, , , , ,

Shadow Minister criticises Chancellor for pay cut to Armed Forces personnel

Stephen Morgan MP has criticised the Chancellor for administering a real-terms pay cut to Armed Forces personnel earning over £18,000.

This comes as new analysis from Labour has revealed that Chancellor Rishi Sunak will hit every key worker earning over £18,000 in England with a real-terms pay cut this year.

It is estimated there are around 8,880 Armed Forces personnel in Portsmouth, many of whom are likely to face the cut.

In November’s Spending Review on 25 November, the Chancellor announced a ‘pay freeze’ for all public sector workers earning above £24,000 in 2021-22.

NHS workers weren’t included, while those earning less than £24,000 were promised “a fixed increase of £250”.

Taking into account inflation over the next fiscal year, that means every non-NHS public sector worker earning over £18,000 will actually get a real-terms pay cut.

The Shadow Armed Forces Minister and Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented:

“It cannot be right that just at this crucial stage when our Armed Services have stepped in to support the efforts to tackle the coronavirus, many in Portsmouth and across the country will receive a real-terms pay cut.

“Our Armed Forces deserve better and should be rewarded for their efforts, not be punished in having their pay cut, particularly at this moment.”

Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds, added:

“Key workers have kept our country going throughout this crisis, but now Rishi Sunak wants to give over a million of them with a real-terms pay cut.

“Not only is that poor reward for their hard work, it’s economically irresponsible. If families have less money to spend, then businesses will suffer and the recovery will take longer.

“The Chancellor must think again, and cancel plans to cut Universal Credit, hike council tax and cut pay for our police officers, teachers and Armed Forces personnel. They shouldn’t have to carry the can for this Government’s mistakes.”

Mr Morgan has previously called on the Chancellor to reverse the public sector pay freeze.

, , , , , ,

Shadow Minister demands ‘clear and credible’ plan to protect and vaccinate armed forces

Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan has called on the government to set out how and when armed forces personnel will receive the Coronavirus vaccine.

It comes as the number of troops deployed to support the Covid-19 response hit 5,000 and new analysis of Ministry of Defence Statistics revealed that the average weekly number of Coronavirus tests administered to defence staff per week is just 1,901.

The Opposition has called for a ‘clear and credible plan’ to protect troops on the ground, who are providing practical support to roll out the vaccine and community testing.

Government figures suggest that the number of confirmed cases in defence personnel jumped to an all-time high of 3,291 in December, up by more than 1,000 on the previous month.

Earlier this week, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace raised hopes when he appeared to suggest that troops helping with Coronavirus response would be prioritised in some way.

But no further clarity has been forthcoming, prompting concerns over the welfare of troops on the ground.

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

“The armed forces are doing vital work to support frontline staff at this critical juncture in our work to vaccinate Britain. Our world-renowned troops should be utilised as much as possible to speed up vaccinations.

“In the immediacy, government must rapidly ramp up testing for our armed forces, who are putting themselves at greater risk of contracting the virus.

“The Defence Secretary must also set out a clear and credible plan to vaccinate our troops, particularly for those who are to be deployed for longer periods of time.

“We must protect those who are protecting us.”

 

, , , , ,

Portsmouth MP challenges Chancellor over hitting every key worker earning over £18,000 with a pay cut – including over 160,000 across South East

New analysis by the official opposition reveals that Chancellor Rishi Sunak will hit every key worker earning over £18,000 in England with a real-terms pay cut next year.

This includes over 160,000 key workers in the South East region – the teachers, police officers and Armed Forces personnel on the front line of the battle against Covid-19.

At the Spending Review on 25 November, the Chancellor announced a ‘pay freeze’ for all public sector workers earning above £24,000 in 2021-22.

NHS workers weren’t included, while those earning less than £24,000 were promised “a fixed increase of £250”.

Taking into account inflation over the next fiscal year, that means every non-NHS public sector worker earning over £18,000 will actually get a real-terms pay cut.

