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Portsmouth MP votes against ‘discriminatory’ Voter ID policy and calls for it to be ‘urgently abolished’

Stephen Morgan MP has voted against the government’s ‘discriminatory’ Election Bill and has called for it to be ‘urgently abolished’.

The Bill, if passed, would require voters to present photo ID to vote at polling stations in future elections.

The Official Opposition has called on the government to urgently rethink the policy, raising concerns that it would 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, commented,

“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.

“That’s why I voted against the Bill last night and will continue to hold the government to account on this.”

 

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Reactive statement to social care reform proposals – Stephen Morgan MP

Responding to the government’s announcement on funding for social care today, the member of parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“The social care system is in crisis, but the government’s manifesto breaking proposals to fund its reforms would hit working people hardest, particularly low earners, young people and businesses still recovering from the impacts of the pandemic.

“The fairest way to pay for social care is through progressive taxation, not a rise to national insurance that is not only morally backward, but economically too.

“I have written to the Prime Minister, launched a city-wide survey and hosted a local meeting with the Shadow Minister responsible on this issue. I am also currently holding roundtable meetings with care providers and service users and I will continue to ensure the government produces the comprehensive response this crisis demands.

“Portsmouth and the wider country have for too long needed a clear and long-term plan that is serious about fixing the social care crisis quickly, not one that kicks the can down the road.”

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Portsmouth MP joins The Reading Agency to encourage people to combat loneliness and promote wellbeing through reading  

Stephen Morgan MP has met representatives from The Reading Agency to offer support for their new ‘Read, Talk, Share’ campaign.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South met the group to hear about the new initiative to combat loneliness and promote wellbeing through the proven power of reading.

The Reading Agency’s work to tackle loneliness and support mental health and wellbeing has played an important part in the nation’s Covid recovery. Its ‘Reading Well’ and ‘Reading Friends’ programmes have already demonstrated the power of reading to support and connect isolated individuals.

Enabled by a £3.5 million award by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, ‘Read, Talk, Share’ will expand the already successful ‘Reading Well’ and ‘Reading Friends’ programmes run by the charity.

The Reading Agency are working closely with Portsmouth libraries and organisations to reach communities through reading, talking, and sharing.

Stephen Morgan MP commented,

“I am delighted to support The Reading Agency’s excellent work to combat loneliness and promote wellbeing through reading.

‘The pandemic has taken an undeniable toll on our health and wellbeing. The Reading Well and Reading Friends programmes are important tools to help improve our mental health as we emerge from the immediate crisis.

“With helpful books recommended by health experts now easily accessible to readers for borrowing and e-lending from Portsmouth libraries I encourage anyone needing support to check with their local library for more information.”

Karen Napier, CEO of The Reading Agency, said,

“Tackling loneliness and supporting mental health and wellbeing across the country has always been a priority for The Reading Agency. The ongoing Covid-19 crisis’ impact on the country’s mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing cannot be underestimated, and our Reading Well and Reading Friends programmes are perfectly placed to assist the nation in recovery.

“We are immensely grateful to DCMS for their support – this feels like a real vote of continued confidence in the role of public libraries and their important contribution to society.”

During the meeting Stephen also heard about this years’ Summer Reading Challenge.  Delivered in partnership with public libraries and funded by Arts Council England, the Challenge encourages children to read over the summer holidays, providing lots of fun as well as helping to prevent the summer reading ‘dip’.

Each year the Challenge motivates more than 700,000 children to keep reading to build their skills and confidence. This year’s theme is Wild World Heroes, created in partnership with WWF and illustrated by award-winning children’s author and illustrator Heath McKenzie.

The Portsmouth MP added,

I am pleased to once again supporting The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge, which encourages reading for pleasure for children aged four to 11 over the summer holidays.

“I look forward to seeing those who take part at the Awards Ceremony at Southsea Castle on Sunday 19 September to collect their medal.”

To take part visit any Portsmouth library to sign up, get a free pack and choose some books to get started. Alternately, you can sign up online at www.summerreadingchallenge.org.uk

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Portsmouth MP tells Government to honour Afghanistan evacuation heroes

Stephen Morgan MP has called on the government to reward service personnel who took part in the evacuation of Afghanistan with medals.

