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City MP slams Government over ‘blatant’ plans to stop poorer people voting

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has accused the government of planning a “clearly discriminatory” and “blatant” attempt to effectively take the vote away from poorer people and many young and elderly voters, using proposals to demand official photo ID at the ballot box before voting.

During the Queen’s Speech, the Tories announced they would introduce a series of measures to secure electoral integrity, including requiring voters to show an approved form of photographic ID in order to vote.

Since 2010, there has been just one allegation of polling station fraud in Portsmouth, back in 2015.

Across the UK, out of more than 44 million votes cast in 2017, there was only one conviction resulting from 28 allegations of polling station voter fraud. The number of allegations fell to just 8 in 2018, again with just one resulting in a conviction.

3.5 million citizens do not have access to any photo ID, with 11 million citizens lacking a passport or driving license.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“This is a clear attempt by the government to stop the poor, the young and the elderly from voting, denying people their democratic rights and rigging the result of the next General Election.

It is a disgraceful attack on the civil liberties of those the Conservative Party deems unlikely to support them at the ballot box.

I simply will not allow a situation where the Tories can ride rough-shod over my constituents’ basic rights like this.

The people of Portsmouth deserve better. We’ve got to stop this plan – and that means stopping the Conservatives.”

 

 

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Responding to the debate and vote in Parliament today, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“Mr Johnson’s deal is even worse than Mrs May’s. It is a sell out deal which sells out Portsmouth people’s jobs, rights and our city’s communities. Nationally it would pave the way for a sell-off of our cherished NHS and lead to a decade of deregulation. Even the Government’s own data reveals that the PM’s deal will cost the UK £130 billion in lost growth, and will reduce public finances by £50 billion meaning less money for our city’s schools and hospitals.

It is little wonder that hundreds and hundreds of Portsmouth people, businesses and trade unions have told me they don’t support Mr Johnson’s deal. Whether people voted leave or remain, it is nothing like anything the nation was promised back in June 2016, when Portsmouth South only narrowly voted to leave well over three years ago.

For these reasons, today I voted for the Letwin amendment. I am assured the majority in Parliament agreed, to prevent Britain crashing out on the 31 October, and allows proper public scrutiny of the withdrawal agreement.

Brexit has divided the nation and it is clear Mr Johnson cannot be trusted. The PM must be brave and put his deal to the people, not just the politicians, and let them have a final say”.

Mr Johnson’s deal has been heavily criticised, in part because of the significant detrimental implications it poses to workers rights. The commitments in Mr Johnson’s deal are significantly weaker even than those in the previous Prime Minister’s and – coupled with the removal of many level playing field projections from the Withdrawal Agreement will further weaken rights and protections.

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Stephen Morgan MP reacts to Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal

“Working people. The NHS. Low income families. These will be hit hardest by the negative effects of Mr Johnson’s failure of a Brexit deal with the EU.

It runs riot over centuries of progress made towards workers’ rights, places profit over people and leaves the door open for our cherished NHS services to be pillaged by privatisation. With the Tory track record of eroding workers’ rights and selling of bits of the NHS to the highest bidder, is this any wonder?

I did not think that it would be feasible to see a deal worse for Portsmouth people than the one put forward by the Mrs. May, however, Mr Johnson seems to have surpassed even that.

It is nothing more than a race to the bottom on rights and protections.

There is nothing in the deal that has the ability to heal the current divide. I am not willing to vote for a deal that will make Portsmouth poorer and insult people to such a degree.

There is only one way out of this mess. The PM must be brave and put it to the people and let them have the final say”.

 

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“The closure of Lynx House will be a disaster for Portsmouth” – City MP grills Government over implications of HMRC closures under no-deal

Today, during questions in the House of Commons, Stephen Morgan MP continued to apply pressure to Government over the proposed plans to close the HMRC centre, Lynx House in Portsmouth.

Mr Morgan’s chief concern raised today was that if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal, the HMRC workload is set to increase from 55 million customs declarations to 270 million according the National Audit Office.

Mr Morgan said:

“The fact that Government is planning to shut Lynx House, which provides vital employment to nearly 1000 members of the community, at a time when the HMRC workload is set to increase by nearly five times demonstrates their poor foresight and lack of planning.

A no-deal Brexit will be disastrous for Portsmouth and this nation anyway, the added implications of Government cuts to HMRC and staffing and resource levels down 17 per cent since 2010, is a recipe for disaster”.

Mr Morgan has been fighting alongside the trade unions to retain Lynx House since becoming MP in 2017 and has already brought the Shadow Treasury Minister responsible to the site to see for herself the issues faced by staff as part of a long-running campaign against closure.

Mr Morgan said:

“Anyone who watches the International Trade Secretary’s response to my serious question about Portsmouth will see that it is both vague and lacking in substance. No robust plans are offered in response to how HMRC will deal with the increased workload and I am deeply concerned that adequate planning is not taking place.

