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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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City MP: Marking Remembrance this year

After last year’s remembrance services were scaled back due to Covid restrictions, Stephen Morgan MP was able to join communities across Portsmouth, on the centenary of the Royal British Legion, to honour and remember those who have sacrificed so much to keep others safe.

As he marked Remembrance Sunday at events across the city, Portsmouth South MP and Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan said:

“I am delighted that our city can come together once again to mark the service and sacrifice of our Armed Forces during this important time of Remembrance.

“Over the last year our Armed Forces have shown that they are indispensable to our nation’s security at home and abroad. From airlifting British Nationals out of Afghanistan to driving NHS ambulances in Wales, and deploying as part of the Carrier Strike Group’s maiden voyage from here in Portsmouth. 

“As we honour our service personnel in the heart and home of the Royal Navy, we renew our commitment to remember the fallen and do everything we can to support serving personnel, veterans and their families.”  
This year, Stephen visited the following groups and services:

November 10

Armistice Day – November 11

  • Guildhall Square Service – Guildhall Square
  • Visit to NMRN on Remembrance – Historic Dockyard

Remembrance Sunday – November 14

  • Royal Naval Association – Remembrance Service – Portsmouth Naval Memorial
  • Remembrance Sunday Service and Parade – Guildhall Square
  • Royal British Legion Remembrance Service – St Marys Church, Fratton

 

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City MP joins ‘inspirational’ veteran’s community effort for Afghan evacuees

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan paid a visit to veteran community organisation Ems4Afghans ahead of Remembrance Sunday.

The volunteer-led organisation, founded by Emsworth RAF veteran Matt Simmons, was set up in the wake of the Afghanistan crisis to support those being evacuated with clothes, toiletries and other essential items.

The Shadow Armed Forces Minister joined the sorting of incoming donations at the group’s hub in Fareham with volunteers.

Earlier this 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.

Without confirmation of the Indefinite Leave to Remain promised by the government, ARAP evacuees face difficulties in accessing work, housing and essential services.

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

On Tuesday, Ems4Afghans volunteer and RAF veteran Melanie Clark helped deliver an Afghan refugee’s baby in one of the bridging hotels.

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

“Matt has led an inspirational group of local veterans to support those Afghan nationals who bravely backed British forces during their deployment.

“Their sense of duty to those who served alongside them represents the best of our forces, and I want to pay tribute to them as we mark Remembrance.

“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 like Ems4Afghans 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.”

Ems4Afghans founder Matt Simmons said:

“The initial crisis support we offered was so important, with those fleeing for their lives coming to the UK with nothing but the clothes they were wearing.

“It’s more than that though. For me starting Ems4Afghans was about building relationships and being a bridge between communities where we can do great work in the future in resettlement – education, jobs.

“I wanted to make them feel welcome. We have a sense of duty as they worked alongside British forces.”

To donate to the indicative and help Afghan families click here

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Stephen’s Solent Sewage public meeting

Thank you to all those who attended Stephen’s Solent Sewage public meeting. It was a positive discussion with lots of ideas for everyone to play their part in ending sewage pollution. 

If you were unable to attend, you can watch the event via Facebook at the link here.

Please click here for a briefing from the Environment Agency as requested by Stephen for the meeting.

You can also take a look at the slides shared from some of the panelists:

Stephen will be continuing to take action both locally and in Parliament on the key issues raised. If you have practical ideas or suggestions of how you can help, please get in touch.

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Solent Sewage: Calls grow to address ‘dirty water crisis’ as City MP brings community together to find way forward

Stephen Morgan MP has led calls to address the ‘dirty water crisis’ at a public meeting held in the constituency for people from across the region to have their say.

Hosted by the Portsmouth MP, panelists included Professor Alex Ford, Director of Research Degrees at the School of Biological Sciences for the University of Portsmouth; Bianca Carr, CEO of Final Straw Foundation and; Louise MacCallum, Environment Officer of Langstone Harbour Board.

During his presentation, Professor Ford underlined the importance of local data to build a greater understanding of the impact sewage pollution is having on local bathing waters. Professor Ford told the meeting Southern Water has repeatedly refused to share key research data for Langstone Harbour, despite the water company releasing similar data for Chichester Harbour.

Meeting attendees also raised concerns around the lack of scope and powers regulators have to target and fix sewage pollution, with heavy fines only forming part of the solution.

Young members of the audience also voiced their frustrations that their generation will have to grow up during a period where they are not able to experience local wildlife and habitats in their former glory, but will have to repair the damage caused by historic pollution problems.

