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Portsmouth MP sets out changes needed to combat climate change during Queen’s Speech debate

Stephen Morgan MP has delivered an impassioned speech to parliament today setting out what needs to be done to tackle climate change and applying scrutiny to the Government’s ropey track record on the issue.

The MP spoke out on the 4th day of debates relating to the Queen’s Speech and called on his colleagues to regard climate change at the top of the parliamentary agenda and to work together to achieve progress.

While delivering the speech, Mr Morgan said:

“The mildly technical nature and distant-sounding threat of ‘climate change’ may not be enough to invoke people to come out fighting from their beds.

But pretty much all of us would do so to protect our loved ones, our homes and our livelihoods, and to build a better world.

Why should defending against climate change be any different?

So, let’s be honest about the challenges we face, let’s tackle it together, and let’s redouble our efforts.”

Responding to Ministerial statements after the speech, Mr Morgan highlighted the Government’s poor track on climate change.

Mr Morgan said:

This Government, led by an ambassador of climate change indifference, is falling far short of the mark.

Failure to deliver on 24 out of 25 emissions-reducing actions recommended by the climate committee in 2018.

Just 7 of 24 indicators showing the UK’s underlying progress towards its climate goals being met.

Missed targets for the fourth and fifth Carbon Budgets, even more than predicted in last year’s official update.

We need to see a party in power that set aside serious proposals for tackling the world’s most pressing issue.”

Mr Morgan has also stressed the need for robust legislation and binding agreements, which experts such as Friends of the Earth have warned are essential in formulating an appropriate climate change bill.

On the introduction of a new environment change bill, Mr Morgan said:

“We must see an environment Bill strong enough to create change throughout Government, industry and society.

Allowing this Bill to be consumed by the Brexit shadow would be a fatal mistake and it is integral that we see an end to toothless scrutiny and non-binding legislation.”

The MP’s actions in parliament today are part of a broad campaign aimed at raising the profile and rate of action over tackling climate change. Mr Morgan regularly meets with Friends of the Earth, lead the Labour Group locally to declaring a climate emergency, has consistently voted in favour of climate legislation, hosts meeting with local activist and speaks out regularly in Parliament.

Mr Morgan also used the opportunity to lobby Government over illegal air pollution levels in the city and need to meet in Southsea Sea Defence Scheme.

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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 and University of Portsmouth continue actions over Stanhope House crisis

In his latest in a series of actions to assist students affected by the accommodation crisis at Stanhope House, working alongside the university the city MP is demanding more answers from Prime Student Living (PSL), the provider in question.

Today’s letter follows a string of actions taken by the MP with local ward councillor Cal Corkery, student campaigners and in consultation with the vice-chancellor of the university.  So far including demanding an urgent meeting with the Government Minister responsible, hitting out at PSL, speaking with students affected, meeting with the university and visiting the site to see the problem first hand.

On his latest action Mr Morgan said:

“While dealing with the provider in question directly is just one of many ways to address this issue, I hope that the stern letter sent to PSL asking them to outline responses to my concerns will shed light on what the provider is doing to assist students affected.

PSL have in some instances been vague about certain aspects of their response to the situation, including reimbursement mechanisms, transparency about when they knew the project would not be finished and what support was offered, if any, to the 54 students who had their contracts torn up.

I will not leave any stone left un-turned when it comes to students’ academic futures, the Portsmouth community and the tax payers’ purse.”

Mr Morgan has advocated for an encompassing approach to this issue and has suggested that the problem lies with a regulatory gap that falls short when dealing with the private sector.

This is an issue he is addressing in Parliament after submitting a series of written questions and writing to the minister by urging Government to act and close the gap.

The Portsmouth South representative said:

“While individual private accommodation providers are at the surface level of the problem, this issue is much bigger.

The problem is this. The Office for Students (OfS) regulates universities but has no regulatory power over private student accommodation providers. There is a clear gap that needs closing.

A similar, albeit less severe, problem occurred last year with Crown Place and my information is that there are over 20 similar problems around the country this year.  We need to do more to protect students.

So far, I have spoken with students affected, met with the university, written to the regulator, corresponded multiple times with PSL, written to the relevant Minister and raised the issue through parliamentary questions. I will continue to take action until a solution is found to the wider problem.”

Mr Morgan’s letter today is in response to a letter sent to the MP on 4 October 2019 and was written with the support of the University of Portsmouth.

 

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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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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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“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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“We need a serious overhaul of the way we think about waste” as City MP signs Manchester Declaration

Shadow Communities Minister, Stephen Morgan MP has pledged support for a fresh, green campaign aimed at making our household goods easier to repair and less disposable. 

Mr Morgan is one of the first MPs to add his name to “The Manchester Declaration”, an open letter aimed at manufacturers, policy makers and designers seeking to make items less disposable and easier to repair.

Mr Morgan said:

“From phone batteries that cannot be easily replaced to cables that are deliberately given a short life span, coaxing the public into spending more hard-earned cash – everywhere we look is the unnecessary disposal of goods.

