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“We must see a strategy for getting Britain on the road to recovery” says city MP joining calls for Covid-19 recovery plan

Stephen Morgan MP has doubled down on the Labour leader’s calls for government to issue a plan for getting Britain on the path to recovery.

Citing a need for transparency around ongoing restrictions and for British people to have a sense of what comes next, Mr Morgan has urged government to publish their strategy for coming out of lockdown.

Mr Morgan also joined frontbench colleagues in supporting an extension to the period of lockdown, which government is expected do shortly.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Millions of people have stuck to the lockdown rules and are acting in a community minded manner. This must continue. Government also has a responsibility to keep people informed and must be open about when restrictions are likely to end.

Our communities must be reassured that government is on top of producing an effective exit strategy from this crisis. Transparency is key not only to the wellbeing of the population but also to the development of plans and to garnering agreement over the best route out.

I will continue to constructively engage with government and apply scrutiny to their decision-making so that communities like Portsmouth are privy to transparent, frank political decision making and are well-prepared for when our country comes out of this crisis.”

Leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer said:

“Plans need to be in place sooner rather than later. Science in the end can’t tell you what the political strategy is for coming out of lockdown, because that involves political decisions as well as scientific decisions.

If we can get a consensus that this is the right strategy going forward, I think that will give trust to the public as well.”

Keir Starmer has made calls on Dominic Raab MP to commit to laying out the criteria the government will use to inform how and when it intends to ease the lockdown. He has also urged him to publish the exit strategy as a matter of urgency.

 

 

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City MP praises work of care providers during Covid-19 and consults over concerns

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has written out to over fifty care providers and residential homes to thank staff for their tireless efforts for our city and asking workers to keep him informed over PPE shortages

The latest action follows a series of steps to put pressure on Government to take urgent action to address the supply of personal protective equipment in the social care sector and pushing for regular testing for those working on the frontline.

The MP has lobbied the Health Secretary, submitted urgent parliamentary questions as well as written to the Prime Minister directly calling for greater measures to help NHS and social care services succeed in keeping people safe and well.

Writing to staff teams in over fifty care settings, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Thank you and all your staff who are contributing such vital care for residents during this public health emergency.

During this crisis many of your staff will have family responsibilities and personal caring duties on top of their work responsibilities. 

On behalf of our whole community I would like to convey our thanks and admiration for the selfless work they continue to do”.

Ensuring local providers have a good supply of the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is a top priority for the city MP who is liaising with the city council, local resilience forum and Government departments over concerns.

Looking ahead to when the country recovers from the coronavirus crisis, the MP hopes lessons will be learnt in recognising the efforts of those working on the frontline. He added:

“I trust that when this pandemic has passed, society may recognise more clearly the interdependence we all have upon each other and show its appreciation to you and others on the frontline performing essential caring roles in more tangible ways”.

An online petition has been set up to show to Government the strength of feeling in Portsmouth for protecting staff on the frontline. To show your support for these efforts go to www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/covid-19/protecting-the-frontline/

 

 

 

 

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Portsmouth MP promoted in Starmer’s new top team

The official leader of the opposition, Keir Starmer MP has today named Stephen Morgan MP as Shadow Minister for the Armed Forces.

The city MP Stephen Morgan has secured the key role in the shadow defence team following the election of Keir Starmer as the new Labour Leader last week.

The promotion comes after the Portsmouth South MP served on Labour’s frontbench as Shadow Local Government Minister for Communities, and temporarily as Shadow Defence Procurement Minister.

Responding to the appointment, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The protection of its people is the first priority of any Government. Our armed forces work hard to keep us safe and secure so that we can live our lives to the full without fear.

I am hugely proud of our nation’s armed forces and the role Britain’s highly skilled workforce play in supporting them.

It is a privilege to be asked, and accept, an opportunity to serve in Keir Starmer’s top team.

I look forward to working alongside the newly appointed Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey, and colleagues, being a strong national voice for our armed forces and challenging hard on the opposition frontbench on behalf of service personnel and the British public when the Government falls short”.

