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City MP pays a visit to world-class attractions to encourage Pride in Portsmouth

To mark English Tourism Week (22 to 31 May), today Stephen Morgan MP visited several of Portsmouth’s world-class attractions, including the D-Day Story, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and the Spinnaker Tower, to highlight the importance of the city’s tourism sector and encourage people to join the Portsmouth Champions scheme.

The scheme is designed to ensure everyone working or volunteering in customer-facing roles across the city has the knowledge, skills and enthusiasm they need to promote everything Portsmouth has to offer.

With many people planning to holiday in the UK this year, the programme will enable those in the city’s tourism sector to welcome visitors full of information and passion for Portsmouth.

In preparation for reopening, many destinations have made sure they have the right coronavirus safety measures in place to meet Visit Britain’s national ‘We’re good to go’ standard for Covid-safe tourism.

Visit Portsmouth is also working hard to make sure the city’s tourism industry bounces back after the pandemic encouraging people outside the city to plan a summer trip to Portsmouth to enjoy the attractions, seafront, shopping and events.

Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“Our city has an incredible amount to offer, with the tourism industry being a vital contributor to our local economy.

It’s why I am really keen to support the Portsmouth Champions scheme and have launched my own ‘Pride in Portsmouth’ campaign as a call to action for our community to celebrate and visit our local businesses, key cultural and sporting assets and shine a light on the access to those hidden gems.

I hope this will help to keep the pound in Portsmouth and secure our local economic recovery.”

The Portsmouth Champions training is completely free and can be undertaken by anyone – simply visit portsmouthchampions.co.uk to sign up.

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Government visa fee proposals for Commonwealth veterans to help just one in ten

Proposals to waive visa fees for non-UK service personnel would help just 10% of those who left the Army last year, statistics from the Ministry of Defence reveal.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel announced a public consultation this week (26 May) on proposals which would waive visa fees for those who had served 12 years or more.

But figures from the MoD suggest that this would apply to just 20 of the 200 non-UK personnel who left the Regulars in 2019/20, with the majority serving between 4 and 11 years.

The average length of service for all UK armed forces leavers has been about 10 years since 2015.

Under current rules, Commonwealth personnel face a fee of £2,389 per person to continue to live in the UK after having served at least four years. It means that someone with a partner and two children could face a bill of almost £10,000 to stay in Britain.

The proposed changes also do not apply to family members of those who have served or those who have been medically discharged, meaning they will only help a minority of those affected.

Labour has said the proposals are “frankly insulting” and called the government to extend the fee waiver to all of those who have served four years or more.

Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Commonwealth service personnel have contributed an enormous amount to our national defence and we owe them a debt of gratitude.

“Extortionate visa fees have left non-UK veterans facing financial ruin and feeling abandoned by the country they have served with courage and distinction.

“The government’s long-overdue proposals are frankly insulting, and will continue to prevent non-UK personnel from living in the country they have fought for.

“Commonwealth veterans have already paid for their citizenship once with their service to our country. This government shouldn’t be making them pay twice.”

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City MP pipes up on restrictions for choral singers

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has urged the Culture Secretary to provide clinical justification for the decision to limit amateur singing groups to just six people indoors.

Mr Morgan has written to Oliver Dowden following confusion around the restrictions on choral singing in the City and across the country.
Following the easing of restrictions on 17 May, government guidance was updated to clarify that only six amateur singers can meet indoors, while there is no limit on the number of professional singers.

In the letter, Mr Morgan calls out the “double standard” between amateur and professional singers and highlighted a number of much larger performing arts events, including the Brit Awards, that had been allowed to take place safely.

The letter concludes: “I urge you to publish the clinical evidence underpinning the decision to prevent amateur choral singing in groups of more than six people under covid-19 restrictions, and what plans you have to review this.”

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“Portsmouth choral singers are understandably keen to return to practice and performance at venues across the City, including our magnificent Cathedrals.

“But new guidelines have created a double standard which does not seem to be backed up by clinical evidence. It’s causing confusion and consternation for our singers.

“I have urged the Culture Secretary to provide the clinical evidence underpinning this decision and hope that larger groups of non-professional singers will be allowed to gather as soon as it is safe to do so.”

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Portsmouth MP pays tribute to lost crew of HMS Hood on 80th anniversary

Stephen Morgan MP has paid tribute to the crew of HMS Hood who lost their lives 80 years ago after it was destroyed by German battleship Bismarck in the Denmark Strait on May 24, 1941.

Many of the ship’s crew came from Portsmouth, but their memory continues to be honoured by HMS Hood Association, which ran its #shinealight campaign to remember the local heroes who were killed 80 years ago.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said,

“Today we remember the 1415 crew of HMS Hood who sadly lost their lives after it was destroyed by the German battleship Bismarck in the Denmark Strait on May 24, 1941.

