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£13bn of MoD waste revealed in recent report labelled ‘unacceptable’ by Portsmouth MP

Stephen Morgan MP has labelled the £13bn of waste revealed in Labour’s ‘Dossier of Waste in the Ministry of Defence’ as ‘unacceptable’.

The report found that the Government has wasted at least £13bn of taxpayers’ money on 67 officially confirmed cases of MoD waste since 2010.

The new revelations of billions of pounds of Ministry of Defence waste comes at the same time as government cutting Army numbers and freezing forces pay.

Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey says that Labour’s audit of waste shows that “the MoD is a uniquely failing department” and that “Ministers are failing British troops and British taxpayers”.

Labour’s audit examines the extent of waste within the MoD, the cost of which could have been avoided or reduced by better MoD judgement or management.

Labour’s analysis found that Ministers’ mismanagement at the Ministry of Defence has led to £4.8bn of taxpayers’ money being handed out for cancelled contracts and £5.6bn on overspent projects.

If this wasted public money had been reduced, funding could have been available to strengthen the UK’s Armed Forces and avoid cuts forced by budget pressures to troops, planes, ships and vital equipment.

The National Audit Office (NAO) has declared the defence equipment plan “unaffordable” for the last four years in a row, and the Public Accounts Committee said that the Ministry of Defence’s procurement system is “broken and is repeatedly wasting taxpayers’ money”.

Labour has said it would make the Ministry of Defence the first department subject to its new Office for Value for Money’s tough spending regime and commission the NAO to conduct an audit of Ministry of Defence waste to get to grips with these problems.

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

“The Ministry of Defence has blown billions of pounds at the same time as cutting Army numbers and freezing forces pay.

“Labour’s Dossier confirms the scale of waste in MoD budgets and Ministers have got no grip on the problems. Tory waste is failing forces families and taxpayers in Portsmouth and others right across the country.

“This is unacceptable, but Government has no serious intent to get a grip of these deep-seated problems. Only Labour has a plan to tackle them and will continue to hold Ministers to account on this mess.”

Commenting on Labour’s “Dossier of Waste in the Ministry of Defence”, Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey, also said:

“The Ministry of Defence is a uniquely failing department. Labour’s audit confirms at least £13bn in taxpayers’ money has been wasted since 2010, with £4bn wasted while the present Defence Secretary has been in post.

“Ministers are failing British troops and British taxpayers, and this audit is Labour’s first step in fixing the failing system. We would ensure the Ministry of Defence is the first department subject to our new Office for Value for Money’s new tough spending regime and commission the NAO to get to the bottom of these problems.”

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Portsmouth MP welcomes local Afghan families with ‘open arms’

Stephen Morgan MP welcomed local ARAP Afghan families evacuated during August’s Operation Pitting with ‘open arms’ today, during a welcome event held in the city.
The Portsmouth MP met with eight Afghan national families that fled Afghanistan in the summer under the government’s resettlement scheme and was able to thank them for their efforts in working with British personnel in Afghanistan.
Earlier this week in Parliament, the Shadow Armed Forces Minister met with 120 of the soldiers who served in Operation Pitting and thanked them for their efforts to the secure the safety of the 15,000 people evacuated from Afghanistan, including those now based in Portsmouth.
The city MP has been helping with the evacuation programme in responding to over 300 individual cases of those hoping to flee Afghanistan with the Home Office and other government departments.
He has also been working alongside veteran community organisation Ems4Afghans that is providing support to those families in bridging hotels across the country with clothes, toiletries, and other essential items.
The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“I know from my engagement with our city’s existing Afghan community the challenges many families have faced being evacuated from Afghanistan and the harrowing stories of those loved ones left at home under Taliban control.
“It was a pleasure to finally be able to welcome families seeking sanctuary in Portsmouth, to thank them for their work in supporting the British armed forces and understand their hopes for the future as new constituents.
“Whilst this is a real demonstration of the strength of our community coming together to support each other, this may not be the same elsewhere.
“Many ARAP evacuees and their families now find themselves at the mercy of a postcode lottery of support and constrained by a cliff edge on their immigration status.   
“It’s vital now that Ministers deliver clear and consistent pathways for the support offered through Operation Warm Welcome if they are to keep the promises they have made to those who bravely supported our forces.”

