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City MP reacts to ‘disappointing’ new court ruling stating pension age changes are not discriminatory

News has broken that the three senior judge’s ruling on the Court of Appeal challenge have found that despite feeling sympathy for WASPI campaigners, the state pension age did not amount to unlawful discrimination under EU or human rights law.

Committed WASPI supporter, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“It is highly disappointing that millions of women born in the 1950s have lost the Court of Appeal Challenge today, ruling that raising the state pension age did not amount to unlawful discrimination.

This is yet another kick in the teeth for a grassroots movement of inspiring women who have been fighting tooth and nail for justice.

The ruling is deeply disheartening, but we must not lose sight of who is responsible for the origins of this severe injustice. The way in which the Conservative Government has implemented the 1995 State Pension Act has caused turmoil for hundreds of thousands of people, hitting the most vulnerable hardest.

I have had the privilege of working with Portsmouth’s campaigners on this important issue for some time and will continue to support them in their fight for justice.”

Stephen Morgan MP has been a long-time supporter of the WASPI campaign. He has hosted local rallies, held meetings up in parliament, raised the issue through parliamentary questions, and regularly meets with local Solent WASPI organisers.

 

 

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Controversial UK Internal Markets Bill: why I voted against

Following the debate in the House of Commons today, Stephen Morgan MP sets out why he voted in the Second Reading of the Internal Markets Bill.  

Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South said:

“After standing on a pledge during the General Election to ‘get Brexit done’, the government is now in fact undoing it, whilst time is running out to secure a deal.

In tearing up parts of the Withdrawal Agreement that the Prime Minister himself drafted, Mr Johnson is making a monumental admission of failure. Whilst we are in the middle of a pandemic, Portsmouth residents have told me they want Government focusing on saving lives not going over covered ground.

When considering the future of our city, and our nation, there are a number of reasons why I could not vote for the Bill this evening.

Firstly, it empowers ministers to pass regulations even if they are contrary to the withdrawal agreement. This knowingly and openly breaks international law and will frustrate the process of getting a deal.

Former Prime Ministers from Mr Johnson’s own party have commended this flagrant disregard for legislative process over the weekend. You will have seen these comments in the national press. Even as far as America, senior politicians have expressed outrage that the Government is trying to break international law at a time when they are preaching compliance.

Not only does this Bill erode Britain’s reputation on the world stage, it could cause a race to the bottom within our shores, affecting Portsmouth people. Under the law proposed by government this evening, if one nation within the union lowers their standards, for example over the importation of chlorinated chicken, the other three nations will have to accept chlorinated chicken too. These are not the high standards that British people deserve.

Britain’s greatness is built upon our values and the fact we have long stood up for the rule of law. I therefore could not vote to allow the Prime Minister to throw all that away by disregarding an international treaty he personally negotiated and signed up to, undermining our standing in the world. 

Now is the time for competence and consensus, so the country can move on and recover. The Bill put forward by Government did nothing to help us move on and progress. It would let down Portsmouth, and it would let down our nation”.

 

 

 

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Stephen Morgan MP demands Ministers extend Job Retention Scheme in House of Commons

During questions to the Department for Work and Pensions, city MP Stephen Morgan put pressure on the Government to extend the financial support available to those struggling during the pandemic.

Mr Morgan’s action in the House of Commons come as statistics reveal employment has decreased by 220,000 on the quarter. The largest quarterly decrease since 2009. While in July, there were 730,000 fewer people in paid employment compared with March 2020 and 114,000 fewer when compared with June 2020.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Unemployment is soaring, uptake in benefits has skyrocketed and experts say marginalised communities are bearing the brunt.

When employment is down to the lowest point in over a decade, the government must be ramping up support not removing the safety net.

The Government has been repeatedly warned that their one-size-fits-all approach to the job’s crisis will cost many their livelihoods, especially in communities like ours in Portsmouth.”

Concerns have been raised by Trade Unions, organisations such as Hospitality UK, and charities that the Job Retention Scheme is ending far too early.

Mr Morgan added:

“The latest Job Retention Scheme figures show that nearly 80% of workers in the accommodation and food services sector have been furloughed, a sector that employs many people in our community.

The furlough scheme is ending next month, yet we are still far from back to normal. Government must provide targeted support to those who are being hit hardest by this pandemic.”

