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City MP takes local child poverty concerns to very top as he delivers searing question in Parliament

Stephen Morgan MP has forced the Work and Pensions Secretary to answer concerns over child poverty in Portsmouth.

Mr Morgan’s line of questioning comes amid a bleak backdrop of 4.1 million children now growing up in relative poverty. A figure 500,000 larger than it was in 2010-11.

Mr Morgan said

“The Child Poverty Action Group published a study of children and food in low-income families. It detailed movingly the lives of children who go hungry and the impact on their health, education and friendships.

It showed that some children were ashamed to invite friends home because they had no food to offer them.

Under this government’s watch cases of this nature have been allowed to reach unprecedented levels. Today I put these heart wrenching accounts to the Minister responsible and demanded action over this grave injustice.”

The proportion of children in poverty who are under the age of five has risen from 51% to 53% (over 2 million children). The figures also reveal that 70% of children in poverty were living in working families in 2017-18 – up from 67% the previous year.

Mr Morgan added:

“In Portsmouth South we know that nearly 37% of children are living in poverty. In areas such as Charles Dickens, this is as high as over 50%.

Child poverty is one of the most potent drivers of ill health, not just in childhood but throughout life.

If government is letting down Portsmouth people at the beginning of their lives, this will adverse effects for decades to come. People in our city deserve better.”

Mr Morgan’s work on this issue follows a report by The Children’s Society detailing the hundreds of pounds parents are having to find for uniform costs, sometimes at the expense of food. The MP is backing a new law that would introduce statutory guidance for schools that would help to rein in the soaring costs of school uniforms and save parents money.

This is not the first time Mr Morgan has taken action over child poverty. The city MP backed a Private Members Bill tabled by a colleague, raised the issue in ‘Challenge Poverty Week’ and has highlighted the link between the benefit cap and poverty. 

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“A fairer voting system will help ensure a fairer, more progressive Britain” says Stephen Morgan MP as he hosts electoral reform event

60 people attended an event hosted by the city MP to encourage discussion around electoral reform.

National experts from the Electoral Reform Society and Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform delivered presentations before Mr Morgan chaired an open panel discussion with local Green party representative, Ian McCulloch.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“We need to see a fairer, more progressive Britain. It is essential that we put aside party differences and work together for the common good.

That is why I have organised this public event tonight aimed at creating a platform for open discussion about the merits of electoral reform.

When research tells us over 70% of votes count for nothing, I can I understand why alarm bells are ringing.

Thank you to all residents who came along this evening to help shape my thinking. I will take back ideas and views on fairer voting to Westminster”.

The event comes the week the Electoral Reform Society published a report which revealed the 2019 General election left voters voiceless.  

Dr Jess Garland from the Electoral Reform Society said:

“Stephen Morgan’s work creating this open platform for debate around electoral reform is commendable.

The 2019 General Election showed once again that Westminster’s broken voting system is short-changing both voters and parties. We all need to work together to change this and Stephen’s proactive engagement with this issue is creating an atmosphere where that can happen.

I look forward to continuing to work with Stephen and other MPs and campaigners across the spectrum so that we can build a better, more just, democracy.”

Reports show that 22.6 million people had their votes ignored at the last General Election, due to the First Past the Post System. The Labour Party 2019 Manifesto committed to UK-wide Constitutional Convention, led by a citizens’ assembly to provide targeted analyses of solutions to the problem.

Mr Morgan added:

“While I find my mailbox full of matters about housing and other community concerns rather than electoral reform, I understand the need for robust debate on the current voting system.

I am not wedded to any particular model but certainly hear arguments that a more proportional system is required to redress the current imbalance.

I organised today’s meeting to give people, from across different parties, the opportunity to have their voice heard in the week of the Electoral Reform Society’s important report”.

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Portsmouth schools visit Parliament as part of The Girls’ Network empowering mission

For the third consecutive year, Stephen Morgan MP has hosted a delegation of over 30 girls in Parliament.

The Girls’ Network, an organisation whose mission is to inspire and empower girls from the least advantaged communities, focuses on mentoring to improve confidence.

The city MP orchestrated a tour of parliament and addressed the delegation before engaging in a question and answer session. The Girls’ Network then took organised a workshop focusing on female empowerment and aspiration.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The Girls Network do outstanding work in combating female underrepresentation, bolstering confidence in young women, and demonstrating to a generation that they can aim high.

I am honoured to host, for the third time, a delegation of girls in parliament and make this often-inaccessible institution available to young Portsmouth people.

