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Commons Covid Inquiry: City MP responds

Responding to the Commons inquiry into the handling of the pandemic, Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Ministers were repeatedly warned that their dither and delay would cost lives and this report is a damning indictment that it tragically, did.

“It underlines a string of monumental errors and Government complacency, including a failure to set up an effective test and trace system that left many vulnerable people in Portsmouth care homes exposed to the virus.

“For a while now I have been calling on the government to provide our local public services with the support they need, but the government’s failure to step up when they needed it most cost lives.

“There must be a public inquiry now so that lessons can be learnt quickly, those responsible for these failures can be held to account and families from across our city can be given the answers they deserve.”

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Covid-19: City MP responds to Winter Plan

Responding to the Government’s Covid Winter Plan today, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The test of the government’s Plan A and Plan B will be whether they can keep infection levels down, protect care homes, keep schools running, maintain access to services and crucially avoid another winter lockdown.

“However, government has got to end the uncertainty for many consumers and businesses around vaccine passports. It was only on Sunday the Health Secretary said plans for vaccine passports have been ditched, so why is it included in the government’s plan B?

“His plan also offered little on plans for support for social care this winter. I know many people in Portsmouth will be concerned about how they will be provided with the care and support they need.

“Government has got to do better. I will be doing all I can to secure the certainty and support people in our city need.”

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Statement from Stephen Morgan MP: Vaccine Passports

In recent days, many of you have been in touch regarding my position on the implementation of ‘Vaccine Passports’.

It is important that we look at the detail of what the Government puts forward regarding vaccine passports, but Labour has been clear that the use of Covid vaccination status alone will exclude those who can’t be vaccinated or haven’t had the jab because of delays.

Being double jabbed doesn’t prove you aren’t carrying the virus and I believe testing for access to venues would be more efficient.

Throughout the pandemic, the Government has chopped and changed its advice, making it impossible for people, sports clubs and businesses to plan.

Take Portsmouth FC for example. To insist on the use of vaccine passports less than a month before the start of the season would cause major disruption to clubs like ours across the country.

We all want to open our city and the wider economy as quickly as possible and Labour will study the government’s proposals carefully, but they must follow the science, be pragmatic and ensure no one is excluded where it is reasonably avoidable.

Stephen Morgan MP

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Stephen Morgan visits Fratton Park to urge Portsmouth people to ‘play their part’ in getting jab

Portsmouth MP Stephen Morgan has today urged anyone in the city aged 18 years and over to ‘play their part’ and take up the vaccine following a visit to pop up vaccination clinic at Fratton Park this weekend.

The clinic which was ran by Solent NHS Trust, in partnership with Portsmouth FC and Portsmouth City Council, is part of a wider effort to ensure everyone who is eligible has access to the vaccination.

Individuals were able to get their first or second dose (if it has been eight weeks since their first dose) of the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine. Second doses of the Moderna vaccine are also being offered at St James’ Hospital.

Following the visit to Fratton Park today (Sunday 25 July), to encourage take up, Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South said:

“In the UK only 58% of people aged 18-25 have had their first dose according to new Public Health England data, despite all adults having been offered the jab.

I welcome the efforts of Solent NHS Trust, the city council and others working together to make it as easy as possible for local people to take the vaccination. It has been great to see this first hand at Fratton Park today, and I thank the football club for helping our community in this way.

It is clear that the vaccination programme is our best route out of the challenges we face today, so my message to those who are yet to take up the vaccine offer is simple: To protect you, your loved ones and your friends, please play your part and get the jab”.

Stephanie Clark, Portsmouth vaccination lead at Solent NHS Trust, said:

“We are delighted to be offering Covid-19 vaccinations at pop-up clinics around the city.

“It’s important that we offer as many people the opportunity to receive their life-saving jabs and we hope that by hosting these clinics in iconic locations across Portsmouth, including Fratton Park, that even more people will come forward for their vaccine.”

Anna Mitchell, chief commercial officer at Portsmouth FC, said:

“We are delighted to be able to host and support the national vaccination programme in partnership with the Solent NHS Trust.

“It is so important that fans and members of our local community take up the opportunity to be vaccinated to protect each other and welcome fans back to Fratton Park safely.”

As of July 18, 141,985 adults in Portsmouth have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccination and 105,933 have received their second. This equates to 74.8 per cent and 55.8 per cent of the adult population respectively.

More walk-in clinics are being offered throughout Portsmouth to make it easier for people to get their vaccination. This week, walk-in clinics are available at St James’ Hospital, Locksway Road: 8am-7.30pm – daily (first and second dose AstraZeneca and Moderna)

See a full list of walk-in clinics available throughout the region on the Hampshire, Southampton and Isle of Wight CCG website.

If you are unable to attend any of the walk-in clinics but would still like your vaccination, you can use the national booking system to book an appointment. Please visit the NHS website or call 119.

 

 

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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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Portsmouth MP calls government out on ‘meagre’ catch-up proposals for local schoolchildren

Stephen Morgan MP puts pressure on ministers in the House of Commons for the ‘meagre’ catch-up for proposals for schoolchildren in Portsmouth. 

Today the city MP used departmental questions to ask the Government their plans to properly support pupils in Portsmouth, lobbying Ministers with written questions. 

It was recently revealed average achievement at the end of compulsory education is lower in Portsmouth compared to the rest of the country, especially for young men.  

Currently, 46% and 59% of boys and girls in Portsmouth achieve 5 or more good GCSEs at age 16 (i.e. grades A*-C), whereas in England this is 52% and 62% for boys and girls. 

Meanwhile, children across the South East have missed an estimated 101 days of in-person school – over half a normal school year – but the Conservatives’ education ‘catch-up’ plan provides just 0.93 per child for every day of in-person school missed.  

It comes after an outcry when the Chancellor rejected recommendations from Boris Johnson’s expert education advisor, Sir Kevan Collins, for a comprehensive package of support for children’s education post pandemic, risking the futures of hundreds of thousands of children and leading to Sir Kevan’s resignation. 

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

Young people are likely to be one of the most severely impacted groups by this pandemic and a first-class education for them will be key for both their own development and our city’s recovery. 

“This government’s current catch-up plan proposals for young students, who missed so much due to this pandemic, fall far short from where they need to be and Portsmouth and the wider region can no longer be an afterthought for this government if we are to truly reset our economy for the better. 

“Young families in Portsmouth deserve so much more and I will continue to push Ministers into action to ensure our city gets the support it deserves.” 

The Portsmouth representative has welcomed Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan – aligned in ambition and scale to Sir Kevan’s recommendations – which would deliver investment of £982 million into the South East to ensure all schools can deliver a new range of activities and support – from sports to drama or music – to fuel post lockdown recovery, whilst starting to address the entrenched learning gap which sees children on free school meals falling behind their peers. 

Mr Morgan has also submitted a range of parliamentary questions and lobbied Government on greater support for early years and childcare providers across Portsmouth and the country. 

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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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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.