Stephen backs votes at 16

JM_0039Today Members of Parliament are debating the second reading of Jim McMahon MP’s Private Members Bill, backed by city MP Stephen Morgan.

 The Bill proposes to do a number of things including reducing the voting age to 16 in parliamentary and other elections, making provision about young people’s education in citizenship and the constitution.

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

 “The time to give votes to 16 year olds has arrived. It’s already happening in Scotland and in Wales.

 The Government are quickly finding themselves on the wrong side of the debate, while Labour are yet again showing that they are the party of the many”.

 Votes at 16 is a priority for young people. This year 950,000 young people voted in the UK Youth Parliament UK-wide ballot called ‘Make Your Mark’ ballot, and Votes at 16 was made one of their five priority campaigns.

Research also indicates that the longer young people have to wait to participate in political life, the less engaged they are when they are adults. As the Electoral Reform Society has said: “vote early and vote often”.  

Stephen added:

“Equipping young people with a voice on the issues affected their lives is more important now than ever before. Above all, this is a debate about strengthening our democracy; about inclusion; and about how we involve all of society in shaping a vision for our great city and our country.

This isn’t a new debate, but the time has now come to make this a reality. So I’m fully behind Jim McMahon’s Bill to lower the voting age to 16.”

The Bill can be viewed at:  https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2017-2019/0015/180015.pdf

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MP meets probation peer support group

Open Door, St Luke's, Portsmouth.PORTSMOUTH South MP Stephen Morgan joined representatives of the Open Door service user group at their weekly meeting earlier this month.

Open Door is a group for offenders and former offenders that is supported by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Rehabilitation Company (HIOW CRC). The group meet weekly at St Luke’s church in Southsea.

Stephen said: “I was pleased to meet members of the Open Door group and hear about the issues facing those on probation. I was impressed by the supportive nature of the group and how proactive the members are.”

Probation staff Rachael Loveridge and Sue Vigar-Taylor also met with the MP and discussed the role the HIOW CRC plays in supporting rehabilitation.

Rachael, network developer for HIOW CRC, said: “Open Door is a successful peer support group which empowers offenders and former offenders to seek solutions and advice to help them to stop re-offending.

“Group members help each other with practical support and accessing local resources. They also become positive role models. The group helps members to integrate into their local community, which is a key principle of our new model of rehabilitation – Interchange.”

Open Door has been running for more than three years. During that time group members have accessed training courses and gained paid employment, found housing and support to maintain a healthy lifestyle and formed positive social networks.

Neil Bailey, Open Door member, said on behalf of the group: “Stephen listened carefully to what we said and showed that he understood the issues facing people coming out of prison and those supervised in the community.

“We spoke about the challenges of finding a job whilst having a criminal record. We felt valued and we were honoured that Stephen took the time to come and meet with us.”

Government are failing UK defence workers

BAE workersStephen Morgan MP has called on the Government to increase defence spending and invest it back into the UK industry. This comes after BAE Systems announced plans to cut almost 2,000 jobs, including 340 in Portsmouth due to current uncertainties and lack of confidence in the industry.

By 2020, nearly 25 pence in every pound of defence spending will be in US factories, as confirmed at a briefing with defence workers and Members of Parliament today.

There is serious concern that current defence spending plans are based on significant savings being made despite it not yet being disclosed where these savings are going to fall. The Royal Navy plans to take two minehunters out of service and the Government has refused to rule out decommissioning HMS Bulwark and HMS Albion – the only Navy warships with amphibious capability.

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, who met with BAE Systems workers in the House of Commons today, said:

Scraping past our NATO-mandated commitment on defence spending is simply not good enough. 2% will not keep our country safe and will not protect jobs. In the 1980s, defence spending was at 5% of GDP, and even as recently as the 1990s it was at 3%.

The Government have repeatedly dodged questions seeking clarification and assurance on the future of our military, the Royal Navy in particular. They’ve refused to give industry the certainty it needs to sustain skill bases and protect jobs.”

There is also growing concern that an increasing reliance on foreign suppliers is weakening the UK’s sovereign capability and providing poor value for money.

The recently announced shipbuilding strategy invites overseas shipyards to bid for contracts for the building of the new Type 31e frigates; in the last decade, approximately 50,000 jobs have been lost from the UK defence manufacturing industry.

Stephen  added:

“The MoD will spend £178bn on defence in the next ten years. All I’m asking is that the Government prioritises investment into our own shipyards and factories, rather than farming out yet more contracts abroad.

I’m seriously concerned about the hollowing out of our sovereign capability. Relying on other nations to supply our military not only threatens UK jobs, but our security too. What’s more, buying British represents great value for money. RUSI estimates that 36 per cent of the value of government orders in the UK defence sector is returned to the Treasury via taxation.

The Government needs urgently to show its commitment to our nation’s defence, and those who work so hard to secure it, by spending more and spending here.”

