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Shadow Defence Secretary visits Portsmouth to help re-elect national voice on defence, Stephen Morgan

Stephen Morgan, who won Portsmouth South in the General Election of 2017 and is seeking re-election, was today visited by senior Shadow Cabinet Member, Nia Griffith in his home city. The visit came as a result of his consistently strong stance on defence.

Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary made the visit to discuss Mr Morgan’s relentless efforts to secure the dry docking facility in Portsmouth, to spend time with local veterans organisations.

The visit was organised ahead of the first entry of HMS Prince of Wales expected in Portsmouth Harbour on the 16 November. The two new carriers were commissioned by the last Labour Government and resulted from the decisions made by Labour Ministers.

The Shadow Defence Secretary, Nia Griffith said:

“Portsmouth people made the right decision in 2017. From tirelessly lobbying the previous Government to invest in Portsmouth by locating the dry dock facility within the city to being a voice for veterans in Parliament, Stephen has consistently fought his city’s corner.

His record of delivery has been outstanding. Portsmouth people need to back Stephen as the only candidate who can beat the Tories, who have made unprecedented cuts to our armed forces, so that he can continue to advocate on the city’s behalf.”

2017 winner and current candidate, Stephen Morgan said:

“Portsmouth is the heart and home of the Royal Navy. Our great city being the base-port of the forthcoming HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Queen Elizabeth reaffirms that.

I want to ensure that this legacy is continued, that is why I want to continue to lobby hard and speak up for Portsmouth when it comes to the location of a dry docking facility worth over £1 bn to our local economy.

Today, for Portsmouth I made the case to Labour’s most senior defence figure as she joined me spending time with veterans, discussing our city’s naval future and meeting residents on the doorstep.”

The frontbench visit kicked off with Labour’s Defence Secretary spending time with Mr Morgan at the Historic Dockyard and discussed Mr Morgan’s efforts to secure the dry docking for the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers, which would generate over 100 jobs and £1bn locally.

On securing a dry docking facility, Mr Morgan said:

“I have met the relevant Minister, written countless letters to three different Defence Secretaries, submitted a string of written questions, grilled the Government during Defence Questions and met with the Naval Base Commander.

Since 2010, we have seen 5,000 Royal Navy jobs cut, 12 ships axed, 91 defence sites scheduled to be sold off and the lowest defence spending for 20 years. It is clear you cannot trust the Conservatives’ record when it comes to safeguarding our armed forces.

When I asked the previous Government to begin recording veteran suicide? They refused. When I asked for the dry dock to come to Portsmouth? They refused. When I asked the Government to extend the forces rail card to veterans? At that time they refused.

I will not stand idly by and allow Government to yet again neglect the needs of the city where I grew up. Portsmouth’s success is the Royal Navy’s success and the dry docking facility would secure jobs for the future”.

Mr Morgan also hosted a roundtable discussion with local veterans organisation All Call Signs, who provide support to ex-forces personnel, and Labour’s Defence Secretary to discuss Labour veterans pledge.

Stephen James from All Call Signs said:

“For some time we have been working alongside Stephen and others in a bid to get Government to record veteran suicide.

I have seen him host debates, write letters out to coroners, ask questions in Parliament and work hard to achieve this goal. I hope that he is able to continue this vital work for the veteran’s community and that we are able to continue our work together.”

Mr Morgan is no stranger to standing up for veterans, he has been calling for the HM Forces railcard to be extended to ex-service personnel, worked alongside The British Legion and others to ensure the success of D-Day 75 and worked in the Public Accounts Committee to probe into substandard military accommodation. For him to continue this vital work for Portsmouth, he must be re-elected on the 12 December.

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“Let’s work together to ensure today’s generation have the digital skills for the future” says City MP at launch of Google Digital Garage

Today, Google opened a training hub in Portsmouth South. Delivering a speech to local community and business leaders, the city MP helped declare the hub open.

The Google Digital Garage is a multi-million-pound initiative that helps people, small businesses, and charities in Britain learn crucial skills for the digital age and is supported by the council and other local agencies. The city MP has been lobbying for this to come to his city for well over year.

Google Digital Garage offers free workshops and 1:1 mentoring sessions, enabling everyone to harness the power of the internet. Stephen Morgan has spent a great deal of time lobbying for its presence in Portsmouth.

Addressing attendees at the opening, Mr Morgan said:

“While businesses in Portsmouth are thriving and do justice to the ingenuity and resilience the city is famed for, the importance of developing digital prowess cannot be overestimated, we must continue to make our mark.

Digital technology has revolutionised the way we work – but many smaller businesses that lack digital skills are being left behind.

The fact that 55% of small business owners reported growth after just 14 weeks of receiving Google Hub training means that these issues will be tackled head on.”

