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Labour declares national climate emergency

Stephen Morgan MP backs Labour’s call to declare an environment and climate emergency
Shadow Environment Secretary Sue Hayman has challenged the Government to declare an environment and climate emergency.
Announcement follows wave of similar council motions, including Portsmouth, and youth climate school strikes nationwide.
Michael Gove refused to join Labour’s call. Labour says our natural world is in “deep crisis”
Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary this week declared a national climate and environment emergency in the House of Commons and challenged Michael Gove to do the same. Labour’s announcement follows a wave of motions passed by local councils declaring a climate emergency and a call to action to prevent a dangerous rise in global temperatures by radically transforming our economy.
‘Climate Emergency’ is an internationally recognised declaration being used around the world to publicly declare concern over the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) findings. The IPCC’s recent Special Report, describes the enormous harm that a 2°C rise in global temperatures would cause.
Last week it was revealed that the UK will miss almost all its 2020 nature targets, with 14 out of 19 biodiversity targets currently not being met by the government.
Shadow Environment Secretary, Sue Hayman MP, who visited Portsmouth earlier this year to hear how climate change is having an impact on the city and its sea defences scheme, said:
The time for soundbites, photo ops and endless consultations from Michael Gove has to end. If he really wants to tackle climate change, why isn’t he or Theresa May addressing the issue by meeting to discuss solutions with the young people striking against climate change? The Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, has already agreed to a meeting.
 
Labour is calling for the House of Commons to declare an environment and climate emergency. Species decline, habitat destruction and climate change are progressing at an alarming rate under this government, risking our food supply, landscapes, infrastructure, and public health.
 
We need urgent action to prevent and reverse ecological catastrophe. A Labour government will kick-start a Green Industrial Revolution, with investment in clean transport and energy creating hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country.
And we will bring forward a fully-resourced plan for nature to restore and enhance our natural world.”
Stephen Morgan MP, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South said:
I am really proud that a Labour-led motion at Full Council last week declared a climate emergency in Portsmouth. I’m now proud that my party has followed suit nationally in the House of Commons this week.
 
Even if every individual takes steps to limit their carbon footprint, the planet will continue to warm at a dangerous pace.
 
If we are to seriously consider any realistic chance of keeping global temperature below the limit of 1.5 or 2 degrees and sea levels from rising, we need radical action from the government. It’s clear that our environment isn’t safe in Tory hands.  
 
Austerity has had a serious impact on our natural world, with vital agencies such as Natural England having their budgets slashed in half and staff morale at an all-time low.
 
We need political leadership to change our laws, taxation and infrastructure. The UK, along with the rest of the world is facing a serious environmental and climate crisis.
But this government has stuck its head so far in the sand that children in Portsmouth are taking to the streets to protest. “
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Portsmouth MP secures parliamentary debate on veteran suicide

It has been confirmed that next week Portsmouth South MP will be leading a Westminster Hall debate in Parliament on veteran suicide

This will provide the city MP and other parliamentarians the opportunity to debate the important issue of how to improve support given to ex-service people, ensure appropriate recording and hold to account the Government Minister responsible, who will also be present.

The debate has been secured after months of campaigning by the city MP and local groups and charities, and with pressure from The News.

Responding to the news that a debate had been confirmed in Westminster Hall, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“It is important to stress that many ex-service personnel naturally transition into civilian life without suffering hardship of any kind.

However, this discussion is about those who do require support. It is high time we give those veterans the respect they need and deserve.

This issue was brought to me by experts from organisations such as All Call Signs and Combat Stress, many of whom are ex-service themselves. This is about making sure their voice is heard.”

Stephen James, Founder of veterans Charity, All Call Signs has said:

“We’re losing veterans in the space between them needing mental health treatment and receiving it.

With the largest forces charities and the NHS reporting untenable waiting times for even basic triage, something needs to be done immediately”

The crux of the issue is that in an NHS budget of over £150 billion UK-wide, less than £10 million per annum (0.007%) has been allocated to veteran-specific mental health services.

