Stephen joins cross-party call to end diesel deaths

Stephen Morgan, MP for Portsmouth South, has joined over 110 MPs and Lords from all parties who have signed a joint letter calling on Michael Gove, the DEFRA Secretary, to call an end to diesel deaths.
A letter has been sent asking for the Secretary of State to implement proposals from Geraint Davies MP’s Clean Air Bill in the forthcoming Air Quality Strategy, to reduce the 40,000 premature deaths caused each year in the UK by diesel pollution.
Following a High Court ruling, the Government is required to publish its new Clean Air Strategy by 31 July, after the UK was found to be breaking EU law with unsafe levels of air pollution.
Stephen Morgan MP said:
Diesel pollution is a serious concern for many here in Portsmouth.  The very least we owe our children is that they have clean air to breathe. Diesel drivers who bought their cars in good faith should not be punished but we all want a plan to deliver a cleaner future for our communities.
The government’s strategy to improve air quality is due to be published imminently and all signs are that it will fall below the standard required by law, leaving the Conservatives in breach of April’s court order.
This is deeply troubling and it is high time that the government took bold action to end diesel deaths. That’s why I’m calling for the provisions from the Clean Air Bill to be included in the government’s plans.
The letter, signed by over 80 Parliamentarians, was coordinated by the author of the Clean Air Bill, Labour MP Geraint Davies, who is Rapporteur for Air Quality on the Council of Europe and sits on the Environmental Audit Committee. It calls for provisions made in the Bill to be included in the Government’s strategy, and reads:

“Dear Michael,
Ahead of the imminent deadline for the Government’s Air Quality Strategy, due by 31st July, we are writing to ask that the following provisions from the Clean Air Bill (attached) are included in the strategy:

  • Restrictions on access for the most polluting vehicles in urban areas
  • Targeted diesel scrappage schemes
  • New powers for local authorities and the Environment Agency to enforce clean air zones and combat “idling”.
  • Incentives for people to switch to cleaner alternatives in all modes of transport
  • Reliable, real-time emissions testing
  • Rapid development of infrastructure of electric car charging points (at car parks in preference to petrol stations), the main constraint on increasing the number of electric cars on the road
  • Action on air quality at ports and airports
  • An air quality fiscal strategy

Please support the Bill and include these provisions in the Government’s imminent Air Quality Strategy.  
As you know, 40,000 people die prematurely at a cost of £20 billion each year from diesel air pollution, according to the Royal College of Physicians, who support the Clean Air Bill. Four select committees – Health, Transport, DEFRA and Environmental Audit – had planned joint hearings on Air Quality before the deadline but the general election has prevented that.
Many thanks for your cooperation on this matter which is of such importance to all our constituencies”.

Geraint Davies MP said:
“Thanks to the cross-party support for my Clean Air Bill, I have been able to unite growing pressure on the new DEFRA Secretary, Michael Gove.”


Thousands in Pompey set to lose under government pension changes

Over a million people in the South East will lose out by £10,000 each under Government’s plans for state pension age change.
New analysis by the House of Commons Library has revealed that 7.6 million people will lose out by nearly £10,000 each under the government’s plans to bring forward changes to the state pension age. 1,066,000 people will lose out in the South East.
The change will affect all men and women currently between the age of 39 and 47, who will be forced to work a year longer before they can access their state pension entitlement.
In Portsmouth South alone, 11,700 people will be affected by the government’s announcement.
Stephen Morgan, MP for Portsmouth South, said:
“The fact that, after decades of hard work, our parents, grandparents and partners will be denied the dignified and supportive retirement they so richly deserve is disgraceful.
Millions of people who will lose out under these changes have paid into the system for so long. Many will have already saved and planned for their well-earned retirement. That the government has now chosen to move the goalposts and force our elderly citizens to work well past the healthy life expectancy is frankly shameful.
Yet again this government has shown that it doesn’t care about working people. When cuts are made, it is always hard-working families who are expected to carry the burden.”
The government’s announcement of their plans to bring forward changes to the state pension age last Thursday came more than two months after their legal deadline, 7 May 2017, evading debate on the issue leading up to the General Election.
The announcement is being heavily criticised, as it followed evidence from the renowned expert on life expectancy, Professor Sir Michael Marmot, who just days before had described how a century-long rise in life expectancy was “pretty close to having ground to a halt.” Professor Marmot pointed to 2010 as the turning point, when the government began its austerity programme.
Just over a week ago, the government’s own advisory body, Public Health England, had published data showing significant disparities in Healthy Life Expectancy. For example, it showed how on average a man living in Nottingham would be only be expected to live in good health until the age of 57, a full eleven years earlier than the Government’s newly timetabled state pension age increase to 68.
A Director of Public Health England described how the average pensioner will now have to deal with a “toxic cocktail” of ill health throughout their whole retirement, and for some years before.
Debbie Abrahams MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said:
“This is a disgraceful and unjustified attack on the state pension by this government, who are asking millions of people to work longer to pay for their failing austerity plans.
Labour want to take a measured approach, leaving the state pension age at 66 while we review the evidence emerging around life expectancy and healthy life expectancy, considering how we can best protect those doing demanding jobs and the contributions they have already made.”

