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Shadow Schools Minister blasts Ministers for nation’s ‘crumbling’ schools

Stephen Morgan MP grilled Ministers during departmental questions in the House of Commons today over the number of English schools that have fallen into a state of disrepair.

In 2019 it was revealed that, according to the government’s own data, almost 4,000 schools across the country were judged by surveyors to be in need of immediate restoration work, and many more were found not to have the paperwork required by law, including electrical test certificates, fire risk assessments or asbestos management plans.

Over two years on, the government believes some school buildings are now a ‘risk to life’, according to internal government documents leaked to the Observer.

Despite this, the Chancellor has so far refused to provide the £13bn needed for rebuilding projects.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South and Shadow Schools Minister, Stephen Morgan, said:

“The reality is the school estate is crumbling after 12 years of Tory negligence.

“Ministers have known the state our schools are in, but instead of tackling the problem, they have opted to sit on their hands and let our children’s places of learning become a risk to life.

“The Minster’s non-answer today demonstrates he would prefer to stick his head in the sand, rather than tackle this unsustainable problem head-on.

“This is a far cry from what Portsmouth’s and the country’s children deserve. Labour is ambition for our children and would deliver the first-class education they need to be ready for work and ready for life.”

The City MP has previously raised concerns in Westminster about the state of school sites in Portsmouth and across England, including during a Westminster Hall debate earlier this year.

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Portsmouth MP welcomes UoP programme tackling NHS nursing shortfall

Stephen Morgan MP has praised University of Portsmouth’s (UoP) School of Health and Care Professions for its new course helping to tackle the NHS nursing recruitment challenges.

The university has been running a simulated six-week placement for Adult and Mental Health Nursing students in their final year.

Simulation has been in greater demand since the Covid-19 pandemic put increased pressure on the number of placements that the NHS is able to offer.

Recent data from The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) revealed nearly half of the new nurses and midwives registered to work in the UK in the past year have come from abroad. It also showed the numbers leaving the profession had risen.

Many UK applicants to nursing courses have not had the chance to undertake significant work experience as a result of the pandemic.

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

“It’s fantastic to see how our city’s university is working to support our local NHS services, helping to deliver the healthcare my constituents need and deserve.

“After two years of unprecedented challenges, I’m incredibly grateful to our local NHS nurses, and for the innovative work the University of Portsmouth is doing to support them to tackle the range of current issues and challenges they face.

“I will continue to speak up in Westminster for the support our local NHS services require.”

The simulated placement has been paid for using a £300,000 grant from Health Education England, and includes working with standardised patients in the University of Portsmouth’s simulated wards and community settings.

Facilities include realistic mock-ups of home, GP and hospital settings. It also includes the Anatomage, which is the industry leading software for studying anatomy and dissecting the human body.

Simulation-based education gives students time to practice technical and communication skills in a safe and supported learning environment. Paid actors undertake roles as patients alongside the academic facilitators.

The University is also working in partnership with local further education college partners to support new and existing course development for students who see a career pathway as a registered nurse.

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Portsmouth MP throws weight behind local knife crime crackdown

Stephen Morgan MP has backed Hampshire Constabulary’s participation in Operation Sceptre, a weeklong initiative to tackle knife crime running until Sunday, May 22.

Hampshire and the Isle of Wight is part of 43 forces (England and Wales) and the British Transport Police who will take part in the efforts to crack down on knife crime and violence.

The week of action is an intensification of work that takes place across the county day in day out to tackle knife crime. It will provide an opportunity for local police to focus on the different strands of education, engagement, prevention and enforcement, all of which are important to reduce knife crime.

Engaging with retailers, youth groups and charities will be a crucial part of the week, with police targeting the root causes of knife crime, using early intervention to stop those intent on carrying a knife.

The Police will continue to work closely with young people to further understand the reasons why individuals carry knives and to educate them around the dangers and illegality of carrying one.

The overall aim of the week will be to highlight that there are no positives to carrying a knife.

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

“The costs of knife crime to our communities are far too great. Nobody should feel unsafe to go about their daily lives in the city they live, day or night.

“That’s why I fully support Hampshire Constabulary’s participation in Operation Sceptre, to tackle both the causes and impacts of knife crime in Portsmouth.

“It’s vital our local police work alongside community groups and businesses so that we can all feel safe and secure. I look forward to learning the outcomes of this week’s efforts in my next regular meeting with the Chief Constable.”

If you are aware of anyone who carries a knife or have concerns that someone you know may carry a knife, report it to police or call crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

The City MP recently joined a night patrol to gain new insights about the specific challenges and issues the area is facing to public safety.

Mr Morgan has backed Labour’s plan to tackle community crime, which includes:

  • New Police Hubs in crime and antisocial behaviour hotspots across the country to get the police back out into the community
  • Neighbourhood Prevention Teams bringing together police and local councils and youth services to tackle antisocial behaviour that is blighting communities
  • Stronger powers for police and local councils to shut down drug dens, and to keep them closed for longer
  • A major recruitment drive to increase the number of special constables
  • Giving victims of persistent antisocial behaviour the same entitlements including access to support services as other victims of crime

The Portsmouth MP has reaffirmed making the city safer a ‘top priority’, after launching a city-wide survey to better understand local views and challenges for antisocial behaviour and public safety in Portsmouth.

