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Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill – reaction from Stephen Morgan MP

Today the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill is due its second reading in the House of Commons, which I support. A high number of people have got in touch with me about the Bill hence why I am posting my views on my website.

I welcome its focus on recognising animals as sentient beings, replacing the protections lost through the United Kingdom leaving the European Union.

I also agree that the Government has been dragging its heels on protecting our animals for years. We’ve seen lots of press releases, yet little action from Ministers.

Many of the Animal Welfare measures in the last Queen’s Speech were lifted directly from Labour’s Animal Welfare Manifesto, but I believe the Government has failed to grasp the full detail.

We can have little confidence in this Government’s commitment to animal welfare: their manifesto promised not to compromise on Britain’s high standards in trade deals, but the Australian trade deal, and the precedent it sets, risks outsourcing animal cruelty in the supply chain to other countries.

The Government is also turning a blind eye to the abuse of loopholes in the Hunting Act leading to wild animal cruelty, while they continue to allow trail hunting on land owned by Government Departments.

I also believe that the definition of an animal should be expanded beyond its current stipulations to include crustaceans and cephalopods, as a number of constituents have raised with me.

However, I agree with the broad principle of the Bill and Labour will be raising amendments to it at the next stage of its passage through Parliament.

Stephen Morgan MP

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Portsmouth MP questions Ministers on national support for ‘vital services’ like Fratton’s MAKE

Stephen Morgan MP questioned Ministers in the House of Commons today on how the government is supporting social enterprises like Fratton’s MAKE, that have supported vulnerable people during the pandemic.

During Men’s Health Week last year, the Portsmouth MP paid a visit to ‘Breakfast OK’, held at Fratton-based social enterprise MAKE, which offers a chance for men to meet up and have a chat, rant or simply share their experiences with others in a relaxed environment over breakfast.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, in England, around one in eight men has a common mental health problem such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

But social enterprises across the country are demonstrating their resilience in helping to tackle social issues. In spite of acute challenges, including difficulties accessing support, Social Enterprise UK says 65% are now expecting to retain their position or grow (compared to all SMEs who experienced around 50% turnover growth in the last 12 months), and only 1% expect to close (compared to 11% of business as a whole).

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

“Social Enterprises like MAKE are doing vital work to support communities through the pandemic and are showing they have an important role to play in providing services that many vulnerable people depend on.

“Government is failing to recognise this, and these organisations are being held back by the lack of support from Ministers.

“I will continue to push for the support MAKE and others deserve in Westminster to ensure those who need help get the support they require as we recover from Covid-19.”

Breakfast OK runs every Saturday from 10am-12pm at MAKE, 1 Cornwall Rd, Fratton, PO1 5AA.

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Shadow Schools Minister: Government has failed to provide pupils with ‘proper access’ to careers advice

Stephen Morgan MP has accused the government during a debate in Westminster today of failing to provide “proper access” for pupils to careers advice.

Speaking in the debate, the Portsmouth MP said, “little action has actually been taken to address the postcode lottery our children face in accessing the skills and opportunities they need in school to navigate the world of work.”

The Shadow Schools Minister also said that Labour is backing pupils, parents, businesses, and educators with its pledge to give every child access to quality careers advice in their school.

Labour announced during its 2021 conference its plan to allow children to access a professional careers advisor 1 day a week.

A 2019 Careers England survey found that three quarters of schools have insufficient, limited or no funding for careers advice.

In addition, roughly a third of secondary schools say they receive the equivalent of £5 per student, with 5% receiving just £2.

In 2019, a CBI report also said 44% of employers felt that young people leaving education were not work ready.

The organisation also highlighted the geographic variation in engagement with employers and educational settings.

The City MP visited Portsmouth’s St Edmunds Catholic School last week, which he believes has a “very good offer”, but is concerned that more broadly, students in rural and coastal areas face a postcode lottery on access to joined up support.

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

“Students across the country are being let down by government as they continue to face a postcode lottery in accessing the support they need to secure jobs for the future.

“As the economy recovers, it’s vital students are prepared to move into the world of work and have access to the support and advice they need.

“Labour would ensure every child has the best chance to succeed, which includes access to professional careers advice. Ministers are risking the futures of the next generation and our economy. It is morally and economically backward and I will continue to hold them to account on this.”

 

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Cost of living crisis: City MP votes to save Portsmouth families £200 on their energy bills

Stephen Morgan MP voted for Labour’s plan in the House of Commons today that would save families in Portsmouth at least £200 on their energy bills.

