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City MP calls on Government to reverse aid cuts

Stephen Morgan MP has today called on the Government to ‘do the right thing’ and reverse cuts to the aid budget.  

Despite being announced as a key manifesto pledge, the Conservative Government announced last year that it would cut aid spending from 0.7% of the national income to 0.5% – a reduction of more than £4bn.

Britain is the only G7 nation to cut aid during this global crisis and now its allies are taking note.

Cutting the aid budget means:

  • Cutting funding by more than 70% to a research programme that tracked Covid variants, including the Indian variant.
  • Cuts to education programmes by 40% will result in 700,000 fewer girls receiving an education.
  • Researchers on a cutting-edge £15m programme aimed at advancing gender justice and security in 22 countries were told that they would only receive a third of their promised funding this year with less than four months’ notice, placing women and girls in low income countries “under the threat of violence”.

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

This Government is stubbornly refusing to reverse its decision over cuts that are callous, short-sighted and counter-productive.

“The aid budget is in place to support the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. In cutting this budget during a global crisis, the Conservative Government is retreating from our moral duty.

“Simply put, cutting access to clean water, quality education, and basic healthcare will lead thousands of people to die who would otherwise have lived. Government must think again.”

Preet Kaur Gill MP, Labour’s shadow international development secretary, also said: 

“The strength and depth of support for protecting the aid we send to help the world’s poorest is clear. 

“The Conservative Government is leaving the UK isolated by being the only country in the G7 to cut this budget while most are increasing. A failure to reverse the cuts would entirely undermine our ability to solve global challenges, from the pandemic to the climate crisis. 

“Rather than trying to evade another vote, the Government must end its retreat and reaffirm its commitment to spending 0.7% of national income with a clear timeline.”

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City MP catches up on progress of Southsea Coastal Defence Scheme

Stephen Morgan MP has visited the Southsea Coastal Defence Scheme to catch up on its progress.

The Southsea Coastal Scheme is the UK’s largest local authority-led coastal defences project, worth more than £100M, which the city MP helped secure from various funding sources.

It will stretch for 4.5km from Old Portsmouth to Eastney, and help to reduce the risk of flooding to more than 10,000 homes and 700 businesses.

Phase one of six of the Southsea Coastal Scheme started in September 2020.

In its latest update, the project shared bay five of eight has now been completed, as well as continuing work on the west of Spur Redoubt, section by section, digging out, attaching beams and backfilling once complete.

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

“It was really good to be on-site today and see how this critical infrastructure is progressing.

“The project team is working hard to engage with local businesses and community groups to avoid any disruption it may be causing now and in the future as the scheme progresses and it was helpful to share some of the feedback I have received from local residents.

“It’s vital we get this once in a lifetime opportunity to protect our city and help avoid the risk of flooding to local homes and businesses. I am keen to ensure the team delivers this scheme on budget, on time and to the highest standards our city expects.

“I will continue to work alongside the council to ensure Southsea Coastal Defence Scheme delivers the very best for our city and the public realm Portsmouth deserves.”

Mr Morgan has previously spoken in parliament on the importance of Southsea Coastal Defence Scheme and similar projects, to ensure they get the support they need from government to protect communities across the UK from material flood risks.

The city MP has committed to continuing to raise of the need for flooding protections in order to safeguard the interests and livelihoods of constituents.

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Portsmouth MP calls for ‘discriminatory’ Voter ID policy to be ‘urgently abolished’  

Stephen Morgan MP has called for the ‘discriminatory’ Voter ID policy to be ‘urgently abolished’.

It comes following the recent Queen’s Speech when the Government formally announced its plans to introduce mandatory Voter ID at the next election.

This policy would require voters to present photo ID to vote at polling stations in future elections.

Labour have called on the Conservatives to urgently rethink the policy, raising concerns that the policy will reverse decades of democratic progress and threaten to bar millions of people from exercising their democratic right to vote.

Since this policy was first announced in December 2016, the Government has received multiple warnings from charities, civil society figures and campaign groups that mandatory voter ID – if rolled out nationally – could pull up the drawbridge for millions of voters.

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

“Voter ID is a total waste of taxpayers’ money. The policy is set to cost millions of pounds at every election. 

“Voting is safe and secure in Britain. Ministers should be promoting confidence in our elections instead of spreading baseless scare stories which threaten our democracy.

