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Stephen Morgan MP addresses constituents in letter on Covid-19

Dear constituent

Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, as an infectious disease, is currently experiencing a global outbreak. We have all seen the media reports from China, Iran, and Italy, and many countries are now reporting cases. Here in the UK, the number of reported cases is rising every day.

Fortunately, the vast majority of people who catch the virus will only ever suffer from a mild-to-moderate illness with similar symptoms to the flu. But it is older people and those with pre-existing health conditions to whom the risks associated with contracting Coronavirus are greater.

Understandably concern is growing, including here in Portsmouth. There have been reports of people buying essential hygiene products such as hand sanitiser, soap, and toilet paper off the shelves. Panic is understandable in the face of the unknown.

The British Retail Consortium has advised against stockpiling, especially food items. They are working hard to ensure that supply chains are maintained during the Coronavirus outbreak, meaning that people have no need to worry about item shortages if stockpiling ceases.

Public Health England has said that the best way you can keep yourself, your loved ones and everyone else around you safe is to frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. And of course, maintenance of good general hygiene is encouraged.

Whilst it’s unclear how things are going to develop over the coming weeks and months, or the impact it could have on our freedoms, our city’s economy or on our public services, I encourage calm. Many of us are going to be absolutely fine even under the Government’s worst-case scenario.

I would, however, urge that we take care of our city’s oldest and most vulnerable; something that’s not a bad habit to get into anyway. Official advice from the NHS can be found at www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

I want constituents in Portsmouth to be reassured that measures are being put in place to prevent the spread of the virus where possible. I will keep raising our views and concerns in Parliament and work hard so that the services we all rely on, have the resources they need to keep us safe.

 

Stephen Morgan MP

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“Let’s make cycling easier and accessible to all” vows Portsmouth MP after teaming up with Brompton Bike Hire

City MP Stephen Morgan is taking action to make it cheaper and easier to get around Portsmouth by bike. He is working with others including Brompton Bike Hire to set the wheels turning.

The action follows meetings with Brompton representatives in Portsmouth in a bid to encourage the city council to do more to encourage active travel to tackle the climate crisis.

After direct discussions with the Portsmouth Cycle Forum and Brompton, the Portsmouth South MP has now written to the local authority to urge them to retain the current Brompton Cycle Hire Hub based at Portsmouth Harbour, encourage new sites for the hire scheme across the city centre and enable people on low incomes to access the bikes to get round the city.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“People have told me they want to get out on the bike more but either can’t afford it, don’t know enough about how to get involved or don’t feel safe. If we are going to tackle climate change and air pollution crisis, this needs to change.

The council working in partnership more with Brompton Bike Hire and locating additional hubs across our city’s communities will help people get moving in a greener way, and in turn make Portsmouth less polluted.

That is why I am continuing to lobby hard for a greater presence of the Brompton Hire Scheme here in Portsmouth.

I’ve long argued the council need to do more to encourage cycling and make it easier for people to get on a bike. This is an off the shelf solution ready to go”.

Julian Scriven, Managing Director of Brompton Bike Hire said:

“Brompton is committed to changing the way people move around cities.

We are delighted Stephen Morgan MP shares this vision and is demonstrating a real drive at both a local and national level to promote active travel”.

First installed in other parts of the country in April 2011, Brompton Bike Hire was created to address the clear need for a cycle hire scheme that is accessible to all, easy and cheap to install and run and economical to use.

 

The British company expanded rapidly across the UK including to Portsmouth, first providing a facility at the city’s park and ride station, then moving it to Portsmouth Habour station.

A focus of Mr Morgan’s action is helping people on low incomes to access a bike hire scheme. On this he added:

“Cycling should be for the many not just the privileged or brave. Following discussions with Brompton on their recent visit to Portsmouth I am delighted that they are willing to partner with housing associations and the council to offer free membership to those in social and affordable housing.

I will be continuing to work with local campaigners to lobby for more hubs to be put in areas of the city where they are most needed.