As it stands, the government has refused requests to start recording suicides that occur within the veteran community, something that separates us from our allies in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. The significance of this cannot be underestimated. Without a quantifiable record, it will be harder to make progress with regard to addressing the serious issue.

Current estimates project that it could be as high as one ex-service personnel every 7 days but without detailed analysis, the problem has the potential to be far worse.

Last November the city MP chaired a round table discussion with the Shadow Veterans Minister with representatives from the charity sector to learn from good practice in supporting veterans, and hear the challenges groups face.

Mr. Morgan added:

“This is not a party-political matter. I want to see cross-party cooperation to increase the funding given to veteran-specific mental health services and see a more tailored approach to how we support our brave men and women.

This includes better recording of data on the link between ex-service personnel and suicide.

No other job requires you to go long periods without sleep, determines when you get up and go to bed and potentially puts you in harm’s way. The mental health services available to veterans should reflect this fact.”

Calls for better monitoring have come from a litany of sources including media organisations, charities, and concerned MPs. Significantly, the Defence Select Committee, the body responsible for the checks and balances of the MoD, has joined in condemning the government’s actions.

In a recent report, they made recommendations that the Ministry of Defence should cooperate with the Ministry of Justice to collate data on whether individuals who have committed suicide were from the veteran community. The Westminster Hall debate gives Mr. Morgan the opportunity to raise this directly with the minister responsible.

Ahead of the debate, Mr. Morgan commented:

“I look forward to my continued work with veterans’ charities such as All Call Signs, Combat Stress and others to bring this issue to the forefront of the government’s radar.

I will continue to raise this issue inside and out of Parliament until the government allocates the funding needed to veterans mental health services and accepts the need to properly record data relevant to veteran suicide.”

 

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Portsmouth MP presses Minister over air pollution

With the government’s air quality plans having been found unlawful multiple times by the High Court, today Stephen Morgan MP raised concerns over lack of action to tackle air pollution in Parliament by directly pressing the Minister responsible.

The Government’s new Clean Air Strategy is typical of what we have come to expect from this government on illegal air pollution: vague targets, no detail, and a chronic failure to tackle the issue of roadside pollutants.

Following his action on this locally and by lobbying the Government to do better, the Portsmouth South MP called on the Minister to specifically take action for those from low-income households.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“After the successful motion at Full Council last week developed by Portsmouth Labour and local campaigners to declare a climate emergency in our city, we must now turn words into deeds and keep the pressure on decision-makers to act on air pollution.

That is why today I asked the Minister responsible directly what the government is doing to support people on low incomes to switch to cleaner forms of transport.”

This morning during DEFRA Questions, the Portsmouth MP launched dual questions that raised both idling cars near to schools and hospitals and also the need for the government to do more to help low income families go green.

The MP added:

“Illegal air quality has been escalated into a ‘public health emergency’ on the Government’s watch according to the cross-party select committee. With this issue being so important to our children’s health, we need action and we need it fast.

That is why today I have called on the Government to make tackling the issue of climate change more inclusive and more accessible for those on lower incomes.

In a time of government-imposed austerity, many green alternatives can be costly and unreachable to those who have a tight budget.

I believe that if we are all to do our bit for climate change in Portsmouth, then Ministers need to acknowledge this and support those from low income households across our city to switch to cleaner forms of transport.”

The Portsmouth MP’s question supports Labour’s wider campaign aimed at tackling climate change. Today, Labour has announced nationally plans to declare a National Climate Change Emergency which will challenge Rt Hon Michael Gove MP to back the declaration.

While councils like Portsmouth are declaring a climate emergency, the Conservative government is refusing to do so.

 

 

 

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City MP writes to PM over shameful lack of funding for national 75 D-Day commemorations

This June marks the 75 anniversary of the D-Day Landings and the Battle of Normandy that took place from the 6 June 21 August 1944. The focal point of the commemorations will be Portsmouth, which is where much of the D-Day Landing Force sailed from in 1944.