More than 1,000 UK personnel took part in Operation Pitting, which airlifted 15,000 people fleeing oppression and persecution to safety as the country fell to the Taliban.

The mission was the largest of its kind since the Second World War and Labour has said that this ‘astonishing feat’ deserves formal recognition.

The Portsmouth MP and Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan has written to the Defence Secretary to urge him to honour service personnel with medals.

Under existing criteria, troops would not receive medals as the mission did not meet the 30-days continuous service for which they are awarded.

Labour has dismissed this as an ‘arbitrary timeframe’ and said that the criteria for medallic recognition needed to shift to reflect the changing nature of conflicts that our armed forces are involved in.

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

Despite the government’s woeful mismanagement of the Afghanistan crisis, no one can deny that the bravery, compassion and integrity of our armed forces displayed during their dangerous mission deserves formal recognition.

“Ministers should swiftly move to honour the heroic efforts of our service personnel with medals. The only thing standing in the way of this is stuffy conventionalism.”

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Portsmouth MP relaunches advice centre with local charity as city steps up response to Afghan crisis 

Stephen Morgan MP has relaunched one of his regular advice centres with local charity Friends without Borders to provide a more direct route for those in his constituency seeking shelter and support.

The charity, which provides support for asylum seekers within the Portsmouth area, will host the Portsmouth representative and a member of his casework team once a month for a dedicated 90-minute surgery for local asylum seekers.

It comes as the city steps up its response to support those fleeing the humanitarian crisis currently unfolding in Afghanistan. Portsmouth City Council has welcomed at least three families so far, with a further six expected over the next few weeks.

Mr Morgan’s office has been dealing with dozens and dozens of cases in recent weeks, liaising with the Home Office and relevant government departments to ensure those that are eligible get the urgent support they need.

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

“I know our city will be wanting to play its part in supporting those families that have had to leave Afghanistan, as well as those fleeing many other humanitarian crises unfolding at the moment.

“In addition to the recent influx of Afghan related cases my office has been dealing with, I’m glad to be able to once again set up my monthly face-to-face advice centre at Friends without Borders, who have done tremendous work over the years.

“It’s so important those who need it most get access to the support and benefits they need from government. I will be doing all I can to support them in the weeks and months ahead.”

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Government response to ‘90,000’ HGV driver shortage is ‘kicking the can down the road’, says local MP

Stephen Morgan MP has labelled the Government’s response to tackle a shortage of HGV drivers as “kicking the can down the road”.

The driver shortage has been estimated to be between 76,000 to 90,000 drivers, according to Logistics UK. (1)

It comes after a range of senior Labour frontbenchers responded to an open Government letter to the road haulage industry, underlining that the new measures are not enough to address the scale of the shortage crisis. (2) (3)

This shortage existed before the Covid-19 pandemic but has been worsened by Brexit making the UK a less attractive location for overseas drivers, primarily due to increased bureaucracy at UK borders.

In a joint letter, the five frontbenchers said the Government have only offered “short-term solutions” which risk compromising the safety of already exhausted drivers, increasing their working hours, and putting road users in danger by diluting test requirements for new drivers.

The letter warns food shortages could last through to the end of the year and urges the Government not to “ruin yet another Christmas for British families, after the chaos of last year”.

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

“These government measures responding to the HGV driver shortage crisis will just kick the can down the road for another year.

The shortage is having a severe impact on businesses and consumers right now, locally and nationally, yet the Government is doing nothing to boost recruitment, particularly of women – which could make a crucial difference to the number of drivers.

“Government must take the steps needed to deal with the driving test backlog, invest in upskilling UK workers, and act swiftly to boost driver recruitment. This means not ignoring half of the population and taking steps to encourage more women into jobs in the industry.”

One of the frontbenchers who signed the joint-letter, Kerry McCarthy MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Roads and Future Transport, also said:

“This crisis is affecting businesses and consumers now, and the Government needs to understand that.

 “Labour would take the steps needed to deal with the driving test backlog, invest in upskilling UK workers, and act swiftly to boost driver recruitment. Crucially, we would do this all without compromising road safety.”