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City MP responds to 3% pay rise for some NHS staff

Responding to the government’s announcement that nurses and other NHS workers will receive a 3% pay rise, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“Ministers have been dragged kicking and screaming to a 3% rise, which will still be bitterly disappointing for the NHS staff who cared for our City during the pandemic.

“Millions of other public sector staff including police, teachers, junior doctors, care workers and our armed forces will still face a real-terms pay cut this year.

“This was a moment to recognise and reward the service of our key workers, yet this government continues to squander taxpayers’ money on crony contracts and vanity projects.

“Ministers must get their priorities right. This is not just about money, it is a test of who we are as a nation.”

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Covid: Lifting of lockdown restrictions

Responding to the Government’s announcement on the lifting of lockdown restrictions from 19 July. Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“The people of Portsmouth have done their bit by observing restrictions and getting vaccinated. This is now a test of the government’s leadership and Ministers must clearly set out how they will protect our city as we learn to live with the virus.

“A wholesale bonfire of safety measures is not a necessary or safe approach in view of the continued rise in case numbers. While we have broken the link between cases and deaths, the virus has not simply disappeared and we have seen time and again how throwing caution to the wind can cost lives and livelihoods in the longer term.

“Those who have had two doses of the vaccine should be able to expect less disruption to their day-to-day lives and vaccination status should play a role in the need to isolate. We also need to see improved sick pay, local contact tracing, continued mask-wearing in crowded spaces, ventilation and support for children to prevent serious illness.

“The government must provide the clarity and confidence our City needs to return to normal life safely, and we must never again reach a position where national restrictions are necessary.”

 

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City MP labels PM as ‘far too slow’ and ‘letting business down’ as Covid restrictions extended

Stephen Morgan MP has criticised the government for giving one week’s warning to the country that national Covid-19 restrictions will be extended by four weeks.

Since the emergence of the Delta or ‘Indian variant’, cases of Covid-19 have been on the rise, with concerns if infections levels are not brought under control, too much pressure could be put on NHS capacity.

Since 11 May, the rate of cases per 100,000 over a 7-day period in the UK has risen from 22.4 to 67.5, according to the latest available data published by the government.

Meanwhile in Portsmouth, over the same period, the rate of cases per 100,000 has risen from 7.9 to 28.4.

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

“The Prime Minister promised us a way out of this. With the delta variant now dominant in the UK, and 73 per cent of delta cases in unvaccinated people, ministerial incompetence has sadly led us to this decision.

“The government has acted far too late, leaving businesses and others in Portsmouth incredibly anxious while they wait on the government that for too long dithered and delayed to make this decision.

“We must be driven by the data on decisions like these, but it has come far too late.”

The Portsmouth MP has also been contacted by a number of constituents on the impact of the government’s decision on the wedding industry.

The local representative added:

“The hospitality industry is likely to be one of the worst affected industries by today’s announcement, with a quarter of the industry still closed.

“I know from my postbag many are also concerned by the impact this decision could have on their businesses involved in the wedding industry, and I will continue to do all I can to secure the support and greater certainty they need.”

Mr Morgan has vowed to continue to engage a range of local businesses on the impact of the government roadmap and lifting of restrictions.

 

 

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Portsmouth MP joins 200 politicians urging Prime Minister to secure future of Covid memorial wall

Stephen Morgan MP has joined 227 MPs, Peers and Mayors to write to the Prime Minister urging him to support the campaign for the Covid Memorial Wall in London to become a permanent site.

The letter is spearheaded by Afzal Khan, MP for Manchester Gorton, who lost his mum and both his parents-in-law to coronavirus and has been working with Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice on securing the future of the wall.

The Covid Memorial Wall, with its endless line of hand-drawn red hearts, has engulfed the wall opposite Parliament since March as bereaved families visited the site to add messages for their loved ones. It has since become a place for people to come together, to reflect on the tragedy of what has happened, and to begin to heal.

The letter states: “Given the poignancy of this site, the need to give grieving families a place to mourn their loved ones, and your previous commitment to a national Covid memorial, we, the undersigned, support calls to make this wall of hearts a, if not the, permanent memorial to the victims of the pandemic.”

Among the signatories of this letter are over 160 MPs from across the House of Commons as well as numerous members of the House of Lords. Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, and Florence Eshalomi MP, in whose constituency the wall resides, are also signatories.