The city has planned a series of events over five days to reflect the area’s unique role in one of the largest and well-known military operations in history.

Since October 2018, city MP Stephen Morgan asked a series of questions in Parliament to find out how much funding the government would be giving to D-Day 75. Their answer was beyond disappointing. The Minster responsible for Veterans confirmed that they would be providing no funding to the commemorations.

Most of the surviving veterans who were involved in these events are in their 90s and 100s and the lack of government funding allocated to the commemorations is concerning.

As it stands, city events are largely being funded through charitable donations, private companies and advertising.

Disappointed by the response from Government, the Portsmouth South MP has now formally written urgently to the Prime Minister to seek a solution.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Portsmouth’s important role in Operation Overlord stretched beyond D-Day. Troops, vehicles and supplies continued to pass through the city for months afterwards and it played a pivotal role in the extraction of wounded soldiers throughout the operation, with many of those who died from the injuries buried within our city.

All eyes will be on Portsmouth on 5 June, where a major partnership between the city council and others will aim to provide support to veterans who wish to be part of the commemorations.

It is the nation who owes most to these brave men and women and it is unjust that the Government it is not contributing anything to the commemoration of their actions. The Prime Minister must know that Portsmouth people think this just isn’t good enough”.

Following publication of a series of events to mark the anniversary the MP added:

“It is only right that our great city is the national home to the 75 anniversary commemorations. I welcome the hard work of council officers with partners to plan a range of community activities to mark the key role Portsmouth played in Operation Overlord and the start of the end of World War Two.

This anniversary is personal for me. I’m hugely proud my grandfather left Southsea on this 17th birthday as a soldier in the largest military amphibious operation in our nation’s history, returning to Portsmouth after the conflict ended to help establish the Normandy Veterans’ Association in our city.

I look forward to the Prime Ministers reply. But one thing is certain, I won’t rest until the Government delivers for Portsmouth”.

 

 

 

Tonight’s indicative votes in Parliament

Today Members of Parliament have debated and undertaken ‘indicative votes’ to finally express a view on a variety of Brexit options after months of the Prime Minister claiming it was either her “deal” or no deal.

It follows the ‘Letwin’ amendment named after the Conservative MP, which was agreed on Monday 25 March, which specified that the House of Commons would be able to control today’s order paper and facilitate a process of ‘indicative votes’ to break the Brexit deadlock.

MPs were asked to approve or reject a number of amendments, which were selected at the discretion of the Speaker. The amendments that received the most support tonight will be debated on 1 April.

It has been claimed by some media outlets that today acts as a means to test the water on potential options and whilst it does not give a definitive end result, it has acted as an indication for where support in Parliament may lie.

Today also seeks to prevent domestic legal uncertainty and confusion and Mr. Morgan has supported a motion to ensure that ‘exit day’ in UK law is aligned with EU law in the event that the UK ceases to be a member of the EU. Whilst the responsibility for the extension of article 50 lies solely with the Prime Minister, MPs today have voted in attempt to secure legal certainty.

Mr. Morgan’s voting record today has stayed true to his long running support for a final say on Brexit and opposition to the disastrous option of a no deal. Of particular importance was his support for Amendment (M), put forward by Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP that calls for a confirmatory public vote on how to break the Brexit deadlock.

Of the eight amendments that were voted on tonight, Mr. Morgan’s record exhibited his commitment for a public say and favoured a revocation of article 50 over a no deal Brexit.

Following the votes, Stephen Morgan said:

Today’s debate and subsequent votes have been a long time coming. If the Prime Minister had allowed this two years ago, we may have been subject to less chaos and uncertainty.

The Government has completely failed to negotiate a Brexit deal that can protect jobs, rights and the economy, and in the absence of leadership from the Prime Minister, it is right that Parliament had the chance to express its view on the way forward.

Labour has set out two credible approaches which would revent no deal or a damaging Tory Brexit: a close economic relationship based around a permanent Customs Union, close alignment to the Single Market and robust protections for rights and standards; and a public vote between a credible leave option and remain.

