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Government ‘must do better’ to bring home Britons says City MP

Portsmouth South’s MP Stephen Morgan is piling on the pressure calling for the Foreign Office to do better to bring home British travellers stuck abroad.

The call comes after the MP has been liaising daily with the Government about constituents unable to return home due to the coronavirus crisis.

Stephen Morgan MP shares people’s frustrations about the lack of information and advice that they have received from the Foreign Office, especially problems getting through to speak to people on the phone.

The Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has admitted the Government has been struggling to manage the level of calls that they were receiving and have now  doubled their call centre capacity.

As well as lobbying the Foreign Secretary to take urgent action, the city MP has been in daily contact with the Foreign Office about individual cases of Portsmouth people who have had difficulties getting back to the UK from around the world, liaising with the families affected, as well as sharing information with the Shadow Foreign Secretary to push for further action by Government.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“It is clear from the daily correspondence I am getting from constituents stuck abroad and cases I am hearing about from other parliamentarians, that the Foreign Office’s current efforts to support people to return to the UK have not been adequate.

This is causing a huge amount of distress to those affected from our city and their families.

I will continue to prioritise helping Portsmouth people who are encountering serious problems abroad and have not received adequate assistance from the Foreign Office.

The Government must do better and now prioritise the resources needed to bring Britons back safely and swiftly”.

Despite calls, the Government has not been able to give an exact figure for the number of British nationals currently stranded abroad, only estimating numbers between 500,000 and 700,000 people.

Labour has called for more comprehensive information on the scale of the problem and for Government to work with airlines to get data on how many people have been able to get home so far, so that resources can help secure the return of all British travellers.

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry MP added:

“While I appreciate that the FCO staff are all working very hard, the direction from those at the top hasn’t been good enough and it is clear from the emails that I have received and the cases MPs have sent my way that they need to take further steps to provide a more comprehensive repatriation offer to Brits stuck overseas.

I have made it very clear that the government should not be leaving people to the mercy of exploitative private airlines who are ripping vulnerable people off, without helping them to get home”.

The Portsmouth South MP believes that leaving people to rely solely on commercial options to return to the UK is not acceptable and is calling on the Government to work more closely with the airline companies to find a solution.

 

 

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Covid-19: Portsmouth MP responds to PM’s statement

Responding to the Prime Minister’s statement tonight, Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP said:

“We are in unprecedented times and public health and safety must come first.

This outbreak demands strong leadership to protect lives. We have seen over the course of the last few weeks other countries taking further far reaching social distancing measures to prevent the spread of the virus, so tonight’s announcement is long overdue, but welcome.

We now need to understand the details of the enforcement, who can and can’t travel to work and guidance for employers and workers. The Prime Minister must set this out very clearly.

Government must now give detail to provide clarity and certainty for Portsmouth people.  

We all have a part to play. Proudly, Portsmouth people have shown in the past we can rise to a challenge. It is time to do so again”.

Stephen’s frequently asked questions page will be updated once Government advice has been published. Information will be updated here

 

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The Coronavirus Bill before Parliament

The Coronavirus Bill (Bill 122 of 2019-21) was introduced to the House of Commons on 19 March 2020. The Bill is part of the Government’s response to the pandemic and is intended to enable the Government to respond to an emergency situation and manage the effects of a pandemic.

The Government has stated that the Bill enables action in five key areas:

  1. Increasing the available health and social care workforce – for example, by removing barriers to allow recently retired NHS staff and social workers to return to work (and in Scotland, in addition to retired people, allowing those who are on a career break or are social worker students to become temporary social workers)
  2. Easing the burden on frontline staff – by reducing the number of administrative tasks they have to perform, enabling local authorities to prioritise care for people with the most pressing needs, allowing key workers to perform more tasks remotely and with less paperwork, and taking the power to suspend individual port operations
  3. Containing and slowing the virus – by reducing unnecessary social contacts, for example through powers over events and gatherings, and strengthening the quarantine powers of police and immigration officers
  4. Managing the deceased with respect and dignity – by enabling the death management system to deal with increased demand for its services
  5. Supporting people – by allowing them to claim Statutory Sick Pay from day one, and by supporting the food industry to maintain supplies

I recognise the need for urgent government intervention to arrest the spread of this virus and offset the economic impact it is already having on the country, and have joined others to make it clear to Ministers the essential areas where there needs to be common ground for my support.