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

“This site of remembrance, developed and created by bereaved families, is a powerful reminder of human cost of the pandemic.

“Many people in Portsmouth, like thousands across the country, have suffered immense loss during this part year.

“My thoughts are with all those grieving loved ones and with our healthcare staff who have worked tirelessly to save so many lives.

“Having visited the memorial myself and seen how it has helped those grieving, I am proud to support this campaign to secure the future of the Covid Memorial Wall and will continue to work with bereaved families to ensure their voices and wishes are heard.”

Afzal Khan MP, added,

“The Covid Memorial Wall is an extraordinary site and deeply moving. I had the privilege to visit the site last month where I left messages to remember my mum and both my parents-in-law whose lives were so cruelly cut short by this virus. I hope one day to be able to bring my children and grandchildren to see these messages and the wall for themselves.

“It is fantastic to see such support across Parliament and the country for this campaign, it just goes to show that while we may not always be united in our politics, we are all united in our grief for those lost to the pandemic.”

Matt Fowler, co-founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, also said,

“The Memorial Wall has brought many thousands of bereaved families across the country together in ways that we could never have imagined, it’s been utterly overwhelming.

We’ll never get back the people we’ve lost, but having a shared space for our collective memory, to share our loss and our love, has meant so much.

It is unthinkable that the Wall would be taken down, when it is so important, to so many. Seeing this support from MPs across parliament for it to be made permanent has been heartening, and we sincerely hope the Prime Minister will join them.”

The campaign for the National Covid Memorial Wall to remain a permanent site is supported by local MP Florence Eshalomi as well as Lambeth Council.

 

 

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G7 summit: Portsmouth MP grills trade minister on ‘awkward’ government stance on covid vaccines

Stephen Morgan MP demanded answers from the government today in the House of Commons on why it refuses to back an intellectual property waiver on vaccines to help fight the pandemic in the poorest countries.

It comes as the UK is set to host the G7 in Cornwall this week, of which many members are supportive of the proposals, including the US.

Meanwhile, Labour has urged the Prime Minister to ‘get off the fence’ and back calls for a vaccine patent waiver.

The Portsmouth MP has also offered his support to a local group founded by Portsmouth residents called ‘Give a Vaccine’, that recently announced it donated £25,000 to Médecins Sans Frontières, which will be used to vaccinate the most vulnerable against Covid-19 in Lebanon.

The funds will be used to pay for mobile medical teams to vaccinate elderly people and frontline healthcare workers in care homes across Lebanon.

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

“Nobody is safe until we are all safe. It is not only the morally right thing to do to back a vaccine patent waiver, which allows poorer countries around the world to procure vaccines and immunise their own populations, but also because it is in our enlightened self-interest to do so.

“As long as it is prevalent around our evermore interconnected world, there is still the risk of new variants of Covid-19 and infections in the UK.

“The government fails to realise this and is putting our country in a very awkward position as it enters the G7 summit meetings we are set to host this week, while many of its members are supportive of it, such as the US.

“Today I pushed Ministers to clarify their position on the vaccine patent waiver. I will continue to support the fantastic initiatives like ‘Give a Vaccine’ who continue to fill the government’s vacuum of leadership on this.”

Labour recently proposed a 10-point plan to boost global Covid-19 vaccine production. Following the lobbying in Parliament the city MP has vowed to continue to hold the Government to account over its efforts to support the rollout of the vaccine programme elsewhere in the world.

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Portsmouth MP backs Labour’s bold post-covid education proposals for children to ‘play, learn and develop’

Stephen Morgan MP has thrown his support behind Labour’s extensive new education plan for the immediate post-Covid period, fuelled by the widely held understanding that children make academic progress when they are happy and well-supported.

At the heart of the new plans is a focus on ensuring children’s education results in happy, confident, ambitious young people, well prepared for the world of work, no matter where they come from or what type of school they go to.

It comes following recent reports that pupils in Portsmouth missed more than 100,000 days of face-to-face teaching during the autumn term, with many students having to either self-isolate or shield.