If we are to address the climate emergency, it will require a serious overhaul of the way we think about waste. Support for this campaign ties in with a great deal of the other work that I am doing to tackle climate change.

Whether lobbying for better active travel in Portsmouth or meeting with Friends of the Earth and voting in favour of a climate emergency – this issue will remain a priority.

The Manchester Declaration, orchestrated by grass roots community repair movements, is a major first step on the road to reducing excess. I am proud to be one of the first MPs to add their name to the declaration and look forward to raising the awareness of this valid campaign in Parliament.”

Stephen Morgan MP is no stranger to taking a proactive stance to tackling climate change.

The city MP regularly holds green coffee mornings, is involved in local beach plastic collections, played an instrumental role in declaring a Climate Emergency locally and nationally, has close ties with Friends of the Earth and has lobbied Government hard over Portsmouth’s poor air quality.

Clare Seek, Founder of Repair café Portsmouth said:

“I am delighted that Stephen Morgan MP is one of just five MPs to add their name to The Manchester Declaration.

Whilst the strength of this movement lies in its grass-roots mentality, it is essential that politicians get on board and promote this push for sustainability, including legislative change to bring us a real Right to Repair.

I hope that Stephen, taking this proactive stance to tackle the climate emergency, inspires other MPs and community groups to get involved.

I look forward to continuing to help the people of Portsmouth keep their products lasting longer; saving them money, saving the planet, sharing skills and having fun along the way.”

The movement was born out of the 2018 FixFest, a regular global gathering of repairers, activists, policy makers and companies from all over the world.

The aim is to ensure that appliances that fail prematurely can be fixed rather than disposed of.

The UK repair community largely offers collaborative repair opportunities in the form of community café’s in easy to access spaces. The idea is spreading across the nation and most cities across the country offer the service.

The City MP said:

“Not only is the campaign helping our communities go greener and saving us money, it is spreading new skills in a fun way.

Learning to fix an electrical appliance in a safe environment could be the spark that ignites an interest in engineering or mechanics. This coupled with the fact these events are in open local spaces fosters a community spirit and gives people the chance to meet others who share their interest.”

Portsmouth’s Repair Café is on the 3rd Saturday of each month, from 10.30am to 1pm at Buckland URC, 174 Kingston Road, Fratton. Find your nearest Repair Café at https://repaircafe.org/en/visit/

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“It rests on all of our shoulders to speak up for Portsmouth Port” – City MP joins Port representatives in Westminster 

Stephen Morgan MP has joined local representatives from Portsmouth in a bid to promote the interests of one of the city’s most valued assets – Portsmouth International Port.

The local-born MP met with key figures at the event in Westminster and where discussions took place about value of the port for the city’s economy, importance of keeping it at the forefront of the Government agenda and the positive effect it has on local services as well as highlighting no-deal concerns.

Mr Morgan said:

“Portsmouth international Port is a vital employer, an essential financial asset to our local economy and a gateway where products needed by our nation first land in the UK.

But it also so much more. It is part of our identity and the namesake of our city.

From 2017-18, the Port’s total gross value-added contribution to the local economy is nearly £190 million and for every £1 million the Port contributed in the region, this generated another £400,000”.

Following the event, Mr Morgan stressed the need to adequately fund the port at this time of uncertainty and the need for the Government to take heed of warnings in the case of a ‘catastrophic’ no-deal.

Mr Morgan said:

“No-deal would be utterly catastrophic for Portsmouth and the Government has done nowhere near enough when it comes to offering support to the Port.

No-deal likely to turn our city into a congested lorry park and could see supermarket shelves in the Channel Islands stripped bear of fresh produce in just days.

No-deal preparations are costing the city council around £4 m and no indication of how and when this funding will be reimbursed has been offered by the Government.

That is why I have written countless letters to the Department for Transport, MHCLG and Brexit Department asking for detailed analysis on no-deal preparations and information about when funding can be allocated.”

The Port, which is owned by Portsmouth City Council, brings in finances which are then used to fund vital local services. Something that Mr Morgan praised during his speech.

The city MP said:

“From helping our schools get the resources they need to providing funding for adult social care – the money generated by the Port for council coffers is intrinsic to our community’s wellbeing.

At a time when local authorities have lost 60 pence out of every pound they previously received from Government – these funds could not be more integral to the running of our city.”

Experts have warned that municipal ports such as the one in Portsmouth have not received the correct levels of funding and planning due to problems with Government calculations. This has given rise to claims that ports such as Dover are receiving disproportionate amounts of government attention. 

In relation to municipal Ports, Mr Morgan said:

“In 2017, the Port handled a staggering 3.9 million tonnes of goods, making it the 25th largest UK port in terms of cargo volume. Solidifying our city on the map as a regional power house and a formidable trading post.

As it stands, we see a conversation saturated by talks about Dover, while these talks are essential, we must all work together to ensure that Portsmouth International Port and others have their voice heard.

So far I have written to three Government departments countless times to raise this point and I will ensure that I continue to act as a voice for the city’s Port in Parliament.”