MP’s Report Christmas 2013
Walking through the city centre today it seemed everyone had Christmas on their minds and the magical Fenwicks window displays were attracting large crowds of all ages. But as I stopped by charity shops in search of some late Christmas cards it was very clear to me that the cost of living crisis is not suspended for the festive season. Indeed it makes it all the harder to bear.
Prices have risen faster than wages for 40 of the 41 months since this Government came to power. The average person is £1600 worse off per year. In the North East, that translates to £23 per week. It might not sound like much if you’ve made thousands from the millionaires’ tax cut, like most of David Cameron’s Christmas Card list, but in Newcastle it can make the difference between scraping by and enjoying life.
I’m glad that at last unemployment seems to have stopped rising, and that makes such a difference to families at this time. But how many of those in work are wondering how they can organise their Christmas around zero hours contracts? They make it impossible to plan how much money you’ll have or what childcare you’ll need. Labour would stop the exploitative use of zero hours contracts as well as increasing childcare from 15 hours to 25 hours. And I find it particularly sad that whilst unemployment in Newcastle has gone down slightly, we are rising up the National League Table – a year ago we had the 46th highest rate in the country, now it’s the 25th. This so called recovery certainly isn’t one in which we are sharing equally.
At the same time it is not really a surprise to learn we come top of the generosity with an average online donation of £46 per person compared with £44 in London and £28 nationally. We have always taken care to look out for each other. [http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/people-newcastle-revealed-most-generous-6439133]
I do hope the New Year brings better social, health and economic prospects for everyone in Newcastle and the country. I will certainly be working hard in 2014 to help bring about an economy and a Government that works for all.
I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Backbench and Constituency Role
I would like to thank Newcastle Central Constituency Party for reselecting me. It is a pleasure and privilege to know I will be fighting the next Election for the Labour Party to continue working as Newcastle’s MP.
I called a debate in Westminster Hall on 3 December 2013 on Local Authority Funding to highlight the unfairness of this Government’s habit of top slicing what central Government funding remains and then giving it back to local authorities in such a way as ensures Newcastle loses out.
I also spoke extensively on 29 November 2013 on the European Union (Referendum) Bill and on 9 December 2013 as part of the House’s Tributes to Nelson Mandela
I spoke on 28th November Decarbonisation on 25 November 2013, Topical Questions for DCLG on social housing; on 7 November 2013 on Pre-legislative Scrutiny; 22 October 2013 on Doctors (Accountability); 18 November 2013 on Employment and Support Allowance; 12 December 2013 twice, Arts Council Funding & Broadband; 10 December 2013 in the Engineering Skills (Perkins Review) [Westminster Hall]
All my Westminster speeches can be found here [http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cmallfiles/mps/commons_hansard_5617_od.html] and my written questions here [http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cmallfiles/mps/commons_hansard_5617_wad.html]
I was privileged to be able to sign the South Africa House Condolence Book on behalf of Newcastle.
I was active in a number of campaigns including against Wonga and in support of an Energy price freeze.
Shadow Ministerial Role
I have been holding meetings in Newcastle and elsewhere to discuss my shadow ministerial responsibilities: Digital Government, Cyber Security and Social Enterprise. I announced a Digital Government Review and am looking closely at the financing of social enterprises and their role of in public sector procurement. I have major concerns about the Governments Cyber Security policies as they implement digital by default without much regard for digital inclusion or security. I have put down a number of parliamentary questions to examine this and on 30 October 2013 I spoke from the frontbench on Cyber-Security. I also spoke for the front bench on the Prime Minister (Replacement) Bill for the front bench on 11 December 2013 on Government ICT Strategy.
Media: Quoted extensively and on a number of subjects in local media including Journal, Chronicle,. Also on national and local media and published blogs in Computer World, LSE Review of Books and Computer Weekly.
I continue to receive a huge volume of letters, emails and phone calls, over 2500 per week . We have an office admin apprentice and will be recruiting a Spring living wage intern.
