, , , , ,

Black History Month: Portsmouth South MP calls for Black History to be added to the curriculum all year round

Following action taken earlier this year by the Portsmouth South representative, Stephen Morgan MP has today urged the government again to include Black History in the school curriculum all year round.

As part of efforts to mark Black History Month in the House of Commons, Members from across the House highlighted issues of racism and discrimination and called on the government to do more during a backbench debate.

A debate in recognition of Black History Month has not taken place in the House of Commons for five years. Over the past few months issues of race and discrimination have been at the forefront of public opinion following multiple Black Lives Matter demonstrations which took place in every region in England throughout June and July.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Much more needs to be done to tackle racism and discrimination in society, and I am committed to actively working with others to end injustice and inequality affecting communities in Portsmouth.

This year we have seen Black, Asian and minority ethnic people disproportionately affected by Covid-19 death rates and the economic crisis.

Teaching Black British history in schools would be an important step towards ending the structural racism that holds people back and creating a society where everyone’s contributions are recognised and celebrated. I made that point to the Minister earlier this year and regrettably Government has not taken this issue seriously.

Whilst I welcome the backbench debate today on tackling racism and discrimination, it is high time Ministers hear our concerns and take action”.

Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, Marsha De Cordova MP added:

“In the context of a growing Black Lives Matter movement that is highlighting racial injustices across the globe, Black history must be taught all year round, as part of a truly diverse school curriculum that includes and inspires all young people from all backgrounds.

Black history is British history and it’s a disgrace that the Government won’t even review the curriculum to get this right.”

 

, , , , ,

Together we can, and we will, stop AQUIND

Attending the against AQUIND human chain today in Milton, a Covid-safe protest organised by local people, city MP Stephen Morgan said:

In the week of clean air day, when the council withdrew crucial roads from a scheme to reduce dirty air and rowed back on its climate emergency commitment, it’s humbling to see so many Portsmouth people coming together to stop the AQUIND development. 

Portsmouth’s green and open spaces are precious. The developer’s plans do nothing to benefit our city, only cause disruption to our environment and to our daily lives. 

Thank you to the grassroots group that organised today’s event. Together we can, and we will, stop this”.

To find out more about the Portsmouth South MP’s long-running work helping residents oppose the AQUIND interconnector proposals click here.

 

 

 

, , , , , ,

City MP backs ‘Walk to School Week’ campaign

Stephen Morgan MP has backed national campaign ‘Walk to School Week’, organised by UK charity Living Streets. 

The campaign aims to encourage families to try healthier and greener ways to travel to school. Starting today, school children across the UK will be taking part in a safe and socially distanced walk to school with other students and parents.

According to the charity, 70 per cent of children walked to school a generation ago, now it is less than half.

The government has set a target in its Cycling to Walking Investment Strategy to get 55% of primary school pupils walking to school by 2025, to tackle this issue.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented,

“I’m delighted to support this fantastic initiative to encourage children and parents to take part in a safe and socially distanced walk to school, and I urge our local schools to take part in this too.”

Many of us have spent more time indoors recently, so I’m really proud to support this campaign that offers both a greener option, and a way for both students and parents to get the fresh air and exercise they need to support their mental wellbeing through this difficult period.”

The Chief Executive of Living Streets, Mary Creagh, added,

“Walking to school is a fun and easy way for to get active. We need safer streets so more families have confidence to walk to school.”

, , ,

City MP calls for urgent government support for EFL clubs in response to Covid-19

Stephen Morgan MP has called for the government to provide emergency financial support and guidance for EFL clubs, with many struggling to stay afloat financially due to the government ban on fan attendance in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

This comes as EFL clubs, which includes Portsmouth Football Club, lost £50m of gate income in the 2019/20 season by playing matches behind closed doors (Championship) or curtailing the season (Leagues One and Two) and will lose a further £200m if crowds do not return during the 2020/21 campaign.

EFL teams typically have a higher dependency on ticket, confectionary and merchandise sales.

The Premier League is also reportedly set to meet today to discuss a £250m emergency support package for the EFL, but the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South has called for urgent government support and guidance.

Stephen Morgan MP said,

“For EFL clubs like Portsmouth FC, it is becoming an increasingly untenable position to be expected to continue operating without further government support.