“Millions of people lack photo ID in this country – in particular the elderly, low income and Black, Asian and ethnic minority voters. The Conservatives are reversing decades of democratic progress and urgently need to rethink this pointless policy.

“I will continue to work on behalf of the people of Portsmouth to ensure this damaging piece of legislation is not implemented.”

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Armed Forces Day event celebrates service past and present

Shadow Armed Forces and Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan was joined by Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey, veterans, and Navy cadets for a tour of Portsmouth’s historic dockyard on restored landing craft to celebrate Armed Forces Day.

Veterans from the Second World War, the Falklands and the first Gulf War were joined by 12 cadets and three adult volunteers from 6 Royal Naval and Royal Marines Volunteer Cadet Corps based in Whale Island, HMS Sultan in Gosport and HMS Collingwood in Fareham.

Politicians, veterans and cadets boarded the restored F8 landing craft, used in the Falklands, HSL102, which rescued airmen during the Battle of Britain, and MGB81, used at Normandy on D-Day.

They then toured around the harbour, taking in sights of Portsmouth’s historic dockyard, before landing on the slipway.

Joe Cattini was one of the veterans in attendance. Now 98, Mr Cattini served with the Royal Artillery during the Second World War, including D-Day and the liberation of France, Belgium and Holland.

Originally formed at Eastney Barracks in 1901, the Volunteer Cadet Corps celebrated its 120th birthday in February 2021.

Portsmouth South MP and Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan said:

“I am delighted to be honouring the service of personnel past and present in the home and heart of the Royal Navy this Armed Forces Day.

“We stand squarely behind our armed forces. The enduring example of service and duty set by those I have met today should be celebrated all year round, not just this week.

“That’s why we’ve launched our veteran’s survey and why Labour has put forward amendments to the Armed Forces Bill to make real improvements in the day-to-day lives of our forces.

“The Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust have been instrumental in bringing this event together. I’d like to thank their brilliant staff and pay tribute to their ongoing efforts to preserve our City’s strong naval and military history.”

Shadow Secretary of State for Defence John Healey said:

“Our Armed Forces work to protect the country and keep us all safe, theirs is the ultimate public service. They’ve played an essential part in helping the nation through the Covid crisis and Labour is proud that British Forces are respected worldwide for their all-round excellence – training allies, fighting terrorism, securing open seas, peacekeeping in conflicts.

“Armed Forces Week is a special week when we can all say a special ‘thank you’ for the service and sacrifice of our Forces, their families and veterans.”

Hannah Prowse, CEO of Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust, said:

“We are honoured to be the custodians of this part of Portsmouth’s naval heritage.  The civilian story of the support for our armed forces – exemplified by the Dockyard – can not be underestimated.  We are justly proud of the role played by the men and women of the armed forces – and by the families, businesses and communities that support them.”

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Armed Forces Week: Labour launches veterans survey ahead of key debate in Parliament

Labour has launched a veterans survey for members of the Armed Forces community in Portsmouth and across the country today, ahead of a key debate in Parliament when Stephen Morgan MP led the party’s efforts to secure improvements to the government’s Armed Forces Bill.

The survey will gather the views of veterans, veterans’ charities and support groups on the quality of support that is already in place and additional support that could be given to make sure that no veterans are left behind.

The consultation has been launched as the Commons today debates the Armed Forces Bill, where Labour will accuse the government of cutting help for veterans and failing on their pledge to Forces personnel to put the Armed Forces Covenant, a charter designed to ensure the Armed Forces and their families are treated fairly, fully into law.

Labour will also look to widen the scope of the Armed Forces Bill to deliver on the promises of the Covenant in areas like employment, pensions, compensation, social care, criminal justice and immigration; address the scandal of visa fees for Commonwealth veterans; and improve service justice by pushing for rape and serious offences to be tried in civilian courts.

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.

Service charities are also concerned that the scope of the Bill is too narrow, containing nothing specific on issues like employment. Labour will be pushing to widen the scope of the legislation to ensure that all areas of potential disadvantage are addressed and end the ‘postcode lottery’ on veteran’s access to services.

During his speech in the House of Commons debate today, the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South and Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan, is expected to say:

“The Bill piles new and vague legal responsibilities to deliver the Covenant on a wide range of public bodies, but mysteriously these do not apply to central government.

