would have used. Our overriding concern was to ensure that the feelings of the families were dealt with respectfully and sensitively.

A more accurate representation of my concerns at that time is reflected in the memo from Paul Pugh to Linda Rushton (dated 28 January 1998), which refers to my suggestion that ‘the failure on the part of South Yorkshire Police to disclose sections of the video tapes ....should be deplored.’

The context of this material is that I was conscious that the families would be disappointed at the outcome of the Stuart-Smith Review, as I was myself, and that public statements had to be mindful of their legitimate feelings.

Joint statement on Sonae with UNITE
2 Aug 12
Earlier today, I issued this joint statement on Sonae with Paul Finegan, the Regional Secretary of UNITE. The statement calls for an independent expert to identify what it would take to resolve all of the health and safety and environmental problems associated with the factory. Read the full statement here.

Sonae's consultation about closing its Knowsley factory
27 Jul 12
It is, of course, a matter of great concern that Sonae has embarked on a course that could potentially lead to the loss of some 200 jobs in Kirkby.

In his statement, the Managing Director, Nigel Graham, stated that he expects ‘...local public representatives to facilitate a constructive resolution [to the situation at Sonae].’

I have made it clear to employees at Sonae that if a viable plan could be put in place that resolved all of the problems the community has experienced with the Kirkby plant, there would be no reason not to support it.’ I would, however, need two assurances:
- first, that any such plan would be independently audited by suitably qualified consultants (and by independent, I do not mean consultants appointed by Sonae) and;
- secondly, I would need to be convinced that Sonae’s senior management was genuinely committed to doing whatever is required to resolve all of the problems.

All of this begs the question: if it is possible to resolve the problems the community have experienced, why has Sonae not done so already?

Mr Graham’s statement seeks to lay all of the blame at the door of Knowsley Council. This is far from the case. Knowsley Council has, in fact, shown enormous patience over the years, working with the company to ensure that the current planning application is in a fit state to be put before the planning committee.

House of Lords should be abolished, not reformed
13 Jul 12
This week the House of Commons has been debating the reform of the House of Lords. I spoke in this debate and called for it to be abolished rather than reformed so that we move to a unicameral system. Read more about my views on this subject here.

The Government’s priority should be getting people back to work

14 May 12
In a debate yesterday I called for the Government to make cutting unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, a priority for its agenda in the year ahead. We need to give young people some hope of being able to find a job and sort out the muddle that is the skills and training system. I also called for the Government to rethink its plans to legislate to reduce employment rights – we should be supporting people back to work not making it easier to sack them. Read my speech here.

Universities Week
I'm pleased to be supporting Universities Week, 30 Apr-7 May, which draws attention to the great work our universities do. For more information, please click on the logo below.
Universities Week

Government must explain leaked comments about Liverpool fans at Hillsborough
Following reports in the press about leaked Government documents containing allegations against Liverpool fans at Hillsborough, Steve Rotherham MP and I have called on the Government to explain to Parliament that those comments are scandalous. A media report last week revealed a briefing received by Margaret Thatcher, days after the disaster in 1989 which included comments about Liverpool fans. The Home Secretary, Theresa May, has responded by establishing an inquiry into the leaked papers to find out how the contents reached the BBC before being shown to the families and relatives of the victims of the disaster - and before the full information is put together by the Hillsborough panel. Read my comments in Parliament here.

Why we need a clearer and fairer system to regulate Freeview
10 Feb 12
In an article for the Huffington Post today, I make the case that we need a clearer and fairer regulatory system to ensure the UK broadcast market remains amongst the most dynamic and successful in the world. At the moment, we are following a model for Freeview that is unfair and damaging. If Freeview channels were a physical retail asset, the current approach would be the equivalent of allowing the major supermarkets to move the location of a smaller competitor at will. As well as being an important matter of principle, this jeopardises the stability of QVC which is an important employer in Knowsley. Read my full article here.

Parliamentary motion calling for Sonae to be closed down
7 Feb 2012
Earlier today, I tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament about the fire at Sonae on 26 January 2012. The Motion notes this is the 22nd occasion on which the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service has had to attend the factory in the past 12 years, expresses concern about the tragic loss of life at the factory and calls on the Health Safety Executive to close the factory down on the grounds that it is unsafe and badly managed. Read the full Motion here.

Government must act to prevent another disaster at Sonae
3 Feb 12
Earlier today, I wrote to the Minister responsible for the Health and Safety Executive, Chris Grayling, demanding that the Executive should use its extensive powers to put a stop to the string of disasters at Sonae before it is too late for the company’s employees and the surrounding neighbourhoods. Read the full letter here.

Latest incident at Sonae
1 Feb 12
Sadly, the latest incident at Sonae shows that the process is unstable, unsafe and that the plant is badly managed. There is strong and irrefutable evidence of odour nuisance, dust and poor safety which, in my view, should be sufficient to close the plant. There are three areas residents, Knowsley Council and myself can pursue which I hope will encourage the relevant authorities to take firm and decisive action.

First, Knowsley has the responsibility for Sonae’s environmental licence. I have already urged them to rescind the licence and I would encourage you, your friends and family and neighbours to contact environmentalhealth@knowsley.gov.uk to add your voice to this call.

Secondly, Sonae currently have a planning application lodged with Knowsley Council planning department, which, as I understand it, is as a result of work they wish to carry out following the earlier fire during the summer. To date, there has only been one objection to the application. I will be writing to put my objections to the Council and I would urge you, your friends, family and neighbours to do the same. Those who wish to object should write to environmentalhealth@knowsley.gov.uk citing the planning application reference of 11/00581/FUL.

Finally, I believe the Health and Safety Executive have been far too slow and ineffective in their assessment of previous incidents and, once I receive further information I am seeking, will be raising the matter with Ministers and in Parliament.

Business rates
18 Jan 12
During a debate on business rates, I made the case for reforms that would benefit local authorities such as Knowsley. Read the debate here.

Liverpool and Southampton ports
18 Jan 12
During a debate on planning covering the ports of Southampton and Liverpool, I made the case for Liverpool city council and the local authority in Southampton to work together to find common ground to secure investment. Read the debate here.

Unemployed graduates
18 Jan 12
I have asked the Department for Work and Pensions about the number of unemployed graduates living in each constituency. Read the Government's response here.

17 Jan 12
In the context of a recent visit by the Foreign Secretary to Burma and its recent ceasfire with the Karen National Union, I asked about the role that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations can play to encourage the Burmese to maintain progress. Read the Foreign Secretary's response here.

Regulating the pub industry
12 Jan 12
In a debate on the pub industry, I made the point that the Government needs to be clear about the limits of self-regulation. If self-regulation fails to work, the Government needs to make it clear whether it is prepared to follow-up with statutory regulation. Read the full debate here.


You can see earlier press appearances and speeches here:
| 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011
I 2012 I 2013 I 2014 I 2015 I 2016 I 2017 I 2018

View the Parliamentary achive here:
| 2008 | 2009 | 2010

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Early Day Motions::

As well as making speeches and asking questions in Parliament, you can view the Early Day Motions (EDMs) George has signed. 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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©2007-19 Rt Hon George Howarth MP for Knowsley