We need to see more women in high office and the centuries of structural sexism redressed. Girls Network are leading the charge and I remain committed to supporting to them in their work.”

93% of girls on the programme last year said it had improved their confidence, and 96% believe the programme has helped them feel more positive about the future.

Fiona Walsh, Portsmouth Network Manager from The Girls’ Network’, said:

Access to parliament and showcasing democracy in practice to young women from The Girls’ Network has the potential to inspire a generation.

We are delighted that Stephen Morgan MP has organised this visit and continues to support our vision of a world with more empowered women.

We look forward to continuing to champion greater access to opportunities for young women and working alongside Stephen Morgan in this endeavour.”

The city MP has long supported Girls’ Network via their Portsmouth branch, supporting them through organising visits, tours, meetings and securing them access to parliament.

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Hundreds flock to Keir Starmer rally hosted by Stephen Morgan MP

Over 400 attendees have travelled to Portsmouth from across the south coast to hear the Labour leadership contender Keir Starmer MP at event hosted by a Portsmouth Labour and Stephen Morgan MP.

The rally set out the leadership frontrunner’s plan for bringing the party together and forging the path back to power and retuning a Labour government. 

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“It is evident from today’s well attended, standing room only event that there is desire in the Labour party to unite and come together.

Keir Starmer has the skills and experience the party needs right now. His ability to keep the policy programme radical, unite our movement, and forge the path back to power is what people in our area told him today.

It was a real pleasure to have hosted Keir for the third time in our city and share the stage with inspiring Portsmouth people who share his vision for a better future for Britain.”

Keir Starmer said:

“It is fantastic to have the support of so many people here in Portsmouth. Stephen Morgan is a great local MP, fighting for the city day in day out and I am honoured to have his backing to be Labour leader.

It has been a great day visiting members here in Portsmouth, talking to them about how we can unite our party and win the next election.

Whatever the outcome of this contest, I look forward to coming back to Portsmouth in the coming months and beginning the campaign for the local elections.”

The parliamentarians shared the stage with Paula Savage and Portsmouth FC’s, Christian Burgess, who all set out why they are backing Keir.

Portsmouth FC’s Christian Burgess, said:

“Keir’s vision for a fairer, more just society combined with his ability to be formidable and provide forensic opposition to the Tories is why he has my full support.

He has a track record of being a voice for those often denied and bringing people together. This is exactly what the nation needs.”

This is the third time Mr Morgan has hosted the bookies’ favourite next Labour leader. Stephen Morgan MP declared his support for Keir Starmer’s campaign early-on and has been campaigning locally and nationally for the candidate’s election.

Former MPs city Frank Judd, Syd Rapson and Sarah McCarthy-Fry have also backed Mr Starmer.

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City MP holds Government Minister to account over environmental impacts of AQUIND

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has continued to help those objecting to the AQUIND application and taken action over environmental concerns surrounding the government backed infrastructure project in Portsmouth.

AQUIND Interconnector, an electric power transmission linking the UK to mainland Europe, has the potential to damage endangered wildlife near Milton Common and the surrounding areas of Portsmouth say constituents.

Mr Morgan said:

“In Portsmouth we are proud of the wildlife that thrives because of the wetlands and proximity to the sea. It is essential that these endangered species are safeguarded.

The Government supported initiative AQUIND could result in digging up areas near Milton Common, which hosts much of this teaming wildlife.

I share concerns about this infrastructure project and am supporting those objecting to it. I believe the proposals should have been determined by the relevant local planning authorities such as our city council but sadly the Government has decided that the proposal should be determined by the Secretary of State through the Development Consent Order process.

That is why I have today written to the Environment Secretary urging commitments to safeguard our endangered species and demanding regular and continued assessment of damage. The Government must now answer these specific questions of concern and be held to account over these proposals. I will continue to take action and be the a strong voice for Portsmouth over these plans which affect so many communities in our city and risking Portsmouth’s environment.”

The city MP has written to the Environment Secretary demanding answers. The action follows raising parliamentary questions, meetings with residents, attending open consultations and relaying concerns to AQUIND directly. The Portsmouth South representative has welcomed efforts by council officers to inform the public about the proposed plans so that resident views can be heard.

Stephen Morgan MP added:

“Our natural habitats are already under immense strain due to climate change. This means that we must take extra precautions to safeguard our wildlife and look at every infrastructure project through an environmental lens.

