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Portsmouth MP votes against ‘discriminatory’ Voter ID policy and calls for it to be ‘urgently abolished’

Stephen Morgan MP has voted against the government’s ‘discriminatory’ Election Bill and has called for it to be ‘urgently abolished’.

The Bill, if passed, would require voters to present photo ID to vote at polling stations in future elections.

The Official Opposition has called on the government to urgently rethink the policy, raising concerns that it would reverse decades of democratic progress and threaten to bar millions of people from exercising their democratic right to vote.

Since this policy was first announced in December 2016, the Government has received multiple warnings from charities, civil society figures and campaign groups that mandatory voter ID – if rolled out nationally – could pull up the drawbridge for millions of voters.

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

“Voter ID is a total waste of taxpayers’ money. The policy is set to cost millions of pounds at every election. 

“Voting is safe and secure in Britain. Ministers should be promoting confidence in our elections instead of spreading baseless scare stories which threaten our democracy.

“Millions of people lack photo ID in this country – in particular the elderly, low income and Black, Asian and ethnic minority voters. The Conservatives are reversing decades of democratic progress and urgently need to rethink this pointless policy.

“That’s why I voted against the Bill last night and will continue to hold the government to account on this.”

 

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Reactive statement to social care reform proposals – Stephen Morgan MP

Responding to the government’s announcement on funding for social care today, the member of parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“The social care system is in crisis, but the government’s manifesto breaking proposals to fund its reforms would hit working people hardest, particularly low earners, young people and businesses still recovering from the impacts of the pandemic.

“The fairest way to pay for social care is through progressive taxation, not a rise to national insurance that is not only morally backward, but economically too.

“I have written to the Prime Minister, launched a city-wide survey and hosted a local meeting with the Shadow Minister responsible on this issue. I am also currently holding roundtable meetings with care providers and service users and I will continue to ensure the government produces the comprehensive response this crisis demands.

“Portsmouth and the wider country have for too long needed a clear and long-term plan that is serious about fixing the social care crisis quickly, not one that kicks the can down the road.”

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Extracurricular activities are in freefall for primary-age children, with poorest kids hit the hardest

New analysis published by the Labour Party today reveals how participation in extracurricular activities for primary-age school children is in freefall under the Tories.  

Analysis of the Government’s Taking Part Survey data shows declining participation for primary age children over the last ten years – with trends pre-dating the pandemic, including:

  • 13% decrease in competitive sports inside and outside of school
  • 36% decrease in participation in music
  • 45% decrease in dance activities
  • 47% decrease in theatre and drama
  • 16% decrease in visits to heritage sites
  • 18% decrease in visits to libraries, and
  • 13% decrease in visits to museums

Children from the poorest backgrounds are three times more likely not to take part in any extracurricular activities. 

Responding to the figures, Labour’s Shadow Child Poverty Secretary Wes Streeting MP is today announcing Labour’s ambition for all children to have the opportunity to undertake ten life-enhancing activities by the time they are ten, including playing a musical instrument, taking part in competitive sport and learning to swim and ride a bike.

Shadow Child Poverty Secretary Wes Streeting MP said:  

“Every child matters. Whatever their background – every child should have the chance to take part in activities that open their eyes to new opportunities. Whether that’s learning to swim, playing a musical instrument or visiting a gallery or museum to discover more about the culture and history of our great country.

“We only get one childhood and over the last ten years of Conservative government too many children have been denied experiences that set them up well for learning and for life.

“It’s Labour’s ambition that all children have the opportunity to take part in ten life-enhancing activities by the time they’re ten. And we offer to the Conservative government a plan to make it happen. If they won’t step up for the nation’s children, the next Labour government will.”

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“Being born and raised in Portsmouth I have seen first-hand how extra-circular activities can enrich the learning and lives of local children.

“But the Tories in government have allowed participation to collapse, reinforcing existing disadvantage for primary-age kids in our area and slamming the door to better life chances,

“Labour’s plan offers children the opportunity to learn fundamental skills and immerse themselves in new experiences we used to take for granted. After a year like no other where our children have been among the worst affected, it is Labour taking the welfare of future generations seriously. It’s time this government did too.”