Since being elected an MP in 2017 in the heart and home of the Royal Navy, the Portsmouth South representative has been taking action to support Britain’s armed forces. Mr Morgan has taken particular interest in the pay and conditions of personnel, campaigning for bespoke mental health support for those who serve, and lobbying government to take measures to tackle veteran suicide.

Mr Morgan’s new responsibilities include operations, operational legal matters, force recruitment and retention, and international defence engagement among a number of other areas.

Shadow Defence Secretary, John Healey MP, said:

“I’m delighted Stephen is part of Labour’s new shadow defence team. He’s a proven national voice on defence matters with a track record of holding the Government to account on behalf of our armed forces. He’ll be a major asset to our front bench team.

Stephen has parliamentary experience raising defence matters and has spent time engaging with our troops and the defence industry. I am confident he will serve the opposition and our country well as the new Shadow Minister for the Armed Forces.”

Recognising the challenges ahead, the new Shadow Minister added:

“My Portsmouth-born grandfather, who played such an active part in the Royal Army Service Corp for the D-Day landings, was one of the main reasons I was inspired to get into politics. I want to make sure that those who bravely serve our nation are recognised and valued by society.

Today amidst the coronavirus crisis at home, and a global pandemic not respecting any border, our armed forces are already stepping up and are ready and responding to the challenges Covid-19 bring.

Our armed forces are well disposed to support the nation in its time of need. We are already seeing our troops helping on the ground and in our communities by supporting our NHS and other emergency and frontline services in keeping us safe.

For that, and for the tasks they are set to do for our nation as times get tough, I am hugely grateful”.

Now, more than ever, during this time of crisis, with 2,680 armed forces personnel helping combat Covid-19, checks and balances to government decision-making will be essential.

As well as being an active member of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme, the MP specialised in defence and military capabilities when sitting on the Public Accounts Committee and served as the Shadow Defence Procurement Minister (January 2020 – April 2020) constructively engaging with the country’s defence and aerospace industries.

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“Government has taken steps in the right direction but must go further” says City MP as he works with local domestic abuse campaigner

Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan has worked with local activist Kirsty Mellor to bring government’s attention to the increase in domestic abuse amid this pandemic, while acknowledging the Home Secretary’s efforts so far.

The pair have issued a letter directly to the Home Secretary outlining what Covid-19 means for domestic abuse, the areas where improvement is needed in the current system, and to push for more detail on how the government plans to address the issue.

The letter follows news that The National Domestic Abuse Helpline has recorded a 25% increase in cases, while visits to the website have increased by 150%. And Women’s Aid has recorded a 41% spike in traffic.

Mr Morgan said:

“The UK’s biggest domestic abuse charities have issued chilling warnings over concerns on the risk of increased incidences across the nation.

Government has taken a step in the right direction in acknowledging the danger and in issuing new guidance, which was welcome. However, we need to see detailed planning on how government will fund, resource and support domestic abuse services amidst this pandemic.

This is a matter of life and death for women and men across our country. That is why, alongside Kirsty Mellor, I am applying scrutiny to government’s decision making on this and pushing for further action. I remain committed to working constructively with Government to ensure the interests of those vulnerable to abuse are always put first.”

Since 2010, most councils in England, Wales and Scotland reduced funding for refuges, with cuts of nearly £7m over the past eight years. And the situation is getting worse: an estimated 21,084 referrals to all refuges in England were refused in 2017-18 because there was insufficient funding or no space for the victim.

Local campaigner, Kirsty Mellor said:

“Domestic abuse is a stain on our society. Prior to this pandemic case numbers were rising while refuge numbers were dwindling.

Action was needed before, now there are increased pressures, a radical strategy is necessary to avoid an unprecedented domestic abuse crisis.

While the government is acknowledging the problem, it must do more. I hope we can all work together to come up with viable solutions for the good of our community.”

The newly appointed Shadow Home Secretary also undertook decisive action by putting pressure on his government opposite number by calling for increased funding, more refuge space and an urgent review of current practices.