You can complete the survey via the link on his website: https://www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/have-your-say-crime-and-safety-in-portsmouth/

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City MP to back binding vote on Emergency Budget for struggling families

Stephen Morgan MP is set to back a binding vote, forced by Labour, calling for the government to bring forward an Emergency Budget to address the cost-of-living crisis, and to urgently start tackling the low growth leaving the UK economy exposed.

The Official Opposition has repeatedly highlighted how low growth and now stagflation are leaving Britain more exposed to the cost-of-living crisis rippling across the country.

With figures released this morning showing the highest levels of inflation for 40 years, the party is urgently calling on the government to create a more pro-growth, pro-business environment post-Brexit, where higher productivity and more private investment is leveraged in to help Britain lead the pack globally.

Labour has said its plan to buy, make and sell more in Britain; to fix the holes in the government’s patchwork Brexit deal; and its Climate Investment Pledge to decarbonise the economy and create good jobs across the country is vital for creating more certainty, boosting businesses and stimulating growth.

It comes after recent news that the Chancellor’s most expensive business tax break of all time – the super deduction – costs more than the investment it brings in.

Labour’s amendment will be voted on during the Queen’s Speech debate on Wednesday. Unlike how the government treats opposition day debates, MPs are required to vote on the amendment.

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

“Our city and the country face a cost-of-living crisis, and a growth crisis.

“Wages are being squeezed, our tax system is unfair and there is no plan for the future of our economy. None of this is inevitable but a consequence of government policies and Conservative choices.

“Labour has a new vision for a fairer and more prosperous economy. That’s why the Conservatives must back our motion today, not just for them to come forward with an Emergency Budget to tackle the cost-of-living crisis in Portsmouth, but to set out the plan Britain deserves to get our economy firing on all cylinders.”

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Shadow Schools Minister: Government fails to deliver for Portsmouth’s children

Stephen Morgan MP has warned that the government is failing to deliver for children in Portsmouth with ‘no plan, no ambition and no vision’ for their learning or futures, as the government’s proposed Schools Bill ‘falls short’.

The government’s proposed Schools Bill, announced in last week’s Queen’s Speech did not include a plan to drive-up standards in the classroom or turn around opportunities for over 200,000 children who live in areas with no good or outstanding schools.

In his statement on the Queen’s Speech Boris Johnson failed to mention children, suggesting his government’s priorities lie elsewhere.

Following publication of their strategy for schools, the government last month admitted that most schools already hit their new target for the length of the school day, while the Prime Minister has previously admitted that the evidence for lengthening the school day was “not as good as it could have been”.

In September, Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer set out Labour’s determination to drive-up standards for all schools with the most ambitious school improvement programme for a generation. Labour’s plan would include getting 6,500 new teachers into our schools, alongside embedding careers advice, work experience and digital skills in every child’s learning so young people leave education ready for work and ready for life, equipped with the skills they need for the future.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South and Shadow Schools Minister, Stephen Morgan, said:

“Once again we have a smoke and mirrors announcement from a Conservative government that has simply run out of ideas. 

“Their proposed Schools Bill is looking backwards showing no plan, no ambition and no vision for Portsmouth’s and the country’s children.

“Labour is focused on making a difference for children in the classroom and throughout their lives. We would be delivering the trained staff our schools need because the success of teachers enables the success of our children.”

Bridget Phillipson MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary said:

“After two years of unprecedented chaos and disruption to children’s education, the Conservatives are obsessing over structures instead of improving children’s experience in the classroom.

“Their Bill contains no plan to support children’s pandemic recovery. No plan to improve teaching and tackle the exodus of school staff from our classrooms. No plan to ensure more young people gain essential qualifications. No plan to give children the broad education that young people, parents and employers want to see. No plan, no ambition, no vision for our children.

“Labour has been listening to parents, pupils and school staff. We would be delivering our ambitious Children’s Recovery Plan and getting on with delivering plans for 6,500 new teachers filling skills gaps across the profession alongside embedding careers advice, work experience and digital skills for every child so they get a brilliant education which equips them with the skills they need for work and for life.”

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Cost of living: Portsmouth MP to vote for windfall tax on oil and gas producers’ excess profits

Stephen Morgan MP is set to vote with Labour on its motion for a one-off windfall tax on oil and gas producers’ excess profits, as the cost-of-living crisis continues to grow.

Labour’s amendment will be voted on during the Queen’s Speech debate on Tuesday. Unlike how the Government treats opposition day debates, MPs are required to vote on the amendment.

Labour first called for the windfall tax on 9 January, to fund a VAT cut on home energy bills and expand and increase the Warm Homes Discount, saving families struggling with soaring costs up to £600 off their bills.

Since then, the party has called on the Conservative Government to bring forward this change almost 250 times.