Labour has published its Children’s Recovery Plan. The Plan would deliver sport, drama, breakfast clubs, debating and a fully expanded range of extracurricular clubs and activities. This would boost time for children to play and socialise after months of lost learning – and after a decade of declining participation in extracurricular activities (see table in Notes to Editors).

Labour will celebrate the role of organisations like Scouts, Girlguiding, uniformed cadets and community initiatives from across the country to highlight the role of the third sector in helping to realise our aspiration for all children.

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‘The character of our country is defined by how we respond to these moments’ says City MP on Afghanistan debate

Today (Wednesday 18 August 2021) Parliament was recalled to allow MPs to receive an update from the Government on the shocking and worsening situation in Afghanistan.

Speaking in the debate, Keir Starmer MP, Leader of the Opposition, said:

“20 years ago, the Taliban were largely in control of Afghanistan. Al Qaida were using the country as a training ground and a base for terror – including plotting the horrific 9/11 attack.

“There were widespread human rights abuses. Girls were denied an education, women could not work. Being gay was punishable by death. All imposed without democracy.

“Since then, a fragile democracy emerged.

“It was by no means perfect, but no international terrorist attacks have been mounted from Afghanistan in that period; women have gained liberty and won office; schools and clinics have been built. And Afghans have allowed themselves to dream of a better future.

“Those achievements were born of sacrifice. Sacrifice by the Afghan people who fought bravely alongside their NATO allies. And British sacrifice.

“Over 150,000 UK personnel have served in Afghanistan including Members across this House.”

Responding to the Prime Minister’s statement during the emergency debate, the Shadow Armed Forces Minister and Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, said:

I know many members of the Armed Forces Community in Portsmouth and further afield will be deeply distressed by the reports of the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.

“The sacrifices of British personnel, alongside the Afghan people and NATO allies, allowed for something that for many Afghans was not previously possible – to dream of a better future.

“Today the Prime Minister had the opportunity to reassure UK personnel who served in Afghanistan and worked to secure that future that their work will not be undone – but his statement offered little.

“The government’s failure is a dereliction of duty to the Afghan people, the 150,000 British personnel who served and the 457 who did not return home.

“What is happening in Afghanistan will have a profound impact on the mental health of many veterans, which we have known for some time is already in desperate need of addressing.

“This must be a wake-up call by Government to better understand, and better invest, in mental health support for our armed forces personnel and veterans.

“Keir Starmer was right today to say that mental health services for veterans must improve. The Prime Minister had little to say on the matter.

“I will be doing all I can to demand answers on what the government will be doing to address what I fear is an impending spike in mental health cases within the Armed Forces Community.

“I encourage any member of the Armed Forces Community who has been struggling with their mental health in recent days to contact Help for Heroes, the Royal British Legion or All Call Signs, who will be on hand to provide the support that’s needed.

”You are not alone.”

In recent days the city MP has heard from many constituents with regards to the risks faced by UK nationals in Afghanistan, the implications of recent events on human rights and the unfolding humanitarian crisis.

The MP has already spoken with a number of local groups and the city council with regards to resettling Afghan families in the city and continues to help support this.

On the recently announced new resettlement scheme for Afghan refugees, the Portsmouth MP added:

“The latest resettlement scheme proposal by Government does not meet the scale of the challenge or complexities being faced, with the separate scheme for Afghan interpreters already far behind schedule.

“Not only does this risk leaving people in Afghanistan in deadly danger, it will also undermine the leadership role Britain must play in persuading international partners to live up to their responsibilities.

“In recent days, many of my constituents have shared with me their concerns for those fleeing the country in fear of persecution – or even death – seeking sanctuary in the UK. I will continue to help on these matters with the urgency they deserve.

“Soldiers and diplomats must be given the resources that they need and clear routes to safety must be established and expedited, both for Afghan refugees and those who have worked with Britain.”

Commenting on the Government’s lack of a plan to address the unfolding crisis, Stephen Morgan MP also said:

“The character of our country is defined by how we respond to these moments. We must now ensure our city and our country plays its part in providing a safe haven for families in need of safety. We all have a role to play and must be held to account – including the government.

