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Ministers shirk responsibility to deliver for Armed Forces in once-in-a-Parliament legislation

A cross-party group of MPs has raised concerns that government Ministers are outsourcing their responsibility for serving personnel and veterans in a report published today.

The Armed Forces Bill is set to make local authorities and other public bodies legally responsible for delivering the promises in the Armed Forces Covenant. But services provided by central government functions – including the Ministry of Defence – are currently exempt.

Service charities have raised concerns that long-standing problems for service communities will not be covered by the legislation in practice, including service accommodation, social care and visa fees for commonwealth troops.

General Sir John McColl, Chief Executive of Cobseo, said: “There is a moral requirement for Government to comply with the Covenant. That is fine as long as it works, but in some cases it absolutely does not work.”

General Sir John raised the ongoing plight of commonwealth veterans, who are forced to pay eye-watering fees to remain in the country they have served. The Royal British Legion estimates that up to 300 people per year are affected.

The Royal British Legion’s Laura Pett said: “The fact that only certain aspects of housing, healthcare and education—namely, those that are not the responsibility of the Secretary of State—are also omitted is further cause for concern.”

The National Audit Office has found that thousands of armed forces personnel were living in sub-standard accommodation.

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation conceding that “too many” were affected by problems with heating and hot water in evidence to the Committee.

At present the Bill would do nothing to address this crucial issue, which 26% of tri-service personnel say increases their likelihood of leaving service.

The Defence Secretary mysteriously vetoed the Committee’s planned virtual visit to service accommodation at the last moment.

Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan MP said:

“This government is missing a once-in-a-Parliament opportunity to make real improvements to the lives of service personnel, veterans and their families.

“The Armed Forces Covenant should represent a binding commitment to service communities. They will see straight through this government’s attempt to outsource responsibility for delivering it.

“In a year where our armed forces have stepped up to support frontline efforts to tackle the Coronavirus as well as their ongoing commitments abroad, it simply isn’t good enough.

“Ministers should listen to the concerns raised in this report and strengthen the Bill when it returns to the Commons and deliver on their repeated promises of support for our forces”.  

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City MP backs Keep Britain Tidy’s million-mile mission to clean up Portsmouth’s lockdown litter

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has pledged support to a litter-picking initiative to allow it to flourish across Portsmouth as the pandemic restrictions continue to ease.

Keep Britain Tidy, Britain’s favourite environmental charity, is asking everyone to pledge to do their bit to clear up the litter that blights our communities as part of the Great British Spring Clean. The Portsmouth MP has signed up to help and is encouraging residents and groups across the city to get involved too.

The Great British Spring Clean, now in its sixth year, brings together individuals, community organisations, businesses and councils to make a difference to the environment on our doorstep.

In 2019, more than half a million #LitterHeroes collected just under a million bags of litter, weighing around 4,308 tons.

Encouraging fellow residents to get involved, Stephen Morgan MP, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:

“Locked down, many people across Portsmouth have come to rely on green space close to home which has become a significant somewhere to escape, exercise and play.

“Our city’s parks and open spaces have mattered to us more than ever before. That’s why I am pleased to support this year’s Keep Britain Tidy campaign.

“The Great Spring Clean is a brilliant way to keep active and at the same time make a difference in our area.

I encourage fellow residents, local groups and businesses to join me in showing some love for the special places that helped us through lockdown by helping to clear up our city’s precious open spaces”.

Over the Bank Holiday weekend the city MP was out with local Milton campaigner Paula Savage clearing up litter safely in local parks.

The campaign, which runs from 28 May – 13 June 2021, calls on the public to pledge to clean-up and help the charity achieve a million miles of litter-picking. 

This year’s campaign comes as the charity has reported a massive increase in the number of people who have started litter-picking during the various lockdowns. It has seen the number of #LitterHeroes grow by a third in less than 12 months.

Keep Britain Tidy Chief Executive Allison Ogden-Newton added:

“We are delighted to have the support of Stephen Morgan MP for this year’s Great British Spring Clean.