The government must ensure the most effective action is taken to protect people in every community, for reasons of public health as well as social justice. That is why I believe the following conditions need to be met:

  1. The legislation must be renewed every six months by a fresh vote in parliament – people understand the need for temporary restrictions to our way of life. But given how far-reaching these are proposed to be, people’s elected representatives must be able to decide whether to renew the legislation at least every six months, up to its expiration after two years. We will carefully scrutinise the Bill in areas that affect our civil liberties.
  2. Jobs and incomes need to be underpinned with a comprehensive income protection scheme; European-level statutory sick pay for all workers from day one; and increased Universal Credit, with a suspension of sanctions and an end to the 5-week wait – The government must take action to ensure everyone has enough to live on so that those with symptoms are able to self-isolate without fear for their jobs, livelihoods and homes. The government’s current package of support for workers is clearly inadequate.
  3. Rent suspension and a ban on evictions for six months – Rent needs to be suspended for those adversely affected by the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. The government’s three-month ban on evictions should be extended to six months, in line with the renewal period we propose for the emergency legislation.

I will be supporting amendments to the Bill this week which address the above concerns and put these safeguards in place. I will continue to lobby the Government based on the feedback I am hearing from constituents.

The House of Commons Library has published briefings on various aspects of the Bill which can be viewed here

 

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Chancellor must do ‘whatever it takes’ to support city’s self-employed says Portsmouth MP

In an urgent letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, today Stephen Morgan MP lobbied the Government for support for the self-employed who have been writing to the city MP as a result of the hardship caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a series of actions the Portsmouth South representative today lobbied government writing an urgent letter to the Chancellor.

The city MP said:

“There are 7,100 self-employed people in my constituency. Many are getting in touch with me desperately worried about making their rent, mortgage and other bill payments.

I appreciate your efforts to introduce a retention scheme for employees as announced on Friday.

However more and more self-employed people in my constituency are now asking me what help the Government is going to be put in place for them. Many of whom are being told by Ministers they cannot continue their work. 

Some feel they have been abandoned and are being treated as second-class citizens”.

The self-employed already lack all of the legal protections of redundancy and other rights already in place to help protect employees, including those they employ themselves, from a sudden lack of income.

The Federation of Small Business has stated that the self-employed are also the most likely section of our nation’s workforce to suffer from a disability or health condition.

Stephen Morgan MP added:

“It would be perverse to leave the self-employed out of the new measures HM Treasury is putting in place to help those whose livelihoods are most disrupted by Covid-19.

The Government must now provide comparable support for the self-employed to end the uncertainty thousands face here in Portsmouth”.

In the letter the MP has asked for assurance that the Government is making plans and sought clarification on timescales.

 

 

 

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Chancellor must go further and protect self-employed

Responding to new measures announced by the Chancellor to deal with the coronavirus and economic crisis, Stephen Morgan MP, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, is calling on the Government to go further as 7,100 self-employed people in the constituency face uncertainty, and protect councils and charities on the frontline.

Following the statement made by the Chancellor last night, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“After much lobbying, the Government has finally shifted direction. I welcome a number of the measures the Chancellor is now making to help protect people during this public health emergency and economic crisis.

The Chancellor keeps saying he would ‘do whatever it takes’. To show these aren’t just empty words, he can and should go further.

That means giving security for people who are self-employed and it means easing the strain on councils and charities who are on the front line of defence in combating the coronavirus pandemic.

It would be perverse to leave the self-employed out of the new support being put in place to help those whose livelihoods are increasing disrupted by the events of recent weeks.

I will continue to work constructively with Government, and lobbying Ministers for action, to protect Portsmouth people and to ensure the best possible response to the coronavirus crisis”.

The self-employed already lack all of the legal protections of redundancy and other rights already in place to help protect employees, including those they employ themselves, from a sudden lack of income.

The self-employed are also the most likely section of the workforce to suffer from a disability or health condition.

If any self-employed or small businesses in the constituency is looking for help, support is available from the FSB at www.fsb.org.uk/campaign/covid19.

 

 

 

 

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Portsmouth MP urges Government to support charities at time of crisis

Taking action after hearing concerns from Portsmouth’s voluntary and community sector, city MP Stephen Morgan is calling on the Government to support charities as they help the most vulnerable through the public health emergency and economic crisis

The Portsmouth South representative, formerly a charity chief executive himself, has already this week written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer raising concerns from the city’s voluntary and community sector.