City MP fights for better deal for Portsmouth schools

School lobbyTeachers from Portsmouth schools met with City MP Stephen Morgan today with their concerns about the current and future level of school funding in the city.

The National Education Union (NEU) is running a campaign and website demonstrating that 88% of school budgets are being cut by Government in real terms compared with 2015. There is widespread awareness that present and future levels of financial commitment fall well short of what is needed to maintain real terms 2015/16 funding.

£2.8 billion has been cut from school budgets since 2015 and school funding is £2bn a year less than it was.

Under Government plans 92% of the city’s schools are set to lose out. Average pupil funding in Portsmouth will drop by £273.00 per pupil which equates to a -6% reduction.  At Ark Charter Academy in the heart of the city, there is a £650.00 reduction per pupil.

Stephen Morgan MP for Portsmouth South said:

“It was good to welcome local teachers to Parliament today. From what they’ve said, it is clear that school funding is in crisis, and we must have a response from Government which appreciates the magnitude of the problem, and invests accordingly in the country’s future.

In next month’s Budget, I am urging the Chancellor to make sure the right sums are allocated for the Department of Education.

As someone who benefited from Portsmouth’s schools, I won’t rest until they are given a better deal from this Government.

It is high time our city’s schools get the resources they so desperately need to give every single child in Portsmouth the best possible start in life”.

Could you change a child’s future?

adoptionIn National Adoption Week, City MP Stephen Morgan is encouraging local people to consider adoption to help change a child’s life.

Adoption is a lifelong commitment, and one of the most amazing things you can do.  It is about providing a permanent family for children in care who cannot, for whatever reason, return home.

Adopters take on all the rights and responsibilities for the child that birth parents had, offering a child stability, love and security within a family home, throughout their childhood and beyond.

The Portsmouth Adoption Service is a government organisation that recruits adopters from across Hampshire, within 50 miles of Portsmouth city.  They hold regular information sessions twice per month. For anyone thinking of adopting a child or young person, the team try to make the process as quick, clear and seamless as possible.

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

“Last week it was a pleasure to welcome representatives of the city’s adoption team to the House of Commons, to thank them for all they do to help change children’s lives in our city.

Children need a loving, stable home. They need parents who will stick by them through the good times and the bad. They need support and love to help them overcome their troubled backgrounds, make sense of who they are and grow up to be safe and secure.

Adopting a child is a life-changing experience. It’s one of the most important decisions you could make, and there is support to help anyone who may feel are able to make it.

I would urge anyone considering adoption to get in touch with the team”.

For more information about how you can adopt visit http://www.adoption.portsmouth.gov.uk/ 

CITY MP RESPONDS TO CITY CENTRE PLANS

The Hard 1Responding to plans for city centre improvements in Portsmouth, local councillor and city MP Stephen Morgan said:

“I welcome any proposal to transform our city centre so that we can attract the much needed investment to put the heart back into it. 

We need an imaginative scheme that provides a range of much needed homes for local people, and a vibrant and competitive retail offer that brings in private investment. We also need good quality office accommodation to help businesses of all sizes thrive and grow again in the heart of our city. 

This project gives us an opportunity to reinvigorate our local economy and create well paid jobs for local people. I’m keen to ensure that it also puts the best principles of sustainability into practice so that we reduce the environmental impact of congestion and pollution on local communities.

Sadly though our great city isn’t getting its fair share from central government. The Tories must now prioritise Portsmouth and give the city the investment it so desperately needs so that we can work with business to create sustainable prosperity for future generations.

These proposals have been a long time coming and I’m happy to work with others to make them a reality. 

Now is the time to crack on and make our city centre a destination again. The council must now get on with that job”.

GOVERNMENT MUST BE MORE AMBITIOUS IN TACKLING CLIMATE CHANGE SAYS CITY MP

Climate changeLabour is scrutinising the government’s climate change plan as action on climate change is crucial to ensure the UK is protected from extreme weather events like flooding. 

But it is also an opportunity to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the UK. Our low carbon industries employ over 230,000 people full time and create a £43billion turnover in the economy.

After many delays, today the Government finally announced its Clean Growth Strategy. Pressure from Labour succeeded in getting the Government to finally publish this document.

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

“Labour have been pushing for months for the Government to release this long delayed plan. They have an abysmal track record of cancelling support for renewable energy and watering down building standards.

Climate change is an incredibly important issue. That’s why Labour is right to  scrutinise the government’s new climate change plans to make sure they will deliver the clean sustainable future we need”.

Now that a new plan has been published, Stephen wants to ensure the UK Government keeps its promises, achieves agreed targets and delivers a low carbon economy.

He added:

“I will keep fighting for Portsmouth South securing investment in our sustainable businesses, clean energy industries and the sustainable jobs of the future.”