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Queen’s Speech – City MP responds

Reacting to the Queen’s Speech today, Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, said:

“This was a wasted opportunity. The first line of the Queen’s Speech should have included the introduction of an emergency budget to tackle the cost of living crisis Portsmouth and the rest of the country are facing. Instead, it was scarcely mentioned at all.

“Nothing to tackle the cost of the weekly shop, energy bills or the price at the pump. Ministers even decided it was better to chuck its Employment Bill in the bin, rather than help to secure good jobs.

“Today’s Queen’s Speech smacks of a government and Prime Minister that is out of ideas, and out of touch. Labour is ambitious for our country. After 12 years of low growth, high inflation and spiralling taxes, Labour’s plan would once again prioritise world-class public services, bring down NHS waiting times, tackle crime and ensure the best education for our children.”

Commenting on schools, the Shadow Schools Minister, added:

“After two years of unprecedented chaos and disruption to children’s education, we saw nothing to support children’s catch-up learning in the classroom, and nothing to tackle the day-to-day challenges pupils and teachers are facing. This government is failing our next generation.

“Labour in government would recruit 6,500 new teachers, back them with improved professional development and ensure every young person leaves education ready for work and ready for life, with professional careers advice and work experience for all.”

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Portsmouth MP praises ‘resilient’ new local business for giving back to the community

Stephen Morgan MP has praised a new business launched during the middle of the pandemic for its resilience and for providing targeted services to community members.

Launched in May 2020, Danielle Hollinshead and her husband Ian started IDeal Fitness & Nutrition LTD, which has continued to grow from strength to strength.

During lockdown, the new business offered online nutrition coaching and socially distanced 121 kickboxing coaching, but now has ambitions to grow the start-up even further with restrictions now lifted.

The business recently launched its health and wellness group at Milton Village Hall, to teach the local community about the importance of healthy living and the benefits of exercise whether their goal is to lose, gain or maintain their current weight. Classes are every Friday afternoon, 12-1pm.

During school holidays, the group will be extended to accommodate more children who can come along for some family fun and learn about family nutrition. Classes are free to all under 16’s who attend with a parent or guardian.

The local enterprise also launched last week a nutrition and wellness cooking course, designed for adults with learning difficulties.

Following a visit to see one of the classes first-hand at Milton Village Hall, the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“The resilience Danielle and Ian have shown to start a business in the middle of the pandemic is nothing short of remarkable. It’s fantastic to see the entrepreneurial spirit of our city is still alive and kicking after the challenges of the last two years.

“I’m also really pleased to hear how the team plan to provide specific classes to those with learning difficulties and are already helping young people to learn about healthy living, so it was really useful to see that first-hand this afternoon.

“I look forward to seeing how the local business continues to grow from strength to strength and provide such important services to our community.”

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Portsmouth MP tours New Forest farm with NFU on work to support local people

Stephen Morgan MP has met National Farmers’ Union (NFU) representatives and the region’s farmers at a New Forest farm to learn more about how the agricultural sector is supporting our city’s communities.

During the visit, the Portsmouth representative discussed concerns over food security, ensuring a workforce to pick crops and land management in a roundtable with the NFU and local farmers.

In Portsmouth South alone, this year residents will eat an estimated:

  • 12.3 million eggs
  • 10.7 million litres of milk
  • 3,063 tonnes of bread

It comes as recent workforce shortages highlighted sensitivities around food supply chains, including ongoing workforce shortages in the food and farming sectors in picking, packing, processing and distributing food.

Agricultural workers played a critical role in keeping supply-chains running during the pandemic and restrictions, and Mr Morgan took the opportunity to thank them for their efforts.

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

“It’s been useful to meet with National Farming Union representatives and our region’s farmers, to learn more about the work they are doing to support our communities and keep us fed.

“Farmers went above and beyond to support us and keep food on the shelves during the height of the pandemic, so it’s only right they get the support that’s needed from Westminster as we recover.

“I look forward to working with the NFU to ensure our area’s farming community get the help they need to keep providing for Portsmouth families.”

According to the NFU, the UK’s current food self-sufficiency rate is hovering at about 60%. Labour has accused the government of being “far too complacent” on food security, saying it would look to increase the UK’s self-sufficiency.

Labour has said it would support farms to make, sell and buy more in Britain. This includes using public procurement to ensure that schools and hospitals buy local produce, encouraging more food to be grown in the region, and across the rest of the country.