Police make arrests to tackle crime against small businesses

The city’s police force continue to work hard to tackle the recent spike in crime affecting local small businesses in Southsea and Milton. 
In recent months a number of local traders and cafes have been broken into with equipment and goods taken and money stolen from tills.
Following the local force prioritising this issue, three people have been arrested after two further shops and a cafe were burgled in the city last week.
Two males were seen by the police breaking into Jamocha Café in Elm Grove on Wednesday and arrested on suspicion of burglary other than dwelling – theft. The burglary is being linked to another at Waitrose in Marmion Road.
Stephen Morgan MP has been working with the local police team and George Fielding, a Southsea community activist, to ensure such crimes continue to be prioritised and tackled and small businesses assured.
Meetings with local business leaders have been taking place with more planned with the local police. On Friday Stephen met with Southsea’s Neighbourhoods Inspector for an update and discuss what further action will be taken by the Constabulary.
Stephen Morgan MP said:
“The increase in burglaries at the premises of small businesses across our great city is completely unacceptable.
Local businesses are the bedrock of the economy in Portsmouth and I stand with them in their concern over the increase in these crimes.
I am grateful for the hard work of our local police force in tackling this very important issue. With limited resources they are doing the best they can.
I have also written to the Home Secretary to make sure this issue is taken seriously by Government”.
George Fielding said:
“What the offenders don’t realise is that these are not victimless crimes. Behind small businesses are people’s livelihoods and important local jobs.
I have been chatting to a number of small businesses in my community of Southsea and will continue to work with them to help bring an end to the recent spike in crime affecting them. 
Together as a community we must continue to support local traders who do so much for our city’s economy”.
The recent spate of crime targeting business in Portsmouth comes following the announcement last week that police-recorded crime in England and Wales has risen by 10% – the largest annual rise for a decade. 
The National Police Chief’s Council voiced its concern that this rise in crime is coinciding with a reduction in police workforce numbers. 
Chief Constable Simon Byrne, the National Police Chief’s Council’s lead for Criminal Justice, said:
“The 10 per cent rise in police recorded crime causes us concern, particularly when the number of police officers is at its lowest since 1985.
Fighting crime is core to what we do, but we need government support to stabilise our funding and to encourage key partners to do all they can to help us prevent crime.”
Anyone with information about recent crimes affecting small businesses in the city should contact the police in the usual way by calling 101.


Stephen joins armed forces scheme

Portsmouth South’s new Member of Parliament, Stephen Morgan, has joined the Parliamentary Armed Forces scheme.
The programme gives MPs and peers direct experience of the British armed forces and aims to improve the quality of the debate on military issues in Parliament.
MPs complete 15 days of service in order to graduate with a requirement to complete a range of activities including shadowing frontline personnel, visits to bases and key sites and meetings undertaken during parliamentary recess.
Stephen Morgan MP said:
“Every day our armed forces commit heroic acts of bravery in our name. They do so to defend our national security and interests.
At a time when our forces are being asked to do more overseas in a radically and fast-changing security landscape, in my view it has never been more important for Parliamentarians to understand the challenges they face”.
MPs are given the choice of which service to join for the programme, Army, RAF or Navy. First year participants are granted the honorary rank of Army Major, RAF Squadron Leader or Royal Navy Lt Commander depending on which branch of the armed forces they choose to join.
In light of Portsmouth being home to the Royal Navy, Stephen has signed up to this vital service, starting the scheme this week with a briefing at the Ministry of Defence and collection of standard issue uniform for MPs from the Wellington Barracks, Westminster.
Stephen added:
“Whilst coming from a family background in the armed forces – my grandfather left Southsea on D-Day on his seventeenth birthday as part of Operation Overlord – I haven’t had first-hand experience of working in the armed forces.
I want to speak with authenticity in the House on issues affecting our armed forces. This direct experience will allow me to ensure informed debate and decisions in Parliament and be a strong voice for our armed forces in Portsmouth up in Westminster.
I relish this opportunity as another way to champion the views of those who work so hard day in, day out to defend our nation”.