“EFL clubs are in a very different position to clubs in the Premier League, as lower league clubs depend much more on revenue streams dependent on fan attendance, which now looks very unlikely to happen for the foreseeable future.”

This comes following comments made by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in June that football should ‘support itself’ through the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Morgan, added,

“As I have said before, our football club’s success is our city’s success. EFL clubs are intrinsically part of the fabric of their communities. Whether that be through the jobs or income the club brings to the local economy, or the fantastic work of the community foundations like Portsmouth’s very own Pompey in the Community (PiTC).

“If the government is serious about ‘levelling up’, it will provide the financial support and clarity EFL clubs like Portsmouth urgently need.”

Mr Morgan has also written to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Oliver Dowden MP, raising this issue, following an online event with Portsmouth fans and the opposition’s DCMS team last month.

The MP has vowed to continue to take action to help the club and fellow fans.

, , , , , ,

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

 

 

, , , , , ,

Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan MP – Overseas Operations Bill – Full Speech

CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

I would like to start by paying tribute to our armed forces – and join colleagues from across this House – in expressing gratitude to those who serve.

They truly give us a reason to be patriotic.

Mr Speaker, there is consensus across the House here today.

Labour, the Government, and the Armed Forces all want the same thing.

We all agree that we must protect our troops from vexatious claims.

And, we all agree that we must defend those that serve our country overseas with courage and distinction.

Government promised to bring forward legislation to do just that in their first 100 days of government.

Now, 284 days later, they have disappointingly got crucial elements of this Bill badly wrong.

The question we must be asking is: what does this mean for our troops?

It risks breaching the armed forces covenant and rolls back on their employment rights.

It fails to properly protect against vexatious claims.

And, it undermines Britain’s proud adherence to the international laws like the Geneva Convention that we helped create.

But it is not too late.

There is still time for Ministers to work with us to get this right.

The Government’s introduction of a 6-year limit for bringing civil claims will prevent troops who suffer injury from taking cases to court.

Over the last 15 years, there have been 25 cases brought by injured British troops against the MoD – for every 1 case brought by alleged victims against our forces.

That means the main beneficiary of this Bill is the MoD. Not our personnel.

This Bill should be designed to protect troops, not the purse strings of Government.

So, I put it to the Minister, if this Bill is for our armed forces community, why does it deny them the same employment rights as civilians?

Mr Speaker, Labour is also deeply concerned this Bill does not meet its primary objective – it does not do enough to protect our troops from vexatious claims.

In letters sent to the Defence Secretary by the Defence Committee, the point is made that this Bill does nothing to prevent arduous investigations processes.

It just protects from prosecutions.

It does nothing to deal with the serious failings in the system for investigating allegations against British troops.

Something that the defence minister himself admits –

“Had they been done properly – and self-regulation had occurred – we probably wouldn’t be here today”.

This means that perhaps the toughest, most intrusive aspect of the vexatious claims process is not dealt with in this Bill.

And this is not the only way in which it leaves our troops open to ’lawfare’.

By going back on our commitments to the Geneva convention, it risks dragging our people in front of the International Criminal Court.

I put it to the Minister, does he really want to make it more likely that the ICC could open investigations against British troops?

Mr Speaker, there are also a set of wider issues here.

Vexatious claims are not the only major problem our forces face.

Action on this issue is not a licence to neglect others.

Low pay.

Ten years of falling morale.

A decade of falling numbers.

And a housing crisis across the tri-services.

If the Minister is serious about tackling its poor track record on Defence, we need to see action on all these issues.

This presents an opportunity to turn the tide, break the mould, and work with Labour to get this right.

Mr Speaker, in this country we are proudly patriotic.

And, reinforcing that patriotism, that love for our country, is the high regard in which our armed forces are held.

When you see Union Flags on the shoulder patches of service personnel overseas, that means something.

It means honesty. It means respect for the rule of law. It means justice.

From Sandhurst to Britannia Naval College, there is a reason is why countries from around the world send their officers to be trained in our military institutions.

But, Mr Speaker, this Bill puts all that at risk.

It is at odds with the rules based international order we helped create.

In its current form, this Bill would make Great Britain the only nation among our major allies to offer a statutory presumption against prosecution.