The city MP added:

“The conflict in Ukraine has triggered a humanitarian tragedy and our nation’s attention is rightly focused on attempting to resolve the crisis.

“It has also reminded us of the need to tackle challenges with the global food market, from rising fuel prices pushing fertilizer costs up by as much as 400%, to both Russia and Ukraine accounting for nearly a third of global wheat exports.

“Like many other countries, the UK faces economy-wide disruption that could last for many years, including to our food output, our food supply chains and the availability and affordability of food to consumers.

“As an island nation, being able to grow enough food to feed a substantial proportion of our population is a key measure of food security and national resilience.

“That’s why I will be calling on Government to set out a clear plan to maintain confidence and stability across the UK’s food producing businesses, to protect working families and pensioners, and keep Britain fed.”

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Labour tax cut would save pubs over £2,000 from next week 

Labour have today outlined their ‘emergency support’ to help small businesses with rising costs. The measures include a tax cut which would take effect this week if the Government adopted Labour’s plans.  

Under the plans a typical small factory or workshop would save £2,700, a pub would be £2,600 better off and the average café or restaurant would save £2,700.

New analysis from Labour shows the current system of business rates is acting as a tax on growth, with smaller firms facing big tax cliff edges if they expand. A typical hairdresser who expands from one to two sites would see their tax bill go from £0 to £5,000, while an average shop goes from paying £0 to £10,000. 

Labour’s long-term plan would see Business Rates scrapped and replaced with a system that supported growth, and would be fairer between the small high street businesses based on bricks and the global tech giants based on clicks.

The party have also pledged support to British industry with an energy support fund to help with rising prices. The Government promised to support energy intensive firms six months ago but have failed to come forward with a package of support. Labour’s plans include direct help for industry to deal with rising prices now as well as support for the steel industry to decarbonise.

Labour’s plan includes:   

A tax cut for small business  

Labour would cut taxes for businesses by raising the threshold for small business rates relief for a year (from the current threshold of £15,000 to £25,000), to give SMEs a discount on their business rates bill from 1 April 2022/23.

Energy support fund  

Labour’s energy support fund would prioritise energy intensive industries such as steel, glass and ceramics to bring down their energy bills. At least 388,000 jobs are at risk if these factories are forced to close or reduce operations as the price of gas has nearly tripled since last October.

Green steel fund  

Labour would support the steel industry to decarbonise, with £3bn worth of investment in collaboration with business, over the coming decade.

No rise in National Insurance   

Labour would not be increasing national insurance contributions which will mean employers will pay an additional rate of 1.25% on employees’ earnings over £175 per week (£9,100 per year) from the 1 April.

Commenting on the emergency measures, Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP, said:

Small businesses are the bedrock of our economy in Portsmouth. Helping to protect them during this cost-of-living crisis protects livelihoods, protects jobs and protects our city’s communities.

“Labour’s plan would see business rates scrapped and replaced with a system that supported growth, and would be fairer between the small high street businesses based on bricks and the global tech giants based on clicks. 

“These emergency measures, if adopted by Government, would benefit so many of our city’s small businesses. Proposals would ensure a saving for a local pub of £2,600 and the average café or restaurant saving £2,700, all helping to keep our economy going”.

Jonathan Reynolds MP, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, added:   

“Businesses are facing a tidal wave of extra costs and being held back under the Conservatives through tax rises, inflation and the energy crisis. Action is needed now to ensure firms remain viable and extra costs aren’t passed onto consumers worsening the cost-of-living crisis.  

“Under Labour small firms would be around £2,000 better off from this week through our plans to cut taxes and we wouldn’t penalise small firms for expanding. Labour would back industry with our energy support fund and long-term plans to green the steel industry.   

“It’s clear great British businesses can’t afford this Government.”

 

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Portsmouth MP welcomes in Brittany Ferries’ Salamanca

Stephen Morgan MP welcomed Brittany Ferries’ new Salamanca vessel to Portsmouth today during a reception held at Portsmouth International Portsmouth.

The new LNG-powered, more environmentally friendly ship is set for its first commercial voyage on Sunday and to serve along Portsmouth routes. The city MP took a tour round the new ship meeting staff.

Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, said:

“It was great to finally welcome Salamanca to Portsmouth today and encouraging see a new, more environmentally friendly vessel that will serve along Portsmouth routes.

“Brittany Ferries plays an important role in our city’s economy, but as one of the first cities in the country to declare a climate emergency and local waters under threat from pollution, its pleasing to see steps it has taken to help protect our local environment now and for the years to come.