In the South East, this includes:

  • 15,829 police officers
  • 79,778 teachers
  • 32,365 civil servants, including tax inspectors, prison officers and probation officers
  • 38,150 members of the Armed Forces

On top of the pay freeze, the Spending Review also contained a one-billion-pound council tax bombshell hidden in the small print and a cut to Universal Credit that will hit those who can least afford it.

 The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said,

“Just when our key workers need Government support through this challenging winter period, instead of rewarding them for their heroic efforts this year, the government chooses to give them a pay-cut.

“This is a completely unacceptable way to treat those have been there to protect and support us when we needed them most and I will be challenging the government for its justification on this.”

Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds MP said:

“Key workers kept our country going this year, but the Chancellor has rewarded over a million of them with a real-terms pay cut.

“It’s totally irresponsible to hit workers in their pockets when the economy is so weak, but the least the Chancellor can do is be upfront about it.  

“Instead, he’s trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the police officers, teachers and Armed Forces personnel who’ve kept the country going during this pandemic.

“They shouldn’t have to carry the can for this Government’s mistakes.”

, , , , , ,

Shadow Armed Forces Minster warns Government ‘must not repeat the mistakes of previous defence reviews’

Stephen Morgan MP has warned the government to not repeat the mistakes of previous defence review and keep Armed Forces personnel at the heart of its forthcoming Integrated Review.

This comes following the announcement made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who today in the House of Commons announced a £16.5bn injection over four years.

Government defence spending has seen a real terms fall in overall defence spending by over £7bn over the last 10 years. This includes a ‘blackhole’ in the 10-year Equipment Plan budget that widened to £13bn this year, from £7bn from the year before.

As of 1 April 2020, the full-time trained strength of the UK Armed Forces was 132K, a shortfall of just under 12K (8%) below the government’s target.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented:

National Security is Labour’s first priority and today we welcome the PM’s statement on the long-overdue upgrade in defence spending. We were promised the most ambitious and comprehensive review in a generation and we expect the government to deliver it.

But this smacks of too little, too late, and a spending announcement without a strategy. The government has once again delayed the publication of the Integrated Review until at least the New Year and there’s still no clarity on its strategic goal.

Year on year we have seen a fall in defence spending and in our Armed Forces’ numbers. This decade of decline poses a risk to our security and our Forces personnel. It must end now and we await further details if the govt will provide the MoD with a fully-resourced spending plan that meets our capability needs for the future and keeps our Armed Forces at its heart.

I will continue to hold the government to account on this to ensure our armed forces get the very best.”

Mr Morgan has consistently raised concerns about Government defence spending and its impact on Armed Forces personnel, as well as its impact on the people of Portsmouth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

, , , , ,

“Although apart, we will remember our fallen together this year”

On this year’s Remembrance Day, it is vital we continue to support all those who bravely serve our nation by keeping us safe and recognise the sacrifices they have made this year and throughout our country’s history, together.

This year has been an incredibly challenging year for us all. But thanks to the incredible work and sacrifice of our Armed Forces, we have continued to navigate our way through this crisis.

This year also marked the 75th anniversaries of the UN, VE Day, VJ Day.

Three quarters of a century on, our Armed Forces once again mobilised to support and protect us from a truly global threat in the form of the Covid-19 pandemic.

During this time of Remembrance, it is important we recognise and reflect on the sacrifices made by the Armed Forces community and their families, both this year and the years before.

The events of this year are a stark reminder that our safety and security must never be taken for granted.

But whilst Remembrance ceremonies across the country will take place differently this year, we can all still join together in paying our respects to those who have made incredible sacrifices to support and protect us.

This year, members from across the House and both front benches have offered their support for the campaign supported by the Royal British Legion, inviting people from around the country to stand on their doorstep for a two-minute silence on Remembrance Sunday.

This initiative will allow people to honour those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, while ensuring that everybody stays safe.

This way, people can join neighbours, local communities and millions from across the United Kingdom, and from across the world, to recognise those who have sacrificed so much to keep us safe throughout our country’s history.

This year our Armed Forces community have continued to inspire us all with incredible ingenuity.