Labour’s plan would deliver:

  • Breakfast clubs and new activities for every child: from breakfast clubs to sport, drama, book clubs and debating societies, a fully funded expanded range of extracurricular clubs and activities to boost time for children to play and socialise after months away from their friends;
  • Quality mental health support in every school: give every child the support they need to transition back to school and manage personal challenges, with access to qualified in-school counselling staff alongside boosting wellbeing through extra activities;
  • Small group tutoring for all who need it, not just 1%: make small group teaching available to all children who need it not just 1%, by reforming the Government’s failing tutoring programme to make sure no child falls behind because of pandemic disruption;
  • Continued development for teachers: Teachers have had one of the toughest years of their careers – it is only by supporting them with training to stay on top of the latest knowledge and techniques that we can give every child a brilliant classroom experience;
  • An Education Recovery Premium: support every child to reach their potential by investing in children who have faced the greatest disruption during the pandemic from early years to further education, and double the Pupil Premium for children in key transition years, delivering additional support for children who need it most;
  • Ensure no child goes hungry: no child will go hungry with Labour, by extending free school meals over the holidays, including the summer break.

Labour’s announcement comes with a warning from Shadow Education Secretary, Kate Green MP, that the Conservatives are “showing no ambition for our children’s futures”, after reports that Chancellor Rishi Sunak will only spend £1.5bn on children’s recovery, 10 times less their ‘Catch-up Czar’ Kevan Collins has told Ministers is needed.

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

“If we are to truly build back better from this crisis, we cannot afford for our future generation to not be equipped with the skills and learning they need, to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

“Students have faced serious disruption to their learning during this crisis, so it is only right they are backed with a truly bold and ambitious plan that is needed to get them back on track.

“Labour’s plan would do just that and it has my full support.”

Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, also said:

“Labour’s innovative plans, informed by parents, teachers and children, will deliver not just a world-class education for all based on play and social development, but fulfilled and confident young people.”

“We must match the ambition children have for their own futures and put them at the heart of our national recovery. This is an investment that our children’s futures and the future of our country depends on.”

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A time to say thanks: Portsmouth MP celebrates work of local volunteers

Stephen Morgan MP is joining local charities in thanking volunteers for their hard work in supporting people and communities across Portsmouth, as part of Volunteers’ Week 2021.

Volunteers’ Week is an annual celebration – now in its 37th year – of the contribution and dedication of millions of volunteers who give up their time in the service of others.

The Portsmouth representative has worked with a wide range of charities supported by local volunteers throughout the lockdown, including HIVE Portsmouth, which has helped to provide food and other essentials for the most vulnerable in the local community, with some of its volunteers also helping to support the local vaccination effort.

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

“Throughout this pandemic, volunteers in Portsmouth have played a crucial role in supporting those most in need.

“They have got on with the job at hand, a lot of the time without praise and expecting nothing in return, to help the most vulnerable in our society. They really are some of the best of us.

“This week, it is important we recognise their incredible dedication this Volunteers’ Week, and say, thank you!”

Sarah Vibert, interim chief executive at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), which supports the coordination of Volunteers’ Week, said:

“Volunteers’ Week is about recognising all of those who have delivered vital work as volunteers over the past 12 months. We should acknowledge the huge number of first-time volunteers in communities around the country, and also say thank you to all those who usually volunteer but have not been able to because of the pandemic.

“Volunteers are always working at the heart of every UK community. It is hard to overstate the incredible impact they have made during an incredibly challenging year.

“The pandemic has highlighted how much we need each other as a society. Charities and volunteering enable us to put that need into action and remain at the heart of our communities through the best and worst times. As a result of the incredible impact that volunteers have had during the pandemic, and continue to have in the recovery efforts, more people than ever are aware of the immense contribution being made every single day by the amazing volunteers across the UK.

“We must ensure this recognition continues. That is why, on this 37th annual Volunteers’ Week, it’s time to say: thank you volunteers!”

Mr Morgan worked alongside HIVE volunteers earlier this year in its work to support the local vaccination effort and wrote out to 50 supermarkets and local stores across Portsmouth, asking them to allow time for Hive volunteers to access priority goods for older people before shelves can be stripped, as well as allowing access to food and essentials at priority times to ensure that foodbank shelves do not become too depleted.

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City MP pipes up on restrictions for choral singers

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has urged the Culture Secretary to provide clinical justification for the decision to limit amateur singing groups to just six people indoors.