Shadow Home Secretary, Nick Thomas Symonds MP in his letter said:

“I am writing to ask you to work with colleagues across government to urgently bring forward a package of emergency bespoke financial support for the organisations who are doing vital frontline work to ensure that they can provide a crucial safety net to some of the most at risk women, children and communities throughout this crisis.”

Information about domestic abuse services locally can be found here: https://www.portsmouth.gov.uk/ext/environmental-health/crime-and-nuisance/domestic-abuse

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Looking for something to do this weekend? Then enter my constituency colouring competition!

Looking for something to do this weekend?

Then enter my constituency colouring competition!

All around Portsmouth we can see colourful rainbows decorated by families offering a sign of hope during this challenging time for our city and our country. Teaming up with local graphic designer and friend Sarah Houghton she has used her amazing talents to produce a Portsmouth poster for people’s windows.

Please feel free to colour it in, then scan it or send me a photo of it in your window and prizes will be awarded to the best!

To download the poster click here: Final colouring competition

Open to all. Entries should be submitted to stephen@stephenmorgan.org.uk by no later than Friday 17 April

 

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Labour leadership: Stephen Morgan MP welcomes news that Keir Starmer has stormed contest

This morning the Labour Party announced that Keir Starmer has won the Labour leadership contest, securing him as official Leader of the Opposition.

The new party leader won on the first round of ballots with an impressive 56.2% of the vote. Angela Rayner was also elected as Deputy Party Leader.

Portsmouth South MP and Shadow Minister Stephen Morgan has been supporting and campaigning for Starmer and Rayner throughout the long campaign, nominating both candidates back in January.

Welcoming Keir Starmer as the new leader of the party, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“This leadership election has been long and it is fair to say it hasn’t ended in the way that any of us in the Labour Party expected because of the coronavirus crisis. It has been a huge privilege to be part of a campaign where the party has come out of it better, more united and ready to build another future.

Labour is at it’s best when it is a force for good and a force for change.

It is fantastic to have a Labour Leader who has invested so much time coming to Portsmouth to hear our city’s concerns, understand the challenges our communities face, and campaigned alongside us.

I am excited about working with Keir and the party as we build the path back to power and to transform our city and our country for the better”.

On Portsmouth, Keir Starmer MP has said:

“This is a great city and I’m beginning to really get a grip of what we need to do here. We also have to understand how the likes of Stephen Morgan MP increased his majority.

To win more seats we need people like him who are well-known and liked around the place; there’s a real sense of engagement.”

Commenting on the challenge ahead for the new party leadership, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“We are in an unprecedented time for our country where checks and balances on the Government’s actions are needed more than ever. There is no doubt in my mind that Keir’s strategic mind, forensic analysis and commitment to social justice, will be greatly needed not just by Labour, but by the nation amidst this crisis.

For now, Labour’s focus must be on supporting people to get through this pandemic, and as Britain recovers from this crisis, being a strong and effective party with the ideas and drive to build a fairer, more just society where no one is ever left behind”

Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner were both nominated by Portsmouth Labour Party. Local activists joined phone banking sessions helping to contact over 300,000 party members and supporters across the country.

A packed rally in the city in late February hosted by the city MP saw guest speaker and Pompey footballer Christian Burgess warm up the crowd before Keir Starmer addressed the audience.

 

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City MP calls on government to keep ban on asbestos post Brexit transition period and to protect Health and Safety Executive resources

Stephen Morgan MP is calling on the government to make a firm commitment to maintaining the ban on asbestos  after the Brexit transition period comes to an end on 31 December 2020 and as the UK negotiates trade deals with other countries.

The MP for Portsmouth South is also asking the government to rule out any further cuts to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which is responsible for enforcing compliance with asbestos-related health and safety legislation. The agency received around £100 million less from the DWP in 2019-20 than it did in 2009-10 and saw its number of inspectors reduced by 25% between 2010 and 2016.