Mr Morgan has been asking questions of Ministers over the handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan and has vowed to continue to lobby government on the delivery of Operation Warm Welcome and support those seeking sanctuary in Portsmouth.
In recent weeks, Portsmouth Labour launched a ‘Hug in the Bag’ project to give practical support to Afghan families settling in the city. To find out more about how to get involved, contact Portsmouth Labour via hello@portsmouthlabourparty.org.uk or sign up to updates through its website: https://www.portsmouthlabourparty.org.uk/meetings/
 
 

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Shadow Armed Forces Minister: Army cuts are ‘huge gamble’ with our national security

Stephen Morgan has said that the Defence Secretary’s manifesto breaking cuts to the armed forces represent a ‘huge gamble’ with our national security.

The Shadow Armed Forces Minister’s warning came in response to the Defence Secretary’s statement to the House of Commons today, which confirmed the largest reorganisation of the army in a generation.

The army will be cut by 9,000 to 73,000 by 2025, its smallest since the Napoleonic era. The infantry will be reorganised into four divisions, meaning some existing brigades will be merged or deleted.

There will also be 33 site closures, including Alanbrooke Barracks at Topcliffe in North Yorkshire, severing historic and prosperous ties the Army has with communities up and down the UK.

A new elite unit of Rangers will be created to operate in complex, high threat environments as part of an Army Special Operations brigade.

The Defence Secretary claims the changes would “transform the Army into a more agile, integrated, lethal, expeditionary force”.

However, concerns have been raised by Labour and others that the changes are short-sighted against the backdrop of growing threats to the UK and its allies, not least on the Ukrainian border.

Responding to the Defence Secretary’s statement in the Commons, Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey raised fears the Government’s plan to reorganise the British Army leaves it too small, too thinly stretched and too poorly equipped to deal with the burgeoning state threats to the UK, and our allies.

Jack Watling of the influential defence and security think tank RUSI said ‘the British Army has essentially admitted that it cannot field a force for high-intensity combat for the best part of a decade’.

Portsmouth South MP and Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan said:

“The Government’s decision to cut the size of the British Army to its smallest since the Napoleonic era is a huge gamble with our national security.

“At a time when the threats faced by the UK and its allies are growing it is vital that we maintain the ability to reinforce Europe against Russia and be an effective warfighting partner to NATO allies. This demands high-end warfighting capabilities, not just light forces and cyber operations.

“Labour has committed to pausing, reviewing and reversing the cuts if necessary.”

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Gurkha pensions: Government cannot continue to ‘sweep issue under the carpet’ – Portsmouth MP

Stephen Morgan MP has accused the government of sweeping the contentious issue of Gurkha pension equality under the carpet during a debate in Westminster this evening.

The issue of Gurkha pension equality is a longstanding and complex issue, but the Portsmouth MP and Shadow Armed Forces Minister urged the government to set out a way forward to address the problem.

In August, a group of Gurkha veterans were forced to go on hunger strike outside Downing Street following the government’s lack of engagement with their concerns.

The Shadow Minister visited campaigners during their 13-day hunger strike, having lobbied the Defence Secretary the previous day about the issue.

Leading a debate in Westminster Hall on behalf of the Official Opposition tonight, the Portsmouth representative demanded government set out its approach to the forthcoming bilateral committee meeting convened with Nepal to discuss Gurkha welfare issues.

He also called for the government to commit to publishing its response to its own consultation on the Gurkha Pension Scheme, which closed eight months ago, before the talks begin.

The MP has met with Gurkhas and campaigners on several occasions, including on Saturday with Labour councillors in Reading, which has a particularly high Gurkha population.

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

“This is a complex and longstanding issue, but that’s no excuse for the government’s lack of engagement in tackling the inequalities experienced by those who have fought to keep us safe.

“It cannot be right that those who have served our country have to live in such difficult circumstances, with the cost-of-living crisis set to make things only go from bad, to worse, this winter.

“At the very least Ministers must consider measures that ensure all Gurkha veterans have the opportunity to live securely in retirement. Labour will work cross-party to get this right, but Government needs to finally show long overdue leadership.

Ministers cannot continue to sweep this growing problem under the carpet.”

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City MP warns ministers ARAP evacuees face a ‘cliff edge’ to remain in UK

Stephen Morgan MP warned ministers in the House of Commons today that ARAP evacuees face a ‘cliff edge’ on their UK immigration status.

ARAP evacuees were given six months leave to remain when they left Afghanistan, but many now face uncertainty on their Indefinite Leave to Remain.

Without confirmation of this promise by government, ARAP evacuees face difficulties in accessing work, housing and essential services.

Last week, Mr Morgan visited a bridging hotel, where Afghans who supported British forces are being housed temporarily, to give out ‘winter packs’ of coats, scarves, hats and gloves as the weather turns colder.
As well as basic needs like winter clothes, the Shadow Armed Forces Minister also raised concerns that the Home Office was yet to process their immigration paperwork.

