St Helens South and Whiston has a proud economic heritage and is at the heart of British industry and innovation. The constituency gave the world household names such as Pilkington and Beechams, as well as being home to the first railway trials, at Rainhill, when Stephenson’s Rocket became famous the world over. It is a constituency that quite literally enabled Britain to become the industrial powerhouse of the world.
Britain would not be what it is today if it was not for the coalmines of Bold, Clock Face, Cronton and Sutton Manor. Over 30,000 people were once employed in my constituency in the great British industries of coal, manufacturing and pharmaceuticals, all of which revolutionised the world.
Sadly, these jobs are gone, replaced too often by low-paid, short-term, part-time and insecure agency employment. We have 8,600 children in working families that are receiving either child tax credits or child and working tax credits and this Government have done nothing to help to improve or eradicate that.
The constituency has always been at the heart of industrial change, and its heart has suffered from that change. Losing so many jobs from our economy crippled many families and tore not only the heart but the soul from their lives. We literally lived through industrialisation and de-industrialisation and we hope to live through further advanced manufacturing and industrialisation. We aim to be a centre for logistics in St Helens and Whiston—a centre with connectivity and a place where industry and manufacturing can grow once again. The development of advanced manufacturing is our goal, leading to good, well paid jobs, high-level skills development, work experience and qualifications.
The result of change has been the creation of a resilient people, often innovative in their own way and willing to try something new—proud people, with values underpinned by solidarity and community; people who are warm and caring, with a great sense of humour. We are a strong community, compassionate and caring. We help each other. Above all else, the community has a strong heart—a resilient heart and we know that with proper economic development, we will rise again.
We have St Helens—Saints—the internationally recognised rugby league team, twice former World Club champions and six time Super League champions, now at Langtree Park, our world-class new stadium, and also providing good employment opportunities. I am proud of St Helens and Whiston’s new state-of-the-art hospitals, a major NHS employer that provides the highest standards of medical care and has been recognised for providing the best patient experience in the UK. Our businesses are supported by a remarkable chamber of commerce—one of the largest in the country and twice awarded British chamber of the year. It is nationally recognised for its passionate approach to tackling the skills agenda for both employed and unemployed young people and for supporting business start-ups. We are also supported by a local enterprise partnership that is focused on business growth and ensuring fairness and equity in the jobs market. We connect industry, colleges and universities to nurture innovation and advanced manufacturing. My constituency shares its values with the rest of Liverpool city region, in that it is outward looking and strongly committed to helping our young people and graduates into work.
I was born and bred in our local area and it is an honour to represent you in Parliament.