Stephen Morgan, Labour MP for Portsmouth South, gives his answers to the five questions recently submitted by S&C readers to all local candidates in the 2019 election.
We recently asked S&C readers and social media followers what one question you would ask all the candidates in Portsmouth North and South in the General Election. From the many – and diverse – answers we received, we selected five questions, which we sent to all the local candidates.
To choose the top 5, we took into account the number of times questions were asked on each topic, whether questions were suitable for all candidates (i.e. some related to individual candidates, or to either Portsmouth North or South), and whether we have seen the topic or question covered in other local reporting (e.g. we didn’t include a question on Brexit for this reason).
Q1: What amendments would you make to the Gender Recognition Act to advance the rights of trans and non-binary people in the UK, and what steps will you take to ensure all public bodies serving the area comply with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 as they relate to single sex exemptions?
I am proud to represent a party that has pledged in its manifesto to put LGBT+ rights at the heart of Government. I have had discussions with local and national LGBT+ groups about the implications of the current Gender Recognition Act and strongly support the individual’s right to self-determination.
I believe it is essential for public bodies to comply with the Equality Act and that regulatory bodies seeking to supply checks and balances should have the appropriate teeth to police any infringement of this legislation.
Q2: The Institute for Fiscal Studies recently reported that the worst-off 10% of households have lost 7% of their income since 2019, rising to 18% among families with children. The highest earning 10% have seen their incomes fall by 4%. How will your party ensure that the social security system is fair and compassionate, and that the benefit system lifts families out of poverty – closing the vast disparity of income and wealth in our country?
The Tories’ flagship social security programme, Universal Credit (UC), has been a catastrophe. It has pushed thousands of people into poverty, caused families to lose their homes and forced parents to visit food banks in order to feed their children.
Labour will scrap UC. We will immediately stop moving people onto it and design an alternative system that treats people with dignity and respect. Our ambition in designing this system will be to end poverty by guaranteeing a minimum standard of living.
Q3: What will you do to help homeless people in Portsmouth, with particular regard to the housing shortage and cuts to services, e.g. for mental health, for trauma survivors, and for people suffering from problematic drug and alcohol use?
Tory cuts are pushing people into rent arrears and leaving them at risk of homelessness. We will stop housing costs running away from benefits by scrapping the bedroom tax and increasing the Local Housing Allowance.
Labour will end rough sleeping within five years, with a national plan driven by a prime minister-led taskforce. We will expand and upgrade hostels, turning them into places where people can turn their lives around. We will make available 8,000 additional homes for people with a history of rough sleeping.
Q4: Portsmouth residents have told us they are unable to book a GP appointment within 3 weeks, and are referred to a walk-in service, which one resident described as ‘a stressful experience in itself’. What is your plan to improve and protect the NHS? And how will you improve public health in the city, including with regard to mental health and obesity in the city?
A Labour government will invest in the NHS to give patients the modern, well resourced services they need. We will increase expenditure across the health sector by an average 4.3% a year. This investment enables us to end patient charges, guarantee the standards of healthcare patients are entitled to receive from NHS England, invest in education for the health workforce and restore public health grants.
A Labour government will provide an additional £1.6 billion a year to ensure new standards for mental health are enshrined in the NHS constitution ensuring access to treatments is on a par with that for physical health conditions.
Q5: In terms of both policy and funding, how will you improve support to Portsmouth schools, including meeting the needs of vulnerable children with Special Educational Needs?
Since winning the election in 2017, I have visited every school in my patch, brought teachers up to parliament, asked the minister responsible to increase funding in our schools and asked a string a written questions on the matter.
Labour promises to spend £5.6bn on ‘NHS for education’. The National Education Service will be at the heart of Labour’s plan for real change. It will provide free education for everyone throughout their lives and will nurture every child and adult to find a path that’s right for them.
What do you think of Stephen’s answers? Did it help to make up your mind who to vote for?
Don’t forget to compare all the candidates in your area who have submitted answers, and tell us what you think over on Facebook and Twitter.