“We have all spent a lot more time in our local area in the past year and have come to realise just how important our local park or green space is for our mental and physical health.

“We need to care for these spaces and the Great British Spring Clean is an opportunity for everyone to take a small action that, collectively, can make a big difference.

“Whether you commit to do five minutes or five hours, every single pledge will help us reach our million-mile target and clear many tonnes of litter pollution from our environment.”

Keep Britain Tidy is asking everyone to pledge to do their bit to clear up the litter in their local green spaces. Anyone can pledge to get involved at www.keepbritaintidy.org/gbspringclean

 

 

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City MP backs Community Energy plan

Today campaign group, Power for People, thanked local Portsmouth MP, Stephen Morgan, for supporting a new Bill in Parliament that would help rebuild local economies whilst increasing clean energy generation.

The proposed new law, known as the Local Electricity Bill, is supported by a cross-party group of 259 MPs. If made law, it would create a new ‘Right to Local Supply’ of energy that would empower communities to sell locally generated electricity directly to local households and businesses.

Currently customers can only purchase electricity from nationally licensed utilities. The Bill’s supporters say this means money people use to pay their energy bills is not helping to rebuild local economies and local clean energy infrastructure.

Campaigning group, Power for People, are calling for MPs and the government to make the Bill law and are leading a supportive coalition of organisations including Community Energy England, Community Energy Wales, Community Energy Scotland, Good Energy, WWF, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the RSPB. 67 local authorities have also pledged their support.

Stephen Morgan, MP for Portsmouth South said,

“I am pleased to support the Local Electricity Bill which will empower and enable new community energy companies to sell energy that they generate directly to local people, helping to strengthen local economies.

“This is urgently needed given the economic shock of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Bill will also help accelerate our transition to clean energy, which is critical in avoiding the potential economic and ecological devastation of climate change. I will do all I can to ensure it becomes law.”

Power for People’s Director, Steve Shaw, said,

“We thank Stephen Morgan for supporting the Local Electricity Bill. If made law, the Bill would unleash the huge potential for new community-owned clean energy infrastructure and for this to boost local economies, jobs, services, and facilities in communities across the country.”

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City MP redoubles calls for a fair NHS pay rise as figures show 300,000 staff worked unpaid overtime during Covid crisis

Labour has today redoubled its efforts to secure a fair pay rise for NHS workers after figures revealed an increase in the number of NHS staff working unpaid overtime during the Covid crisis.

The latest figures from the NHS staff survey reveal over 300,000 staff worked unpaid hours in the past year. Almost 13,000 more staff reported working overtime compared to 2019, suggesting over a million hours of unpaid overtime were worked during the pandemic.

Under the Government’s current pay proposals, nurses and other NHS staff who were promised at least a 2.1% pay rise will instead see a real terms pay cut of hundreds of pounds.

This follows a real terms pay cut of more than £2,300 in the average salary of a nurse and health visitor under the Conservatives since 2010.

The survey also reveals that less than one third of nurses and midwives are satisfied with their current pay levels, suggesting widespread opposition among NHS staff to the Government’s current proposals.

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

“I know how angry Portsmouth people are about the Government’s plans to give our city’s dedicated NHS staff a real terms pay cut, especially after the year we have had and their commitment during this pandemic.

“That is why I have launched a petition locally to keep piling on the pressure for the Prime Minister to think again.

“After all they have done for us, I know Portsmouth people won’t stand for a Government which is treating our NHS staff in such a shabby way.

“When our city clapped for our carers during the pandemic, we meant it. That’s why I won’t rest until all our brave NHS staff get the fair, long-term, pay settlement they deserve.”

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, added:

“The whole country saw the heroism of our nurses and NHS staff during this pandemic. And the whole country is watching as this injustice continues. Our NHS staff deserve a fair pay rise.

“Whether you live in London or Lancashire, you can send a message to the Conservatives in May that a pay cut for our NHS heroes is an insult. A vote for Labour is a vote to support our nurses.”