Funded by a one-off windfall tax on North Sea Oil and Gas and higher than expected tax receipts, Labour would bring in fully costed plans now to reduce the expected price rise in April – saving most households around £200 or more, but targeted extra support to squeezed middle, pensioners and the lowest earners, receiving up to £600 off bills and preventing the increase in energy bills currently expected.

It comes following the Portsmouth MP’s campaign launch last week, calling on the government to immediately remove VAT from domestic energy bills to help protect working people, as the cost-of-living crisis deepens across Portsmouth and the country.

Labour say a VAT cut on domestic energy bills – which would change the charge from 5% to zero – could have come into place as early 1st November. The tax break would be designed to support struggling families through the winter months and would be automatically deducted from their bills.

The Official Opposition also proposed in its plan that was presented to Parliament today to increase the Warm Homes Discount budget to £4bn, an additional £3.5bn, sufficient to provide a £400 Warm Home Discount to the 9.3m households who would be eligible to receive it (around a third of all households in Great Britain), as well as covering the extra administration costs (estimated at £19 per household).

The Portsmouth MP has underlined that over 10,000 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.

According to analysis from Citizens Advice, 10 per cent of families in the UK – equivalent to 3.2 million households – could be facing a financial crisis this winter.

National polling by the charity has also shown that one in five people have already cut back on their food shop (19%), or used less heating (20%) to save money, demonstrating how recent changes have left many households in a vulnerable position.

Labour has said the VAT cut would offer a helping hand when people need it most, and alongside not cancelling the Universal Credit uplift, and not hitting working people and businesses with a new jobs tax, this VAT reduction is part of the party’s plan to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

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

“Energy bills, the weekly shop and taxes on the lowest earners are all up, but government is failing to support for Portsmouth families and keep them secure this winter.

“That’s why Labour would give families in Portsmouth security by taking fully funded measures to save most households around £200 or more, targeting extra support on top of that for the squeezed middle, pensioners and lowest earners.

“I will continue to take action in Parliament and hold Ministers to account to provide those most at risk this winter with the help they need.”

Anyone can sign up to support Stephen’s campaign and his call on Government to scrap VAT on energy bills. To do so, visit: https://www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/sign-up-scrapping-vat-on-energy-bills/

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Local Afghan evacuees presented with ‘Hug in a Bag’ at welcome event hosted by Portsmouth MP

Stephen Morgan MP joined local Labour councillors on Saturday to present evacuated Afghan families living in Portsmouth with a ‘Hug in a Bag’ to welcome them to the city.

Local Afghan evacuees were given Portsmouth themed goods donated by local people as a small gesture to help them settle into the community.

Organised by the Portsmouth Labour Party, local residents were invited to donate a range of welcome gifts to ‘Hug in a Bag’ to support Afghan families seeking sanctuary in the city. Donations included handmade quilts and other household items.

Local shops Pigeon books, Southsea Bathing Hut, Herbies Health Food Store also supported the scheme, acting as community hubs for those wishing to donate their welcome presents, or cash towards gifts handpicked by the high-street business owners.

Together the three stores received a total of £570 in donations from the community, including cash they donated themselves.

Labour member, Laura Watford, said:

“We felt the 3 shops involved in ‘Hug in a Bag’ all sold luxury Portsmouth themed items that we could add to the bag. They have been super supportive and have helped us pick some beautiful items for the bags. 

“If this model works then there’s no reason why we couldn’t replicate it in the future for more refugee families in Portsmouth. 

“As a group we are very proud of the money we have raised – over £570.

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

I am grateful to local people for their generosity in supporting Afghan families seeking sanctuary in Portsmouth. Once again I would like to thank those settling in our city for their work in supporting the British armed forces, and it has been a pleasure to welcome them as new constituents.

“Community-led projects like ‘Hug in a Bag’ are a shining example of the strength of our city coming together to support each other.

“These families have gone through an incredibly difficult time, and after supporting our servicemen and women, it’s only right we welcome them with open arms and help them settle in as best we can.”

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Portsmouth families ‘left by the wayside’ as one in ten across UK now facing financial crisis

Stephen Morgan MP has accused the government of leaving Portsmouth families ‘by the wayside’ after new data reveals one in ten families across the UK are facing a financial crisis this winter.

According to recent analysis from Citizens Advice, 10 per cent of families in the UK – equivalent to 3.2 million households – could be facing a financial crisis this Christmas and beyond.

National polling by the charity has also shown that one in five people have already cut back on their food shop (19%), or used less heating (20%) to save money, demonstrating how recent changes have left many households in a vulnerable position.

The organisation has also estimated that the energy price cap could rise by as much as £500 in April – adding an extra £40 a month to default tariffs. This will come as inflation is set to peak at around 5% and working families see a hike to their National Insurance.