Today I supported amendments that are consistent with this approach and would keep options on the table to prevent no deal or a damaging Tory Brexit”.

Specifically in support of the amendment in the name of Margaret Beckett MP, the city MP added:

“I believe that the democratic process of Brexit is just that, a process. The people of this nation started this process, it is integral that they are consulted again so that they are the ones who can decide how it is finished.

The options that are on the table from the Prime Minister let down both leavers and remainers and worryingly, bear no resemblance to what was on the ballot paper in 2016. The only way to give legitimacy to the route that is chosen is to once again ask the people who will be most affected by it.

I can never vote in such a way that will make the people of Portsmouth poorer, or our economy weaker.

So tonight, I put my constituency ahead of everything else and voted in a way that I think will be best for the people of Portsmouth.”

The indicative votes and the MP’s voting record tonight:

Amendment Motion Portsmouth South MP’s vote
B Baron (Conservative)

Leave with no deal on 12 April

Against
D Boles (Conservative)

Common market 2.0/Norway

Against
H Eustice (Conservative)

Stay in EEA, join EFTA but negotiate backstop

Against
J Clarke (Conservative)

Minimum requirement to negotiate a permanent customs union with the EU

For
K Leader of Opposition (Labour)

Labour’s alternative Brexit plan

For
L Cherry (SNP)

House of Commons should approve a ‘no-deal’ lock to revoke Article 50 if a deal has not been passed within a day of exit date

For
M

 

Beckett (Labour)

Peter Kyle/Phil Wilson confirmatory public vote

For
O Fysh (Conservative)

Contingent reciprocal arrangements (citizens rights) in the event of a no-deal

Against

 

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City MP backs UNICEF’s Healthy Air for Every Child campaign

City MP Stephen Morgan has backed UNICEF’s Healthy Air for Every Child Campaign, that highlights the effects of a poor environment on the health of children.

You can’t see it, but right here in the UK, toxic air poses a dangerous threat to children’s health. Across 86% of the UK, children are breathing in harmful levels of toxic air.

This toxic air can harm their lungs, impact brains development, and can create lasting problems like asthma. UNICEF research has shown that across the UK, 86% of children are breathing dangerous levels of toxic air.

The Government have a responsibility to ensure that all children grow up in an environment free from toxic air.

UNICEF are calling on the Government to commit to targets to reduce toxic air in the UK to the legal levels recommended by the World Health Organisation, create an action plan so that all Government departments work towards protecting our children from toxic air, and are calling for additional funding for Local Authorities so they are able to keep children safe wherever they live, learn and play.

The backing comes after Portsmouth City Council declared a ‘climate change emergency’ in the city following a motion presented by the Labour Group last week.

The Portsmouth South MP said:

“Children are the least responsible for polluting the air but the most vulnerable to its harmful effects.

I’m supporting UNICEF in raising this issue, and calling for more action from the Government to put an end to this growing crisis.

I have been working with local campaigners on these concerns and will be sharing views from Portsmouth in Parliament to ensure action is taken by Ministers”.

A recent exhibition in Parliament highlighted a snapshot of the action happening in MPs’ constituencies and identified that 46,700 children (aged 0-18) are growing up in Portsmouth with unsafe levels of air pollution.

 

 

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Portsmouth GP Practice’s flu campaign wins national award

Mark Stubbings, Managing Partner of Portsdown Group Practice has been presented with the CFH Docmail Flu Hero of the Year Award by Stephen Morgan MP, in recognition of the practice’s innovative approach to maximising the uptake of the flu vaccination in 2018/19

The judges commended the efforts not only to target eligible groups but also to create a programme to improve and increase winter health checks designed to keep patients well and to avoid attendance at A&E and hospital admissions.

The CFH Docmail Flu Hero Awards Programme is a national initiative designed to support all GP practices in the UK to achieve vaccination targets and to broaden awareness of the importance of everyone taking responsibility for preventing the spread of flu during the winter.