I have put this offer to the city council to help Portsmouth people. I look forward to a positive response to improve the assets available across all our communities.”

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Portsmouth MP backs Bill to reduce cost of school uniform

A proposed new law that will reduce the cost of school uniforms for hard-pressed families has won the backing of Stephen Morgan MP.

The MP for Portsmouth South has pledged his support for the Bill, introduced by fellow Labour MP Mike Amesbury, that would aim to strengthen existing guidance encouraging schools to keep down costs.

The Bill is gaining cross-party support and has won the backing of the government.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“According to research by the Children’s Society, families are spending an average of around £337 per year on uniform for each child at secondary school, while parents of primary school children spent £315 on average.

This is having a hugely detrimental impact on many of my constituents and I really hope that we can get this bill passed into law and alleviate what has become a financial burden for so many families.”

Mike Amesbury MP added:

“I’m delighted to receive the support of Stephen Morgan MP.

His backing is crucial if this bill is to become law and I firmly believe it will have a hugely beneficial impact not only to those people in both of our constituencies, but to families right across the country too.”

Mr Morgan was present in the House of Commons today as the bill had its second reading. It now must gain the support of MPs if it is to become law.

The Bill is progressing as the Children’s Society today launched the latest in their ‘The Wrong Blazer’  series of reports, making the case for action to tackle the cost of school uniform.  The organisation supports the Bill.

The Portsmouth South MP added:

“School is a place where young people should be able to aim high, work hard and achieve. They should be able to pursue their goals free from any additional pressure around uniform.

I know many Portsmouth families work relentlessly to support their children in their academic endeavours but when 1 in 8 families get into debt trying to keep up with uniform costs, change needs to happen.

I will continue to support legislation that works to this end.”

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Guidance on Coronavirus

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus.

Stephen Morgan MP has taken action to support constituents by asking government questions in parliament, meeting with Portsmouth Hospital Trusts Chief Executive and attending statements and meetings in parliament to ensure public services are prepared.

How to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus

Do

  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds

  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work

  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available

  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze

  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterward

  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell

Don’t

  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, call 111.

You can see what Portsmouth City Council has said here:  https://www.portsmouth.gov.uk/ext/news/coronavirus-covid-19

Government recently moved from the ‘containment’ to the ‘delay’ phase. You can find out more about this here: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

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“Study after study must be replaced by action after action” says Shadow Defence Minister following government’s veterans’ statement today

Today the Government made a statement in the House of Commons about serving and former members of the armed forces ending their lives, following an internal review commissioned by the Secretary of State for Defence.

Responding to the statement in the Commons for the official opposition, Shadow Defence Minister Stephen Morgan MP probed the Minister for Defence People and Veterans to push for faster action.

The Portsmouth South MP identified three main areas that require urgent action by Government.

The need for Ministers to ensure coroners start to record veteran suicide, address the number of veterans not seeking mental health support, and improvements to the transitional support services offered backed up with proper funding.

Responding to the Minister’s statement, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“I welcome the Minister’s statement today; nonetheless, there is still much more that needs to be done.

We know that some veterans who struggle ultimately and tragically end up taking their own lives. Indeed, there are reports that 14 former and current serving personnel have committed suicide in the past 2 months alone – many of them having served in Afghanistan.

The Minister has raised the point about data collection for serving personnel, however, we do not know the full scale of this crisis for veterans because unlike major allies such as Canada, New Zealand, and the US, coroners in the UK do not record veterans’ suicides. This lack of data makes it extremely difficult to know the full scale of the problem but also makes it difficult to be able to provide better, more targeted interventions”.

Mr Morgan also raised the fact that additional funding offered to veteran’s services in the Budget was merely a drop in the ocean. Citing the fact that veterans’ services currently only receive the equivalent of 0.007% of the NHS budget.

A Defence Select Committee report revealed that 60% of veterans requiring support fail to seek services due to issues around stigma was also raised.

