Friday 30 July 2010

Why I'm backing fines for credit card firms over child porn

I am backing a bill which will penalise credit card companies who enable the downloading of child pornography, in particular, through the use of pre-paid credit cards.

Pre-paid cards are available from local retailers without the need for the purchaser to provide details of their name and address allowing images of child abuse to be downloaded anonymously. The Credit Regulation (Child Pornography) Bill 2010 has received support from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).

CEOP is dedicated to eradicating the sexual abuse of children. That means they are part of UK policing and very much about tracking and bringing offenders to account either directly or in partnership with local and international forces.

The bill will require government support if it is to have any chance of getting onto the statute book. According to the International Business Times ‘child pornography is one of the fastest growing businesses online’.

The simple fact is that, under current legislation, no proof of identity is required for card values below £100 so all the buyer has to do is make up a name and address and they have instant access to these vile websites.

In addition to fines imposed on the credit card companies the bill would require proof of identity in order to purchase pre-paid credit cards.

I have also signed Early Day Motion 529 in support of legislation.


That this House calls upon the Government to bring forward legislative proposals to impose penalties upon credit card and debit card providers for the facilitation of the downloading of child pornography from the internet.

Monday 26 July 2010

Proud of Pubs Week - Here's to pubs!

The leading pub trade magazine, The Publican ran its 4th annual Proud of Pubs Week (16th – 25th July) and pubs across the country have come up with a diary of events to make sure that local communities can celebrate the pub.

Pubs inject an average of £80,000 into their local communities and pay over £100,000 in tax. The industry employs over 540,000 people directly and 380,000 in associated trades and account for 35% of the ‘eating out’ market (Source: The Publican).

I joined Lisa Nandy MP, Wigan Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Branch Chair, Ken Worthington at the Caledonian Hotel, Bolton Rd, Ashton in Makerfield.

Landlady Paula Rock and her partner Allan Prior welcomed us and spoke with Lisa, Ken and myself about the unique challenges facing the industry, including over regulation, alcohol tax hikes and the effect cheap booze sold by the off licence trade has on the pub. Paula also talked about their involvement in local community activities including the help they provided in creating a community park for the benefit of local residents and the people of Ashton.

During the general election campaign both Lisa and I signed the CAMRA pledge to speak up for real ale, community pubs and consumers.

I believe that well-run pubs are the bedrock of community life – they are part of the solution to the problem of alcohol misuse and not part of the problem. They deserve support and government needs to urgently look at rebalancing alcohol taxation to support pubs and reform the beer tie to deliver a fairer deal for consumers.

Lisa Nandy MP said, “Wigan boasts some top class pubs which provide a vital social and leisure service to the town. As a fan of real ale I was delighted to be able to sample some of the brews on offer at the Cale.”

Chair of Wigan CAMRA, Ken Worthington said, “Well run pubs provide the vibrant heart of many communities offering an invaluable meeting place and centre for countless local activities. The loss of such pubs can be devastating to community spirit and identity. CAMRA is asking all our members to write to their local MPs asking them to support an Early Day Motion which calls on the Government to implement a package of policies which will help secure the future of viable and well-run community pubs. I am glad to see that both Yvonne Fovargue and Lisa Nandy will be offering their full support.”

EDM 210 - That this House recognises the social, economic and cultural importance of well-run community pubs, which provide a safe and sociable environment for the consumption of alcohol among friends and are an essential community meeting place; notes the ideas put forward in the Campaign for Real Ale's Beer Drinkers and Pub Goers Charter which received support from 670 candidates at the last election, 150 of whom were elected; welcomes the genuine cross party consensus on the need to support and protect well-run community pubs; and so urges the Government to implement a package of policies which will help secure the future of viable and well-run community pubs.

Thursday 22 July 2010

MP’s raise stakes on future of Tote

Yvonne Fovargue MP and Lisa Nandy MP have sponsored a parliamentary motion to protect the future of The Tote in Wigan.

The Tote is one of the principal betting organisations in Britain, with more than 3,500 employees (600 in Wigan), over 500 shops, a major presence on all of the 60 racecourses in Britain, as well as internet and telephone betting facilities.