“The scale of the refugee crisis will require an international response. 18.4 million people in Afghanistan already require humanitarian assistance and there is a real risk that this humanitarian disaster will get worse, particularly for women and girls.

“That response starts by the UK urgently ramping up humanitarian and development support for those who need it most and working with trusted partners who are already embedded in the country to deliver that vital support, so it reaches Afghans in need.

“With Portsmouth a proud city of sanctuary I know our communities will want to go above and beyond to help those needing support at this desperate time.”

 

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Afghanistan: Statement from Stephen Morgan MP

A number of constituents have contacted me with regards to recent events in Afghanistan which, as news reports show, are very distressing and of real concern.

The situation in Afghanistan is shocking and worsening by the hour. It is clear to me that there has been a catastrophic miscalculation of the capacity and legitimacy of the Afghan government and the resilience of Afghan forces which has led to this disaster. 

We now face the tragic rollback of those gains that UK troops, diplomats and charity workers, and their coalition and Afghan partners, have worked so hard for.  Whilst my thoughts are with the Afghan people, ahead of Parliament being recalled I believe there are very serious questions about the failed political and development strategy of the last ten years. 

In the House of Commons on Wednesday we can expect a statement from the Prime Minister, and a response from the Leader of the Opposition. I will be attending Parliament for this important debate.

The priority of the Government must now must be for the Ministers to accelerate efforts to get UK nationals and eligible Afghans out of the country. Labour strongly support the deployment of troops to Kabul to provide security and capacity to do this, and as shadow armed forces minister, I will do what I can to assist with this.

Portsmouth is making preparations to support those who helped UK Forces, and their families, settle here. This is very welcome, and I have spoken with the city council to offer my support with this and ensure our city goes above and beyond to support families in need.

However, I believe government has so far been far too slow to provide sanctuary to those Afghans who have served alongside and supported the British presence in Afghanistan. This is a shameful dereliction of duty. Even now, there are reports of Afghans facing unacceptable bureaucratic hurdles, which I have been raising with Ministers and in the media, and the Foreign Office suspending scholarships for young Afghans.

That’s why I am calling for our resettlement scheme to urgently be expanded to ensure people to whom we owe a huge debt are not abandoned. The Taliban’s return is also likely to lead to a refugee crisis. The UK Government must put in place specific safe and legal asylum routes and help support Afghans who are fleeing to neighbouring states. 

Keir Starmer has also said the government must immediately consult with our allies in NATO and key countries in the region about the implications of the collapse of the Afghan government. I agree with this approach. There needs to be a coordinated strategy from the international community to the changing situation on the ground, and a plan to try to protect the gains made in the last 20 years on human rights. 

Some constituents have raised with me the real risk of a humanitarian disaster, particularly for women and girls. It is utterly shameful that the government has slashed development support to the country by 45% just as it faces a grave crisis. The UK must show it is taking immediate steps to ensure aid can reach those in need and prevent a humanitarian crisis. Given the advance of the Taliban and the evacuation of NGO, UN and British staff this is a complex and difficult task, and one which will require a coordinated international effort to achieve. 

The government has been silent as Afghanistan collapses, and this cannot continue which is why I welcome the call to recall Parliament and with urgency.

The government must use this important opportunity to explain to all MPs how it plans to work with allies to avoid a humanitarian crisis and lay out a strategy to prevent Afghanistan becoming once again a safe haven and operational hub for international terrorism that threatens our national security.

Stephen Morgan MP

 

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Portsmouth Labour launch survey amid social care crisis

Portsmouth Labour Party has launched an online survey for local residents to provide their views on the mounting social care crisis.

Results from the short questionnaire will inform a dossier of evidence Stephen Morgan MP and the local party is preparing to lobby the Health Secretary for change.

It comes following reports that Ministers are considering a rise in national insurance to pay for an overhaul of the UK’s social care system. This would be a direct breach of the 2019 Tory election manifesto promise not to raise taxes.

According to Portsmouth Pensioners Association, £160m has been removed from the Adult Social Care budget in Portsmouth since 2015.