Christina Cleworth, Group Business Manager at Portsdown Group Practice, who managed the programme, said:

“We started planning in April 2018 for this year’s approach, reviewing the previous year’s campaign, in order to learn from what went well and what we could improve.

We introduced walk in / no appointment necessary clinics, saving 1,000s of unnecessary phone calls (we look after 44,000 patients).  All clinicians, including GPs, agreed to vaccinate any patient who needed a flu, shingles or pneumonia jab, whether or not they had an appointment. Chairs were put outside their consulting rooms and they provided the ‘jab’ in between appointments and all our reception staff wore specially designed t-shirts promoting the immunisation campaign!

We also created a special template to be able to provide a health check when we were immunising the patient which allowed for the efficient collection of BMIs and blood pressure as well as validating their mobile and email addresses, online service registration, smoking status and offering cessation advice if appropriate. We were also able to give verbal reminders for outstanding long- term condition reviews, e.g. asthma, diabetes.  This process optimises the value of the patient contact and progresses our objective in optimising a holistic approach to primary care.

The whole team pulled together for the Immunisation Season Campaign and we’re delighted that despite having 3 different flu vaccines (aTIV / Quad / Child) rates are up on target achievements”.

Mark Stubbings said:

“I am delighted that the extraordinary effort put in by the team during the course of the last 12 months has been recognised in such a public way.  As one of the largest GP Practices in the country, we strive to deliver the best patient care possible in an environment of incessantly increasing demand, higher patient expectation and the well-documented shortage of a GP workforce.

Our innovative approach, highlighted by this award, is replicated across many areas of the practice and we are constantly exploring ways to deliver better patient care.”

Stephen Morgan MP, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, who presented the award said:

“The fresh, innovative approach adopted by Portsdown Group Practice is commendable. Their willingness to re-write the rule book by moving to a non-appointment style acts as a testament to their proactive ethos.

To create a system that saves time, improves service standards and optimises a holistic approach to primary care is no mean feat. It is right that the Practice is congratulated for their services to the community and I would like to extend my thanks to the whole team for securing Portsmouth on the map as a leader in this field.”

RYP_02.jpg

Nicholas Wilton, Marketing Manager from leading hybrid mail provider CFH Docmail, which produces GP letters for over 3,000 practices across the UK and runs the awards, said:

“We had more entries and of an even higher standard than ever before this year.  It’s a testimony to the practice team that despite increasing patient numbers and workload they are able to constantly rise above those pressures and use a combination of outstanding commitment and creativity to produce campaigns that go above and beyond the requirements of immunisation and provide enhanced healthcare and improved patient outcomes.

In a very competitive field Portsdown demonstrated how joined up thinking, the willingness of every member of the team to commit to the campaign and be completely flexible had a huge impact on results. The decision to share the prize (the value of which has been matched by the Partners) and spend it on a team lunch speaks volumes about the ethos of the Practice”.  

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‘Put it to the people’ says Portsmouth MP

Portsmouth MP joined the march in London on Saturday 23 March calling for the public to have a final say on Brexit
Stephen Morgan MP, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South attended the ‘Put It To The People March’, demanding a public vote, which attracted hundreds of thousands of people. 
Mr Morgan said: 
Our country may be more divided than ever, but if there is one thing uniting people across the country and the political divide, it’s a feeling of Brexit fatigue – of wanting this moment to end.
But even Britain’s departure from the EU wouldn’t spell the end of Brexit crisis – it is only the beginning of it.
Any kind of Brexit means 10 more years like the three we’ve just had. That’s another 10 years of funding cuts for our already struggling Portsmouth schools. Ten more years of our NHS being dismantled, and of Brexit haemorrhaging investment out of our city’s public services.
That’s why today with other MPs across the political spectrum and hundreds of people from the Portsmouth area, we marched in Westminster calling for the public to have the final say.”
The city MP believes no form of Brexit can serve the interests of British workers and said future trade deals will see a levelling down of rights and opportunities.
He said that research by the University of Sussex shows that more than 1,300 of his constituents in would lose their jobs if Britain leaves the EU without a deal. This number only halves if the UK leaves on soft Brexit terms.
He added:
With no majority in Parliament and no leadership in Number 10, it has to be down to the people to determine our course. How the next week unfolds will decide the fate of our country for generations. 
We cannot afford to leave it in the hands of this Government. People in Portsmouth must have their say”.