In 2008 the then Sports Minister, Gerry Sutcliffe MP announced that the Tote would be sold on the open market and paid tribute to the ‘fortitude and professionalism’ of Tote staff based in Wigan. This followed discussions on a possible sale of the Tote to a consortium of racing interests, the staff and management of the Tote which risked being denied approval under European state aid and competition rules, because it would have been below open market value.

In a written parliamentary answer the coalition government are currently considering a range of options for the future of the Tote with the aim of resolving its future within the next 12 months.
MPs from across the political spectrum have now joined forces with Yvonne and Lisa in supporting the retention and continued investment of the Tote HQ in Wigan.

Lisa Nandy MP said, “The Tote is an important employer in Wigan and its staff have lived with uncertainty about its future for too long. I have demanded a meeting with the Minister to ensure we protect jobs and keep the Tote in Wigan.”

Yvonne added, “It is of crucial importance to the future prosperity of the borough that we retain and seek to take advantage of the potential expanding market that the Tote could enter."

“Under the leadership of Peter Smith, Neil Turner and Ian McCartney played pivotal roles in bringing the Tote to Wigan. The Tote is a major player in the local economy and at a time when the borough is suffering job losses and cuts imposed by central government the retention of the business in Wigan is of paramount importance.”

EDM 578 - The Future of the Tote

That this House is concerned that any decision involving the future of The Tote should, at the very least, encompass the principle of its assets being used to guarantee the future of horse racing in the UK and those who work within it or are dependent upon its activities and should not involve the closure or running down of its headquarters at Wigan.

Friday 16 July 2010

Child Poverty pledge

The charity Child Poverty Action Group has praised Yvonne Fovargue, the Member of Parliament for Makerfield for pledging to become a ‘Child Poverty Champion’ working in her constituency to end child poverty by 2020. Yvonne has also pledged to work in parliament on national action that will held end child poverty for all UK children.

Yvonne said, “I have signed a personal pledge to commit to action against child poverty in Makerfield and across the UK. "

“In Government, Labour enshrined into law the commitment to eradicate child poverty by 2020. Tax Credits, Sure Start and action to help parents back into work saw big improvements in tackling child poverty in local communities. This goal will be harder to meet now that the Tory/Lib Dem Government has cut Child Tax Credits and frozen Child Benefit.”

Yvonne’s comments came after a parliamentary question tabled by the Makerfield MP confirmed that:

• Over 41,000 families across the borough will see Child Benefit frozen for the next three years from April 2011
• Over 37,000 families will be hit by changes announced in the June Budget to Tax Credits

Shan Nicholas, Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group said, “All the main parties have committed to ending child poverty by 2020, but Yvonne Fovargue MP stands out as one of the first to have signed a personal pledge committing to action. It is important MPs understand the leadership role they can take in their area to bring partners together like local councils, schools, service providers and the voluntary sector, as well as showing public leadership by raising public understanding of child poverty in their constituency.”

“Britain has one of the highest child poverty rates in Europe and this has an appalling impact on the life chances of many children. There is no reason why British children should suffer more than our neighbours and we are delighted that Yvonne Fovargue MP is so strongly committed to ending child poverty.”

The Child Poverty Champions Pledge says:

“I promise to keep the commitments my party voted for in the Child Poverty Act and to work in parliament and in Makerfield to end child poverty by 2020”

Thursday 15 July 2010

Fovargue slams Liberal Democrat and Tory betrayal of local pensioners

Local Labour MP, Yvonne Fovargue has slammed the Liberal Democrats and Tories for voting against a plan to protect local pensioners from the VAT hike. The Commons vote came as new research showed Britain's pensioners will be stung by an £8 billion VAT bill over the course of this Parliament.

There are over 59,000 pensioners in the Wigan Borough, all of whom could be affected.

Worse, figures hidden in the Budget show that local pensioners will be hit every year by changes that hit them in the pocket.

From January, pensioners will face a £400 million VAT tax bill which they will have to start paying months before any increase in the Basic State Pension. Pensioners face paying nearly £8 billion in VAT over the parliament.

