February 18, 2014

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Protecting children is one of the most important responsibilities that we have. 

We know that smoking kills, we know the dangers of passive smoking and we know that children are more at risk than adults from the effects of smoke. That is why I voted in parliament to ban smoking in cars when children are present.

Half a million children are exposed to potentially toxic levels of second-hand smoke in family cars each week, according to the British Lung Foundation. Children’s lungs are smaller and children have faster breathing rates. They are therefore particularly vulnerable to second-hand smoke, especially in a confined space such as a car.

Children have no choice but to travel in a family car. Would it be good if car drivers, including parents, chose not to smoke when children were present? Absolutely. However, in the case of seat belts, it took a change in the law to ensure that there was a change in behaviour. The proportion of people wearing seat belts went up from 25% to more than 90% after legislation was introduced.

We have to choose between the right of an adult to do as he or she chooses in the privacy of his or her car and the protection of the health of children. 

Most people understand that the protection of children is paramount and I am thrilled to be one of four MPs who signed the original amendment to the Children and Families Bill last year which looks like becoming law and making it an offence to smoke in a car when children are present.

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The damage done to the hoardings in Crosby Village was just one example of storm damage. But it also showed just why we need investment in the Village centre and how long overdue that investment is. 

I have also been told some worrying stories about the difficulties faced by local businesses wanting to take over the empty properties in the Village. 

The redevelopment of the existing Sainsbury’s store is welcome but we need the company to either allow other businesses to use the empty stores or to produce a plan for the regeneration of the Village and we need the derelict sites to be developed. 

That is a conversation I will be having with both Sainsbury’s and the Maghull Group in the coming weeks.

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My cat, Kevin was in the spotlight this week, when he was elected 'Purr Minister' by supporters of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. 

The Purr Minister election was for cats belonging to MPs from around the country and was a fun way of supporting the work of animal rescue centres around the country. 

I know what a good job Freshfields Animal Rescue and Animals in Need do on Merseyside and the Purr Minister competition was a good opportunity to support the work of animal welfare organisations in my constituency and elsewhere.