To sign the Portsmouth South MP’s petition visit: www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/our-nhs-heroes-deserve-a-pay-rise/

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City MP calls for Clean Air Act at landmark environmental summit

Stephen Morgan MP has joined Labour’s call for a Clean Air Act in a bid to combat the impact of air pollution, following the Official Opposition’s first Clean Air Summit today.

The first summit of its kind to be hosted by a major party, Luke Pollard MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, set out the Party’s demands for a Clean Air Act.

The Clean Air Act would establish a legal right to breathe clean air by ensuring the law on air quality is at least as strict as WHO guidelines, with tough new duties on Ministers to enforce them and grant new powers to local authorities to take urgent action on air quality.

Even before the pandemic, air pollution represented a national health emergency resulting in an estimated 40,000 early deaths each year, costing the UK £20 billion annually.

Meanwhile in Portsmouth, there have been historic issues with dirty polluting air and campaigns to stop the Lib Dem-run council from rolling back the proposed clean air zone plans to finally address the challenge in the city.

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

“We have had historic issues with air pollution in our city and Labour is taking national action to resolve this chronic issue we all face.

“The pandemic has shown us that public health is more important than ever. We need to take every step we can to improve the health of our nation, and that starts with cleaning up our polluted air.

“Our Clean Air Act would give public bodies the powers they need to take even further action and clean up our air for good.”

 

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Portsmouth MP demands government action to tackle violence against women, as local White Ribbon campaign launches

Stephen Morgan MP has demanded in the House of Commons today that the government takes further action to tackle violence against women and girls, as local ‘White Ribbon’ campaign launches this week.

The Portsmouth MP asked the Attorney General what specific action he was taking to ensure the recent spike in domestic abuse cases do not face the same fate in the number cases for rape that do not lead to prosecution.

It comes as this week the local White Ribbon campaign was launched by local community activists Charlotte Gerada and Kirsty Mellor, urging Portsmouth City Council to get behind its pledge to end male violence against women and have the mission for all men to never commit, excuse or remain silent about such crimes on women.

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

“The tragic case of Sarah Everard has caused a public outcry against the continued and rising cases of violence and against women and girls.

“This behaviour, usually men’s, has no place in society and this must now be a turning point to see an end to this awful abuse and behaviour women are subjected to daily.

“I am proud to support the local White Ribbon campaign launched this week here in Portsmouth and thank Charlotte Gerada and Kirsty Mellor for their tireless efforts on this issue.

“I expect Portsmouth City Council to do the right thing now and adopt its pledge in full.”

The MP used the opportunity to mention the initiative in the House of Commons today during departmental questions to the Attorney General.

The Portsmouth South representative asked the Government to ensure cases related to domestic abuse and violence against women are properly heard and given due process, in light of the Crown Court backlog now at an all-time record high of more than 56,000 cases.

Meanwhile, victims of crime are being asked to wait up to 4 years to get to court and many victims and witnesses are dropping entirely because of delays, risking violent criminals being spared prison because of this.

Mr Morgan previously joined Portsmouth Abuse and Rape Counselling Service’s (PARCS) campaign to ‘shrink the elephant’, that aims to raise awareness of issues surrounding sexual abuse and challenge cultural norms that perpetuate abuse.

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Portsmouth MP blasts Chancellor for pay cut to over 23,000 local NHS heroes and key workers

Stephen Morgan MP has condemned the Chancellor’s decision to NHS heroes with a real-terms pay cut this year, as well as other key workers who have kept the country going throughout the pandemic, following new analysis from the Official Opposition.

The new analysis reveals the cut would hit over 23,000 key workers in Portsmouth – the nurses, teachers, police officers and Armed Forces personnel on the front line of the battle against COVID-19.

On Thursday, the Government revealed that they intend to cut the pay of all NHS staff relative to inflation this year.

This comes after the Chancellor announced a ‘pay freeze’ for all other public sector workers earning above £24,000 in 2021-22. 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 also get a real-terms pay cut.

In Portsmouth, this means 1615 teachers will see their pay cut, as well as over 15,000 police officers in the wider region and over 90% of the 38,000 Armed Forces personnel also based in the South East.