In 2011, weekly pension increases fall behind VAT-fuelled price rises. In 2012, pension rises fall behind price rises again, after the Treasury quietly changed the way the so-called ‘triple lock’ up-rates pensions in practice. By 2013, pensioners face cuts to Disability Living Allowance benefits, which may total £350 million a year by the end of the Parliament, alongside cuts to Housing Benefit and the lower uprating of public service pensions and benefits.

This week Yvonne sought to protect local pensioners by supporting an amendment to the Finance Bill which would have delayed the VAT increase until a proper plan for shielding pensioners was in place.

But Liberal Democrat and Tory MPs ganged up to block the move.

The Borough's 59,000 pensioners will now start paying £33 million extra in VAT a month starting in January.

Yvonne said, "This is a betrayal of our local pensioners by the Tory-Liberal government. Our retired community has paid in for a life-time and is now being hit hard in the pocket."

"I wanted a plan in place to protect local pensioners from the £8 billion VAT bill but the Liberal Democrats refused to help.The Liberal Democrats should be ashamed of helping the Tories push these changes through."

"I can't believe the Tories and Liberals are trying to disguise the tax bill with a few promises which on closer inspection just don't add up."

Friday 9 July 2010

New passenger facilities at Bryn Station

Work will soon commence to improve Bryn Station thanks to a capital investment by Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority (GMITA).

Yvonne Fovargue MP alongside fellow Greater Manchester MPs met with GMPTE at a meeting in parliament (16th June) to discuss rail infratructure improvements and pressed the case for improvements to stations in Makerfield.

The Makerfield MP contends that the Metro is a net contributor to GMITA and a greater share of resources should be allocated to rail infrastructure improvements in the area.

The investment will deliver CCTV, help points, customer information screens and public address systems as part of a rail improvement strategy. Orrell Station has already benefited from a similar investment.

Yvonne said, “Bryn Station needs this investment and this is good news for passengers, but there is still much more work required to make Bryn Station a more welcoming and pleasant experience for rail users.”

Yvonne is backing Bryn Ward Councillor Ann Rampling and local rail passenger advocate Trevor Allen who have started a petition for greater investment in Ashton and Bryn’s local rail station.

Cllr Ann Rampling said, “During the recent local election many people told me that the station is an eyesore crying out for major investment and were particularly unhappy with access for people with disabilities so I want local people to get behind the petition that Trevor Allen and I have organised.”

Petition forms can be obtained from Cllr Rampling on 01942 730794. Yvonne is pictured with Cllr Ann Rampling, Cllr Nigel Ash and Bryn resident and rail campaigner Trevor Allen.

Tuesday 6 July 2010

New school's programme axed by Con Dem Government

Yvonne Fovargue has blasted the coalition government's announcement that Hindley High School's planned rebuild under the Building Schools for the Future programme has been axed.
The Wigan Borough stood to benefit from a total of £230M worth of investment in new secondary school buildings over a series of phases, as part of the wider national £45BN programme.

The first phase, worth £80M, would have seen secondary schools in the east of the borough, including Lowton and Golborne, Hesketh Fletcher, Bedford, Hindley and Westleigh’s, transformed with either new buildings or major refurbishments.

But Michael Gove's announcement means that the authority’s plans have now been shelved.

Yvonne said, "I am outraged at the Government's decision to cut this much needed investment in our borough's schools without any consultation with parents, pupils, governors, teachers or councillors. We've seen the difference new school facilities such as those at Abraham Guest High School make - and I wanted those resources for every child in our borough. Time, money and energy has gone into putting together plans to rebuild schools like Hindley High School in my constituency. Now with the swing of Michael Gove's axe that's all wasted and a once in a generation opportunity has been lost. Today's announcement raises questions about fairness in education as this Government channels funding into proposals for academies and free schools. This is the same old Tories backed by their new Liberal Democrat friends."

Monday 5 July 2010

MP joins local Opticians to stress importance of regular eye checks

Yvonne Fovargue MP joined local eye health professionals and patients at Gore & Hepworth Opticians in Ashton today, to raise awareness of the crucial importance that early detection through regular eye tests is in reducing the number of people with avoidable sight loss.