The Portsmouth South MP has vowed to continue to put pressure on the government to end their blanket cessation to end to the furlough scheme.

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BLM event: The need to stand up for justice, equality and humanity

Statement from Stephen Morgan MP for Black Lives Matter protest on Statement 12 September 2020 in Portsmouth Guildhall Square:

“The Black Lives Matter movement in Portsmouth have been relentless in demanding change.

While I cannot be there physically with you today, know that stand I with you, in solidarity.

It has now been 140 days since the tragic killing of George Floyd.

It is vital that those in public office can offer more than just words when it comes to looking at progress since then. Working we others, we have made a start.

  • putting forward a motion and an amendment at full council to combat structural racism – which successfully passed
  • putting pressure on Ministers to halt the sale of riot control equipment to the USA, to prevent it being used against BLM protestors
  • working with ‘The Black Curriculum’ I have lobbied the Education Secretary to make Black History a core module
  • And, I am supporting Baroness Lawrence’s review into the disproportionate effect of Covid on BAME communities and will fight for the recommendations to be implemented

We must recognise that George Floyd’s killing was not a one-off event. The violence and structural racism that led to his death still exists. And it must be drummed out. Part of that recognition, is understanding Britain’s role in the systematic racism that we see today.

The Black Lives Matter movement is just as important here as it is across the Atlantic. And that is why I commend your efforts today.

We must continue to work together, demanding change and pushing for progress.

There is still a great deal of work we must do. I look forward to continuing to fight alongside you in bringing about the changes that our communities need.

So, on behalf of Portsmouth I thank you for standing up for justice, equality and humanity”.

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Stephen Morgan MP calls for greater support for pubs as new figures show over 5,500 closures in last decade

Stephen Morgan MP has called for the government to ramp up national support for pubs, as new figures reveal over 5,500 pubs have closed in the past decade. The equivalent of one pub or bar every 14 hours.

This comes during a particularly difficult period for the hospitality sector, following the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of pubs and bars has fallen in every region and nation of the UK. The opposition is today warning that the government risk further closures of pubs and bars, accelerating job losses and damaging high streets and night life across the country, if they press ahead with their blanket withdrawal of the furlough scheme.

Stephen Morgan MP said,

“Public houses and bars both in Portsmouth and across the country are incredibly important support hubs for local high street businesses, as well as being the social fabric of communities.

“The government’s negligence to support pubs and the wider hospitality sector over the last decade has been made clear by its stubbornness to not move to a more sensible, targeted furlough scheme for the hardest hit sectors.”

From 2010 to 2019, the number of pubs and bars in the UK has fallen from 44,680 to 39,145, a drop over 5,500 (12%). Meanwhile in the South East, the number of pubs and bars has fallen by a higher rate of 14%, from 6,195 to 5,340, an overall drop of around 855 closures.

Mr Morgan added,

“Here in the South East we have seen a higher than national average of closures of pubs and bars in the past decade, and I am determined to do everything I can to support the hospitality sector through this crisis and beyond, including ensuring the government sticks to its promise in ‘levelling up’.”

Mr Morgan has previously called for greater support for the hospitality sector of Portsmouth, following the impacts on local businesses due to Covid-19.

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City MP calls for Portsmouth FC fans to share their views on the future of football

Stephen Morgan MP has called for Portsmouth FC fans to take part in an online discussion to share their views on what improvements need to be made for the future of the wider national game. The online hour-long discussion will take place on Thursday 10 September at 6:15pm. You can register for the call here.

The event has been organised and will be attended by Shadow Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Jo Stevens MP, Shadow Sports Minister, Alison McGovern MP and Stephen Morgan MP. The key focuses of the discussion will be:

• Supporter representation within clubs and the wider game

• How their club is dealing with the ongoing Covid-19 situation

• Previous experiences and fan priorities for the future of the game

This comes as Covid-19 continues to put huge financial pressure on Football League clubs. The new football season approaches with increasingly more clubs struggling financially.

Across the country fans have felt their voices are not being heard or their views not listened to.

Mr Morgan commented:

“For many areas across the country, local football clubs are the beating heart of their communities. Whether that be through local support initiatives for vulnerable people, the economic benefits in terms of income and jobs or just simply providing a chance to escape for ninety minutes.

“However, in recent years, we’ve seen increasing concerns from football fans across England that their views are not being heard and a fading connection between them and their clubs.”