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 5% 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.

Last month, 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.

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

“This government is lurching from one crisis to the next, leaving Portsmouth families by the wayside and offering little support to help them get through this winter.

“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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City MP backs calls to address ‘decade of decline’ for local swimming pool access

Stephen Morgan MP has backed calls to address growing concerns about the number of decent swimming pools available to use for Portsmouth residents.

The city currently only has just a few options that are available to the public, while Swim England has also forecasted a wider 40% reduction in the number of available swimming facilities in the country by the end of the decade.

It has also warned this would leave 73% of local authorities short of the equivalent of at least one swimming pool.
Swimming remains one of the most popular activities in England, but almost 4 million people could be shut out of the activities they love because of these closures.

The Portsmouth MP recently met 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 Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said

“Swimming is an ideal activity for people of all ages with huge benefits for people’s physical and mental wellbeing, so I’m particularly concerned about the reduction of access to local pools we are seeing in Portsmouth and across the country.”

“The city council’s decision to close facilities in Eastney and the Pyramids will have real impacts for local people, but I welcome the university’s efforts to open their new facilities to the public, alongside student and staff access.

“The next generation shouldn’t have fewer opportunities than the last and Government has got to get serious about the level of support that is needed to address this growing problem.

“Our city has helped to develop some top athletes over the years. It’s vital we don’t lose this valuable tradition. I will continue to push the government on this to ensure that happens and end this decade of decline.”

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Downing Street Christmas party statement – Stephen Morgan MP

Reacting to reports about Downing Street holding a Christmas party on December 18 2020, which would have breached Covid rules at the time, the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“While Portsmouth people made huge personal sacrifices, the Prime Minister’s staff laughed about covering up their Christmas party and took the public for fools. 
“489 people died of COVID on the day of the Downing Street Party – the Prime Minister should be ashamed his staff couldn’t even follow the rules.
“No one wanted last Christmas over Zoom. Turkey dinners for one. Presents exchanged at service stations. Once again it’s one rule for the Prime Minister, and another for the rest of us. They partied, we paid the price.
“Number 10 must now hand over everything they know about parties they held to the Metropolitan Police and come clean on exactly what has happened. Trying to kick this into the long grass with an investigation led by the Cabinet Secretary is simply not going to wash with the people of Portsmouth and the country. They deserve far better than this.”

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Dirty Water Crisis: Portsmouth MP lobbies ministers for greater transparency and to ensure ‘history does not repeat itself’ in new investigation

Stephen Morgan MP has lobbied government demanding assurances that ‘history does not repeat itself’ and for greater transparency, after an investigation was launched by its regulators into 2000 sewage treatment works.

The investigation was announced after new checks led to water companies admitting that they could be releasing unpermitted sewage discharges into rivers and watercourses.

In a letter to the Environment Minister Rebecca Pow MP, the city MP raised concerns that ‘not enough is being done presently, by regulators or government, to stop the harms of excessive sewage discharges into bathing waters across the country’. He also demanded assurances that ‘companies like Southern Water will not be allowed to continue to pollute local bathing waters’ and neglect Portsmouth’s natural water environment whilst the investigation is ongoing.

The Portsmouth MP also asked the minister to work with him to ensure regulators compel water providers to publish all of their mapped sewage pollution data for areas they have sewage outlets. Southern Water has previously provided this for areas such as Chichester Harbour, but has so far refused to share similar data models for Langstone Harbour, which recently attracted wider media attention after images were broadcast of raw sewage being released into it from a Southern Water sewage outlet.

It comes after a recent report from charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) found that:

  • 5,517 sewage discharge notifications were issued by water companies over a 12-month period, an increase of 87.6% from last year
  • 3,328 of these discharge notifications were issued throughout the bathing season and;
  • One in six days have been rendered ‘unswimmable’ due to sewage pollution during the official bathing season alone.

According to the Rivers Trust, in the Portsmouth MP’s constituency alone, sewage was pumped into local rivers for at least 617 hours in 2020, the equivalent of a nearly a month’s worth of continuous sewage discharge.

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

“Southern Water is a repeat offender when it comes to Solent sewage pollution, and recent reports suggest nothing has changed.

“The recently launched investigation into sewage treatment works across the country is welcome, but I share the concerns of my constituents that not enough is being done right now, by regulators or government, to stop the harms of excessive sewage discharges. “Government had the opportunity to do this last month, but instead watered-down related proposed changes to its Environment Bill.

“That’s why I’ve lobbied government to ensure the it takes action to reduce the harms of sewage pollution and compels water companies to publish any mapped sewage pollution data they have, so that they can be held to account long before the investigation is closed.”

 

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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/