Largest rise in crime in a decade

Responding to the crime statistics released today which revealed the largest rise in recorded crime in a decade, including an 18% jump in violent crime, Portsmouth South’s Member of Parliament, Stephen Morgan has warned that police officer cuts were “leaving our communities exposed”.
The overall figures released show that police numbers have fallen for the seventh consecutive year despite the promises made to protect both frontline policing and the budget in real terms.
At the same time, the latest Crime Survey statistics show the highest annual rise in police recorded crime in over a decade with an 18% rise in violent crime and a 26% rise in the murder rate.
Since 2010 police funding has been cut by £2.2bn which equates to in excess of 20% for each police force. The indepdendent Inspectorate of Constabulary has observed policing is now in a “potentially perilous state“ with a range of “dangerous and disturbing practices“ including investigations being shelved, vulnerable victims being let down and tens of thousands of dangerous suspects at large.
The Government promised in 2015 to protect the budget in real-terms. But the central government element has fallen between 2015-2018 by £330m. The reality of this means that police forces are once again being forced to cut the frontline.
Stephen Morgan MP said:
Our police are at breaking point with crime on the rise. Yet the Government continue to force real terms cuts on our police service.
Hampshire Constabulary officers work day in, day out to keep our communities safe yet the rise in crime demonstrates that the Tories have left our communities exposed.
In recent months we’ve seen an increase in attacks on local small businesses. I’ve been liaising with the police to tackle this issue and stand up for small business owners across Portsmouth, but the government are letting us down with this task.
People in our community want to see the local police given the resources and the officers they need. The government must do more to fight crime and anti-social behaviour. That’s what the people of Portsmouth expect”.
Louise Haigh, Labour’s Shadow Policing and Crime Minister said:

These damning new figures prove that this government cannot be trusted to keep our communities safe.
Thanks to years of Conservative cuts, police numbers are now the lowest on record, at a time when forces are under unprecedented pressure. You can’t protect the public on the cheap.
This is the grim legacy of seven years of Tory austerity; dedicated police officers fighting hard to keep the public safe with fewer officers per head than ever before. Labour will recruit another 10,000 new police officers to help keep us safe.”

Stephen gets sneaky peek at new tenner

Portsmouth South’s Member of Parliament Stephen Morgan joined the Bank of England’s Chief Cashier, Victoria Cleland, in Parliament on 19 July to find out more about the new £10 note featuring the world-renowned author Jane Austen.
Stephen Morgan MP tested the new tactile feature on the £10 note which helps blind and vision impaired users identify their value – a first for Bank of England banknotes.
The tactile feature is a series of raised dots in the top left-hand corner and has been developed in conjunction with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB). This is in addition to the elements already incorporated in Bank of England banknotes for vision impaired people; the tiered sizing, bold numerals, raised print and differing colour palettes.
Victoria Cleland said:
The new £10 note celebrates the life of Jane Austen whose novels are loved by many across the world. The Bank is proud to mark her contribution to British culture, particularly in this anniversary year and we are looking forward to the note entering circulation from 14 September.”
As it is made of polymer, the new £10 note is cleaner, safer and stronger. It joins the Churchill £5 in the first family of polymer Bank of England banknotes and a new £20 note featuring J.M.W Turner will follow in 2020. The £10 note contains sophisticated security features which make it very difficult to counterfeit. It will last at least 2.5 times longer than the current paper £10 notes – around 5 years in total – and stay in better condition during day to day use.
Stephen Morgan MP said:
“The new £10 note will be issued on 14 September 2017, so the public here in Portsmouth will begin to see them in the following days and weeks as the notes leave cash centres around the country and enter general circulation. I’m looking forward to spending my first one supporting a local business in our great city”.
The public can continue to spend paper £10 notes as usual and these will be gradually withdrawn as they are banked by retailers and the public. Legal tender status of the paper £10 featuring Charles Darwin will be withdrawn in Spring 2018 with the exact date being announced at least three months in advance.