So far government has not shown leadership on the climate emergency. I will continue to apply to scrutiny to all decision making to ensure climate change is at the heart of discussion.”

This action is the first in a string of actions taken by the city MP over the AQUIND infrastructure project. Stephen Morgan has raised the issue through parliamentary questions, met with residents and spoken to the organisation over issues raised by constituents.

AQUIND Interconnector is a subsea and underground High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) electric power transmission link between the South Coast of England and Normandy in France. The Planning Inspectorate will hold an independent examination into the proposals, which is a form of a public inquiry. For more information visit https://interconnectorportsmouth.co.uk/

A copy of the letter can be seen here: GE DEFRA 25 2 NS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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City MP urges Portsmouth people to photograph and pick up plastic

 

Stephen Morgan MP praises local team behind innovative app and encourages Portsmouth people to take part.

Jetsam, developed by Company of Makers, Maker’s Guild and Hack Pompey, was officially launched last week at the Festival of the Sea. The app aims to up the city’s game in ending single-use plastics in Portsmouth.

Photos of plastic are taken by users of the app to show where most waste is in the city alongside other data, help predict where it will wash up along the city’s shoreline, and prevent further pollution of our environment.

The city MP, who has downloaded the app in support of efforts by others, is calling on more Portsmouth people to get involved, to download the app and help the war against plastic.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Storms Ciara and Dennis battering our shores over recent days have reminded us all of the plastic pollution which blights our oceans and our shoreline.

We are lucky enough in our city to have dedicated teams of beach clean volunteers but the root cause and ultimately the real solution lies with the producers of plastics. That’s why I am continuing to call on the government to stop plastic getting into our seas in the first place and want manufacturers to make sure pointless plastics aren’t produced.

The Jetsam app helps raise awareness in our community about the need to drastically cut single-use waste and reminds everyone there’s something each and every one of us can do to clean up our environment. We can’t just forget about plastic once it’s rehidden in the ocean.

I often describe Portsmouth as a place for makers and doers. I want to thank Steve Bomford and team for coming up with this initiative idea and making this app. With Jetsam, people in our city have the opportunity to do their bit, and bring about positive change”.

The free app is available to anyone to download and use on their mobile device.

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City MP calls on Government to tackle sexual harassment at work

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, is calling on the government to take immediate action to end sexual harassment in the workplace.

Despite it being 10 years since the Equality Act, TUC research shows that half of all women and two thirds of LGBT+ workers have been sexually harassed at work.

The existing laws rely on individuals reporting sexual harassment, however the TUC has found four out of five people still don’t feel able to tell their employer about it.

There is currently no legal duty on employers to take proactive action to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Stephen Morgan MP is pressing the government to ensure the new Employment Bill requires employers to take reasonable steps to protect workers from sexual harassment and victimisation, including setting up an independent regulator, and asking constituents to join them by signing a TUC petition.

The Portsmouth South representative is also calling on employers to work with their local trade unions and review their workplace policies to stamp out sexual harassment at work, provide proper training for staff.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“All workers in Portsmouth should feel safe in their working environment and free from sexual harassment. But research shows that it is still a huge problem, affecting millions of people across the UK.

The current legislation is clearly not working. We need to stand together to press the Government to do everything it can to make it stop.

I urge all my constituents to join me in showing support for change and consider signing this important petition.”

Rachael Maskell MP, Labour’s Shadow Employment Rights Secretary, said:

“In 2020 far too many people are still being subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace and the current legislation simply isn’t working.

The new Employment Bill is the perfect opportunity for the government to tackle this and ensure that the law provides greater protection from harassment at work.

We’re asking people to sign the petition and help us make sure the UK is a safe and positive place for us all to work.”

Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary, said:

“More than half of women in the UK have experienced sexual harassment at work. That is not right.

Sexual harassment has a huge impact on victims’ careers and lives. But the government is dragging its feet and is not making the legal changes needed to fix the problem.

We are calling for a change to the law so that responsibility for preventing harassment at work sits with employers, not victims. This would shift the burden of tackling sexual harassment away from those who suffer it. And it would help end toxic workplace cultures that silence those who’ve been harassed.

Unions have been leading the way in tackling sexual harassment. Anyone experiencing sexual harassment at work should join a union to make sure they are protected and respected at work.

The petition can be found here: https://www.megaphone.org.uk/petitions/uk-gov-act-to-prevent-sexual-harassment-at-work

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Portsmouth MP pulls together leading minds for Electoral Reform public meeting

Stephen Morgan MP has organised a constituency-based public meeting in a bid to hear from experts and constituents’ views over fairer voting.