No less so than the fantastic Captain Sir Tom Moore, raising nearly £33million for NHS Charities Together in April by walking laps of his garden, finishing on his 100th birthday.

It is this incredible conviction from Armed Services personnel, supporting our country even beyond their service which is so deeply inspiring.

Just as members of our Armed Forces community this year showed such an unwavering determination to support our country, whether that be veterans raising money for our much cherished NHS, our military personnel of today constructing the Nightingale Hospitals, or support of mass testing, it is now our turn to make sure we, the British public, show our support and recognition of the Armed Forces community through their service and beyond.

This year, Remembrance Day and its respective ceremonies will be different, but this year has also underlined the British public’s ability to adapt.

On this year’s Remembrance Day, it is vital we continue to support all those who bravely serve our nation by keeping us safe and recognise the sacrifices they have made this year and throughout our country’s history, together.

Although apart, we will remember our fallen together this year

On this year’s Remembrance Day, it is vital we continue to support all those who bravely serve our nation by keeping us safe and recognise the sacrifices they have made this year and throughout our country’s history, together.

This year has been an incredibly challenging year for us all. But thanks to the incredible work and sacrifice of our Armed Forces, we have continued to navigate our way through this crisis.

This year also marked the 75th anniversaries of the UN, VE Day, VJ Day.

Three quarters of a century on, our Armed Forces once again mobilised to support and protect us from a truly global threat in the form of the Covid-19 pandemic.

During this time of Remembrance, it is important we recognise and reflect on the sacrifices made by the Armed Forces community and their families, both this year and the years before.

The events of this year are a stark reminder that our safety and security must never be taken for granted.

But whilst Remembrance ceremonies across the country will take place differently this year, we can all still join together in paying our respects to those who have made incredible sacrifices to support and protect us.

This year, members from across the House and both front benches have offered their support for the campaign supported by the Royal British Legion, inviting people from around the country to stand on their doorstep for a two-minute silence on Remembrance Sunday.

This initiative will allow people to honour those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, while ensuring that everybody stays safe.

This way, people can join neighbours, local communities and millions from across the United Kingdom, and from across the world, to recognise those who have sacrificed so much to keep us safe throughout our country’s history.

This year our Armed Forces community have continued to inspire us all with incredible ingenuity.

No less so than the fantastic Captain Sir Tom Moore, raising nearly £33million for NHS Charities Together in April by walking laps of his garden, finishing on his 100th birthday.

It is this incredible conviction from Armed Services personnel, supporting our country even beyond their service which is so deeply inspiring.

Just as members of our Armed Forces community this year showed such an unwavering determination to support our country, whether that be veterans raising money for our much cherished NHS, our military personnel of today constructing the Nightingale Hospitals, or support of mass testing, it is now our turn to make sure we, the British public, show our support and recognition of the Armed Forces community through their service and beyond.

This year, Remembrance Day and its respective ceremonies will be different, but this year has also underlined the British public’s ability to adapt.

On this year’s Remembrance Day, it is vital we continue to support all those who bravely serve our nation by keeping us safe and recognise the sacrifices they have made this year and throughout our country’s history, together.

Stephen Morgan MP 

 

 

 

, , , , ,

Portsmouth MP votes to protect Armed Forces personnel

Stephen Morgan MP today voted to protect Armed Forces personnel by voting against the controversial Overseas Operations Bill, a proposed new law which has been widely criticised by military personnel, legal experts and respected charities.

The Bill has also been challenged by the Royal British Legion (RBL) in that government plans risk breaching the Armed Forces Covenant.

MPs debated the Bill in the House of Commons today (Tuesday 3 November) during report and third reading with Labour putting forward a series of amendments to protect Armed Forces personnel, after repeatedly requesting the government work across the House and the Shadow Defence team to get the bill right.

The Shadow Minister for the Armed Forces led the Official Opposition’s team through bill committee, raising concerns the Bill will harm military personnel and veterans’ rights, as well undermine the Armed Forces’ and Britain’s international reputation.