“In practice, this would create a farcical reality where the chair of school governors has a legal responsibility to have ‘due regard’ to the Armed Forces Covenant, but government departments – including the Ministry of Defence – would not.

“As the Legion themselves have pointed out: ‘many of the policy areas in which members of the Armed Forces community experience difficulty are the responsibility of national government or based on national guidance.’

“Ministers must not be allowed to outsource the delivery of the important promises of the Armed Forces Covenant.

“The Bill’s limited focus on housing, healthcare and education risks creating a ‘two-tier’ Covenant.

“This could start a race to the bottom on standards in other areas and will bake in the existing postcode lottery on access to services.

“Social care, pensions, employment and immigration are among the long list of areas we know will not be covered by this once-in-a-Parliament piece of legislation as it stands.

“The exclusion of the Ministry of Defence in the responsible public bodies also means the Bill offers little to actively serving personnel – who have gone above and beyond to support our frontline response to the pandemic in the past year.

“Labour’s amendments 1 – 4 would force Ministers to take the same legal responsibility for delivering the promises of the Covenant as they are placing on other public bodies.”

On issues relating to Commonwealth veterans, it is expected he will say:

“Labour’s amendment would see those who have served more than four years pay only the cost price for their application for ILR. That’s 234 pounds, down from 2,389 pounds.

“That’s a 90% reduction and a long-overdue step towards ensuring these veterans can live in the country they have fought for.

“The new Veterans Minister proudly supported similar proposals as a backbencher. In 2019 he signed a letter with more than 60 Conservative MPs urging the then Chancellor to drop the fees.

“Our amendment New Clause 7 gives the Minister the chance to deliver on his promise to these veterans.”

The Portsmouth MP, added:

“As a nation we have a responsibility to all of our citizens; particularly those who put their lives at risk to keep us safe. 

One veteran who doesn’t get the support they need is one too many. We cannot let anyone slip through the cracks.

“That’s why this Armed Forces Week I am launching Labour’s local veterans’ survey in Portsmouth to hear from local veterans and veterans’ charities about their experiences – as I continue today to work to secure the support they deserve from the government’s Armed Forces Bill.”

The debate for the Armed Forces Bill will be taking place this afternoon in the House of Commons.

To complete the survey visit: https://action.labour.org.uk/page/84779/data/1

 

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Portsmouth MP calls government out on ‘meagre’ catch-up proposals for local schoolchildren

Stephen Morgan MP puts pressure on ministers in the House of Commons for the ‘meagre’ catch-up for proposals for schoolchildren in Portsmouth. 

Today the city MP used departmental questions to ask the Government their plans to properly support pupils in Portsmouth, lobbying Ministers with written questions. 

It was recently revealed average achievement at the end of compulsory education is lower in Portsmouth compared to the rest of the country, especially for young men.  

Currently, 46% and 59% of boys and girls in Portsmouth achieve 5 or more good GCSEs at age 16 (i.e. grades A*-C), whereas in England this is 52% and 62% for boys and girls. 

Meanwhile, children across the South East have missed an estimated 101 days of in-person school – over half a normal school year – but the Conservatives’ education ‘catch-up’ plan provides just 0.93 per child for every day of in-person school missed.  

It comes after an outcry when the Chancellor rejected recommendations from Boris Johnson’s expert education advisor, Sir Kevan Collins, for a comprehensive package of support for children’s education post pandemic, risking the futures of hundreds of thousands of children and leading to Sir Kevan’s resignation. 

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

Young people are likely to be one of the most severely impacted groups by this pandemic and a first-class education for them will be key for both their own development and our city’s recovery. 

“This government’s current catch-up plan proposals for young students, who missed so much due to this pandemic, fall far short from where they need to be and Portsmouth and the wider region can no longer be an afterthought for this government if we are to truly reset our economy for the better. 

“Young families in Portsmouth deserve so much more and I will continue to push Ministers into action to ensure our city gets the support it deserves.” 

The Portsmouth representative has welcomed Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan – aligned in ambition and scale to Sir Kevan’s recommendations – which would deliver investment of £982 million into the South East to ensure all schools can deliver a new range of activities and support – from sports to drama or music – to fuel post lockdown recovery, whilst starting to address the entrenched learning gap which sees children on free school meals falling behind their peers. 

Mr Morgan has also submitted a range of parliamentary questions and lobbied Government on greater support for early years and childcare providers across Portsmouth and the country. 