The city MP stressed the importance of digital training in relation to social inequality. This is in line with the State of the Nation report which found that 49 percent of the poorest adults had received no digital training after leaving school, while 20 percent of the richest adults had. 

Mr Morgan said:

“Not only are digital skills essential to business progression, they are also a vital tool in the fight against inequality and help with self-liberation.

Through closing the digital divide, we will be able to make it easier for those at the bottom of the ladder to climb up.

We know that in Portsmouth, deprivation is higher than average at over 25% and 9,000 children live in poverty. Improving digital literacy is one tool we can use in the fight against deprivation and injustice.”

Since 2015, Google Garage has visited more than 500 locations across the UK and trained more than 400,000 people. Statistics show that 75% of small business owners changed the way they use digital marketing to advertise or sell online and 90% of learners took action after Google Digital Garage training. 43% said they had used more digital tools at work, and 77% said Google Digital Garage had helped improve their professional profile.

Mr Morgan said:

“The reason I have lobbied so hard for the Garage to come to my patch is because of the proven track record it has in up-skilling local communities and fostering an atmosphere of progression.

In my maiden speech, I said this is a city of makers and doers. With the likes of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Charles Dickens emerging form this city, this is undeniable. I want to see this continue and believe that if we are to continue to leave our mark, ensuring equal access to digital skills for all will play a crucial role.”

Mr Morgan has not stopped at bringing the hub to his constituency, he is now in discussions with Google about a string of events at the hub and the touring of a Google Skills Bus around the constituency to reach marginalised communities.

 

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Stephen Morgan MP calls to abolish visa fees for Commonwealth servicemen and women

The Portsmouth South MP has joined calls from The Royal British Legion for the Government to abolish visa fees for Commonwealth servicemen and women.

Currently, Commonwealth citizens serving in the UK armed forces have the right to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after four years’ service if they choose to stay in the UK. However, application costs have risen considerably in recent years, meaning it would currently cost almost £10,000 in visa fees for a service leaver to settle in the UK with a spouse and two children.

This has created a situation where Commonwealth citizens are often forced to choose between leaving the UK, a country they have sacrificed a great deal to serve, or remaining here and splitting up their family. The Royal British Legion, which has raised awareness of this issue through their ‘Stop the Service Charge’ campaign, say they have provided £36,000 in grants for visa fees last year alone.

They also coordinated a cross-party letter which called on the Home Secretary to recognise those who have served in the UK armed forces by abolishing visa costs for them and their families. This was signed by more than 130 different MPs from 8 different parties, showing the breadth of feeling on this issue.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

 

“These men and women sign up to join the UK’s Armed Forces putting their life on the line for our country, and the current visa fees charged do not reflect the nations gratitude for their service.

 

Having served the UK, Commonwealth service personnel have the right to apply to stay here without having to pay fees so high that some veterans are being pushed into poverty”

 

Charles Byrne, Director General at The Royal British Legion, said,

 

“Charging exorbitant fees to those who have sacrificed so much to serve our country is no way to thank Commonwealth service leavers. We are pleased so many people agree with our Stop the Service Charge campaign and are joining the call to have these fees waived.  We hope the Government will listen to these serious concerns.”

 

 

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“Almost half of all women sent to prison are now homeless” – City MP vows to tackle female re-offending 

During questions in the House of Commons today, Stephen Morgan MP grilled a Government Minister over the lack of funding set aside for the rehabilitation of female offenders and what this means for homelessness.

The Portsmouth South representative subsequently applied further pressure to the link between the Government’s failure and the rising rate of homelessness amongst female offenders.

Mr Morgan said:

“We know that half of all women sent to prison are now homeless, an increase on the previous few years. I find this utterly shocking.

Reoffending costs the British tax payer £18 billion a year and the current system is clearly failing to get offenders back on their feet, preventing them from contributing to society.

The solution to this problem is to invest in alternatives to ineffective short-term prison sentences that are proven to increase reoffending and also to properly fund women’s centers. I am delighted that both notions are Labour party policy.

Under the current system everyone loses out, victims, offenders and the tax payer. This is counterproductive.”

Members of the Government’s own Advisory Board on Female Offenders have expressed their frustration at the limited funding, stating that at least £20m is required annually for community provision. However, the Government only provided a one-off two-year grant of £5m to fund the strategy.

Alongside, supporting Labour party policy to immediately provide funds to women’s centres, give £20 million to women’s justice campaigners and ruling out unjustified short sentences, Stephen Morgan MP been conducting his own work on this matter.

The Portsmouth South MP is hosting a parliamentary event in November alongside Gethin Jones from Unlocking Potential with senior representatives from the Ministry of Justice, private sector, Non-Government Organisations, and senior prison governors. The event seeks to change the narrative of criminal justice to focus more on rehabilitation and inclusive policy towards offenders.

