, , , , , ,

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.

 

 

, , , ,

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

 

, , ,

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

 

, , , ,
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.

 

 

 

, , , , , , , ,

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.

 

 

 

 

, , , , , , ,

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.

, , , ,

City MP speaks up for Portsmouth rail users in Parliament

Speaking from the green benches in parliament, Stephen Morgan MP held the Transport Minister to account over the poor performance of South Western Railway.

In a bid to signal to government the effect of soaring prices and increasingly delayed running times, the Portsmouth South MP relayed rail concerns that many constituents contacted him about directly. 

In a rare display, the Minster praised Mr Morgan’s relentless efforts in speaking up for Portsmouth but offered no robust plans on how he would be improving the service.

Mr Morgan said:

“Portsmouth people rely on our rail network to get to work, for business and for important social occasions. I am told every week how plans have been scuppered by delays to the network all the while fares have soared.

Put simply, Portsmouth people are paying more but getting less. Government has a responsibility to ensure the smooth running of the nation’s rail network, as it stands, they are failing.

I have been listening to constituent’s transport concerns and today put these directly to the Government representative responsible. It is essential that we see improvements.”

According to South Western Railway’s own performance indicating website, over 50% of their trains failed to run at the right time. Despite this, customers saw an average of 2.7% rail fair surge in 2020.

Mr Morgan added:

“Effective running of our railways is not just an important local issue; it is vital in the battle against climate change.

Railways are in crisis across the nation. Regulated rail fares have risen by 40% since 2010, more than two and a half times the rate of median wages. At the same time, overcrowding on trains has increased and reliability has declined.

Government should be making it more attractive for people to use greener travel, not harder and more expensive.”

Since Mr Morgan was elected, he has been relentless in his calls for better rail services. Meeting with rail providers, attending cross-party parliamentary rail groups, asking questions in the chamber, submitting written questions and speaking to commuters in his patch. He has vowed to continue this important work.

, , , ,

After a ‘decade of decline’ Budget brings more disappointment for Portsmouth people

Today (Wednesday 11 March 2020) the Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered this Government’s first Budget. Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has slammed the Government’s budget for not ensuring an end to austerity and no real investment for the city.

Mr Morgan unpicked the Chancellor’s fiscal plans and called out the fact Portsmouth and the South East continue to be neglected with no robust plans to redress the inequality caused by Tory austerity.

Mr Morgan said:

“Over the last ten years we have seen a decade of decline. Cuts to public services we all rely on as we pay more, but get less, and infrastructure holding our city and our region back.

In today’s budget I know Portsmouth people were hoping for real investment for the city and an end to austerity.

Instead we saw a political panto in the House of Commons, with soundbites with no serious consideration of the challenges our city faces.

We now risk another five more years of more disappointment for Portsmouth”.

The IFS have said that cuts to funding from the government have led to a 17% fall in councils spending on local services since 2010. This has pushed local government to become reliant on local taxes for revenues, in particular council tax.

The Government’s financial plans also received heavy criticism on their failure to address national issues. No real solutions have been put forward to address the climate crisis through infrastructure projects, austerity has not ended and the NHS is creaking ahead of a potential coronavirus strain.

On the national picture, Mr Morgan said:

“In recent weeks, Government has utterly failed to provide leadership in response to storms, flooding, and the coronavirus outbreak.

Is this the budget that will combat issues of international significance such as Coronavirus, the Social Emergency, and Climate Change?  Regrettably there is no evidence to suggest it will.

It seems yet again Mr Johnson has delivered on nothing but empty promises and left the people of Britain to deal with the consequences.

The city MP has long been lobbying for a fairer funding formula for Hampshire Constabulary, calling out government cuts to city schools, championing the need for proper investment in Portsmouth Naval Base, calling for a solution to the social care crisis and the need for the black hole in Ministry of Defence funding to be addressed. The Budget today made no effort to combat these issues.

 

 

, , , ,

“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”.

, , , ,

“Government must go further to protect coastal communities” says city MP in parliamentary debate

Stephen Morgan MP today delivered a speech to parliament outlining areas where the government needs to go further to reduce flood risks.

The city MP honed in on the particular challenges faced for Portsmouth City Council and Southsea Sea Defence Scheme; Forcing the Minister to respond to questions about heritage sites, funding and austerity.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“With record rainfall in February and the last decade the warmest on record, coastal communities are at great risk of the impacts of climate change.

Major infrastructure projects like Southsea Sea Defence Scheme are needed to protect lives, homes and livelihoods.

Government funding, lack of recognition for heritage sites, and the impacts of austerity are undermining local efforts to protect our communities.”

Portsmouth City Council have stated the city coastline’s rich heritage sites mean that additional funding is required to secure cultural assets like Southsea Castle. Currently, government funding offers no weighting to communities who harbour heritage sites, which Mr Morgan has called on them to change.

Mr Morgan also stressed the national importance of our coastal communities, he added:

“Our coastal communities are rich in leisure, tourism and heritage activities. Their loss is the nation’s loss.

They must be protected. There are gaps in the government’s current strategy which need to be addressed.

It is high time the government took notice of this fact and started properly supporting coastal communities like Portsmouth.”

Stephen Morgan MP also raised in the chamber the fact the Minister had cancelled two meetings, one with the Council, to discuss Southsea Sea Defence Scheme.

The city MP has committed to continuing to raise the risk of flooding in order to safeguard the interests and livelihoods of constituents.