Portsmouth needs urgent action from this Government. That is why I have written to the Chief Secretary in a bid to get the Government to take notice of the people at the coal-face raising alarms about HMRC closures at Lynx House.

I have urged the Chief Secretary to rapidly respond by paying a visit to Portsmouth and to see for himself the issues faced here.”

Stephen Morgan MP has so far met with local HMRC staff, spoken with the unions, raised the issue in parliament, supported council motions and brought frontbench colleagues to visit the site and written to the Minister responsible.

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Responding to the DfT announcement of £400,000 for Portsmouth International Port today, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Whilst today’s announcement is long-overdue, and helps provide much needed support for Portsmouth International Port at this time of huge uncertainty, the allocation is a mere drop in the ocean for the challenges that the city will face under a no-deal Brexit.

With no-deal preparations costing the nation £170,000 per hour, that’s money better spent on our city’s schools and hospitals.

The city council has said relations with the Department of Transport had been ‘highly problematical’. We had high hopes the Transport Secretary had listened to Portsmouth when he finally visited the Port last week to hear how the council and its partners had been spending taxpayer’s money preparing for a no-deal Brexit and trying to avoid traffic chaos and congestion in our city. It now seems this may not be the case.

I’ll keep lobbying for Portsmouth to push this Government to invest in our city. The port’s success is our city’s success. Our economy and the public services we all rely on depend on it”.

It has been confirmed that £400,000 has been allocated towards a gate camera and vehicle booking system for Portsmouth. The Port was hoping for double that amount of funding and may need to find other ways to meet the shortfall.

 

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City MP responds to State Opening of Parliament

Responding to the State Opening of Parliament, city MP Stephen Morgan said:

 

“Today the Government has set out an agenda to Parliament that it has no intention and no means of delivering. Their funding plans for public services do not even undo the cuts the Tories and Lib Dems introduced since 2010.

 

You just can’t trust Mr Johnson. He illegally suspended Parliament, and his recent policy announcements have been exposed as being nowhere near enough to fix the problems Portsmouth’s communities face.

 

So far we have heard nothing about what they will do to tackle the climate emergency after years of failure; nothing about how they will tackle rising child and pensioner poverty; and nothing about how they will tackle the housing crisis.

 

At a time when we see the economy weak, shrinking last month, productivity falling again and wages now lower than 10 years ago, we desperately need a transformative plan to rebuild Britain, our public service and our city’s communities”.

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City MP slams Government over relentless cuts to Portsmouth police

Stephen Morgan MP has hit out at the Government over issuing misleading statistics when it comes how many bobbies will be on the beat in our community. The MP’s concerns are raised on the same day that Mr Johnson revealed that far fewer officers will be reaching Hampshire than previously pledged.

The Government’s flagship officer recruitment pledge has been called into question after initial allocations reveal more than half of forces will remain below 2010 levels, and numbers have been merged with Counter-Terrorism and National Crime Agency personnel.

On this, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Like most policy announcements coming from Mr. Johnson, the moment you apply any scrutiny they crumble to dust. The announcement that our region is getting many more officers is no exception.

I have been taking action for some time both in parliament and locally over the lack of bobbies on the beat, urging Government to take notice and get more police on our streets in Portsmouth.

Mr Johnsons’ pledge to reinstate any police officers that the previous Tory and Lib Dems cut is nothing more than a farce with the figures actually including new personnel from the Counter-Terrorism Unit and staff at the National Crime Agency.”

Commenting Louise Haigh MP, Shadow Policing Minister said:

“Like elsewhere in Boris Johnson’s Premiership, the lofty promises he made in Downing Street have fallen apart when exposed to scrutiny.”

The truth is the brutal cuts he and his colleagues voted for will not be reversed and our local communities will be continue to be at risk as a result.”

In Hampshire, The Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that in 2018 there was a 27 percent increase in possession of weapons, a 17 percent rise in sex crimes, a 33 percent hike in robbery and an 11 percent increase in violence against the person. There was also a total of 150 child grooming crimes recorded in Hampshire.

Mr Morgan said:

Figures show that Hampshire now has 1,050 less officers than it did in 2010, a catastrophic 28% decrease. It is the people of Portsmouth and our brave officers who have to deal with the consequences of less police and more crime.

Cuts have consequences and in our area with a combination of fewer officers with less equipment, criminals are facing less of a risk. The Government is failing when it comes to keeping our city’s communities safe and setting officers in good stead to fight crime.

I won’t rest until more police are on Portsmouth streets. I will continue be a strong voice for our officers and our community when it comes to keeping our city safe.”

Cuts are also taking their toll on police personnel. Recent Cambridge University studies showed that 90% of officers had been exposed to incidents of trauma and the study suggests that overall PTSD rates in law enforcement are almost five times higher than general UK population levels. 