A number of local groups and charities across Portsmouth have been reaching out to older people, vulnerable and high risk groups, whilst residents have been setting up online support groups to share advice and information.

Now working with NCVO, an umbrella group for the charities, he is calling on the government to do more to support.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“We are in unprecedented times, but history has shown us what the charitable sector is capable of. I see for myself day in, day out, the difference voluntary and community groups make to people’s lives in Portsmouth.

They are already stepping up to protect the most vulnerable during this national crisis, and with Government support, they can do even more”.

A number of charities help alleviate the pressure on our NHS and social care services and provide support to people suffering from the economic and social impact of the pandemic, as well as helping with everything from mental health impacts to support for vulnerable families.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), and the Charity Finance Group have issued their own urgent calls to protect the charity sector.

Joining other MPs and these national associations calling on the Government to act Stephen Morgan MP added:

“Without an immediate injection of money, many charities of all sizes will soon close. Charity funds are running out, and some are already considering redundancies.

The NCVO predicts that charities will miss out on a minimum of £4.3bn of income over the coming 12 weeks. The figure could be far higher”.

The NCVO are requesting Government to:

  • Provide immediate emergency funding for frontline charities and volunteers supporting the response to the coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis
  • Provide a ‘stabilisation fund’ for all charities to help them stay afloat, pay staff and continue operating during the course of the pandemic
  • Establish an emergency grant fund
  • Confirm that charities are eligible for similar business interruption measures announced for business.
  • Urgently clarify the situation for the differing governance models of charities
  • Work with the UK’s largest philanthropic organisations and foundations, the National Lottery and others to identify grant funding which can be drawn down early over the coming days, or in addition from their reserves and existing grant programmes to help fill the growing gaps in the sector.

As well as this national lobbying the Portsmouth South MP is working with HIVE Portsmouth to ensure local voluntary and community efforts to help residents during this difficult time, are co-ordinated and helping the most vulnerable.

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City MP backs constituent unfairly dismissed while pregnant

Following correspondence with constituent Helen Larkin, Stephen Morgan MP has taken firm action to highlight the unfair treatment of pregnant women in the workplace.

Ms. Larkin raised her case with Mr Morgan in January 2020 following her unfair dismissal from The Liz Earle Beauty Company while she was eight months pregnant.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Ms Larkin’s case highlights gaps in the support network offered to pregnant women undergoing an employment tribunal. It is imperative that structures are in place that prevent discrimination of any kind and take into account the personal situations of employees, especially when pregnant or during maternity periods.

It is Government’s responsibility to look after its citizens, if this is the way that pregnant women are being treated, it is clear that improvements must be made.”

Upon hearing about the case and with the support of women’s rights group, Pregnant then Screwed, Mr Morgan took immediate action in parliament.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“In order to highlight Government’s failings and urge action, I have submitted parliamentary questions and written directly to the Secretary of State responsible.

Government must change the law to give pregnant women extended time for employment tribunals, urgently reassess the law when it comes to making pregnant women redundant and come up with a strategy for urgent reform of current processes.

I will continue to apply pressure until justice for Helen and others is seen.”

Olga Fitzroy from Pregnant then Screwed said:

“We have long campaigned against pregnancy and maternity discrimination and strived to support women like Helen who have been treated badly by exploitative employers.

The government must step up and extend the time limits that new mums and pregnant women have to bring a tribunal claim, as the current rule of 3 months is inhumane and can damage mothers and babies mental and physical health.

We are delighted to have the support of Stephen Morgan MP and look forward to continuing to work with him in highlighting where change needs to occur.”

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Portsmouth’s past and present Labour MPs unite behind Keir Starmer as next leader of the Labour party

Stephen Morgan MP has been joined by Portsmouth’s past Labour MPs in supporting Keir Starmer.

Party grandees, Lord Frank Judd and Syd Rapson along with Sarah McCarthy-Fry have now all publicly declared support for the Holborn and St Pancras MP who is currently one of the frontrunners.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“In opposition, I wake up and decide what I am going to say about the issues rotting away at our society. I want to wake up and decide what I am going to do. When the Labour Party is united, radical and relevant it wins.

That is why I am supporting Keir Starmer. He is the candidate capable keeping the policy programme radical, bringing the party together and importantly, forging a path back to power.”