Meeting, Visits & Speaking Engagements:
Meetings & Visits: Tyne and Wear Quality Contracts consultation, the IET, Parliamentary Education Service, Clearspace, ICE, Lloyds Banking, Jon Owen Jones, the Guardian, Meningitis Trust, Radio Centre 40th Anniversary of Commercial Radio, Mark Stickells, Newcastle University, New Bridge Project, Medical Protection Society, Success Talks, Pictfor, Paul Brand, Greener Journeys, Tyne Tees, Paul Brand, IEA, Lord Drayson, England Rugby 2015, Robin Ashby, Governor Fashola, Ofcom, Natasha Carpenter, Anthony Nolan Supporters Award, FA, Rolls Royce Science Awards, ICE, IASME, PSC, Credit Cards UK, , Recombu, Neuroendocrine Tumour Patient Foundation, Prospect, Peter Ingram, 118 118, Bite the Ballot, Stephenson Quarter Tomorrow’s Engineers, Remembrance Service, Mobile Data Association, HMFA, Renewable UK, Ethical Medicines Industry Group, Aunnie Patton, UKTI, Newcastle City Learning Hub, Newcastle Law Centre, North East Business Executive of the Year, Mitvah Day at St Oswolds Hospice, St Pauls School, Labour North Business reception with Ed Balls, St Matthew’s Autumn Fair, Bill Thompson Thorn, Church Urban Fund, Lord Bob Hughes, CSC, Eaga Charitable Trust, Royal British Legion, Ford STEM Roundtable, South African delegation, Dr Loukides, BT, Virgin Money, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, Northumbria Police Federation, Northumbria University, NEA, Advertising Association, National Pensioners Convention, Constables of England Reception, the IET, Social Enterprise UK, Foundation for Science and Technology, Terrance Higgins Trust, Nick Forbes, Board of Deputies of British Jews, Research Fortnight, Labour Friends of Palestine, Maggie Philben, Hitachi Rail Europe, CIFAS Fraud Prevention, Parliamentary Space Committee, Small Business Saturday visited Grainger Market and High Bridge Quarter, Summerhill Christmas Fair, APPG Engineering Energy Debate, BAE Systems, Fillipo Addari, Dr Tim Brook, Engineering a Healthy Future Reception, Parliamentary Science committee, Ipsos Mori, Douglas Lloyd, Darren Jones, Society of Biology, Science Museum, St Charles RC Church, Age Inclusive, Living Lab Newcastle University Business School, St Thomas’s Mandela Service, Unison, Policy Exchange, Kevin Baughan, Daaoud Zaaroura Retirement, Alzheimer’s, Ecusol, Alexis Cleveland
Speaking engagements: PICTFor CEO Forum Dinner, Young Foundation Migrant Labour breakfast social enterprise & community regeneration, AFBE AGM, High Pay Centre How should policymakers respond to economic leakage from the North East, Talk Talk Digital Heroes Event, The Eighth Annual Parliament & Internet Conference Privacy and Surveillance Session, Who Cares Passport to Parliament, Black People in Tudor England, Newcastle University Digital Government @ Work debate, ABC Graduation, Bernardo’s Circles 2 Project, Newcastle A Good City in Tough Times, East Durham Trust Conference, Inspiring Females Conference, Benwell Branch Meeting, Inspiring Females Conference, Newcastle University Popup Newsroom, Newcastle University Feminist Society, Fincan Conference, Parliament Week Harrow High School, NU Foundation Tea, Breakfast RAEng Import Skills, Ipsos Mori, Leading Social Change Speech, Financial Governance for Innovation and Social Exclusion, Women Shift Digital Conference, Hosting Parliament meeting on Nominet review of registration policy, PICTfor Annual Dinner, Guardian breakfast roundtable debate on Computing Curriculum, Breast Cancer Campaign Tea, Reform Roundtable Public Sector and the Role of Technology, Chaired Foreign Policy Centre Roundtable Employment enterprise & skills Africa, Sky, ICSPA, Africa Breakfast Club discussion Role of Women in Science, technology & innovation, Digital Leaders Conference, Doncaster CVS 70th Anniversary, Adept Communications, Digital Leaders North East Network