A national voice on defence
As the grandson of a D-Day veteran from Portsmouth, our MP recognises the importance of our armed forces and the vital work they do. Stephen is highly active in a parliamentary scheme to gain direct experience of the British armed forces and the challenges they face. He meets with senior officers in the Naval base regularly, and is visiting troops on active service across the country and overseas. As well as joining servicemen and women on live training exercises, he’s led a debate in Westminster on armed forces pay, and on the Public Accounts Committee, specialises on defence matters holding the Government to account.
“It has been an honour to meet so many hard-working personnel and listen to their experiences in service. I continue to take what I learn back to Parliament, so I can continue to speak with authenticity on issues affecting our forces personnel. I’ll always be a strong voice for our armed forces in the House of Commons.”
In Parliament, Stephen has repeatedly pressed the government to ensure adequate funding for our armed forces backing calls for an increase, urged for the worrying recruitment gap to be tackled and pushed the Defence Secretary to do more to support our veterans.
Welcoming the Shadow Defence Secretary to Portsmouth, he took the shadow minister on a visit to the Naval Base to meet senior officers, inspect the new carrier and discuss securing the base’s future in our city. Hosting an event for constituents to discuss the Royal Navy’s future capabilities, Stephen secured a former First Sea Lord, Admiral Lord West to share his insight and advise our MP on technical issues.
“I will always fight for a better deal for our armed forces. Under the Tories our armed forces have been shrunk to a record low and personnel are leaving at an alarming rate. The hard-working men and women who serve our country are integral to our national security and it is high time the Tories recognised this.”
Portsmouth voted to leave the EU, yet more and more research suggests people here are worried about the implications of Brexit on the city. The Government is letting those who voted leave and remain down in their chaotic handling of Brexit.
Stephen is concerned about a hard Brexit on Portsmouth’s economy and jobs and is listening to local views and that of our city’s businesses.
Of particular concern is Portsmouth International Port, which faces a collapse in trade and disastrous traffic congestion post-Brexit. Stephen has written to the Brexit Secretary requesting an assessment of the impact on Portsmouth and the wider region, has repeatedly urged Ministers to visit the port and has submitted numerous written parliamentary questions about the matter.
Stephen is pushing for stability and certainty for public services and local businesses. He said:
“Our country can only thrive when our businesses do. Our city’s jobs will always be the priority for me and the government’s complacency on Brexit is incredibly concerning.
As this Government seeks a drastically different relationship with the EU, people in Portsmouth, whose jobs and businesses rely so heavily on trade with our European allies, need honest and accurate analysis so they can plan accordingly. They deserve far better than the incompetence and uncertainty the Tories have delivered so far.”
Complete the survey attached to have your say on Brexit and Portsmouth.
Our city MP is working relentlessly in Parliament to stand up for our police as Portsmouth continues to be affected by government cuts to front line policing. Sadly, local businesses have been targeted by criminals and violent crime and anti-social behaviour are on the rise.
Stephen has used Prime Minister’s Questions to raise this issue directly with Theresa May; he brought up a delegation of local business owners directly affected by crime in our city to the House of Commons to meet with a minister and has been working alongside residents and officers across the city to tackle anti-social behaviour.
With Hampshire sadly losing 1,000 officers and crime up 10% in Portsmouth, the lobbying paid off with Stephen securing a visit to Portsmouth by the Policing Minister to see directly some of the challenges our city faces. Stephen is also pushing the Police and Crime Commissioner to spend less on office costs and more on frontline policing in Portsmouth.
“It is vital that we secure fairer funding for local police in the face of massive cuts. If you remove 21,000 police officers from this country’s streets then inevitably offences are far harder to prevent and prosecute. Portsmouth has fewer bobbies on the beat and those that remain are overworked and under-resourced”.
Meeting regularly with senior police officers to discuss matters Portsmouth people raise and going out on patrol with frontline police officers Stephen added:
“I’ve repeatedly written to the Home Secretary and Police and Crime Commissioner and raised this issue in Parliament with the same poor response. The Government are simply not serious about tackling crime. I promise that I’ll continue to fight for our police to get the resources they need to keep us all safe”.
Caring for our NHS
This year, the NHS celebrated its 70th birthday. The introduction of the NHS by Labour completely transformed people’s lives, giving access to world-class healthcare to all, regardless of their ability to pay.
To mark the occasion, Stephen has proudly run a campaign to thank the phenomenal NHS staff in our city who deliver lifesaving work, even in the toughest times. This has included nominating local domestic assistant Rose Bennett for the Parliamentary NHS ‘Health Heroes’ Lifetime Achievement Award which she went on to win.
But despite recognising the excellent work of NHS staff, Stephen is also realistic about the fundamental challenges surrounding funding, recruitment and retention, that face our NHS.
Our MP regularly meets health chiefs, charities and local groups, has campaigned alongside local parents and children to make the drug Orkambi available for those with Cystic Fibrosis and improvements to treatment for PKU sufferers.
Stephen recently brought to Portsmouth the Shadow Health Secretary to visit QA hospital. He wants to ensure a national focus on our city and has pressed the Government on a range of local issues including access to GPs, the adequacy of mental health services and investment social care.
“The Tories have failed to secure the long-term financial future of the NHS. Previously, government funding has come too little, too late. They must do better; Portsmouth can simply not afford a repeat of this year’s winter crisis. I’m fighting hard to make sure QA gets the money it needs to improve urgent care in our city”.
Standing up for Portsmouth’s schools
Having attended Portsmouth schools himself, Stephen is committed to getting a better deal for our city’s schools and pupils.
Whilst the government turn a blind eye to the challenges our schools face due to real terms funding cuts of over £3 million by 2019, our city MP has visited almost every school in the constituency in his first year to see these challenges, such as teachers paying for basic supplies from their own wages.
Standing up for Portsmouth schools, Stephen has raised the matter in the House of Commons and is pushing ministers to ensure our schools are properly funded.
“Portsmouth continues to be left behind by this Government. Class sizes are up, but schools have had their budgets repeatedly cut. Portsmouth’s teachers and parents know the reality of the Tories’ failure to invest in our children’s futures, and they deserve better. I will not rest until schools in Portsmouth are properly funded.”
Since being elected, hundreds of pupils have also visited Stephen’s office on Albert Road and come up to Parliament. Stephen’s ‘Vote 100’ suffragette sash competition and Christmas card competition were entered by local schoolchildren across all of Portsmouth.
Back Stephen’s Portsmouth Against School Cuts campaign? Get in touch to lend your support to our city’s schools.