In October 2019, the HSE, which sits under the Department for Work and Pensions, reported that there are currently over 5,000 asbestos-related disease deaths per year in the UK, although this is expected to decline over the next decade and beyond.

While the government has committed in recent weeks to maintaining a “high level of protection of human health and the environment” post-Brexit, there has been widespread concern among campaign groups that this may change in the future, particularly when the UK comes to negotiate trade deals with other countries including the USA where regulations allow use of products containing asbestos – such as certain car parts like clutches and brakes, building materials like roofing felt, tiles and cement products, heat-resistant fabrics, packaging, gaskets and coatings.

It was also reported earlier month that, in 2019 the US Food and Drug Administration confirmed that asbestos had been found in several cosmetic products, including make-up marketed at children, prompting campaigners to warn that a UK trade deal with the US could see the relaxation of stringent laws prohibiting the use of dangerous ingredients in imported cosmetics.    

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The significant damage that asbestos-related diseases can do and the devastation they can cause to individuals and families is all too clear.

We should not be lowering standards once we come to do trade deals with other countries that don’t have the same restrictions on asbestos that we do in the UK.

It is vital that the ban on the manufacture and supply of all asbestos products in the UK is kept in place.”

Margaret Greenwood MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said:

“I am concerned that any reduction in standards as a result of trade deals could put more lives at risk from asbestos-related conditions and increase cost to the DWP in social security payments and also through the work of the HSE.

Promises the government has made with regard to asbestos have to be kept firmly in mind when it is negotiating trade deals with countries whose asbestos regulations are not as stringent as the UK’s.

Labour is calling on the government to maintain the ban on asbestos.”

 

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Portsmouth MP writes to PM urging urgent action to protect the ‘frontline’

Listening to concerns over the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the need for regular testing for NHS and social care staff, Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has tonight called on the Prime Minister to take urgent action.

The latest lobbying follows raising parliamentary questions to Ministers, writing to the Health Secretary last week and liaising with local care providers.

The escalation of the action comes after the MP has increasingly heard from social care workers, some of the city’s doctors and nurses, and growing numbers of worried constituents. 

Across the country the inadequate provision of PPE equipment has been hitting the headlines following deliveries this week, and the need for clear guidance around Covid-19 testing for staff to avoid high levels of staff in self-isolation.

Writing to the Prime Minister ahead of tonight’s clap for carers, Stephen Morgan MP wrote:

“NHS staff, social care workers, health associations, trade unions, media outlets and my own constituents, have all raised concerns over the lack of personal protection equipment (PPE). From supermarket workers to doctors, those delivering for our nation on the frontline are being forced to work without adequate protective equipment amidst this pandemic.

Across our country people are stepping up and putting themselves at risk for the good of the nation.  Yet as my city and our country pause to clap for our carers again tonight, government continues to fail to address these injustices affecting those working tirelessly to save lives.

I therefore urge you to take urgent action to protect all frontline workers across social care, the NHS, local government, supermarkets and all other relevant sectors.

If we are all in this together, I urge you Prime Minister, to act and urgently protect frontline workers. It is what the people of Portsmouth, and across our nation, expect of you”.

The latest action has been taken alongside launching an online petition for people to show their support for protecting frontline workers.

Launching the Portsmouth petition the city MP said:

“Ministers have talked for weeks of ‘ramping up testing’ and delivering personal protective equipment across the UK, particularly for those working on the frontline in the NHS and social care, but there is little evidence that this is happening in practice.

A distressing number of staff in our NHS and care sector are still being forced to self-isolate because they cannot access testing. We need an urgent and co-ordinated plan for the sector now.

No more promises, no more excuses. It is time for the Government to protect the frontline with more testing needed now”.

The Portsmouth South representative is backing efforts by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire Service calling for donations of personal protection equipment, and efforts locally by organisations creating supplies for the NHS and social care.

The MP is calling on the government to have a clear and co-ordinated plan to deal with supply and testing issues urgently.