The separate Afghan citizens’ resettlement scheme has still not yet been launched.

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

“Unfortunately, ARAP evacuees and their families – who have already suffered immense hardship – now find themselves at the mercy of a postcode lottery of support and constrained by a cliff edge on their immigration status. 

“Councils, charities and voluntary organisations are doing their best on the ground. But Ministers must deliver clear and consistent pathways for the support offered through Operation Warm Welcome, if they are to keep the promises they have made to those who bravely supported our forces.

“The Secretary of State’s response today will offer little comfort to those on the ARAP scheme worrying for their family’s safety. His department should be proactively working to end the uncertainty, not waiting for colleagues to come to him. They deserve far better.”

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Portsmouth MP calls for nominations for his Parliamentary Remembrance tribute

Stephen Morgan MP has called for constituents to get in touch and offer their suggestions for his Remembrance tribute in Parliament.

Marking its 100th year, the Royal British Legion (RBL) has teamed up with the House of Commons to install a House of Commons Constituency Garden of Remembrance.

All 650 Members of Parliament have been invited by the Speaker to plant their Remembrance tributes in New Palace Yard, ensuring every constituency in the country can be represented and remembered in a single place.

Suggestions for the remembrance tribute can be to an individual, regiment or community that has a connection with Mr Morgan’s constituency of Portsmouth South. Nominations can be sent either via email or post.

The Portsmouth MP will be planting his tribute on behalf of constituents in the run up to Armistice Day next week.

The Portsmouth South MP, said:

“Remembrance is an important time for communities right across the country, none more so than in Portsmouth, so I’m delighted to be taking part in this thoughtful initiative by the Legion and the Speaker of the House of Commons.

“Every village, town or city in Britain has a unique story to tell about the service and sacrifices made to keep us safe. Being able to recognise and remember this in a single place and at the heart of the UK’s democracy is the perfect way to mark the Royal British Legion’s centenary.

“I look forward to receiving many suggestions from constituents for who they think Portsmouth should honour and remember this year.”

Suggestions for consideration by the city MP should be emailed to stephen.morgan.mp@parliament.uk by no later than 5pm on Monday 8.

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Statement from Stephen Morgan MP – Government denies pay rise for 8,200 service personnel

Reacting to reports of a government decision not to award service personnel a £250 boost to their annual pay, the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South and Shadow Armed Forces Minister, said:

“The government has short-changed our service personnel once again. As if a decade of real terms pay cuts wasn’t bad enough, this report reveals Ministers have deliberately conned 8,200 of the lowest earning service personnel out of their insultingly low £250 bonus.

“Over the last year Her Majesty’s Armed Forces have shown just how indispensable they are to the nation’s security, from airlifting British Nationals out of Afghanistan to driving NHS ambulances in Wales.

“Yet Ministers still don’t think it’s worth giving the lowest earners taking the highest risks to protect our country a pay rise that’s worth just £200 after tax. To add insult to injury, they will also be paying more for food and service accommodation.

“This continues a decade of Tory decline for our armed forces who’ve seen forces pay, numbers and morale all down since 2010.”

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Labour’s £35 million support fund for British veterans and Afghan interpreters ‘critical’– Portsmouth MP

Stephen Morgan has labelled Labour’s recently announced £35 million fund to support British veterans and Afghan interpreters as ‘critical’.

The policy was announced by Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey in his Party conference speech today (Monday 27 September).

The funding, recovered from cancelled MoD interpreter contracts, will be used for grants to charities and Local Authorities in England to provide mental health support services and support for those Afghan nationals who have relocated to the UK through the ARAP scheme. 

Mr Healey is the first Shadow Defence Secretary to address the party’s conference since 2016, signalling Labour’s renewed focus on the defence and security of the nation.

The new cash comes as calls to veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress have doubled since the Taliban swept to power. At the same time, its income has fallen by 37% in the last financial year partly due to cuts in NHS funding support.

Research last year found only 26% of charities thought that the government supports the mental health of veterans, and 79% of charities believe that the responsibility to support veterans should lie more with the government and armed forces.

Meanwhile, there have been reports that some of the 1,200 ARAP-eligible Afghans that were made it out of Kabul are stranded in unsuitable accommodation, and councils have requested more funds to support them.

Commenting on the announcement, Portsmouth South MP and Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan, said:

“The government’s woeful mismanagement of the Afghanistan crisis has undermined the professionalism shown by our armed forces. Its recent announcement for mental health funding falls far short of what is necessary.

“A Labour government would deliver the support that’s required for those who have served in Afghanistan, instead of allowing demands on charities providing mental health support for veterans to skyrocket.