The Bill has faced criticisms from Members of Parliament on both sides of the House, as well as the Director-General of the Royal British Legion and the former Judge Advocate General, the most senior military judge in the country.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The opposition has tried at every stage to work with the government to get this Bill right and protect our service personnel and veterans.

“Unfortunately, this Bill does not do what it says on the tin: it does not effectively deal with the issue of vexatious claims and will afford more protections for the MoD, not our veterans and service personnel.

“In its current form, this Bill would give our Armed Forces fewer rights than prisoners. This is no way to treat our service personnel and Labour have argued this must be changed.”

The Royal British Legion Director General, Charles Byrne, was clear in his evidence that the Bill risks breaching the Armed Forces Covenant by preventing British Armed Forces personnel from holding the MoD to account when it fails to properly equip personnel, or when it makes serious errors that lead to death or injury of British forces overseas.

The RBL also agreed with Labour’s argument that this Bill does more to protect the MoD than it does the forces.

Critics have also pointed out that forces personnel and their families who have been put through the trauma of long-running investigations are offered little to no legal or welfare support from the MoD. There is no effective duty of care recognised by the MoD to British service personnel who are subject to legal action. But this Bill does not to address duty of care standards, or provide legal, pastoral and mental health support.

Responding to these concerns raised and as the Bill now heads to the House of Lords for further scrutiny, the city MP added:

“No party should ever play party politics with the Armed Forces. Labour want to ensure they receive the appropriate support, protection and access to justice. However, this is a dishonest Bill that is not fixing the problem.

“The Bill does more to protect the MoD and the government’s approach is inflexible and wrong. I will continue to hold the government to account on this Bill and stand up for the many service personnel and veterans in both Portsmouth and the wider country.”

 The Portsmouth South MP has consistently spoken up for the Armed Forces community and veterans of Portsmouth and the nation as a whole.

He recently called for greater support and pastoral care for service personnel who are subject to investigations or litigation after overseas operations.

, , , , ,

City MP calls for new MoD duty to support forces personnel

This week Stephen Morgan MP argued for a new MoD duty to support forces personnel who are subject to investigations or litigation after overseas operations.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South and Shadow Armed Forces Minister argued for the change in parliament this week, who wants to secure this change in the Overseas Operations Bill, to make the legislation better following widespread criticism.

Mr Morgan, commented,

“I’m proud to have led the opposition’s Bill committee team through this stage of the Overseas Operations Bill, and I am glad we have been able to raise this important issue at this stage.

“I believe it is vital that the MoD face up to its proper duty of care to our Armed Forces personnel and their families, and provide the support and guidance that they require when it is needed.

“Labour is working to build a constructive consensus on the changes needed so this Bill does more to protect British service personnel and less to protect the MoD.”

The Shadow Defence Secretary, John Healey MP, also added,

“Personnel tied up in long-running investigations or legal action have told me they felt cast adrift by the MoD. I want to make the MoD face up to its proper duty of care to our Armed Forces personnel and their families”.

Expert witnesses giving evidence to the Commons committee on the Bill last week confirmed that troops and veterans who are accused of misconduct are given next to no legal or welfare support from the MoD throughout the investigations, which in some cases have taken years.

Hilary Meredith [Director of Hilary Meredith Solicitors, a legal firm that represents the forces] told MPs:

Parliament had an inquiry into what support they were given. Basically, there was none.”

Others also criticised the Bill for doing more to protect the MoD than service personnel, by placing a hard six-year block on civil claims from troops against the Ministry if they are injured overseas.

Royal British Legion Director General Charles Byrne confirmed his view of the Bill to MPs:

“I think it is protecting the MOD, rather than the service personnel”

Labour proposed today at committee a new ‘duty of care’ clause in the Bill which forces the MoD to set a new standard for legal and wellbeing support given to personnel and veterans under investigation or litigation. The clause requires the Defence Secretary to publish, every year, any failures to meet this standard and the action required to improve shortcomings.

Stephen Morgan MP has consistently committed to protecting and improving the welfare of service personnel, and has pledged to continue to do so through the final stages of the Bill and beyond.