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Local MP votes to block Developers’ Charter and protect Portsmouth residents’ right to be heard in planning decisions

Stephen Morgan MP has voted in the House of Commons to block the hated Developers’ Charter, a Government plan to hand control over planning decisions to developers and gag communities from speaking out against inappropriate developments in their area.

In an Opposition Day Debate on Monday, the Official Opposition called a vote to protect local people’s right to object to individual planning applications, after the Government announced plans to rip up the planning system in the Queen’s Speech.

The Government’s proposed reforms of the planning system will remove powers from elected local representatives and hand them to Whitehall-appointed boards of developers while doing nothing to solve the growing affordable housing crisis.

Boards will oversee a new zonal system that allows developers to build at will in areas designated for growth.

Communities will be consulted only in the development of five-yearly local plans and will be stopped from intervening in individual planning applications.

Conservative Ministers have claimed that the reforms are needed to speed up housebuilding, even though over one million planning permissions have not been built out in the last decade.

Conservative MPs have repeatedly signalled their opposition to the reforms, expressing fears about the party’s cosy relationship with developers.

The Conservative Party received £11 million in donations from developers in Boris Johnson’s first year as Prime Minister and £891,000 from developers in the first three months of 2021 alone.

The latest action in the House of Commons by the Portsmouth MP follows his efforts to lobby Government over the city’s unsustainable housing targets set by Whitehall, and Mr Morgan’s success in securing a meeting with the Housing Minister to discuss planning and housing concerns.

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

“By refusing to vote with Labour, the Conservatives have shown Portsmouth and other communities whose side they’re on: wealthy developers that increasingly bankroll their party.

“Under the Developers’ Charter, Mr Johnson’s wealthy developer chums will be set loose to bulldoze and concrete over local neighbourhoods at will. Local residents will be gagged from objecting even if an oversized development threatens to blight their own street.

“Labour believes that good development can only happen when developers and communities work together, but the Developers Charter hands control to developers in what looks like payback for their massive increase in donations to the Conservative Party.”

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Langstone Harbour: Portsmouth MP tours ‘valuable’ local Marine Biology Institute at University of Portsmouth

Stephen Morgan MP has toured the University of Portsmouth’s ‘valuable’ Institute of Marine Sciences as he continues to work with others to protect the local environment and tackle sewage pollution.

The city MP met with Professor Alex Ford, Director of Research Degrees at the School of Biological Sciences for the University of Portsmouth, as he was shown around the Institute of Marine Sciences.

Professor Ford explained what the School of Biological Sciences is doing with respect to pollution, nitrates and habitat restoration in the city’s local harbours.

Mr Morgan has been liaising with the Environment Agency and lobbying Government and Southern Water, urging the water company to set out its plans to address treatment capacity and tackle excessive sewage discharges, particularly in and around Langstone Harbour.

According to a recent report from Surfers Against Sewage, only 16% of inland waterways in England meet “good ecological status” and none of them pass the chemical tests.

In the same report, Surfers Against Sewage said recent Government and water company commitments were welcome, but do not go far enough to tackle the root causes of sewage pollution.

They also warned the widespread and routine use of Combined Sewage Overflows (CSOs) and the growing popularity of water sports as summer approaches, risks deepening a public health crisis.

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

“It’s helpful to see the work our local university is doing to understand the impacts of pollution on our local marine environment, as well as the wider research the Marine Institute is conducting too.

“Students in Portsmouth are incredibly fortunate to have such a valuable place to learn and I am really grateful to the university and Professor Ford for what they have been able to develop here.

“Our local water environment is one of our most prized assets for us as a city, including places like Langstone Harbour, so I welcome what Alex’s incredible insight into what challenges it is facing and what more can be done to protect it.”

Professor Alex Ford, also said:

“We are delighted to be able to show Stephen Morgan MP around the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of Portsmouth where we have a number of important projects looking into the impacts of pollution entering the local harbours, and importantly, our efforts to restore key marine habitats including oyster reefs, seagrass, saltmarsh and kelp forests.

“We are fortunate to be living around internationally important coasts of wading birds and nursery sites of fish and shellfish.

“For these wildlife communities to thrive we need to better infrastructure, live more sustainably and adapt to climate change.”