It is time to lift the cap

Public sector workers’ real wages in 2017 are down thousands of pounds a year compared to 2010, the TUC has found, and Stephen Morgan MP is calling the government to act.
A TUC report, published this week, states that prison officers, paramedics and NHS dieticians are all down over £3,800 a year. Firefighters are down nearly £2,900, while nuclear engineers and teachers are down approximately £2,500.
Lifeguards’ real pay is £2,200 lower than 2010, while crown prosecutors’ have seen a pay fall of £4,400.
Workers across the public sector have seen their real pay fall for seven consecutive years, as the result of artificial government pay restrictions.
Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:
“Thousands of people delivering Portsmouth’s public services from job centres to hospitals, schools to the local council, have seen six years of pay freezes and pay caps that means many public sector workers will have seen their pay cut by over £2,000 in real terms.
I’m really worried about what that is doing to morale, recruitment and retention of workers in many of our most in-demand services in our great city. Public service staff have worked so hard to maintain the quality of services at a time when we’ve seen budgets cuts and resources dwindle.
Public servants are the lifeblood of the essential services in our communities. It is time the government acts and lifts the pay cap”.
A post-election poll by the TUC showed that 76% of voters want to give public sector workers a pay rise – including 68% of Conservative voters.

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Small businesses are the backbone of our economy

Small businesses are the backbone of our economy accounting for 99.3% of all private sector businesses at the start of 2016 and 60% of all private sector employment in the UK or 15.7million people.
The Conservatives have neglected the needs of small business in favour of tax breaks to big business that has failed to stimulate investment and create the high-skilled, well paid jobs the country needs.
The Conservatives’ cliff-edge approach to Brexit risks our access to the single market and damaging all business by prioritising an economically damaging, undeliverable and unworkable cap on immigration at all costs.
Stephen Morgan, Labour’s first ever Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:
“Labour has a positive plan to support local business and would increase lending to SMEs through a network of regional development banks and reintroduce the lower small business corporation tax rate”.
Plans also include:

  • Introducing statutory annual revaluations to stop businesses facing periodic and unmanageable hikes, and guarantee a fair and transparent appeals process.
  • Bringing forward CPI indexation so that businesses aren’t paying more because of how inflation is measured
  • Excluding new investment in plant and machinery from future business rates valuation to encourage investment.
  • Fundamentally reforming the business rates system to ease the burden on traditional high streets and town centres in the age of online shopping and to create a fairer system of business taxation

Stephen added:
“I am fully committed to supporting small businesses in Portsmouth. They are at the heart of a strategy for growth, jobs and an economy that works for all.
In recent months a number of local traders and shops have been affected by crime. This is a huge concern and I will continue to liaise with the police and those businesses affected.
I regularly meet local businesses across the constituency and look forward to further discussions in the coming weeks so that businesses continue to be the backbone of the economy in our great city”.


Stephen joins Labour's communities team

Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South’s first ever Labour MP, has joined the party’s Communities and Local Government Team it was announced today, serving as the Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government’s Parliamentary Private Secretary.
Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State, confirmed the appointment in the Chamber on Monday evening.
The brief of the team includes shadowing the Government’s agenda for councils and communities to create great places to live and work, and to give more power to local people to shape what happens in their area.
Councils deliver vital local services to our communities, but their budgets have been slashed by Conservative cuts. This has led to a deterioration of local services, from bin collection to road repair, and the loss of community assets such as libraries, youth centres, and other important services.
Labour wants to see power devolved to local communities, giving them a greater say over economic development and reforming the planning system so that communities can shape the kinds of high streets, homes, and amenities that they want.
In accepting the appointment Stephen Morgan MP, said:
“The Tories have let down councils across our nation. Labour will reform the way local government is funded to ensure councils have a more sustainable future and that communities benefit.
In Portsmouth our great city has had a bad deal from government and our council and our communities have suffered as a result.
I am pleased to be appointed the Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government’s PPS and look forward to working with Andrew and his team to unlock the potential of every single community”.

Universal credit is failing 

Citizen’s Advice have published a report on Universal Credit with fresh evidence that it is causing debt and financial insecurity among recipients.
The advisory charity surveyed 800 people who sought help with universal credit in pilot areas, finding 39% were waiting more than six weeks to receive their first payment and more than half (57%) were having to borrow money to get by during that time.
Stephen Morgan, the new Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:
“The Government’s plans for universal credit are in chaos. It is clear there are flaws in the scheme which need urgent attention”.
The Tories’ cuts to universal credit means that on top of the design and delivery issues, it fails to make work pay, compounding people’s ability to make ends meet. 
Debbie Abrahams MP, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said:
“In spite of this Government’s warm words about making Britain fairer, their tax and spending choices have done the opposite.”
The evidence from Citizens Advice is the latest in a long line of warnings about problems with universal credit, which involves wrapping six existing benefits into a single monthly payment. 
Stephen added:
“Labour will invest to reform universal credit. Our plans will create a social security system that, like the NHS, is there for us all in our time of need.”