Over the last two years, 1,500 people in Portsmouth in the medium to lower needs group have had their social care removed to make budget savings.

The survey is the latest in a string of actions the City MP has taken locally and in Parliament.

Mr Morgan has long campaigned for Government to tackle the crisis in social care and has been sharing the concerns of his constituents, including Portsmouth Pensioners Association with Ministers.

Portsmouth Labour has also been taking action on the city council to ensure care users get the support they need.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The pandemic has brutally exposed the crisis in our social care system. The virus quickly took hold of an ill-equipped, underfunded and poorly coordinated sector, creating searing inequality for carers and devastating effects on individuals and families.

“It has been more than two years since the Prime Minister stood on the steps of Downing Street and claimed he had a solution, but as ever with this government it is big on promises, low on delivery.

“I’m proud to launch this survey alongside Cllr Kirsty Mellor and look forward to working across the community to find the right solutions to one of the greatest challenges facing our society.”

Cllr Kirsty Mellor, Portsmouth Labour’s social care spokesperson added:

“While we welcome the recognition from the government that significantly more resources are needed to relieve the social care crisis, it is disappointing to see that announcement of any details have yet again been delayed! We’re campaigning locally to identify what actions can be taken by the council to respond to the urgency of the situation.”

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NEW: Caseworker job opportunity

Want to help make a difference to peoples’ lives? Interested in working at the heart of politics to help bring about change?

Then an opportunity has arisen to join Stephen Morgan MP’s Portsmouth team:

Stephen Morgan is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Portsmouth South, the first-ever Labour MP for the constituency.

A small dedicated support team works out of the constituency office on Albert Road in Southsea to provide a public service to residents in Portsmouth South and assist with Stephen’s parliamentary duties.

Full time: Monday to Friday (occasional weekend work)

Salary: £21,529-£32,022 plus benefits

Initial fixed-term 12 month post (with option for extension/permanent contact)

What to do next…

If you have what it takes to join the team, please submit a covering letter and CV to julie.minal@parliament.uk by no later than Friday 27 August 2021, 12 noon.

Due to the high volume of applications expected please note we are only able to respond to those shortlisted for interview.

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Government botches British tender process for naval support ships

Labour have today slammed the government for their failure to prioritise UK yards and suppliers to make naval support ships, after their delivery was delayed because of a botched tender process.

The tender for the naval support ships was cancelled in 2019 after the government’s shipbuilding tsar, Sir John Parker, recommended a UK-only tender.

It has since been reopened with the government specifying the successful bidder must be ‘led by a British company,’ but with the tender still silent on what proportion of the contract’s value will be reserved for UK yards and suppliers.

According to the GMB, the union for shipbuilding and ship repair workers, the contract notice suggests the project has already been delayed two years.

GMB have also called for a guarantee that the long-awaited Fleet Solid Support contract will be built in UK yards and use UK supply chains.

Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan said:

“The Prime Minister has made a lot of promises to our Navy and to British industry, but once again this government refuses to put its money where its mouth is.

“Building the Fleet Solid Support Ships in Britain is a no-brainer. Aside from the obvious security benefits it will provide the steady drumbeat of building needed to create jobs and sustain homegrown industry.

“It is baffling how much time and money this government is willing to waste, when instead it could be following Labour’s call to buy, make and sell more in Britain.”

 

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City MP: Portsmouth must harness the success of the Olympics to deliver the next generation of talent

Stephen Morgan MP wants to ensure Portsmouth and the country harnesses the success of Tokyo 2020 to deliver the next generation of Olympic talent from the local grassroots level.

It comes following a visit to Portsmouth Northsea Swimming Club, on training at the Mountbatten Centre, which since 1927 has been delivering swimming courses and training for all abilities, from beginners to national level competitive swimmers.

The club is one of the leading swimming clubs in the UK and has produced a number of Olympic swimmers, including Katy Sexton, Gemma Spofforth and Paralympic athlete Lauren Steadman.

Its objective is to deliver swimming provision for the community and to return the club to the topflight of national swimming clubs.

Earlier this year, the club raised over £25k through crowd funding, grants and support from local businesses and individuals, which will be used to plug the gap in its finances caused by the lockdowns.