Mr Morgan has written to Oliver Dowden following confusion around the restrictions on choral singing in the City and across the country.
Following the easing of restrictions on 17 May, government guidance was updated to clarify that only six amateur singers can meet indoors, while there is no limit on the number of professional singers.

In the letter, Mr Morgan calls out the “double standard” between amateur and professional singers and highlighted a number of much larger performing arts events, including the Brit Awards, that had been allowed to take place safely.

The letter concludes: “I urge you to publish the clinical evidence underpinning the decision to prevent amateur choral singing in groups of more than six people under covid-19 restrictions, and what plans you have to review this.”

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“Portsmouth choral singers are understandably keen to return to practice and performance at venues across the City, including our magnificent Cathedrals.

“But new guidelines have created a double standard which does not seem to be backed up by clinical evidence. It’s causing confusion and consternation for our singers.

“I have urged the Culture Secretary to provide the clinical evidence underpinning this decision and hope that larger groups of non-professional singers will be allowed to gather as soon as it is safe to do so.”

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City MP presents Portsmouth’s NHS Parliamentary Award nominees with their certificates

Stephen Morgan MP has met with Portsmouth’s three nominees for the NHS Parliamentary Awards to offer his congratulations and thank them for their hard work and dedication during the pandemic.

Last year Members of Parliament were invited to nominate individuals or an organisation for an NHS Parliamentary Award. The Portsmouth South MP nominated three individuals who went above and beyond to support the community during the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the online event, there was an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the staff, who are based at Queen Alexandra Hospital, as well as allowing an opportunity for the nominees to talk to the city MP about their experiences on the frontline.

All three nominees were from the Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust with The Excellence in Urgent and Emergency Care Award nomination going to Clinical Director of Respiratory Medicine Dr Ben Green; The Wellbeing at Work Award nomination going to Respiratory High Care Ward Manager Katrina James; and the Excellence in Healthcare Award nomination going to Consultant Respiratory Physician, Tom Brown.

Chief Nurse Liz Rix also joined the online call to share the impact of the three nominees’ work at QA with Mr Morgan, including Dr Green’s work in driving preparedness plans in the respiratory department in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; Katrina James, who identified the need for a formal end of life process for patients coming off non-invasive ventilation and was praised for her incredible compassion for her patients, their loved ones and her colleagues; and Tom Brown, who became the Trust lead on research trials, reshaped the research team and embedded it as part of routine clinical care.

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

“All our NHS staff, volunteers and society’s carers deserve recognition, but Ben, Katrina and Tom have gone above and beyond the call of duty and their work has had an enormous impact on so many people here in Portsmouth as well as further afield.

“Hearing the tributes they made to their teams and their accounts of the dedication of the staff at QA hospital was inspirational.

“We owe these members of our community a debt of gratitude and I cannot thank them enough for all they have done.”

The city MP separately wrote a formal letter of thanks to each of the nominees. The hope is that next year’s awards will be able to be presented in person.

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Portsmouth MP votes for full, transparent parliamentary inquiry into Greensill scandal  

Stephen Morgan MP and the Official Opposition have today forced a vote in the House of Commons to establish a full, transparent, Parliament-run inquiry into the Greensill scandal, saying that the Government cannot be allowed to simply “mark its own homework”.

Revelations around the Greensill scandal have escalated week on week since the company collapsed in March, leaving thousands of jobs at risk.

Greensill Capital was the only supply chain firm granted access to the Government’s CLBILS Covid loan scheme, putting hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayer money at risk.

Labour today tabled a ‘binding motion’ that would establish a new select committee to investigate the Greensill lobbying scandal, which would have the power to ask witnesses to give evidence and face questioning.

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

“Any Conservative who wants to stop the cronyism rampant in their party and in government should have voted with Labour to uncover once and for all the truth behind this scandal.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg in Conservative cronyism which has been endemic during the pandemic and long before.

“The Conservatives cannot be trusted to mark their own homework on this. The British public, especially those with their jobs on the line as a result of Greensill’s collapse, deserve answers.”

Last week, Shadow Ministers also called for the Government to use the upcoming Queen’s Speech to legislate for the expansion of the scope of the lobbying register to include in-house lobbyists – a move that could have detected the nature of Cameron’s lobbying activities for Greensill sooner.