There have also been growing concerns around the management of club owners and prominent cases of clubs entering administration, most notably Wigan AFC and Bury FC.

Stephen Morgan MP added:

“There have been serious causes for concern of late of how clubs like Wigan can enter administration, despite their stature in both the community and football league.

“It is vital for football fans to have their say on this issue and I encourage as many Portsmouth fans who can to take part in this important discussion.”

Mr Morgan recently visited the CEO of Portsmouth FC, Mark Catlin, and Director of Projects for Pompey in the Community, Clare Martin, to get an update on their recent work and future plans.

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City MP praises ‘inspiring team effort’ that delivered D-Day landing craft to Portsmouth

Shadow Armed Forces Minister and city MP Stephen Morgan today spent time with those responsible for delivering the LCT 7074 to Portsmouth’s shores, thanking them for their efforts.

The city MP was given a guided tour by those responsible for the project including the Head of Collections, the Project Site Manager and the Director of the National Museum of the Royal Navy to observe first-hand the efforts required to deliver the major project

Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The LCT 7074 has been in service from Europe to the Pacific, taking part in major operations such as D-Day. It is a major cultural and historical asset that must be preserved to immortalise the bravery and sacrifice of our forces during World War Two.

Without the relentless work of the National Museum for the Royal Navy, city council, and countless contractors the story of the landing craft would not be being told.

The truly inspiring teamwork that was required to bring the landing craft to our city does justice to those that served on the vessel and will help keep their stories of heroism alive.”

Mr Morgan, who has been closely following the landing craft project, was one of the first to set foot on the vessel and today’s tour follows a behind the fence look at the vessel’s arrival on Monday. The city MP has stressed the importance of the landing craft to Portsmouth and issued thanks to all those who have played a role in its arrival in the community.

Mr Morgan added:

“Portsmouth boasts unrivalled historic naval assets and already it is clear that LCT 7074 will form a major part of that.

Bringing visitors to the city, inspiring young people to learn more about our naval history and promoting our armed forces, it is an asset to both our city and our nation.

I would like to convey my gratitude to all those that made this happen and for working around the clock to deliver this major project.”

The Portsmouth born Shadow Armed Forces Minister, whose grandfather was a D-Day veteran from the city, has vowed to help secure remaining funds for the project.

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City MP voices concern over local NHS services being hit hardest by new Tory staff charges

Portsmouth’s NHS services have been spending millions of pounds a year on government charges to bring in much-needed staff from abroad making it the worst-hit area in the country, damning new figures have revealed.

Figures show that Portsmouth has been the hardest hit by this new Tory Immigration Skills Charge. Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust had paid the most out of any NHS trust in the UK – £2,007,000 since 2017, while in 2019/2020 Solent NHS Trust was forced to fork out £5,000.

The stats are even more eye-watering when compared to other trusts across the country. In the Conservative MP for Ribble Valley’s local Lancashire Care Trust, the total charges amounted to £115,000 – meaning Portsmouth paid £1,892,000 more in the same time. In the Tory held constituency, the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust also paid £2,592 – a figure incomparable with the costs faced by Portsmouth.

The full breakdown of Portsmouth NHS Trust charges is:

2017/18: £306,000         

2018/19: £655,000         

2019/20: £972,000         

2020/21: £74,000

Total: £2,007,000

Paying tribute to NHS staff, Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Our NHS staff have shown unprecedented heroism amid this pandemic, putting others before themselves and selflessly working for our community. Through regular meetings with the Portsmouth Hospital Trust, I know their ingenuity has allowed them to have one of the lowest vacancy rates in the country. It is wholly unjust that their reward for demonstrating such robust planning is disproportionately high staff charges.

While Ministers clap for health workers each evening on their doorsteps, behind closed doors they have been charging NHS trusts millions simply for employing much needed foreign staff. This is punishing our NHS for government’s failure to properly recruit.

The fact Portsmouth has been worst hit shows that time after time our community is forced to disproportionately bear the brunt of regressive, costly Tory policy.”

The city MP also stated that despite the additional charges faced by the Portsmouth Hospital Trust, he has no doubt that they will ‘continue to excel in serving the needs of patients’.