“Many of these men came from Portsmouth, but never returned. 80 years on, we honour their memory.”

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City MP steps up efforts to bring back Southsea parkrun

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has this week taken action to ensure that Southsea parkrun can restart safely.

Responding to concerns raised by the volunteer-led organisation, as well as local residents, Mr Morgan wrote to Public Health Minister Jo Churchill earlier this week.

In the letter, Mr Morgan wrote of the huge ‘physical and mental health’ benefits parkrun provides and urged the government to clarify that it was able to take place once again in line with the roadmap and clinical evidence on Covid transmission.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has now confirmed that parkrun’s plans “follow all the guidelines set out by the government to keep people safe and there is no reason they can’t now take place.” He also urged local councils to do “whatever it takes” to get them back up and running.

Today Mr Morgan met the City Council’s Director of Culture to raise these concerns and find a way to ensure the much-loved community event returns. It is hoped that the event will go ahead on 5 June as planned using an alternative route close-by.

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

 “I’ve seen first-hand the enormous physical and mental health benefits Southsea’s parkrun provides. People really need this as we emerge from the pandemic.

“The events follow all government and clinical guidance, so there should be no barriers to our local runners getting back out there.

“I will continue to work with Ministers and the council to get these events running again as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

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Stephen Morgan MP reaffirms commitment to ‘LET’S STOP AQUIND’ campaign at local protest

Stephen Morgan MP has doubled down on his commitment to the ‘LET’S STOP AQUIND’ campaign after joining local activists at a ‘static protest’ against the project.

Taking place along the local shoreline earlier this afternoon, the Portsmouth MP joined protestors in forming a line around where the interconnector project will be built.

AQUIND has received a heavy amount of criticism over links with backers of the project to the Conservative party, disruption to the local environment it could cause and conflicts of interest of the recently appointed chair of the universities regulator, Lord Wharton.

Mr Wharton is a former Tory MP, current advisor to AQUIND and in his new role as chair of the Office for Students (OfS), now has powers to sanction the University of Portsmouth, which has also expressed its opposition to the project.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, commented,

“I’ve long argued that AQUIND would cause untold damage and disruption with no clear benefits to our local area. That’s why I joined local activists today in showing my opposition again to this development, which must be stopped.

“Beneath the cosy relationships Conservative Ministers have with their billionaire donors and others are choices that affect the day-to-day lives of people in Portsmouth.

“Our city deserves total transparency from this government and a real say in the decisions about the plans and I will continue to do all I can in Parliament to ensure Ministers listen to our demands and reject these proposals”.

A spokesperson for the ‘Let’s Stop Aquind’ campaign, Viola Langley, also said,

“We at Let’s Stop Aquind care deeply about our city and beyond. We call upon Her Majesty’s Government to put a stop to this destructive project.

“We residents demand our objections be heard.”

From a very early stage, Mr Morgan has taken a broad range of actions to halt plans for the largescale infrastructure project, including giving evidence to the Planning Inspectorate expressing his concerns around Aquind, tabling a number of written parliamentary questions and has written a number of letters to Ministers.

He has also vowed to take further action in Parliament in efforts to stop the project in the weeks ahead.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth deploys: City MP pays tribute

For centuries, our city has been a cornerstone of our country’s defence and security.

Our naval history is something we all look back on with immense pride. It is a rich tapestry of significant moments: from as early as 1670 when Portsmouth Dockyard was first established by Charles II in the early formation of the Royal Navy, all the way through to 1998, when the Labour government gave the green light to two new, bigger and more versatile carriers in a watershed moment for UK defence and security.

Soon, we will witness another important milestone in both our city’s and our country’s history, as the largest of these two carriers sets sail on her maiden voyage around the world from HMNB Portsmouth.

Covering over 26,000 nautical miles, alongside our friends from the US and Holland, on her voyage she will be working with Britain’s allies from all over the world, including, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France, Japan, UAE, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Israel, India, Oman and South Korea.

Providing a cutting edge on the carrier’s flight deck will be eight state-of-the-art RAF F-35B Lightning II fast jets. Alongside will be four Wildcat maritime attack helicopters, seven Merlin Mk2 anti-submarine helicopters and three Merlin Mk4 commando helicopters – the greatest quantity of helicopters assigned to a single UK Task Group in a decade. A remarkable accomplishment.

Weighing in at 65,000 tonnes, HMS Queen Elizabeth is the most powerful surface vessel in the Royal Navy’s history and the Carrier strike Britain will be leading will be the largest concentration of maritime and air power in a generation.

Longer than parliament and taller than Nelson’s column, this is the best of British engineering. She was built across six dockyards – Appledore, Birkenhead, Govan, Rosyth, Tyne, and of course Portsmouth – bringing together a combined effort of over ten thousand British men and women to piece her together.