, , , , , ,

Remembrance Sunday: City MP backs call for doorstep two-minute silence

Stephen Morgan MP has joined calls including by the Royal British Legion for a doorstep two-minute silence, giving people a new way to honour our fallen heroes on Remembrance Sunday 2020.

Remembrance Sunday will look very different this year, as social distancing means many parades and memorials have been called off.

At 11am on Remembrance Sunday (which is 8 November this year), people around the country will be encouraged to stand on their doorstep for a two-minute silence.

The aim of the initiative will allow people to honour those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, while ensuring that everybody stays safe.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South and Shadow Armed Forces Minister, said:

“This year we will not be able to come together on Remembrance Sunday in the same way we would usually, to stand together to remember the millions of people from across the United Kingdom, and from across the world, who sacrificed so much to keep us safe.

I’m delighted to support this campaign, backed by the Royal British Legion, that will ensure that we can together honour those who have paid the price for our security, whilst also ensuring we can do so safely.

I urge all the people of Portsmouth to step forward and remember those who have served or made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Mr Morgan has continued to encourage the city council to do all it can to allow people to safely mark Remembrance in the city. He has been pushing the government to issue guidance to local bodies for Remembrance Sunday 2020.

The leader of the opposition, Sir Keir Starmer MP, has also joined the Royal British Legion and others in backing the initiative.

 

 

 

, , , ,

Shadow Armed Forces Minister seeks views of reservists across Portsmouth

Recognising the crucial role that reservists play in the operational capability of the armed forces, Stephen Morgan MP is offering troops the opportunity to voice any concerns or ideas on how to improve life for reserves.

The MP’s action comes in the wake of the Reserves in the Future Force 2020 programme drawing to a close and government embarking on The Reserve Forces 2030 Review. These two government-led programmes seek to both grow the numbers and role of reserve troops.

Government has drawn fire as recent statistics have shown they have yet again failed to meet their recruitment targets. Concerns have been raised that the overall trained strength of personnel within the FR2020 programme on 1 April 2020 was 33,000, a deficit of 2,141 against the target.

In addition, Ministers have been criticised for refusing to classify reserves as veterans when it comes to National Insurance contributions, sparking outrage as many reserves saw action in major theatres of war such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr Morgan’s event will give reserves a platform to discuss these matters and any others effecting the reserve community.

Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“With reservists playing integral roles in almost all modern theatres of war and harbouring a great deal of experience such as our cyber capability, it is vital that these troops are effectively integrated across our armed forces.

Government has a responsibility to make becoming an armed forces reserve both an attractive prospect and beneficial to maintaining national security.

That is why I am hosting a roundtable meeting, to ensure that as the reserve force grows, the views and concerns of our troops are at the forefront of discussion.”

The City MP is encouraging people to register their interest in taking part in an online event or by sharing views by emailing stephen.morgan.mp@parliament.uk

 

, , , , , ,

Schools have crucial role to play in ensuring relevance of Remembrance for today

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has written to all headteachers in the constituency urging schools to mark Remembrance by taking advantage of new educational resources from The Royal British Legion.

As the national champions of Remembrance, the Legion is committed to ensuring that Remembrance is understood and available to every child and community in the UK.

Seeking the participation of schools for Remembrance in classrooms comes at a time when question have been raised over ceremonies across the country whilst local councils await guidance from Government on ensuring events are delivered safely.

Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan MP said:

“To highlight the importance of Remembrance the Legion has produced a suite of educational resources for children to enjoy in the classroom and at home.

These resources come in a variety of formats, from book clubs and lessons to assemblies and arts projects. Created in partnership with the National Literacy Trust and others, the resources will enable teachers, parents and families to bring Remembrance to life.

I urge schools in Portsmouth and across our country to use these helpful resources ahead of Remembrance later this year”.

The resources have been designed to support primary and secondary schools, at what has been a very challenging time, to deliver National Curriculum linked learning and support the wellbeing of children.

They are available to download for free from the Teaching Remembrance hub at: www.rbl.org.uk/teachingremembrance