Local MP backs holiday hunger Bill

Across the South East hundreds of thousands of children are at risk of going hungry during school holidays.
The worst affected will be the over 1.1 million children across the country who are eligible for and claiming a free school meal, who will miss out over the holidays.
Millions more could be at risk, as Government figures show that there are nearly four million children across England who are living in poverty, whose families may not be able to afford food.
Real wages are falling in real terms as inflation rises, which will leave more children at risk of going hungry.
Further, figures from the Trussell Trust food bank network show a significant rise in the number of food parcels being provided to children over the summer months, with 67,506 three-day emergency food supplies distributed in July and August 2016, compared with 63,094 in the previous months – an increase of more than 4,000. Just under half of those children were of primary school age, the charity’s research showed.
Stephen Morgan is backing a Private Members’ Bill to finally tackle the issue. The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:
“It is deeply concerning that millions of children across the country are at risk of going hungry during school holidays, and whilst I have welcomed local initiatives more must be done by central government.
The fact that the government is making no central assessment of children at risk, while child poverty continues to rise under the Conservatives, is completely unacceptable.
Child poverty is at a seven year high, and wages are falling, leaving working families worse off.
Every child deserves to be well fed every day, and Labour will introduce a Real Living Wage of £10 an hour to ensure that every family is able to make ends meet”.

Local MP meets community to discuss Rohingya crisis

Members of the local Muslim and Bangladeshi community met with Portsmouth South’s new Member of Parliament yesterday to discuss a number of local and international issues.
The meeting, hosted by the Jami Mosque’s committee at its Victoria Road North site, was well attended by community members and included the submission of a petition on the humanitarian crisis affecting the Rohingya community.
According to the UN, more than 410,000 people have fled Rakhine State for Bangladesh. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights describing this situation as an example of “ethnic cleansing”.
Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, has written with fellow MPs to the Foreign Secretary calling on the government to do more to end the crisis.
Stephen said:
I hugely welcomed the opportunity to meet at the Jami mosque today to discuss with local people how I can continue to put pressure on the government and the international community to bring an end to the humanitarian crisis affecting the Rohingya community.
The government recently announced that it is suspending military co-operation with Burma’s armed forces. Its immediate priority now must be to build on this announcement by putting pressure on the civilian and military authorities in Burma, in co-ordination with our allies, in order to bring the horrific violence in Rakhine State to an end once and for all.
As well as a complete end to all further violence and the burning of villages, it is vital that those people who have lost their homes and been displaced urgently receive the food, water and medicine they need. The Burmese authorities must allow immediate and full humanitarian access and support for all of the people and communities that have been affected”.
Earlier this month, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged authorities in Myanmar to end the violence in Rakhine for fear that the situation could destabilise the region.
Stephen added:
Once the cessation of violence and humanitarian access has been achieved, the work of building a lasting peace must begin. This should build on the recommendations of the recently published report by the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State and include a recognition of the rights and freedoms of the Rohingya people, as well as an end to restrictions on their movement.
The UK and the rest of the international community must stand ready to support that process, but it firstly relies on the civilian and military authorities in Burma living up to their responsibilities within a modern democratic government”.