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said

“Our key workers and NHS heroes have kept our city going through this crisis, but instead of rewarding them, the Chancellor has hidden in the detail of his Budget a real-terms cut to their pay.

“It is both a morally and economically irresponsible decision: if families have less money to spend, then our local businesses will suffer and only prolong Portsmouth’s recovery from this crisis.

“The Chancellor must think again, and cancel plans to cut Universal Credit, hike council tax and cut pay for nurses, police officers, teachers and our Armed Forces personnel.”

Last week Mr Morgan also criticised the Chancellor for the late extension of furlough and business support schemes, as well the rise in council tax bills for many across Portsmouth.

 

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Our NHS heroes deserve a pay rise 

It is beyond belief that this government claps for our NHS heroes one minute then hands them a real-terms pay cut the next.

The independent NHS Pay Review Body should recommend a real pay rise for our city’s healthcare heroes and the government must honour it.

I want to add my name to this petition on a Real Pay Rise for our Healthcare Heroes*

Thank you for signing our petition. Stephen Morgan MP and the Labour Party will use the personal information you provide for the purpose of the Real Pay Rise for our Healthcare Heroes Petition. Where you have opted in, Stephen and the Labour Party may contact you via the communication channels you have chosen and for the purposes specified. We may also contact you by post using the electoral register, which Stephen is entitled to use as an MP and the Labour Party is entitled to use to further its objectives as a political party. You can opt out of communications from us or manage your preferences at any time. For more information about how we use personal data please visit: www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/privacy-policy

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Our NHS staff deserve better than a 1% pay rise

Responding to the news that the Department of Health has recommended a 1% pay rise for NHS staff, which is expected to equate to a real-terms pay cut, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“It is beyond belief that this government claps for our NHS heroes one minute then hands them a real-terms pay cut the next.

“This is a kick in the teeth for hard-working frontline staff in Portsmouth and across the country, who have gone above and beyond to care for our communities during the pandemic.

“NHS staff deserve better. The independent NHS Pay Review Body should recommend a real pay rise for our healthcare heroes and the government must honour it”.

The city MP has been campaigning alongside local residents and trade unions for a proper pay rise for those that have served on the frontline during the pandemic. He recently met with the Royal College of Nursing and local nurses to understand the impact of ten years of pay restraint and is committed to continue lobby Government on behalf of those working in our NHS.

 

 

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‘Fire and rehire must be outlawed’ says Portsmouth MP in latest call to protect British Gas workers

Stephen Morgan MP has said that ‘fire and rehire’ tactics must be outlawed, and Government must push for ‘real negotiations’ between Centrica and local British Gas workers to take place.

This comes as British Gas engineers across the country are currently striking over its parent company’s use of ‘fire and rehire’ tactics to force changes to workers’ contracts.

The new terms would mean workers could have to work 156 extra hours per year with no additional pay. It would also put shifts on an uncertain six-week roster and extend the period during which engineers could be asked to work each day. Built into these new contracts is also the ability for British Gas to change the terms with 28 days’ notice, with no negotiation.

In a letter sent this week to the Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng MP, calling for Government action, the Portsmouth South MP urged for ‘real negotiations’ to be conducted and disclosed that he had met with engineers in Portsmouth who have been affected by the renegotiation tactics.

According to the letter, the contract dispute has led to ‘stress and anxiety caused by the uncertainty and potential changes to working conditions’.

The letter also described that one British Gas worker said he would find it impossible to balance the extra hours, whilst caring for his partner and home-schooling his 14-year-old while schools are closed.

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

“Our essential workers deserve to be treated far better than this and they should not be having to face this level of uncertainty during this incredibly difficult period.

“Centrica can more than afford to treat and pay their workers fairly and these draconian ‘fire and rehire’ tactics must stop now and be outlawed.

“I will continue to push the government on this to ensure British Gas workers get the fair deal they so richly deserve.”

The parliamentary representative recently met with local British Gas engineers, and members of the GMB union, whose members are currently striking, due to the dispute with Centrica on pay and conditions.