The Portsmouth MP helped lead the march through central London with other parliamentarians, celebrities and event organisers.

City MP helps lead investigation into health screening problems

Portsmouth South MP today leads a parliamentary hearing on the management of health screening by the Public Accounts Committee

Health screening is a way of identifying apparently healthy people who have a higher risk of developing a particular condition so that they can be offered treatment or management techniques at an earlier stage where this may improve the outcome.

There are currently 11 national screening programmes in England covering conditions ranging from breast, bowel and cervical cancers to fetal anomaly screening for Down’s Syndrome.

In 2018 two events raised concerns about the management of screening programmes. The Secretary of State informed the House of Commons of a ‘serious failure’ in the breast screening programme, and in the same year, a serious incident in the cervical screening programme. Between January and June 2018 43,220 women were not sent results letters. Capita was responsible for issuing letters and accepted full responsibility.

The National Audit Office (NAO) has found that none of the screening programmes it looked at met Government ‘standard’ targets.

Leading the investigation, member of the Public Accounts Committee Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Currently NHS England cannot identify when groups of people may not have been invited for screening. This is completely unacceptable. When the committee last looked at this issue we labelled the contract a shambles.

Some programmes fail to meet important performance targets including women receiving their cervical screening results within two weeks of their appointment and women receiving a breast screening appointment within 36 months of their previous appointment.

With targets not being met and mistakes being made, we must now see swift action.

This is an issue raised with me in Portsmouth so it was hugely helpful to press those responsible in Parliament”.

The Association of Directors of Public Health, who submitted evidence to the committee said:

“The report by the NAO demonstrates the unacceptable failure in a crucial Public Health Service.

Not only does this raise the issue of whether public monies spent on screening are being spent effectively, but the current performance is at risk of creating harm to patients, significant avoidable cost in treatment costs, investigations and potential litigation”.

The committee took evidence from Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, Sir Chris Wormald, Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Care and Professor Sir Mike Richards, who is leading an independent review into the national screening programmes.

In Portsmouth, 66.8% of results letters for cervical cancer screening for women were received in the 14-day target. 67.5% coverage was achieved in the Portsmouth CCG area when the standard target is 80% for breast cancer screening.

 

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Portsmouth declares a climate change emergency

Yesterday, at the Portsmouth City Council full council meeting, a unanimous decision was made to back the motion put forward by Labour to declare a climate emergency.

The Labour Group’s proactive approach to climate change follows a 2018 UN report which warned countries have until 2030 to take positive action and limit climate “catastrophe”.

In agreeing the motion, Portsmouth joins national leaders in climate change such as the borough of Lewisham and Bristol City. The motion, developed with the community and local campaigners, seeks to plug the gap left by the government’s inaction on climate change and sets out that the local authority is committed to combatting the most pressing issue facing society.

As a coastal community, Portsmouth is likely to be disproportionally affected by climate change. Particularly, the threat rising sea levels which could have dire consequences for places such as Portsea Island.

Portsmouth can now be counted amongst the most ambitious cities with regard to climate change.

With the council unanimously backing a commitment to be carbon neutral by 2030 in an effort to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown, it sets the precedent for a city serious about climate change.

Following his Group’s success at the council meeting, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“I am glad that this motion, tabled by Labour, received cross-party unanimous support from other councillors and that Portsmouth will join others in leading the charge against climate change.

Big problems require brave measures, the commitment of the city to become carbon neutral by 2030 shows that we as a city are serious about addressing climate change.

The passing of the motion could not have come at a more pressing time, yesterday we learned of correspondence between the Leader of the Council and the government that exposed a history of inaction over air pollution.

If we are to make the progress we need, we need to be relentless in our efforts, waiting for the government to take action is simply not enough”.