“I look forward to the Salamanca becoming a more familiar sight when looking out across the seafront, as she serves our city and supports our economic recovery from the pandemic.”

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Portsmouth MP will vote to ban fire & rehire and for P&O Ferries to reinstate its workforce

Stephen Morgan MP is set to vote with Labour today, demanding that P&O Ferries reinstates its workforce and for fire and rehire to be outlawed.

The mass sackings without notice last week caused outrage nationwide, amid reports suggested security firms with balaclavas and handcuffs were used to take sacked British workers off the vessels.

The Conservative Government was made aware of the sackings before it was announced, and of the plan to use fire and rehire.

Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, Louise Haigh MP, has called this moment “a line in the sand” and later today Labour will stage a vote demanding the Tories outlaw fire and rehire, strengthen workers’ rights and take tough action to force the company to think again.

Labour called on the government to:

  • Outlaw fire and rehire and bring forward an urgent bill to strengthen workers rights.
  • Suspend the contracts of DP World – the owner of P&O Ferries – until this matter is resolved
  • Remove DP World from the UK Government’s Transport Advisory Group where they were appointed by the now Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, “to provide knowledge, experience and strategic expertise” on trade negotiations.

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

“I will fight every step of the way for the jobs and livelihoods of these loyal workers.

“This scandalous action must be a line in the sand. If P&O Ferries can get away with this, it will give the green light to other exploitative employers.

“That’s why I’m voting to ban fire and rehire for good and am calling on Government to suspend licenses and contracts of P&O Ferries and DP World and reinstate these grossly mistreated workers.

“I will continue to work alongside trade unions to campaign for the outlawing of draconian fire and rehire practices.”

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City MP demands government acts over P&O Ferries betrayal

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has demanded Ministers take action over ‘disgusting’ treatment of staff by P&O Ferries as Labour writes to the Prime Minister calling for him to “stand up for loyal workers in Britain” after 800 P&O Ferries’ staff were sacked without notice.

The City MP has welcomed efforts by the Shadow Transport Secretary, Louise Haigh MP, who is visiting the sacked workers at Dover port and is demanding the Prime Minister take action including considering:

  • Suspending the contracts and licences of DP World – the owner of P&O Ferries – until this matter is resolved
  • Remove DP World from the UK Government’s Transport Advisory Group where they were appointed by the now Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, “to provide knowledge, experience and strategic expertise” on trade negotiations
  • Claw back taxpayers’ money handed over to DP World during the pandemic
  • Outlaw fire and rehire.

And in a letter to the Prime Minister, Labour has asked Government to address concerns including when Ministers were notified of the redundancies, whether they were aware of the tactics that would be used by P&O Ferries and their intention to breach employment law prior to the announcement.

Labour has also called on the Prime Minister to explain whether the issue was raised on his visit to the United Arab Emirates, which includes Dubai, whose investment arm is the ultimate owners of P&O Ferries.

P&O used to operate services from Portsmouth Port delivering goods and passengers to mainland Europe (Caen, Cherbourg, Bilbao and Le Havre) until 2010.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“What P&O Ferries have done is disgusting. British seafarers don’t need empty platitudes from Government, they need action from Ministers.

“A number of constituents who are ex-employees have already got in touch with me sharing their disappointment in how the company is shamefully treating the workforce. That’s why I’m calling on Government to suspend licenses and contracts P&O Ferries and DP World hold with Government and claw back every taxpayer’s penny taken from the company during the pandemic.

“I will also continue to work alongside trade unions to campaign for the outlawing of draconian fire and rehire practices.

“It is about time this Government stood up for Britain’s workers”.

Commenting Shadow Transport Secretary, Louise Haigh MP said:

“This was a despicable assault on workers’ rights.

“But British seafarers do not need meaningless platitudes – they need action.

“That’s why the government must consider suspending licences and contracts held with DP World, claw back every penny of taxpayers money, and outlaw fire and rehire now.

“Boris Johnson went to the UAE with a begging bowl, and as he returned eight hundred British workers were sacked without notice by one of their investment arms.

“The Government must now stand up for loyal workers in Britain being undermined by overseas billionaires.”

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City MP helps launch new campaign to promote ‘World-class’ Portsmouth attractions

Stephen Morgan MP spoke at the launch of a new city campaign at Spinnaker Tower on Thursday evening to boost visitors to the city and mark the start of English Tourism Week.

