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MP joins Hospital protest at Government failures to protect the NHS from trade deals

Bill Esterson MP with Labour members at the protest outside Southport and Formby Hospital.

MP Bill Esterson joined Labour Party members, at Southport and Formby District Hospital, to protest at the Government's failure to protect the NHS from future trade deals. The Sefton Central MP and Shadow International Trade Minister said the Trade Bill that passed through Parliament recently:- "shamefully puts the NHS at risk." He gave his support to the protest, on Tuesday, 28 July 2020, and said the Conservatives had failed to give the NHS the protection it needs. Mr Esterson and his Labour colleagues proposed a number of amendments to the Trade Bill that would have protected the NHS from facing higher charges for drugs, further privatisation and the sharing of patient data. Mr Esterson said:- "The $3.6 trillion US healthcare industry is itching to increase its provision of NHS services, charge the NHS more for its drugs, and get its hands on NHS patient data. We should say no on all counts. Our NHS should be about patient care, not making profits for private companies. The US published their negotiating objectives in February 2020. The objectives specify that the US want full market access for its companies for US pharmaceuticals and medical device products in a trade deal with the UK. The Trade Bill shamefully puts the NHS at risk. The Government has failed to give the NHS the protection it needs. Labour's New Clause 17 would have made the NHS totally exempt from the provisions of any future trade deal, but thanks to the votes of Conservative MPs, including Damian Moore, the MP for Southport, it was rejected, along with New Clause 4, which would have given Parliament a final vote on all trade deals. The Conservatives say Parliament already has the right to block trade deals it doesn't like. That is plain wrong. All the Government has to do is publish its proposed trade deal, and 21 days later, it automatically becomes law. Parliament doesn't even have the right to hold a debate about it unless the Government specifically chooses to allow 1 within the 21 day period. The Conservatives argue it is the process as they have in Canada. No wonder since the Canadian parliamentary system follows ours, but the comparison that really matters here is with the United States. Whenever a UK-US Trade Deal is agreed, it will require a two-thirds majority in the US Senate to be ratified; but in the UK, it will not need a vote at all. How can that be right? We're told we shouldn't complain because Parliament didn't have a right to vote on trade deals when it was Brussels doing the negotiating on our behalf. But wasn't that the whole point of restoring our sovereignty and taking back control? Is it really acceptable that Parliament should have no more control over trade than it had before Brexit? The Government has signed 20 post-Brexit trade agreements but not 1 of those 20 agreements mentions the NHS, and none of them says explicitly that their provisions will not apply to 'publicly funded health or care services,' which is what New Clause 17 would have done. Ultimately, the Conservatives say the NHS is safe because the Government has made a 'clear and absolute commitment' that it will not be on the table in any future trade agreements. But this Tory Government has shown time and again over the past 10 years that its promises and commitments mean nothing, which is exactly why Labour demanded the NHS exemption should be put into law instead."

Tell us your lockdown stories, says career group

YOUNG people across West Lancashire are being challenged to use their experiences of lockdown to spark a career in creative writing. Future U, which works to increase career aspirations and higher education for young people in the county, has launched:- 'The Lockdown Diaries,' a writing competition for 14 to 19 year olds to create a range of short stories, poems or journal entries inspired by the pandemic and resulting lockdown. The challenge is designed to make young people think about future careers in creative writing, from becoming an author all the way through to script writers, copywriters and even English Teachers. Young people are being encouraged to write either a fiction or non-fiction piece, with the top 10 submissions to be published in a special anthology and the overall winner claiming a free Amazon Kindle to continue their love of reading. Entries need to be longer than 500 words and can be submitted either on the Future U website or via pupils' Schools. All entries should be submitted before the deadline of Saturday, 15 August 2020. All entries will be judged by international author Philippa Holloway. Philippa has had her short stories and travel writing published across the world, in addition to teaching English Literature and Creative Writing, at Edge Hill University.

Philippa said:- "The pandemic lockdown has affected everyone in so many different ways, and I believe it is vital that we take time to think about, and process, its impact. Writing about the situation can help us understand it, and ourselves, more clearly. I can't wait to read stories by the young people of Lancashire and to hear what it means to them."

Dr Emma Deeks, Senior Coordinator at Future U, added:- "We know that for many young people, having to stay home and miss out on normal life like School and seeing friends has been difficult, but it has also provided an opportunity to experience different things and have more time to spend thinking and creating. We wanted to design a project that allowed young people to express this creativity and potentially inspire them to pursue a career within the creative industries."

Since launching in 2017, Future U has held more than 800 events and activities to support over 16,000 young people to think about applying for university. The programme works alongside the county's four universities and 10 colleges throughout Lancashire, including Edge Hill University and West Lancashire College, and has continued to deliver activities online during the lockdown.

In addition to promoting the benefits of university to prospective students, the programme also supports young people to understand student finance, living away from home and raising career ambitions to develop the next set of skilled workers for the county. Future U is part of the national University Connect Programme, funded by the Office for Students, and continues to support School pupils across Lancashire to encourage more young people to think about higher education and future careers. The project involves institutions and organisations across the county including the University of Central Lancashire, Lancaster University, Edge Hill University and the University of Cumbria. Lancashire's Future U works with a network of Schools, in addition to colleges, higher education providers and local agencies to create tailored activities to meet the needs of students for now and the future. Its list of partners includes:- Blackburn College, Blackpool 6th Form College, Blackpool and the Fylde College, Burnley College, Edge Hill University, Inspira, Kendal College, Lancaster University, Myerscough College, Nelson and Colne College, Preston's College, STEMFirst, Runshaw College, The Lancashire Colleges, University of Central Lancashire, University of Cumbria, West Lancashire College.

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