In addition to lobbying Southern Water and meeting with Professor Ford, Mr Morgan has engaged with the Solent Protection Society, Hayling Sewage Watch, the Environment Agency, submitted parliamentary questions and met with local campaigners to improve the quality of local bathing waters.

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City MP joins vote to force Chancellor to ‘come clean’ on blocking children’s education in Portsmouth

Stephen Morgan MP has today joined Labour Party colleagues in triggering a binding vote in the House of Commons to force the government to publish all communications – including emails and text messages – between the Treasury, Department for Education and Prime Minister’s office regarding the rejection of recommendations for children’s pandemic recovery from Boris Johnson’s expert education advisor, Sir Kevan Collins.

The vote comes after an outcry when the Chancellor rejected Sir Kevan’s recommendation for a comprehensive package of support for children’s education post pandemic, risking the futures of hundreds of thousands of children and leading to Sir Kevan’s resignation.

Children across the South East have missed an estimated 101 days of in-person school – over half a normal school year – but the Conservatives’ meagre education ‘catch-up’ plan provides just 0.93 per child for every day of in-person school missed.

The Portsmouth representative has welcomed Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan – aligned in ambition and scale to Sir Kevan’s recommendations – which builds on the incredible efforts of our education system during the pandemic, by giving all schools the resources to deliver a new range of activities, from sport to music, boosting wellbeing and social development while supporting every child’s learning and investing in education staff.

To build on the incredible work of teachers, school leaders, teaching assistants and support staff during the pandemic, Labour’s plan would deliver investment of £982 million into the South East to ensure all schools can deliver a new range of activities and support – from sports to drama or music – to fuel post lockdown recovery, whilst starting to address entrenched learning gap which sees children on free school meals falling behind their peers.

The member of parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“We all deserve to know the reasons why the Chancellor rejected such a vital plan for our children’s future.

“The Conservatives have treated our children and young people as an afterthought throughout this pandemic and are now failing to deliver the investment needed to help their recovery.

“Labour’s innovative plans, informed by parents, teachers and children, will deliver not just a world-class education for all children in Portsmouth based on play and social development, but fulfilled and confident young people vital for our economic recovery.”

Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Bridget Phillipson MP, added:

“There has been nothing but silence from the Chancellor since the government’s own advisor resigned in protest at his recommendations being scrapped.

“And there has been no reassurance for parents and children as to how the government will help support their wellbeing and development after such a difficult 15 months for their education, mental health and development.

“At the very least, we all deserve to know the reasons why the Chancellor rejected such a vital plan for our children’s future, and unless he U-turns soon, blocking this investment could see our economy take a hit of hundreds of billions of pounds. It’s the ultimate false economy.”

Earlier this month, Mr Morgan backed Labour’s education recovery plan and has also submitted a range of parliamentary questions and lobbied Government on greater support for early years and childcare providers across Portsmouth and the country.

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City MP labels PM as ‘far too slow’ and ‘letting business down’ as Covid restrictions extended

Stephen Morgan MP has criticised the government for giving one week’s warning to the country that national Covid-19 restrictions will be extended by four weeks.

Since the emergence of the Delta or ‘Indian variant’, cases of Covid-19 have been on the rise, with concerns if infections levels are not brought under control, too much pressure could be put on NHS capacity.

Since 11 May, the rate of cases per 100,000 over a 7-day period in the UK has risen from 22.4 to 67.5, according to the latest available data published by the government.

Meanwhile in Portsmouth, over the same period, the rate of cases per 100,000 has risen from 7.9 to 28.4.

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

“The Prime Minister promised us a way out of this. With the delta variant now dominant in the UK, and 73 per cent of delta cases in unvaccinated people, ministerial incompetence has sadly led us to this decision.

“The government has acted far too late, leaving businesses and others in Portsmouth incredibly anxious while they wait on the government that for too long dithered and delayed to make this decision.

“We must be driven by the data on decisions like these, but it has come far too late.”

The Portsmouth MP has also been contacted by a number of constituents on the impact of the government’s decision on the wedding industry.

The local representative added:

“The hospitality industry is likely to be one of the worst affected industries by today’s announcement, with a quarter of the industry still closed.

“I know from my postbag many are also concerned by the impact this decision could have on their businesses involved in the wedding industry, and I will continue to do all I can to secure the support and greater certainty they need.”

Mr Morgan has vowed to continue to engage a range of local businesses on the impact of the government roadmap and lifting of restrictions.