As the previous-chief of the defence staff, the ex-attorney general, and the former-defence secretary have said:

“it undermines Britain’s proud long-standing adherence to the Geneva convention.”

Great Britain has proudly stood, and must stand, against the use of torture – and against the use of rendition.

Mr Speaker, I urge the Minister:

Do not undo the work of Churchill.

Do not undo the work of Attlee.

Do not chip away at our nation’s proud reputation.

I put it to the Minister, how can we expect Great Britain to speak with authority on international law to China, Russia and Iran if we go back on our own commitments?

In years gone by, a commitment made by this proud nation meant something.

Last week this government tarnished that reputation by breaking international law with the Internal Markets Bill.

I urge the Minister to commit to working with us to make sure this Bill does not do the same.

So, Mr Speaker, unfortunately, the government has got important parts of this Bill badly wrong.

In its current form it risks damaging our reputation and failing to protect Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.

But it is not too late. As I said, there is consensus across this House today.

There is still time for Ministers to work with the opposition to get this right.

Protecting troops from vexatious claims does not need to be at odds with our commitments to international law.

It does not need to be a trade-off between safeguarding our armed forces and eroding the reasons why we are patriotic.

As many Members of this House have said today, this should not be a matter of party politics or point-scoring.

Labour stand foursquare behind our troops.

We want to work with Government to build the broadest consensus possible around a Bill tailored to supporting our forces and safeguarding human rights.

If I have one message for the Minister it is this:

As this bill continues its passage through Parliament, commit to improving it alongside us.

Let’s work together to protect our troops, their reputation, and our country’s international standing.

, , , ,

Shadow Armed Forces Minister calls out Government over declining recruitment figures

Today during Defence Questions, Stephen Morgan MP called out Ministers over a decade of dwindling armed forces personnel numbers. Sitting on the opposition frontbench, the Portsmouth South MP called on the Minister from the Despatch Box to outline how the Government will put an end to the current crisis.

The action comes against the backdrop of figures painting a damning picture of Tory’s defence record. The latest quarterly figures show that our armed forces have declined in size for 10 years in a row. Meanwhile, a major national survey of our armed forces found that morale has fallen from 52%, expressing high morale in 2010 to 41% in 2020, whilst satisfaction with basic pay has fallen from 52% in 2010 to 39% in 2020.

Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Ten years of falling personnel numbers running parallel to a decline in satisfaction and morale points to the government’s failure to act as a cause for the recruitment and retention crisis we face.

Data shows that not only is Government failing to meet its recruitment targets with record numbers withdrawing from the process, the number of people leaving the armed forces is increasing as well.

The minister’s failure to get recruitment and retention figures in check lets down our troops and weakens our national security. That is why today at the Despatch Box I demanded the government makes personnel a key priority of the upcoming Integrated Review.”

Mr Morgan’s action in the chamber follows a written question he tabled exposing nearly 50,000 people have withdrawn from the armed forces recruitment process between January and June, reportedly up 7,000 from the year before. 

Mr Morgan added:

“The Defence Secretary recently said that the MoD’s greatest asset was “not tanks or our aeroplanes, but it’s people”.

Yet, the private contractor the government has entrusted to deliver more troops has faced heavy criticism for being inefficient and presiding over a system that puts off potential recruits – an idea supported by the withdrawal statistics.

The government must improve the ‘offer’ to our troops and urgently iron out the issues dissuading swathes of young people interested in joining from doing so.”

The concerns over personnel numbers are not the only reason that the Conservatives have drawn fire on defence. The government announced plans to axe 20,500 jobs in the armed forces by 2020, imposed pay freezes that have led to a real-terms pay cut for troops since 2010, meanwhile the Ministry of Defence has a funding black hole of at least £13bn in its 10-year plan to equip the UK’s armed forces.

 

, , , ,

Covid-19 update: Stephen Morgan MP’s recent parliamentary actions on testing

In recent days, Mr Morgan has been receiving an increasing number of enquiries about issues with Covid-19 testing and social care support.

He has recently asked the government to provide urgent answers on:

Mr Morgan is also awaiting answers from the government on distances travelled by constituents for testing, testing for our Armed Forces and the pandemic’s impact on both ports and schools.

, , , , , ,

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.

 

 

, ,

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”.