I want to thank them and the crew who will be joining the Carrier Strike Group on this historic voyage, and I know I speak for all of us in wishing them the best of luck and a safe journey.

Stephen Morgan MP

 

 

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Portsmouth MP slams government as new research reveals thousands of local children living in poverty

Stephen Morgan MP has attacked the government today after new analysis published by the End Child Poverty Coalition showed a sharp rise in child poverty in Britain in the last 5 years, with more than 400,000 more children living in poverty after housing costs than in 2015.

Child poverty was rising sharply even before the Covid-19 pandemic, which is feared to have exacerbated the situation even further.

Child poverty is also rising locally and there are now 7,154 children in Portsmouth South living in poverty, an increase of 7.7% from five years ago. A staggering 37.5% of all children in the constituency are living below the poverty line, after housing costs.

Researchers combined data on child poverty published by the Department for Work and Pensions in May with information about local housing costs to build a detailed picture of child poverty across the country.

Mr Morgan has also signed the new “No Child Left Behind” pledge launched today by the National Education Union which says:

“As a Member of Parliament, I pledge to do everything in my power so that no child is left behind in Portsmouth.

“I call for the development of a cross-Government strategy to eradicate the poverty faced by the 4.3 million children currently growing up trapped in poverty. 

“I will use my vote and voice in Parliament to try to stop an expected 730,000 more children being plunged into poverty by 2024. 

“We must value and invest in all our children, so they are supported to learn, succeed, and go on to have bright futures.”

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, added:

“These figures are shocking and heart breaking. This Government has presided over a staggering increase in child poverty, and ministers should hang their heads in shame.

“Boris Johnson talks a good game about levelling up the country, but this Government’s shameful record is one of rising poverty, soaring food bank use and a widening attainment gap.

“I will keep standing up for children in Portsmouth and campaign for a Labour Government that will make tackling child poverty a top priority.

“That is why I am proud to sign the National Education Union’s pledge committing to do everything in my power to ensure no child is left behind.”

The Portsmouth MP criticised the government last year for failing for afford free school meals to children last year. For families in need of support, you can find range of local contacts for foodbanks and other organisations here.

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Portsmouth MP backs Walk to School Week campaign

Stephen Morgan MP has praised pupils in Portsmouth South this week as they celebrate the strides they have made to improve air quality and get active by walking to school, as part of Walk to School Week (17-21 May 2021).

Walk to School Week is organised by Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking. It encourages families to walk, wheel, cycle or scoot to school and see the big differences that come from small steps, from healthier and happier children to fewer cars outside the school gates.

A generation ago, 70 per cent of children walked to school, now it’s less than half. The Government has recognised the importance of walking to school and has set a target to get 55 per cent of primary school pupils walking to school by 2025.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said: 

“Walk to School Week gives children the chance to enjoy fresh air and exercise. It reduces congestion, improves road safety and means we have cleaner air and less problem parking around schools.

“I am proud to support Walk to School Week as it provides a fantastic opportunity for families in Portsmouth to give walking to school a go and see how they could make a more permanent change to their travel plans. “

Mary Creagh, Chief Executive, Living Streets added:  

“Walk to School Week is a fun, inclusive, free and simple activity, which improves the physical and mental wellbeing of children and celebrates walking for all.   

“Pupils enjoy the health and happiness that comes from walking, while schools and local communities enjoy reduced congestion and pollution.

“We’re thrilled that families nationwide are joining us this week and enjoying the fresh air, fun, freedom, and friendship that walking to school brings.”

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Stephen Morgan MP enters Westminster ballot to create new law

Stephen Morgan MP has put his name into a ballot open to all Members of Parliament to have their chance to be selected to table ‘a private member’s bill’.  A Private Members’ Bill is a bill sponsored by a Member of Parliament other than a Minister of the Crown.

The exception to other, regular Bills is that a Private Member’s Bill may not have as its main purpose the creation of a ‘charge upon the people’ (a new tax, a tax increase or a similar kind of charge) or of a ‘charge upon the public purse’ (the establishment of a new cause for public expenditure).

Only a very small minority of bills become law, but these Bills are popular devices to help secure important policy changes from the government.

Examples of previous Private Members’ Bills include:

  • Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018
  • Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Act 2018
  • Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018
  • Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Act 2019
  • Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act 2019
  • Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018
  • Stalking Protection Act 2019.

You can find more of last year’s examples here.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“Today I have entered my name into this ballot to campaign on behalf of the people of Portsmouth. Despite the challenges, I will do all I can to secure the change people in Portsmouth want to see.”

“If I am successful in this raffle like process, I want to make sure that Portsmouth people are right alongside me in changing the law, after all it is the community set to be most affected.”

Mr Morgan has entered the ballot for Members of Parliament in previous years, since being elected in 2017. Constituents are encouraged to get in touch with their ideas and suggestions.