Keeping You Informed (July 2011)

Dear Newcastle

What a tumultuous week it has been.  I was sitting next to Chris Bryant in the House of Commons when he rose to move ‘Standing Order 24’ so that we could debate the phone hacking scandal.  It is thanks to the bravery of Chris, Tom Watson, the Guardian newspaper and some others in standing up to powerful press interests that we are now hopefully going to get to the truth of what happened. 

The idea that a paper paid someone to hack the messages of a murdered 14 year old school girl is beyond belief. That doing so hindered the police investigation and gave false hope to her parents  only intensifies the horror that we all feel.  And that the Metropolitan  police were at the very least  reluctant to challenge the  powerful  people who were running that paper makes us all feel vulnerable.  If the police won’t stand up to the bullies who will.

In the last month I spoke in the Students Visa debate in Westminster Hall. I asked oral questions on Underground Coal Gasification, phone hacking, the law and social media, Northern Rock Privatisation and Superfast Broadband. I have asked around about 40 written questions focusing on ways to help industry through procurement,  science and education.  I also asked a number of questions on Geordie Shore.

Many constituents expressed concern over the redundancies and reorganisation at Newcastle College.  I met with the Principals  Bev Robinson and Jackie Fisher and reported back to constituents.  A copy of the letter is on the UCU website:

As Shadow Minister  I am working on the Labour Party’s  Policy Review.  Ed Miliband has asked us to address three key challenges:

  • Taking the pressure of the squeezed middle
  • Strengthening our communities
  • And the threat to the British promise – that fear that our children’s future will be less prosperous than our own.


BIS seeks to do that  primarily by delivering a different sort of economy – one where the best companies become the norm , and where Government is active in creating the conditions for private                           sector success.  Innovation and science are a key part of where Government needs to be active and I am continuing to talk to business, academia and institutions on the policies which would best help them. 

Other meetings included Leicester University Space, Chemistry and Physics departments, National Space Centre,  David Connell, American Pharmaceutical Group,  FSB, NHS Innovations South East, Eagles Basketball, Labour Friends of Israel, Flybe, PCS, CAB, Sir Liam Donaldson, Howard Dawson (Eldon Gardens), Africa Research Institute, Royal Society. Sage, Technology and Production Breakfast meeting, Children’s Society, Microsoft, Industry and Parliamentary Trust, Square Kilometre Array (SKA),  Nick Forbes, Tyne and Wear Fire Brigade, Royal Veterinary Association, Huawei, Newcastle Toy and Leisure Library, John Lewis, UCU


Speaking engagements included:   Federation of Communication Services, Wingrove Primary School, Doreen James’ Plaque unveiling, Links event, Association of University Administrators, Gaza Awareness Event, NV AFBE-UK’s Engineering Infrastructure in the UK, Asian Business Connections, IET Sector Launch and Migration APPG

All the best

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