The city MP has pulled together a team from electoral reform organisations and will be sharing the platform with the Electoral Reform Society’s Director of Policy, Make Votes Matter and Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform at a public meeting next month. The event is open to all Portsmouth South constituents.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“I want to see a voting system where every vote counts. The fact millions of people vote in ‘safe’ seats where their voice isn’t heard is an insult to our democracy. Our voting system is clearly broken.

Parliament must represent the voices of Britain, and under First Past the Post this is not being achieved.

That is why I have put together this public meeting with leading minds on the issue. I encourage all those who share this vision of a democratised voting system to come and get involved.

I would also like to thank the University of Portsmouth for hosting this event for constituents to have their say.”

The current voting system, First Past the Post, is often criticised for not being representative. 

Electoral Reform Society’s Director of Policy Jessica Garland said:

 “Westminster’s outdated voting system has left voters feeling powerless for too long. People are rightly fed up with the divisive, one-party-takes-all politics that warps results and skews our political debate. It’s time to ensure every voice is heard, with real reform and a move to Proportional Representation.

“It’s great that Stephen Morgan is promoting this vital cause. How MPs are elected makes a huge difference to what issues are heard and to trust in politics. We look forward to joining this meeting, working with Stephen and campaigners across the spectrum to build a stronger democracy.”

The well-subscribed event is set to take place Thursday 5 March 2020 at 7:30 pm at Lecture Theatre LT2 in the Richmond Building.

Places are still available to book here. Booking is essential.

 

 

 

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Portsmouth CLP backs Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner

On the Leadership, Mr Morgan said: 

“Keir Starmer knows that when Labour comes together, we are a force for radical change unlike any other. With a right-wing Government to oppose and a country to win over, there is so much at stake.

I am delighted the Portsmouth constituency party has also put their trust in Keir and voted to nominate him as the leader to unite every part of our party and our movement.

With Keir at the helm, we can all work together and unite to bring about the society we want to see and get us on the path back to power.”

On the Deputy Leadership, Mr Morgan said: 

“I am delighted that Portsmouth CLP has backed Angela Rayner for deputy leader. Her ability to bring the party together,  empower activists and fight for practical policies is precisely what Portsmouth and the Labour party need.”

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‘Government not giving flooding the priority it deserves’ says City MP after Minister cancels meeting about Portsmouth

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, has criticised Government after the Minister responsible for tackling flooding cancelled an important meeting about investment in Portsmouth.  The proposed meeting about Southsea sea defence scheme was cancelled with just hours to go.

The parliamentary meeting, orchestrated by Mr Morgan as part of ongoing work alongside the local authority to secure funding for the largest sea defence scheme in the country, was set to take place today with the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and Portsmouth City Council reps.

Previously Mr Morgan raised concerns over the priority Government is giving to the scheme as the department only offered 15 minutes for the meeting with the city MP, local authority officers and the Environment Agency.

Mr Morgan said:

“This meeting was only agreed after months of being given the run-around by Government and originally being offered a meeting of just 15 minutes. The cancellation at the last minute shows a complete lack of respect for Portsmouth.

There have been three serious coastal defence breaches in our city in the last six years, so it is little wonder the Southsea Sea Defence scheme is probably the biggest of its kind the nation has ever seen. 8,000 properties, 700 businesses and hundreds of livelihoods are depending on its success.

Following events and flooding over the last few days I share concerns that Government is not taking seriously the risk of flooding. Portsmouth has thought through plans for its sea defence scheme.

I will continue to take action so that the local authority gets the support it needs from Government and our city is given priority to protect our communities”.

The city MP has also repeatedly invited the Secretary of State to visit the city to understand the scale of the proposed scheme and need for investment, an invitation declined by the top politician in charge. The government is likely to invest in the scheme that has been developed with public consultation, but a number of important actions remain.

The last few days have reminded us all of the need for adequate funding to local authorities for flooding protection. The Environment Agency’s own analysis has revealed that national funding for this financial year (£815m) falls short of what is needed.

The meeting cancelled by the Government Minister comes amid some of the worst weather experienced in the UK for decades.  Some areas saw a month and a half’s rainfall in 24 hours and gusts of more than 90 miles per hour swept across the country.

The Prime Minister has previously committed to hosting a flood summit bringing together regional partners and stakeholders and local representatives, but to date has failed to deliver on this promise.