Meanwhile, with the action underway at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, and following the gold medal win for Team GB’s Adam Peaty in in the Men’s 100m Breaststroke, and Tom Daley and Matty Lee in the Men’s Synchronised 10m Platform, the Portsmouth South MP is hoping the Olympics will leave local people #InspiredToTry swimming.

Following the visit, Stephen Morgan MP, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:

“I am really proud of the journey Portsmouth Northsea Swimming Club has been on from humble beginnings in a local pub, to a club that caters for swimmers at all levels.

“It’s really encouraging to learn how our community has come together to keep this fantastic asset going during lockdown despite the challenges of the pandemic, and to see first-hand the difference this support makes.

“Team GB have had an amazing games in the pool inspiring a new generation of swimmers. This Olympics legacy must include creating a country that puts health, physical and mental, first.

“I hope the excitement of Tokyo 2020 will provide the motivation for many Portsmouth people to be ‘Inspired To Try’ swimming which brings so many health benefits”.

Swim England has forecasted a 40% reduction in the number of available swimming facilities by the end of the decade. This would see over three million people unable to access their sports.

The city MP has vowed to challenge Government and other decision-makers over this.

 

 

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‘Now or never’ to stop AQUIND as City MP’s petition reaches more than 3,500 signatures

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has issued a ‘now or never’ rallying cry to stop Aquind as his petition reached more than 3,500 signatures from local residents.

The Labour representative has led the charge against the controversial infrastructure project, lobbying Ministers who will be making the decision, giving evidence to object to proposals at public planning hearings and launching a petition with the local ‘STOP AQUIND’ group.

The proposed energy pipeline has received heavy criticism over the damage it would cause to local infrastructure and natural environment.

Mr Morgan has also attacked the company’s ‘cosy relationships’ with a string of senior Conservative politicians, highlighting a string of financial donations to those responsible for making decisions about the project.

The Portsmouth MP’s petition, which can be signed by any UK resident, calls on the government to reject the project. Mr Morgan is set to present it to Parliament following the summer recess.

Conservative Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng MP is expected to make a final decision on the project by 8 September.

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“I am pleased that so many people have backed my call on government to stop AQUIND, but there’s more to do and time is running out.

“We need to show Ministers the full strength of Portsmouth’s opposition to these damaging proposals, which threaten our day-to-day lives.

“It’s now or never if we are going to stop this disastrous project, so I urge all Portsmouth residents to keep signing the petition”.

The MP plans to present the petition for debate in the House of Commons when parliament returns for recess in early September.

Viola Langley, of the ‘Let’s Stop Aquind’ campaign, added:

“We at Let’ s Stop Aquind recognise the importance of this petition as a means of bringing the Aquind Interconnector Project to Parliament where we hope open and honest debate will convince the government that Aquind must not be given the go ahead.

“Please find a way to add your name to the petition so that the Secretary of State can see the strength of opposition to this project.”

An MP’s petition has to be presented in hard copy for debate in Parliament. This has not presented challenges for local campaigners who have made Mr Morgan’s petition available in local shops and at community events across the city.

You can find more information about Stephen Morgan’s Stop AQUIND petition here 

Copies of the petition are available to sign at the following local shops:

HIGHLAND ROAD:
• Broadway Coffee Roasters
• Hounds Barbers

ALBERT ROAD:
• Aristia
• Herbies
• Hunter Gatherer
• Southsea cycles
• Pompey on a roll
• Corner Collective
• Budds Herbal Apothecary
• Tango Tea
• Dress Code
• Casa de Castro
• Street Level

ELM GROVE:
• Package-free Larder

OLD PORTSMOUTH:
• Jack House Gallery

MILTON:
• Bicycle Boutique (Winter Road)
• Fruit and flowers
• Milton Community Centre Cafe
• Winnie’s bakery
• The Brewers Tap

PALMERSTON RD AREA:
• Seeded (Clarendon Road)
• Wild Thyme

DRAYTON:
• The News
• Aroma Caffe Bar
• Drayton Community Pharmacy
• JK Wellness
• Material Things

PORTSDOWN HILL:
• The George Inn