On this action, Mr Morgan said:

Following discussions with offenders right’s organisation, Unlocking Potential I am delighted that next month I will be hosting an event that will help shift the narrative of criminal justice towards prevention and rehabilitation as opposed to incarceration and indifference.

The current system is failing, and we must work to rectify these inadequacies, I will not be wasting any time in engaging with people from all parties and perspectives so that we can get a criminal justice system that is better for offenders, taxpayers and reduces the number of victims.”

Mr Morgan has committed to continuing his campaign for a better-quality criminal justice system and has expressed that he will continue to urge the Government to match Labour’s commitments.

 

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“These young activists have shown true Pompey spirit by being the change they want to see in the community” – City MP joins young people at LifeHouse support centre

In support of a set of Southsea schoolchildren doing their best to improve their local community, Stephen Morgan MP has visited LifeHouse on Albert Road. 

The three children, Eva, Marley and Ava, all aged 11, have spent time preparing care packages for service users at the facility and were joined by the city MP while meeting those at LifeHouse.

Mr Morgan said:

“One of the things that I am most proud about the city I grew up in is the sense of community and pride in Portsmouth. These young activists have exemplified the ethos of our city by being the change they want to see and reaching out to community members who need our support.

LifeHouse does vital work in our community by providing a resource, support centre and kitchen for those who need it and I am grateful to young people Eva, Ava and Marley for showing such initiative and support for the organisation.”

The schoolchildren, who all attend schools in Southsea, have for some time been thinking about how to do their bit for the local community and cited their distress at seeing local Portsmouth people in need as the motivation for their activism.

Mr Morgan said:

“At a time when there are double the number of rough sleepers than there were in 2010 and 2017 saw a 15% rise on the previous year – community-based initiatives are integral to supporting the members of our community that need it.

These young people are doing their bit in Portsmouth, but it is up to the Government to address these major societal inequalities.

That is why I will continue to lobby the Government to ensure that local authorities receive the funding they need to provide vital services and to highlight their services failings when it comes to community support.”

Eva said:

“Just because someone is homeless doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings. Anyone could become homeless for any reason. We don’t need to be negative and judge people because of what they look like”

Ava said:

“I think there are a lot of homeless people here in Portsmouth and not everyone pays attention to them.”

Marley added:

“We want to raise awareness and encourage other people to help. Even though we are children doesn’t mean we don’t have a voice and don’t have anything to say.”

 

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“Holistic, comprehensive support for our veterans is vital – We should settle for nothing less” – City MP speaks out after visit to veterans charity 

Stephen Morgan MP has put recess time to good use and spent a day with forces charity Blind Veterans UK, a Brighton based organisation that seeks to provide holistic care and support for veterans who have suffered blindness.

The visit allowed Mr Morgan meet with veterans, or members as charity sees them, to observe first-hand the ground-breaking technology being trialled and hear feedback on the research being conducted at the centre.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The work being conducted at Blind Veterans UK is truly remarkable. It only takes a conversation with one of the many members of the charity to hear how it has touched the lives of not just them, but their families.

Organisations such as this are essential because they provide a well-rounded, comprehensive level of support. From tackling social-isolation through group-based sports activities, to providing vital skills through educational services – the centres capabilities are impressive.”

The Portsmouth South representative’s visit culminated in a demonstration of the driverless cars being tested at the facility, paving the way for potentially changing the game when it comes ensuring blind veterans remain independent.

The visit also included discussions with the centres resident doctor about the highly-advanced research being conducted at the centre, and interactive demonstrations of the way Virtual Reality is being used to support charity members.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The level of care provided to our ex-armed forces community by the Government does not go far enough, organisations such as Blind Veterans UK are pioneers when it comes to what can be achieved.

Well-being, education, fitness, medical care and support are all provided. We should strive to replicate this when it comes to how veterans are treated across the board.

For some time now, I have been calling on the Government to do more when it comes to tailored, bespoke services for our forces community. Spending time with the members at this organisation is a testament to how and why this should be achieved. “

Mr Morgan’s visit formed part of his long-running strategy for improving life for veterans. He has made repeated calls for veteran suicide to be recorded, written to the Government asking for further rights such as railcards to be extended to veterans, met with The British Legion, hosted Westminster Hall debates on veteran welfare and regularly meets local organisations such as all call signs.

City MP, Stephen Morgan said:

“Growing up in Portsmouth and having a grandfather who crossed the channel on D-Day makes it difficult to miss the immense efforts of our armed forces community.

My aim is simple, improve the services offered to ex-service and serving personnel so that the system is worthy of the men and women who use it.

Visits like this are integral to this process, if we can observe the challenges and successes faced by organisations such as Blind Veterans UK, we can use this a blueprint for change. I look forward to continuing to raise the issue of the wellbeing of our armed forces in Parliament and ensuring their voice is heard.”