You can show your support for this call by signing the petition at: www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/covid-19/protecting-the-frontline/

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Covid-19: City MP lobbies accommodation providers to release students from contracts amid pandemic

Stephen Morgan MP has today welcomed news that the University of Portsmouth will release third term accommodation contracts due to the Covid-19 outbreak and urged others to follow suit.

The city MP consulted with the University of Portsmouth, the Students Union and individual constituents on the issue before writing directly to 6 providers in the city.

Increasingly the university’s tutorials and lessons will be completed online due to Covid-19. Accommodation provided by the university itself has therefore offered a release from third term contracts, but some private accommodation providers have so far failed to match this.

Mr Morgan said:

“With face to face lectures cancelled and new measures to help reduce the spread of coronavirus, you can understand why students would want to be with their families and at home wherever possible.

The close proximity of students to each other while in accommodation also presents a health risk to those enrolled at the university and the general public in Portsmouth.

With large numbers leaving the city, the university and some accommodation providers have shown leadership in removing additional financial strain from the students. Now it is time for other providers to follow suit.

That is why I have written out to 6 providers in the city urging them to act in the interest of the community during these trying times and offer a release to students.”

The university has acknowledged that a great deal of financial hardship may stem from the Covid-19 pandemic and has released all students from their accommodation contracts for the final university term.

However, the choice to remain has been offered to students due to the number of people who live overseas and cannot return home due to travel restrictions. This is the stance that Mr Morgan has urged all other accommodation providers to adopt.

Mr Morgan added:

“If we are all in this together then student accommodation providers have a responsibility to put public health, student safety and financial stability first.

I will continue to lobby all major student accommodation providers, that have failed to offer this release so far, to take steps to support students and act in the interest of our community.”

Stephen Morgan MP continues to work closely with the University and Students’ Union on this issue. He is also advocating on behalf of a number of individual students who have contacted him regarding non university provided accommodation providers refusing to follow suit.

 

 

 

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City MP keeps pressure on to suspend removal of free TV licence for over 75s amid Covid-19

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has made renewed calls on government to halt the withdrawal of the TV licence for the over 75s, joining a cross party group in sending a targeted letter to the Culture Secretary.

The action follows the city MP’s successful campaign urging government to delay the removal of the benefit on the 16 March.

The group is seeking an indefinite suspension of the benefit roll back, citing the fact elderly people are currently confined to their homes due to the pandemic as the driving force.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“While I welcome government taking heed of our action and postponing the roll back of this vital social benefit for the over 75s, this does not go far enough in solving the issue.

Current projections suggest that the Covid-19 pandemic could go on for some time. We cannot have a situation where government is confining over 75s to their homes but taking away, what is for some, their only source of information and contact with the outside world.

Government must accept that removing a benefit from the group most at risk during a pandemic is unacceptable. I will continue to work with others, from across the House, to be a voice for our older community members.”

In 2017, the Conservatives stood on a manifesto that pledged not to touch benefits for the elderly. In November 2019, they went back on this promise and Government forced through policy that saw the free TV licence snatched away from over 75s.

The results are 1.3 million of the poorest over 75s left with another big bill to contend with. 3 million households worse off, and 500,000 people living with dementia facing a new difficult bill.

Mr Morgan added:

“Prior to Covid-19 I listened to organisations such as Age UK and Portsmouth Pensioners Association, as well as wrote out to 10,000 people locally affected.

The reports then suggested that taking away this vital benefit would plunge more older people into social isolation and cause financial difficulty for those forced to choose between food and company.

These factors are now even more relevant as people are confined to their homes, community meetings suspended and loved ones prohibited from visiting relatives who are not in their household.

I will continue to fight for the continuation of the universally free TV licence for the over 75s on the grounds that it is a vital lifeline for many valued older community members.”

Stephen Morgan MP has been taking action on this issue since government first suggested the removal in 2019. Since then Mr Morgan has written out to constituents, hosted meetings with local organisations and Age UK, written to three separate government Culture Secretaries, raised the issue in parliament, conducted survey research in Portsmouth and joined cross party lobbying.