Local MP joins call to prevent universal credit misery

123 MPs of different parties have signed a letter to David Gauke, Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, to urgently call on him to delay the planned roll out of Universal Credit to 55 new areas a month from next week, to avoid hardship and increased debt for millions of families.
The MPs pointed out how the complicated system of claiming is already struggling to cope with just 5 new areas a month having been rolled out earlier this year.
Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:
“The system for claiming Universal Credit is a shambles, even with only 5 new areas a month. According to the government’s own figures, almost a quarter of claimants wait longer than 6 weeks for their payment. Some families wait 12 weeks or more, pushing many into rent arrears or a spiral of debt that is almost impossible to get out of, as their income under Universal Credit is too low to pay off the loan.
David Gauke must now do the decent thing and delay next week’s planned 11-fold expansion until Universal Credit systems are working properly. If he doesn’t, then hundreds of thousands more families each month will have to suffer weeks with no money, causing them long-term financial problems.
It would be a huge injustice for so many families to suffer simply because the government will not admit they still can’t get Universal Credit working properly.”
The MPs also pointed out that less than 40% of claimants register successfully with the government’s compulsory online portal, and that the phone ‘helpline’ is simply an automatic message, directing claimants to the website, so they can’t find out what is happening with their claim.
Citizens Advice has already called on the government to delay the programme in light of the evidence from the people they help, of whom over half had to borrow money whilst waiting for their first Universal Credit payment. Portsmouth is likely to see the roll out next June with neighbouring areas following shortly after.
Councils and Landlords’ organisations have also called for the roll-out to be delayed as over half of recipients of Universal Credit are in rent arrears. Many tenants are in danger of eviction and some landlords now refuse tenants who are on Universal Credit, making housing problems worse.

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Pledge made to spend £10 per head annually on cycling and walking

Andy McDonald, the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, has pledged that a Labour government would spend £10 per head annually on cycling and walking.
Yesterday evening (Monday 25 September), Cycling UK and Bricycles organised a bike ride in support outside the Labour Party conference in Brighton.
The rally was attended by roughly fourty people campaigning for better cycling infrastructure; this included Stephen Morgan MP (a member of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group), and the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Andy McDonald MP.
At the event, Mr McDonald announced that a Labour government would be committed to spending £10 per head on cycling and walking. The £10 per head figure echoes the amount recommended in the Get Britain Cycling Report, produced by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Cycling.
Commenting on the announcement, Mr McDonald said:
“Our country is blighted by illegal air pollution, crippling congestion and a public health crisis. Cycling and walking can holistically address all these issues in an efficient, cost-effective way.
Labour is committed to ensuring that potential is met and is committed to revolutionising our transport system through cycling and walking.”
Stephen Morgan, Labour MP for Portsmouth South and Honorary Secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, said:
“Labour wants to see cycle use sky rocket, so we can address the many challenges that currently riddle our transport system. I will continue to work with MPs from across the House to ensure the full potential of Space for Cycling can be met.”
Tom Guha, Space for Cycling Campaigner for Cycling UK, said:
“This is a landmark announcement from the Labour Party. Around the country, local political leaders have been doing their best to invest properly in cycling to unlock the many benefits it can bring.
However, it is national funding like this that is necessary if we are to see the cycling revolution we so desperately need.”


More must be done to tackle homelessness

The government has not evaluated the impact of its welfare reforms on homelessness, or the impact of the mitigations that it has put in place, according to the National Audit Office (NAO) which scrutinises how public money is spent.
The number of people sleeping rough on the nation’s streets has more than doubled in recently years whilst there were over 77,000 households in temporary accommodation in England in March 2017, an increase of 60% since March 2011.
These households included 120,540 children, an increase of 73% from March 2011.
The report by the NAO says that homelessness at present costs the public sector in excess of £1 billion a year.
Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South said:
“This report tells us what we expected. The Government are failing to tackle the homelessness crisis in our country.
The NAO have said that the Department for Communities and Local Government does not have a published cross government strategy to prevent and tackle homelessness. This just isn’t good enough”.
In addition, although the report states that whilst DCLG is responsible for tackling homelessness, during its increase, the Department took a light touch approach to working with local authorities. This contrasts with the more interventionist approach that it has taken during previous periods of high homelessness.
Today Portsmouth churches came together at an event hosted by St. Mary’s Portsea to discuss how the city can respond to growing homelessness on the city’s streets. Stephen Morgan MP attended the event which saw presentations from the city council and local voluntary sector.
Stephen added:
The ability of councils to respond to increased homelessness is constrained by the limited options they have to house homeless families.
With the significant reduction in social housing over the past few decades, we must see more homes built for local people”.
While spending by local authorities on homelessness services such as temporary accommodation has steadily increased since 2010, spending on overall housing services has fallen by 21% in real terms over the same period.
Concerned about the impact the introduction of universal credit will have on homelessness Stephen added:
“The government must finally evaluate the impact of its welfare reforms on homelessness, and there remain gaps in its approach which must be addressed.
Homelessness in our country isn’t inevitable, it can and should be prevented”.