The Makerfield MP attaches great importance to eye health. She is short-sighted and has suffered from Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD) causing tears to the retina in both eyes. She required laser treatment to correct the PVD.

The Borough has a low uptake of free NHS eye examinations for children under 16 and uptake amongst the adult population is low compared with the national average. Furthermore the Local Optical Committee is pressing for better provision for services for the visually impaired, more cameras for diabetic retinopathy screening and to utilise the skills of Optometrists to provide enhanced eyecare services in the community, reducing the need for hospital care.

Yvonne said, “I know from my personal experience just how important it is to take care of your eyes. Avoidable sight loss is a tragedy both for patients and the NHS, yet it can so easily be prevented through regular eye tests. A sight test can detect the early signs of conditions like glaucoma and, if diagnosed early, the right type of treatment could safeguard your sight. Eye examinations can also detect other conditions such as diabetes. Everyone should get their eyes tested every two years, and for some people this check-up is free, so ask your optometrist."

“I am grateful to Janet Green and the Local Optical Committee for the dedicated work they do and I will work with them to promote eye care in the Borough.”

“My message today is prevention is better than cure, so book an eye test today with a local optician and ensure you have an eye test at least once every two years.”

Janet Green, Chair of the Local Optical Committee said, “I can not stress enough the importance of a regular eye test for both good vision and health for all age groups. Half of all sight loss is preventable. With support, many of the experienced Optometrists in our Borough could ensure our community has eye care close to their home and an early appointment at the hospital if needed.”

You are entitled to a free sight test, paid for by the NHS, if:

• you are under 16 years of age,
• you are 16, 17, or 18, and in full-time education,
• you are 60 or over,
• you have been diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma,
• you are 40 or over, and your mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter has been diagnosed with glaucoma,
• an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) has advised you that you’re at risk of glaucoma,
• you are registered as blind or
partially sighted,
• you are prescribed complex lenses – these are lenses with a power of 10 dioptres or more, or prism controlled bifocal lenses,
• your sight tests are usually done through a hospital eye department, as part of your care for an existing eye condition, or
• you are a war pensioner and you need the sight test because of a disability for which you get a war pension.

You are entitled to full help with health costs, including sight tests, if you or your partner receive:
• Income Support,
• Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance,
• Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or
• Pension Credit Guarantee Credit.

You can also get a free NHS sight test if you’re entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate. If you’re eligible for help with NHS costs under the NHS Low Income Scheme, you can claim some or all of the cost of sight tests for you, your partner and your children.

Friday 2 July 2010

MP champions Deaf Awareness Week

To mark Deaf Awareness Week (28 June – 4 July 2010), Yvonne Fovargue MP is supporting leading charities and calling on her constituents to help remove communication barriers faced by people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Yvonne attended a deaf awareness reception in the House of Commons organised by the UK Council on Deafness (UKCoD) and supported by RNID and the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS). The event highlighted important ‘dos and don’ts to help improve communication with adults and children who are deaf or hard of hearing including:

• Do learn some basic signs and fingerspelling
• Do repeat yourself or rephrase until you’re understood
• Do face me when you speak
• Do think about communication support
• Don’t have lots of background noise
• Don’t shout
• Don’t avoid conversation.

Yvonne said, “Many shops, services and residents across Wigan may not realise the barriers faced by people who are deaf or hard of hearing and how small changes, such as holding face-to-face conversations in well lit places, can significantly improve communication. I encourage others to join me in learning about the communication needs of people who are deaf or hard of hearing.”

Chair of UKCoD, Susan Daniels said, “Adults and children who are deaf or hard of hearing face communication barriers due to a lack of awareness in the community which can lead to issues such as isolation and exclusion from society.”

UKCoD, RNID and NDCS are encouraging everyone to get involved in the discussion on ‘do’s and don’t’s’ of communication by uploading a photo of their top communication tips and sharing their thoughts at

One in seven people in the UK are deaf or hard of hearing, and of those, over 45,000 are deaf children.

Yvonne is pictured with William Morton and Rebecca French, a 19 year old deaf person at the reception in parliament.