Mr Morgan added:

“Our armed forces work hard to keep us safe so that we can live our lives to the full without fear. Day in day out, they do things that cross the line into the remarkable. It is only just, fair and right that we have veteran’s mental health care provision worthy of these men and women.

Tragically, we hear case after case of stories similar in nature to that of David Dukes that I shared last year. Every moment of dither and delay puts more veterans at risk. There are simple steps we can make immediately that will bring about major change.

I hope the government now gives this important issue the urgency it deserves. It is high time to move beyond study after study, to action after action. “

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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.

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City MP takes local child poverty concerns to very top as he delivers searing question in Parliament

Stephen Morgan MP has forced the Work and Pensions Secretary to answer concerns over child poverty in Portsmouth.

Mr Morgan’s line of questioning comes amid a bleak backdrop of 4.1 million children now growing up in relative poverty. A figure 500,000 larger than it was in 2010-11.

Mr Morgan said

“The Child Poverty Action Group published a study of children and food in low-income families. It detailed movingly the lives of children who go hungry and the impact on their health, education and friendships.

It showed that some children were ashamed to invite friends home because they had no food to offer them.

Under this government’s watch cases of this nature have been allowed to reach unprecedented levels. Today I put these heart wrenching accounts to the Minister responsible and demanded action over this grave injustice.”

The proportion of children in poverty who are under the age of five has risen from 51% to 53% (over 2 million children). The figures also reveal that 70% of children in poverty were living in working families in 2017-18 – up from 67% the previous year.

Mr Morgan added:

“In Portsmouth South we know that nearly 37% of children are living in poverty. In areas such as Charles Dickens, this is as high as over 50%.

Child poverty is one of the most potent drivers of ill health, not just in childhood but throughout life.

If government is letting down Portsmouth people at the beginning of their lives, this will adverse effects for decades to come. People in our city deserve better.”

Mr Morgan’s work on this issue follows a report by The Children’s Society detailing the hundreds of pounds parents are having to find for uniform costs, sometimes at the expense of food. The MP is backing a new law that would introduce statutory guidance for schools that would help to rein in the soaring costs of school uniforms and save parents money.

This is not the first time Mr Morgan has taken action over child poverty. The city MP backed a Private Members Bill tabled by a colleague, raised the issue in ‘Challenge Poverty Week’ and has highlighted the link between the benefit cap and poverty. 

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“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”.

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“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.

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Portsmouth schools visit Parliament as part of The Girls’ Network empowering mission

For the third consecutive year, Stephen Morgan MP has hosted a delegation of over 30 girls in Parliament.

The Girls’ Network, an organisation whose mission is to inspire and empower girls from the least advantaged communities, focuses on mentoring to improve confidence.

The city MP orchestrated a tour of parliament and addressed the delegation before engaging in a question and answer session. The Girls’ Network then took organised a workshop focusing on female empowerment and aspiration.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The Girls Network do outstanding work in combating female underrepresentation, bolstering confidence in young women, and demonstrating to a generation that they can aim high.

I am honoured to host, for the third time, a delegation of girls in parliament and make this often-inaccessible institution available to young Portsmouth people.

We need to see more women in high office and the centuries of structural sexism redressed. Girls Network are leading the charge and I remain committed to supporting to them in their work.”

93% of girls on the programme last year said it had improved their confidence, and 96% believe the programme has helped them feel more positive about the future.

Fiona Walsh, Portsmouth Network Manager from The Girls’ Network’, said:

Access to parliament and showcasing democracy in practice to young women from The Girls’ Network has the potential to inspire a generation.

We are delighted that Stephen Morgan MP has organised this visit and continues to support our vision of a world with more empowered women.

We look forward to continuing to champion greater access to opportunities for young women and working alongside Stephen Morgan in this endeavour.”

The city MP has long supported Girls’ Network via their Portsmouth branch, supporting them through organising visits, tours, meetings and securing them access to parliament.