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Government turns back on families struggling with high housing costs

New research by the National Housing Federation shows that social housing spending is at a record low.
In responding to these national findings, John Healey MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Housing said:
“Conservative Ministers have washed their hands of any responsibility to build the homes families on ordinary incomes need.
Under Labour in 2009/10 we started building almost 40,000 homes for social rent. By last year this had fallen by 98 per cent to fewer than 1,000.
Ministers try to hide their failure to build more affordable homes by branding more homes ‘affordable’. The Conservative definition of affordable housing now includes homes close to full market rent and on sale for up to £450,000”.
Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South added:
“The Government have turned their back on the millions of families struggling with high housing costs. It’s no wonder that public concern about housing is around the highest level in 40 years.
Labour has a credible long-term plan to build the genuinely affordable homes to rent and buy that our country needs”.
As part of its submission to the ongoing Local Plan review consultation Portsmouth Labour has recently published a plan for affordable housing. The plan aims to tackle the city’s housing crisis by significantly increasing the supply of affordable homes.

Portsmouth MP speaks up for armed forces personnel 

Stephen Morgan, Labour’s first ever Member of Portsmouth South, continued his campaign to support the armed forces today by calling on the Government to finally act over service personnel pay.
Like other parts of the public sector, those who serve in the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force, have seen their pay capped since the Tories came to power in 2010. 
The pay of personnel has been capped yet again at one percent in 2017-2018 which represents another below-inflation pay settlement.
Leading a debate in Westminster Hall today, Mr Morgan said this was not only having an impact on recruitment and rention of personnel, but also stated that the size of the Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy and Royal Marines is now below stated Government targets and the Tories’ own manifesto commitments.
Regrettably no Conservative backbenchers attended to join the debate and speak up for the armed forces in Westminster Hall.
Mr Morgan opened the debate hot footed from the Defence Academy in Wiltshire where he is now on the armed forces parliamentary scheme.

Stephen Morgan MP said:
“Following my maiden speech in the House this week, I wanted to follow up a burning issue armed forces personnel and their families have raised with me. 
So today I secured and introduced a Westminster Hall debate on armed forces pay. 
As the MP for a city which is proud to be home of the Royal Navy, I will always speak up for those who dedicate their lives to defend our nation so we can improve conditions in respect of what they do for us, and to support their families.
The Government must end the public sector pay cap for the Armed Forces. They must give Armed Forces personnel a fair pay rise. That’s what our dedicated service personnel deserve”.
Mr Morgan has pledged to continue his campaign across the House of Commons when Parliament returns from recess in October. 

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Portsmouth's new MP pledges to fight for opportunities for all in maiden speech

Stephen Morgan, Labour’s first ever Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, today pledged to fight for opportunity for all, regardless of birth, class or age.