“Service personnel and veterans show immense courage in serving our country. It’s time they had a government that had the courage to serve them too.”

Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey, also said:

“The Conservatives are failing our forces. Recent funding announcements are simply a drop in the ocean and the uncertainty surrounding future funding for the Office of Veterans Affairs has pulled the rug from under our personnel when they need it most.

“Labour’s new support fund will make sure we protect those who protected us.”

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‘A step in the right direction ‘– City MP reacts to new government strategy to record veteran suicides

Stephen Morgan MP has welcomed the government’s recently announced strategy to record veteran suicides in England and Wales, labelling it as a ‘step in the right direction’.

The Portsmouth representative has campaigned for veteran suicide figures to be recorded for a number of years, including through securing a parliamentary debate on the issue, writing a string of letters to government ministers and submitting a range of parliamentary questions.

The city MP has also worked alongside local veterans’ charities, including ‘All Call Signs’, who have also been calling for a similar initiative to be brought forward.

For the first time, the new method will capture the numbers of ex-service personnel who take their lives and will be recorded officially by the government, following an agreement between the Office for Veterans’ Affairs (OVA), the MOD and the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The data will be used to further understand where there is a need for dedicated services in England and Wales. The data will allow the government to ensure that these targeted services are signposted to veterans, where they are needed most.

It is expected that the first annual statistics will be published in 2023.

To better understand the lives lost prior to 2022, the government is also conducting a 10 year look back to examine veteran deaths through suicide. This research will be published in 2022.

It comes after the government included in its Armed Forces Bill, which the Portsmouth MP led the Official Opposition’s response to, that local authorities would have a ‘due regard’ to support veterans and armed forces communities.

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

“It is welcome that after years of campaigning alongside Portsmouth veterans’ charities and others that this strategy has finally been announced.

“It is a step in the right direction to work towards providing targeted support for veterans’ families that need it most.

“However, given the widely expected toll the pandemic and multiple lockdowns will have had on veterans and their families, it is deeply disappointing to learn that annual figures will not be available until as late as 2023.

“Government inaction to bring this forward will have real impacts on service families, and had it been brought forward earlier, the support for those who most need it right now could have got it. Instead, they’ll have to wait because of government indecision.

“I will continue to take action and stand up for service families to ensure they get the support they both need and deserve.”

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ARAP Chaos: Portsmouth MP blasts government with just 1% of applications accepted and almost 7,000 still outstanding

  • Government figures reveal just 850 applications have been accepted since April
  • Almost 7,000 applications remain outstanding
  • Just 213 evacuated in 18 months between the Doha Agreement and Operation Pitting

Stephen Morgan MP has blasted the government after new figures have revealed that just 850 applications to the government’s ARAP scheme have been accepted since the beginning of April, with 6,800 still outstanding.

The revelations contradict Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s claim on 6 September that just 311 of those Afghans who supported UK forces were left in the country, and cast fresh doubt on the government’s chaotic withdrawal from the country.1

Data from the Ministry of Defence shows that 60,000 applications to the scheme were received between April and August 2021, with 52,350 being rejected and 6,800 still being processed, meaning just 850 (1.41%) applications were accepted during the period.2

Ministers have also been forced to admit that just 213 ARAP-eligible Afghans were evacuated in the 18 months between the Doha Agreement and the beginning of Operation Pitting on 13 August, illustrating a further lack of planning.3

Labour’s Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan said the revelations showed the government was “out of touch and on the beach” during the immediate crisis. He called on the Defence Secretary to set out a “credible” plan to help those left behind.

Mr Morgan called on Armed Forces Minister James Heappey to clarify the figures in the House of Commons today, but the minister failed to answer, suggesting he would write to respond instead.

The government has confirmed that no further evacuation flights have been conducted since the conclusion of Operation Pitting on 28 August, yet claim the scheme remains open.4

Earlier this month, the Portsmouth representative also met with members of the local Afghan community to listen to views and concerns about family and friends in Afghanistan.

Portsmouth South MP and Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan, said:

“Despite the very best efforts from our armed forces, this government has woefully mishandled the crisis in Afghanistan.

“These figures reveal the government’ systemic failure to plan for the withdrawal in the 18 months following the Doha agreement and prioritise the safety of British nationals and brave Afghans who supported our forces.

“While Ministers claim the ARAP scheme is still open, this will be cold comfort to those still on the ground, now living in fear under Taliban rule. The Defence Secretary is yet to set out a credible plan to secure the safety of those the government has left behind.

“This crisis was a fundamental test of the government and its leadership. Once again, Conservative Ministers were found to be out of touch and on the beach.”