Former Portsmouth MP and city freeman, Syd Rapson said:

“I’m backing Keir Starmer because I believe he’s got what it takes to win. The ability to win back voters Labour lost in the last general election in places like Portsmouth North and reinvigorate those that have lost faith in the party’s ability to be formidable.”

Former Portsmouth MP, Lord Frank Judd said:

“Of what is an interesting and impressive short list, I shall be backing Keir.  His record speaks for itself.  He will bring rational and calm statesmanship to the forefront.  His commitment to justice, human rights and to fighting social injustice is outstanding.

The UK badly needs him.  He has respect across the political spectrum.”

Former Portsmouth MP, Sarah McCarthy-Fry said:

“The most vulnerable members of our communities have been let down by the Tories. Homelessness is at a record high, youth services have been heavily cut and millions are living in poverty.

We need a Leader who can win the trust of the voters and beat the Tories. We need a Labour Prime Minister in No 10. I believe Keir is best placed to make that happen “

Stephen Morgan MP hosted the Labour leader hopeful in his constituency twice since being elected representative for Portsmouth South.

Mr Starmer made the trip to Portsmouth once to understand the impact of Brexit on the city and separately to pledge his support for Mr Morgan prior to the 2019 General Election.

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Labour leadership race: City MP throws weight behind candidates

Ahead of the Labour Leadership election, Stephen Morgan MP has called for a leader capable of bringing the party together to ‘build a path back to power’.

The newly re-elected Portsmouth South MP nominated candidates in both the Leadership and Deputy Leadership race. Mr Morgan cited the need for ‘raising the game’ and a necessity for bringing the party together in order to win an election again as the rationale for backing the two candidates.

On Leader of the Labour Party, Stephen Morgan said:

“Currently, I wake up and think about what I am going to say. I want to wake up and decide what I am going to do. How do we achieve this? By Labour being in Government.

I believe the candidate most capable of delivering that result is Keir Starmer. His steadfast conviction to achieve a less divided country coupled with the time he spent here in Portsmouth confirm him as the candidate best placed to secure a better future for Britain.

Another future is possible but to achieve It we need a leader capable of being a force for good and force for change. From what I have seen of Keir’s work, both in Parliament and when fighting major human rights battles, he is best placed to build a path back to power and unify the Labour movement.”

On Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Stephen Morgan said:

“The Labour Party’s foundations lie in the pursuit of fairness, equality and justice. It is essential the modern Labour Party reflects these ideals.

For too long, much like in our city of Portsmouth, members of communities in the north have been neglected and forgotten. I believe it essential we have a Deputy Leader possessing the tenacity and clout to put an end to this tradition.

Angela Rayner, a veteran representative of communities in Greater Manchester, most certainly fits the bill. Having worked with her in her capacity as Shadow Education Secretary while I have been standing up for Portsmouth Schools, there is no doubt in my mind that she would excel in being a voice for those often underrepresented. “

Labour’s new leader, and deputy leader, will be announced on 4 April.

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Stephen Morgan delivers on commitment to work with More United in achieving a politics of “hope and compassion”

Stephen Morgan, sworn in as MP for Portsmouth South yesterday, in one of his first acts as MP met with cross-party colleagues in a bid to work towards a more compassionate political landscape.

More United, which has over 150,000 members and is working with 62 MPs from six parties, backed Stephen Morgan in the 2019 General Election. They seek to provide a network of MPs working together to tackle issues like homelessness, the social care crisis, mental health support and the climate emergency.

Stephen Morgan said:

“In my acceptance speech last Friday, I pledged to work with others regardless of party to tackle the major issues blighting our society. This is what Portsmouth people deserve and this is what I intend to do.

Our country is deeply divided and what we need to see is co-operation and unity in the face of adversity. Today, I met with other likeminded MPs to discuss how we tackle together issues such as homelessness, climate change and improving mental health care provision.

I look forward to continuing to work with others to ensure that we have honest, frank politics and that the priority of MPs is always serving the interests of their constituents”.

The meeting that took place today in parliament saw around 40 MPs come together.  The purpose was to set out the agenda for the year to come and to encourage attendees to spread the word about the importance of cross-party discussion.

Stephen Morgan MP received backing from More United due to his running of a clean and honest campaign, a pledge he is standing by now that he has been re-elected to parliament.