Shadow Immigration Minister, Holly Lynch MP said:

“Local NHS trusts require specialists from overseas, yet the Tories are punishing hospital budgets for their own failure to train enough skilled staff,”

“The irrationality of the immigration skills charge for NHS trusts has been underlined by the coronavirus pandemic.”

“The Conservative Government should be doing all they can to support the NHS. Instead, they are presenting trusts with an unenviable choice: either leave life-saving specialist roles unfilled, or fork out expensive fees for overseas staff.”

Analysis of data released under Freedom of Information laws to the Labour Party suggested that since 2017, 52 trusts paid £15,549,944 to the Government through the immigration skills charge.

The charge is referred to as the immigration skills charge and is imposed by the Home Office on any employer wanting to apply for a visa for someone to work in the UK for six months or more under either a tier 2 (general) visa or a tier 2 (intra-company transfer) visa.

 

 

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Stephen Morgan MP backs crowdfund for local start-up ‘Squidmoo’ to make Portsmouth plastic free

Stephen Morgan MP has backed Squidmoo, a local start-up that is running a crowdfunding campaign to create sustainable everyday products, in its mission to help make Portsmouth plastic free.

Squidmoo’s long-term vision is to be able to provide grants to support local businesses, charities and organisations to become plastic free and be part of the ‘plastic free employer scheme’. However, this is reliant on the stretch fund being successful to be able to invest into this part of the project.

Squidmoo has also been working in close partnership with Portsmouth City Council in supporting its plans and future project ideas.

The Portsmouth business currently manufactures bamboo and stainless-steel water bottles and lunch containers, as well as yoga mats, knives and sunglasses. In addition, the sustainable business is also looking to provide local businesses and organisations with plastic free consultations and workshops.

Stephen Morgan MP, commented:

The work that both Thomas and Alex are doing is simply fantastic. What they and Squidmoo are doing is an important reminder that whilst we are facing a new global challenge, it does not mean the others have simply disappeared.

“It is why I’m more than happy to back their campaign to reduce the use of single use plastic to zero in the UK by 2030, and their crowdfund to help achieve this here in our great city of Portsmouth.”

According to a government report, in the UK it is estimated that five million tonnes of plastic is used every year, nearly half of which is packaging. The government had planned to bring in a ban on single use plastic earlier this April, including single-use plastic and plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds, but has now delayed the ban until October due to the pandemic.

The Portsmouth South MP added:

“Sustainability and tackling climate change are now more important than ever, and Portsmouth South is neither insulated to the effects of climate change, nor has less of a responsibility to tackle its causes than anywhere else.

“Instead of delaying, the government should be seeing this period as an opportunity to hit the reset button and quite simply: build back better.”

This is not the first time Mr Morgan has been an advocate of tackling climate change initiatives, including previously hosting online climate change event Time is Now, and backed the local Pompey Street Space campaign.

You can find out more about Squidmoo’s work and their crowdfunder here.

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City MP continues to fight for renters as government’s last minute U-turn on eviction ban causes confusion for tenants

Stephen Morgan MP has made renewed calls on government to protect renters from eviction as Ministers extend the ban on evictions by just one month

The Portsmouth South representative had originally called on Government back in March to ban evictions during the coronavirus crisis. Whilst Ministers caved following pressure, they are now threatening to take away this safety net in just one month.

In a cutting letter directly to the Housing Secretary, the city MP demanded an extension to the eviction ban along with a package of support for struggling tenants. This came as a survey by Generation Rent is released revealing that 45% of renters have lost income since March, and two thirds of renters who have lost income (68%) are struggling to pay their rent.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The Housing Secretary promised that no one would be forced to leave their homes amid this pandemic. Now, five months later, we see no package of support offered to tenants yet plans remain to reinstall evictions in one month.

We know that many hardworking Portsmouth families have been hit hard by the pandemic and, through no fault of their own, have found themselves in arrears. While I welcome government’s U-turn on the evictions ban extension today, the fact they have only extended it by a month just gives tenants longer to pack their bags.

The solution to this problem is more comprehensive support offered to struggling families at risk of homelessness and scrapping Section 21 Evictions.”

Mr Morgan’s demands, backed by frontbench colleagues, urge government to remove the benefits cap, administer Universal Credit more promptly and make more Local Housing Allowance available. The city MP has also raised with Ministers the impact on landlords after listening to concerns from the National Residential Landlords Association.