Earlier this week Mr Morgan voted in Parliament to amend the Environment Bill for tougher measures to hold water companies to account over sewage discharge, including by placing a legal duty on firms. Regrettably local Tory MPs did not back the cross-party proposals.

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

“It has been excellent to see so many different parts of our community coming together to share views and concerns and find a way forward to fix the dirty water crisis our city faces. My thanks to all those who attended and panelists for the expertise they shared.

“Government, local Tory MPs and industry continue to drag their feet and refuse to face up to the reality of what we are seeing. Urgent action has now got to be taken. It cannot be right that the next generation will have to pay the price because of the failures government and industry are making today.

“It’s clear from what we heard at my Solent Sewage summit that greater transparency from industry and more targeted, forceful intervention is needed to preserve our precious local environment.

“I will be taking our city’s concerns, and many others, back to Parliament.”

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City MP discusses mental health with All Call Signs ahead of Remembrance Sunday

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan visited award-winning forces mental health initiative ‘All Call Signs’ to discuss their work and highlight Labour’s pledge to veterans ahead of Remembrance Sunday.   

The Shadow Armed Forces Minister highlighted the importance of improving ongoing mental health support for personnel and veterans, particularly given events in Afghanistan this year.

It comes as Labour announced £35 million fund to support British veterans and Afghan interpreters.

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.

Calls to veteran’s 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.

All Calls Signs, based on Albert Road in Southsea, provide peer support organisation for veterans and serving military personnel.

Their chat app is staffed by over 700 volunteer listeners with experience of life in uniform with digital caseworkers bridging the gaps in veteran’s mental health services for hundreds of users seeking help.

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

“I’ve long been a proud supporter of All Call Signs’ innovative work to support serving personnel and veterans across our country, and am really proud this organisation is based in Portsmouth.

“This year our armed forces have stepped up once again to protect us at home and abroad. Events in Afghanistan have taken an understandable toll on both serving personnel and veterans, so Remembrance is a timely reminder that we must keep our promise to support those who have fought for our country.

“Recent government announcements on mental health are a drop in the ocean whilst the uncertainty surrounding future funding for the Office of Veterans Affairs threatens to pull the rug from under our personnel when they need it most.

“Labour’s new support fund of £35 million will make sure we protect those who protect our country and keep us all safe.”

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Portsmouth MP welcomes ‘exciting’ new partnership between Subsea Craft and UoP to develop cutting-edge maritime technology

Stephen Morgan MP has welcomed a new partnership between Portsmouth-based Subsea Craft and the University of Portsmouth to develop cutting-edge maritime technology.

The partnership, funded by Subsea and by £220,000 made available by Innovate UK through the ‘Knowledge Transfer Partnership’ programme, will run for two years and see two new researchers (KTP Associates) join Subsea, with the company also gaining access to knowledge from the School of Energy and Electronic Engineering in the Faculty of Technology at the university.

The resultant technology will form part of the wider digital offer Subsea Craft are preparing alongside their flagship product, VICTA – the world’s most advanced diver-delivery unit that is capable of travelling at up to 40kts above surface, before rapidly moving sub-surface. The partnership will deliver vital digital capabilities that will further enhance those already embedded in VICTA.

The team at the University of Portsmouth, led by Professor Victor Becerra – who will be supported by Dr Edward Smart, Dr Hongjie Ma, and two researchers – has extensive experience in the industry.

The new agreement is expected to improve the university’s already expert knowledge in the sector, and provide them with another strategic business link in their region. For the associates being hired, it will provide the opportunity to work in a high-skilled advanced role, bringing more high-quality jobs to Portsmouth.

Visiting Subsea Craft’s facility in Portsmouth Harbour today, Portsmouth South MP and Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan, said:

“I am delighted to see an innovative local SME partnering with the University to develop world-leading new technology here in our city.

“This partnership will not only deliver the next generation of marine technology for commercial and navy ships, it also drives the creation of the high skilled jobs that are crucial for our city’s economic success.

“I can think of no better place to begin this ground-breaking work than in the home and heart of the Royal Navy and I wish the project team every success.”

Scott Verney, CEO at Subsea, added:

“This partnership is not only a great one for Subsea as we continue to develop cutting edge maritime technology, but a good one for Portsmouth as a whole.

“Our ambition is to create a centre of maritime technology excellence at our HQ in the Camber, and this work with the University is a huge part of that.”

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City MP votes to stop sewage dumping

Stephen Morgan MP has again supported proposals to stop water companies routinely dumping sewage in bathing waters and for a more powerful environmental watchdog to hold Government to account.