The new campaign includes an events guide highlighting everything happening this year from international spectacles like Victorious Festival and the Great South Run to smaller community events such as the Live at the Bandstand, King George V fireworks display and Heritage Open Days.

The council is also partnering with South Western Railways to showcase Portsmouth on landmark digital billboards at London Waterloo Station and will be attending a number of trade events in the capital during English Tourism Week, 18-27 March.

Attractions across the city are getting behind the push with a range of special offers during the week including £30 off an ultimate explorer ticket at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard; 20% discount at Exploria; special offers on a range of performances at Portsmouth Guildhall and 20% off Hover travel tickets.

Portsmouth residents can also get 25% discount on a visit to the Spinnaker Tower or 40% off entry to D-Day Story. More information on all the special offers can be found by searching “English Tourism Week” at www.visitportsmouth.co.uk

Stephen Morgan, MP for Portsmouth South, said:

“Portsmouth has world class attractions like the historic dockyard and D-Day Story and I’m delighted to see local efforts made to promote our city to a wider audience.

“Our tourist, cultural and historic attractions are increasingly the envy of the world and a source of national pride.

“So as we mark this English Tourism Week, I’m calling on local people to redouble our efforts to shout about what our city has to offer, and to use our assets as a symbol of the kind of city and country we are now and aspire to be in the future.”

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Portsmouth MP tours CityFibre’s Full Fibre works in Portsmouth

Stephen Morgan MP has toured CityFibre’s ongoing works in the city for its ‘Full Fibre’ £32m project.

During the visit, Mr Morgan and representatives from CityFibre were introduced to full fibre digital infrastructure and provided with demonstrations of the typical build process, including excavation and reinstatement.

Work is underway across the constituency and beyond to build a citywide full fibre network that will reach almost every home and business in Portsmouth.

The project forms part of CityFibre’s up to £4 billion Gigabit City Investment Programme, which will bring full fibre networks within reach of up to 8 million homes and businesses across the UK.

Unlike the majority of the digital infrastructure accessible to households today, full fibre networks use 100% fibre optic cables to carry data at light speed all the way from the home to the point of connection. This gives users consistently faster speeds for upload and download (up to 1,000 Mbps), near limitless bandwidth and connectivity for users.

During the tour, the city MP helped ‘splice’ some fibre cable for an install in Portsea alongside an engineer.

Commenting on the progress of CityFibre’s £32m project, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan, said:

“It was really useful to meet with CityFibre to get an update on the works it’s been doing to improve broadband connectivity in Portsmouth.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, boosting local gigabit broadband availability will be crucial to bridging the digital divide in our city to support catch-up learning and tackling loneliness. I raised this with Ministers in the House of Commons a few weeks ago.

“Full fibre connectivity will support our economic, social and smart city ambitions.”

In Portsmouth, services will be available from an increasing range of broadband providers. Across the UK, CityFibre is already working with launch partner Vodafone to supply full fibre infrastructure for customers on selected Vodafone Pro Broadband plans, while TalkTalk and other providers are expected to join the network soon.

Residents can find out more about the build and register their interest at cityfibre.com/homes

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Energy Crisis: 11,885 jobs in Portsmouth at risk as energy cost rises hit businesses

Stephen Morgan MP has attacked the government after new analysis revealed that without urgent measures to address skyrocketing energy costs for manufacturing and industry, 11,885 jobs in Portsmouth may be at risk.

This rises to 334,565 jobs across the whole of the South East.

Industries that use a lot of energy in production are facing massive increases in energy bills, as the wholesale forward contract cost of gas rose by 80 per cent between May and November 2021, according to Ofgem.

Industries including metal, glass and ceramic manufacturing and mining are bearing the brunt of price rises.

In 2018, British industry paid on average 33% more for electricity than their European counterparts, but UK Steel has said that figure is as high as 61% today.

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

“Households are facing soaring energy bills and so are businesses, especially those in energy intensive sectors, but Government has offered little to address the eye-watering costs they are facing.

“Energy prices for businesses have gone up as much as four times and if the Government don’t do something soon, 11,885 jobs in Portsmouth could be lost as more and more businesses close their doors.

“That’s why Labour has a plan ready to go to cut VAT on home and business energy bills, as well as a contingency fund for energy intensive industries including steel, glass, ceramics, chemicals and paper, who face massive increases in costs.

“With working people and families in our city already struggling to make ends meet, ordinary people cannot afford to lose their jobs as well. Labour will always guarantee workers and their employers the security, prosperity and respect they deserve.”