It comes as BP and Shell alone have made £12.37bn of profit in the first three months of 2022 – despite Cabinet ministers describing these companies as “struggling” when defending the Conservatives’ refusal to implement a windfall tax.

Analysis by the Labour Party on Sunday showed the expected profits of North Sea oil and gas firms in 2022/23 are higher than the combined rise in energy bills for every household in the UK.

As well as growing support from the Conservative backbenches, there is also widespread public support for a windfall tax, including senior business figures such as the chairs of Tesco and John Lewis.

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

“As energy bills rise by record amounts for families across Portsmouth, it is shameful that Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak still refuse to back a windfall tax that could help tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

“Today, Labour will give MPs another chance to support our one-off windfall tax on oil and gas producer profits to bring down bills.

“Local Conservative MPs must now back this measure to bring down the energy costs of their constituents, or explain why they continue to oppose measures that would ease their cost-of-living.”

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Portsmouth MP holds government to account for failure to ‘level-up’ constituency

Stephen Morgan MP said the government is ‘short-changing’ Portsmouth in order to help its struggling highstreets and support the city’s cultural attractions tackle of the cost of living crisis, during departmental questions in the House of Commons today.

The City MP accused Ministers of prioritising areas that suit them politically, rather than those which urgently need support and attention, including his own constituency of Portsmouth South.

The north of the city, represented by a Conservative Minister, received £20m for several projects, including an urban park, upgrades to Hilsea Lido and a new cruise terminal.

However, proposals for the south of the city have missed out on the funding needed, the Portsmouth MP has said. Gosport, which the government identified as a ‘priority 1 area’ for levelling up, also got nothing.

This includes the long-overdue regeneration of the city centre, the rejuvenation of Portsmouth Harbour’s transport hub to improve access to the Historic Dockyard and Gunwharf Quay, and improving pedestrian access between Fratton station and the football stadium. Mr Morgan has previously lobbied the Chancellor separately about these matters.

According to the latest official figures, Portsmouth has lost at least 2,000 retail sector related jobs, sitting below the regional and national levels, as it was seven years ago back in 2015.

Later this week the MP is meeting the Arts Council to ensure his constituency is prioritised for future funding.

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

Portsmouth’s highstreets and cultural assets have been left behind by this Tory government, failing to offer the support they need to kickstart our economy and begin our recovery.

“Instead of using taxpayers’ money to serve its own political ambitions, government should be ‘levelling-up’ communities like our own to revive our struggling highstreets and boost our cultural attractions. They don’t need more pantomime answers from the Secretary of State that we heard today.

“I will continue to speak up for constituents to secure the investment our city needs and deserves.”

As well as working alongside the city council, backing its Levelling Up Fund bids, questioning Ministers, and lobbying the Chancellor directly over investment in the constituency, the Portsmouth representative has vowed to continue to fight in Parliament for what the area deserves.

He is meeting with officials again over submission of further proposals to Government.

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Guildhall Trust receives £499,000 in Arts Council funding – City MP responds

Responding to news that the Guildhall Trust has been awarded £499,000 from the Arts Council England’s Capital Investment Programme, Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, said:

“It’s fantastic to learn the Guildhall Trust has been given the support it needs to grow the vital, creative opportunities it offers to so many young people across our city.

“From my recent conversations with Guildhall Trust, I know how important this funding will be to increase access to creative spaces and help to inspire our communities.

“As Portsmouth begins its recovery, it’s critical the next generation has access to creative spaces like this to give them the platform to truly thrive. I look forward to seeing the benefits of this investment locally and will be feeding back its importance to the Arts Council in the coming weeks.”

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City MP set to open Southsea Community Cinema and Arts Centre

Stephen Morgan MP is set to open Portsmouth Film Society’s new home at the Southsea Community Cinema and Arts Centre later this month.

Opening in the heart of Southsea on 19 May with Open House from 12 – 5 pm, the new centre will be featuring local performers, films soundtracks, drums and short films.

Now based at 1-3 Palmerston Road, Portsmouth Film Society will also be hosting a reception on the day for community leaders, local artists and business leaders.

The group will be showcasing its new configurable cinema space, meeting rooms with kitchen facilities, photography and film capability, to engage with the community and gain input on how to evolve its film and educational programmes, as well as develop the space to best suit the needs of local artists and customers.

Its diverse Cinema program features a variety of genres to appeal to people of all ages with matinees and daily evening screenings funded by the British Film Institute (BFI).

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

“I’m delighted that Portsmouth Film Society has finally found a home in Southsea, after years of challenges. It has done fantastic work for local creativity and arts, from its educational programmes, to promoting and supporting local artists.

“This new centre will provide a much-needed dedicated hub where communities can come together to develop and learn more about the world of cinema.

“I look forward to seeing how the organisation’s work continues to grow in its new home, and I wish all those involved every success in providing such important services for our communities.”

Southsea Community Cinema and Arts Centre will be open from 10 am – 9pm. For more details, visit: https://southseacinema.co.uk/opening/

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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.”