Mr Morgan has been calling on Government to make drastic changes when it comes to policing for some time. He has been out in every ward in his constituency with bobbies on the beat, called on Ministers in the House of Commons to step up, brought the Policing Minister to the city and slammed the regime of cuts perpetuated by Tory and Lib Dem Governments. He regularly meets with Hampshire Police Federation to listen to concerns from the police community. 

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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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“Tackling Climate Change must always be our priority” – City MP speaks out after his action at conference

The 2019 Labour Party Conference, held in Brighton, came to an end last week. City MP, Stephen Morgan honed his focus on climate change issues and acted on matters including urban green spaces and the role that local authorities play in tackling climate change.

Mr Morgan’s long running commitment to climate activism was the reason for his invitation to a number of strategy sessions targeting climate change.

Climate Change has been a major focus within the Labour Party for time eternal, with the party pioneering a Climate Change Emergency in Parliament and making ground-breaking developments at local authority level.

City MP, Stephen Morgan said:

“Undeniably climate change is the greatest threat we face. It must always be at the forefront of our agenda.

Children teaching Westminster a lesson by striking, Portsmouth people staging protests, pressure from activists such as Greta Thunberg –there is an atmosphere of change at a grass roots level and I believe that politicians have a responsibility to mirror this.

Party Conference is always high-intensity which is why is why I ensured that my main focus was orientated around acting at climate related events and meeting field experts to learn more about how we can tackle the most pressing issue the world faces.”

Mr Morgan took part in an event orientated around urban green spaces and the impact they have on the local community. The event, organised by The New Statesman, included representatives from The National Trust, Lord Kerslake and other key figures.

Following the event, the Shadow Communities Minister said:

“Park usage is up by 25% and 37 million of us use parks per year, they are integral to our communities.

Urban green spaces are a garden to many who do not have their own. They hugely improve the health and wellbeing of residents, extensively contribute to improving air quality, reduce strain on our NHS and off set carbon emissions.

But as the Select Committee and the experts who joined me on the panel said, “parks are at tipping point” because of the viscous cuts the Government has forced on Local Authorities.

I am committed to working in my role as Shadow Communities Minister to ensure the introduction of new parks, maintenance of urban spaces and protection of our open green areas.”

Mr Morgan also spoke out strongly in favour of giving more support to local authorities at an event organised by the University of Manchester orientated around cities.

“As someone who has spent over 15 years working in local authorities and now has the same sector in my parliamentary brief, I know how intrinsic councils are in fighting climate change.

From setting clean air targets and combatting local air pollution to promoting active travel – the role that local authorities play is undeniable.

At a time when they have had 60 pence out of every pound slashed from their budgets and are feeling the squeeze of Tory austerity, it is essential that they remain at the core of conference conversations.

I am committed to being an active voice when it comes to standing up for our councils and will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that they can continue to bring about change when it comes to climate change.”

This year’s conference saw ground-breaking wider policy moves made by Labour. Including the promise to build 37 new wind farms and a commitment to spending £300m buying a fleet of 30,000 electric cars for hire.

These policy announcements form part of the party’s push for a Green Industrial Revolution that would majorly reform the way we think about climate change.

 

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Labour to end universal credit misery

Universal Credit is causing misery and hardship wherever it is rolled out. Today Labour confirmed that when in Government they will scrap it and replace it with a social security system dedicated to dignity, universalism and ending poverty.

The party has announced they will implement an emergency package of reforms to mitigate some of the worst features of UC while they develop a replacement system.

The plan will also lift up to 300,000 children out of poverty by scrapping the two child limit and benefit cap. It will reduce hardship by ending the five week wait, introducing fortnightly payments, suspending sanctions and ending the digital only approach. The party will also protect women by making split payments the default and reduce homelessness by paying the housing element direct to landlords.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Universal Credit is a vehicle for cuts and is causing severe hardship wherever it has been rolled out across our country.

Our social security system has lost its way; we need to rebuild it up from the principles on which it was founded – supporting people rather than policing them, alleviating poverty rather than driving people into it.

Social security should lift people out of poverty but Universal Credit is leaving people in debt and rent arrears, and forcing people to turn to food banks to survive.

Despite mounting evidence of its failure, the Tories are pressing ahead with the roll-out, rather than scrapping and replacing it. I’m pleased Labour has said when in Government that is what they will do”.

The city MP has been listening to views and concerns over the future of social security, visited the local job centre, met with charities which support people on benefits and hosted a consultation to hear people’s views.

Today Labour has announced they will:

  • Change the culture of the DWP so that treats people with dignity and respect, and supports them in finding work and accessing the benefits they are entitled to instead of punishing and policing people.
  • This cultural change will take time but we will start on day one by replacing the DWP with a Department for Social Security.
  • Scrap UC and develop a new social security system.