The “Fratton lad” paid tribute to the public service workers who had encouraged him to believe he could achieve his dreams and in a passionate call to the city’s young people he said: “aim high, work hard and you will achieve. Never, ever, accept anyone telling you you can’t succeed”.
The Labour Member said he was motivated by a simple notion: To ensure that the opportunities of a good education, a good home or a good job aren’t limited to the privileged few but can be enjoyed by all our citizens regardless of where they are born”.
In a wide-ranging speech that covered the city’s proud history and the MP’s own local roots, he lamented the fact that we aren’t doing enough to support the older generation that did so much to bring Portsmouth through its darkest days.
Stephen gave his maiden speech in the House of Commons during a debate about pay for NHS workers and public services, paying tribute to his own public sector worker parents – his father a former youth worker, his mother, a hospital cleaner.
In the ten-minute speech Stephen thanked the people of Portsmouth South for giving him the honour of representing them by saying:
“I promise, as long as I have the privilege of serving in this place, I will be an active local campaigner and strong national voice for Portsmouth, across every single community”.
Stephen won the seat from the Tories with a 21.5% swing in June’s snap general election, taking Labour from third to first.
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On the public services he said: 
“I want the people who keep our communities safe, who educate our children, who defend our great nation, who save lives, to be shown that the people in this place [The House of Commons] understand, value and respect them”.
On the challenges the city and nation faces he said:
“I want to help create a future that is better than the present, where hope replaces division, and everyone, and I mean everyone, is better off.  
We know from our history there is no challenge we cannot face, by working together.
So this is my call to every member of this House, unite to tackle the every day challenges of the many, and by doing this, I know that Portsmouth and Britain’s best is yet to come”.
He concluded his impassioned speech by saying:
Every day, when I, a Fratton lad arrive in this grand place, I will never forget who sent me here…
As my fellow Fratton Park attendees say: Play up Pompey!”

Statement on EU (Withdrawal) Bill

Last night, Members of Parliament voted on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, also known as the “Repeal Bill”.
This Bill is not about whether Britain leaves the EU. Rather, this Bill is about how we leave the EU, what role Parliament has in the process and how we safeguard vital rights and protections as we leave.
I believe that Brexit must not lead to any drop in rights and protections for the people of Portsmouth – including workplace rights, consumer rights, human rights, and protections as we leave – and that power should be brought back to Parliament and local communities.
The Government’s Bill, however, would do precisely the opposite: it would put huge and unaccountable power into the hands of Government ministers – including the power to decide the key terms of our exit from the EU – it would side-line Parliament on major decisions and put crucial rights and protections at risk. Far from bringing back control to Parliament, it would result in a power-grab for the Government.
The Bill would also undermine and introduce restrictions on the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, rather than leading to the wider devolution of power we need to see to communities across all parts of the UK.
Crucially, the Bill could also prevent Britain from being able to negotiate a strong transitional deal on the same basic terms we currently enjoy, which is vital for our economy as we leave the EU.
That is why I voted against the Bill in its current form last night.
It would cause lasting damage to the role and power of Parliament and would do nothing to help deliver the Brexit deal we would need – one that puts jobs and economy first and maintains rights and protections. It would also give a blank cheque to the Government to change whichever laws they please.
Labour has repeatedly raised these concerns with the Government but they have been utterly inflexible and unwilling to engage constructively. My party’s aim has always been to repair this Bill, not wreck it.
The Government has not listened to these reasonable and constructive concerns before last night’s Commons votes on the Bill. If they had, consensus on this important issue could have been reached and a far better Bill introduced.
I will continue to listen to the views of local people on this important matter.


HMS Prince of Wales officially named 

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, attended the naming ceremony for HMS Prince of Wales at Rosyth Dockyard in Scotland today, 8 September 2017. 
The carrier was officially named by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Rothesay.
Stephen said:
“It was an honour to represent the constituency in Rosyth today for this historic occasion, alongside the Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, and formally named by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Rothesay.
After HMS Queen Elizabeth’s successful completion of the first phase of her sea trails programme and entering the home port of our great city last month, the naming of HMS Prince of Wales is another significant milestone in the delivery of these iconic ships, which are of strategic significance to the Royal Navy. The carriers will sit at the heart of the defence of our nation for the next 50 years. 
I pay tribute to the tremendous efforts and outstanding engineering achievements of those who have worked so hard on the aircraft carrier programme. 
These carriers demonstrate what can be achieved in partnership with UK industry, the Ministry of Defence and Royal Navy working collaboratively. 
I now look forward to welcoming HMS Prince of Wales to Portsmouth, the nation’s home of the Royal Navy, in 2019″.