Labour has accused Ministers of ‘dither and delay’ in recent months and with COP26 well underway, the Environment Bill remains ‘unfit for purpose’. The Official Opposition argues the interim Office for Environmental Protection ‘lacks independence, an assurance of adequate resource, or the power to fine.’

The party has also said Ministers are doing all they can to resist concrete protections, leaving our environment as a bargaining chip for new trade agreements that would undercut Britain’s environmental standards.

The Portsmouth representative had vowed to vote for a range of amendments that would strengthen the Bill and take the steps necessary to preserve the planet and protect Portsmouth’s environment.

This includes a change to the Bill that has cross-party support which would ensure “world leading protection” for waterways across the country, according to charity Surfers Against Sewage, including those linked to Langstone Harbour.

The amendment, which was passed in the House of Lords, has been sent back to the Commons a second time for approval today, after the Conservatives voted against it on 20 October.

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

“Despite the public outcry we have seen, the government has no plan to stop water companies dumping sewage into our rivers and seas. Whilst voted to end this, sadly local Conservative MPs refused to support cross-party proposals.

“People in Portsmouth want to see real leadership to clean up our environment and restore nature for generations to come, but this government has been found wanting.  

“That’s why I will continue to back bold, ambitious and long overdue steps necessary to preserve our bathing waters and protect our environment”.

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Cost of living crisis: Portsmouth MP grills ministers on plans to protect local families this winter

Stephen Morgan MP raised concerns in the House of Commons today on how government will protect vulnerable local families this winter.
The Portsmouth MP underlined that 21% of working age families in his constituency of Portsmouth South – nearly half of which with children – will be affected by the government’s cut to Universal Credit, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
It comes as the cost-of-living crisis deepens, with the Bank of England recently forecasting that salaries will fall by 1.25% this year, with inflation expected to reach to as high as 4% in 2022 and the highest sustained tax burden in peace time.
In October, four in ten households on Universal Credit faced a 13 per cent rise in their energy bills in the same month as their benefit was cut by £20 a week.
The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, commented:

“The government had a clear opportunity in last month’s Budget to protect vulnerable families in Portsmouth this winter, but instead it’s pulled the rug out from underneath them.
“Energy bills, inflation and taxes on the lowest earners are all up, but support for working families is far below what is required to keep them secure this winter.
“I will continue to hold ministers to account to provide those most at risk this winter with the help they need, as government continues to struggle with getting to grips with the cost-of-living crisis.”

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The government can’t let COP26 be a cop out

As world leaders gather in Glasgow to discuss the biggest challenge our planet faces, it’s vital that the government leads by example at home and abroad and delivers for people and planet.

As hosts of COP26, Britain has a special responsibility to act. It will take serious and sustained leadership from across government for this summit to succeed, yet it continues to treat this summit as more of a photo opportunity than bring with it the diplomatic acumen it requires.

Success at Glasgow is all about the maths. In Paris the world agreed to limit global warming to 1.5C. This means reducing global emissions by half, but as this summit started the government had only achieved commitments to just 7.5 per-cent. Whilst we’ve seen a little progress so far at COP, we are miles from where we need to be.

When we needed the government pulling in the same direction, we’ve had infighting and undermining of the UK’s moral authority. They’ve been telling countries to end coal use, but are flirting with a new coalmine in Cumbria. They want the world to go fossil free, but are licensing a massive new oilfield off the Scottish coast. They’re calling for countries to invest in green transitions at home, whilst failing to provide the investment and support for households and businesses to decarbonise.

Labour has set out a series of demands on government to Keep 1.5C alive and deliver for people and planet this decisive decade. The government now needs to end the double talk on climate and tell the truth about where we are.
That means climate action at home. We should be investing £28bn additional every year until 2030 to tackle the climate crisis, creating secure jobs in the UK and supporting the most vulnerable by reversing the overseas aid cut.

Government has got to be focused on pressuring the big polluters. That starts by calling for 1.5C-aligned targets from the big emitting countries, phasing out fossil fuels, and ensuring a just transition for workers. Instead of dragging their feet on this, they should be taking concrete action to mobilise private finance behind climate action by requiring financial institutions to publish their carbon footprint and, crucially, adopt credible 1.5C-aligned transition plans by 2023.

The government failed to lay the ground for success at Glasgow, but we must not give up hope. I will continue to press the government to keep 1.5C alive, and deliver for the people of Portsmouth, Britain and the world.

Stephen Morgan MP