MP’s Report: 14th June to 24th July

Dear Newcastle

As Newcastle basks  in unprecedented sunshine I have the chance to catch up with local groups and businesses now that Parliament is in recess .

On Wednesday I visited Café Beam in Ashburton Road  Gosforth. It gives young people with special needs and disabilities the opportunity to gain work experience, skill and qualifications – and everyone else the chance to buy homemade cakes and quality coffee. It’s run by the children’s charity Smile for Life and works with local schools and community groups to support young people into work.             

 Smile for Life P13325 adj


On Thursday  I visited Remploy in Princess Square which, in the five years since it opened has helped 1100 people into work. There I met Rob, an ex ship builder from Swan Hunter  who was diagnosed as having epilepsy but with Remploy’s help now has   a new career working in support services at Newcastle University.

Remploy adj


On Friday I met Food Newcastle  to sign their charter to get us all eating in ways which are healthier and fairer to our communities.

Newcastle Food Charter P1342 adj


These were very positive stories which show the kind of difference we can make when we work together with our communities. And what a difference a decent job makes to someone’s outlook whether they be starting out or starting over.

But for many the story is not so positive, something George Osborne, who visited Newcastle on Friday just does not understand. He says the economy is now ‘fixed’. But for many things are getting harder not easier, with working people £1,600 a year worse off than when David Cameron came to power. Too many people feel that Britain doesn’t work for them.  Whilst Conservative donors pay £160,000 for a game of tennis with David and Boris, no doubt subsidised by that millionaires tax cuts, in my surgeries I meet people desperate for a chance to get in to the real  game of life  – work.

Labour will ensure that our economy works for working people once again. We will

  • Back the next generation with a job guarantee for the young unemployed and more apprenticeships.
  • Tackle the abuse of migrant labour to undercut wages by banning recruitment agencies that only hire foreign workers and put in place tougher enforcement of minimum wage laws.
  • Make sure that unemployed young people who don’t have the skills they need to get a job are in training, not on benefits.
  • Make work pay by increasing the National Minimum Wage and providing tax breaks to firms that boost pay through the Living Wage.

We need to make sure that there are good jobs with decent wages available across Newcastle and the North East. That is what I would call a recovery!

Shadow Ministerial Role

I led for Labour on the Deregulation Bill final day at report stage  in the House of Commons.  The Bill is a hodge podge of deregulatory measures, some of which may do a little good – like deregulating knitting yarn, and some of which may do a great deal of harm – like exempting self employed people from health and safety. I spoke at Third Reading and on Rights of Way and took the opportunity to celebrate my constituency Red Ramble[1].

I gave a keynote speech on Social Enterprise which set out how a Labour Government  will make it easier for social enterprises and organisations  with a pubic sector mission to win Government contracts.

The Digital Government Review closed to submissions  of which there were over eighty[2]. I published this blog on the key themes.

Spoke from Front Bench for Cabinet Office questions on 25 June 2014 on Departmental Efficiency

Backbench and Constituency Role

Having met with campaigning groups, sufferers and their families concerned about the closure of the Richardson Unit for Severe Eating Disorders at the RVI I called  an Adjournment debate in Westminster on the treatment of severe eating disorders  in the  North East. I then met with the Minister  and NHS England to discuss the situation and a few weeks later NHS England confirmed that beds will be retained in Newcastle, much to the relief of campaigners.

I spoke  on 1st July in the Finance Bill Debate, focusing on Economic inequality and also spoke in on 34d July in Women & Equalities questions on women in engineering, DCMS questions on Northern Stage and regional touring,  on 26th June in the NHS Investigations (Jimmy Saville) statement, on 19th June in the UK Africa debate on trade with Africa and in Education Questions on the importance of qualified teachers, 17 July 2014 on Child Abuse and in Defra questions on Rural Mobile Coverage and on 10 July 2014 on Regional Airports, 22 July 2014 on the loss of life in Gaza and  21 July 2014 on the Newcastle United fans killed on MH17.


  • Quoted regularly in local media including Journal and Chronicle, and many other media outlets inc BBC and Tynetees. I wrote a number of blogs on digital government, social enterprise and related issues.
  • I continue to receive a huge volume of letters, emails and phone calls, over 2500 per week. We are now recruiting a summer intern.


  • I continue to receive a huge volume of letters, emails and phone calls, over 2500 per week. We are now recruiting a summer intern.

Meeting, Visits & Speaking Engagements:

  • Meetings and Visits: German Social Democratic Party Delegation, Joe Dignan, Frank Domeny, Vodafone, Prospect, Social Business Trust, Tech Week, Nest, Orchard Mews Care Home, Franco British Council, Coventry University, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Google, Opower, ITV, Sky, National Gallery, Alistair Kell, Tom Chatfield, TeenTech, Lockheed, Meri Williams, ComRes, New Bridge Project, Hoppings School, a4e, British Heart Foundation, Mastercard, Norman Lamb, NHS England, Open University, IoD, Morrisons, Stephen Carter, NHS Workers Lobby, Ofgem, UnLtd, Sara Murray, Charles Clark, Body Positive, Newcastle Gateshead CCG, NEL Fundmanager, Ian Shott,  Hilton School, Bridgewater School, 38 degrees data sharing roundtable, National Youth Dance Company, Women and Activism in the North East, Jay Robson Matthews, Tesco Food Collection, Eddie Powell, Lord Bob Hughes, Lela Kogbura, National Air Traffic, Hansard, Kelly Welsh. , TUC, City Tavern, Liz Truss & Department of Education, French Embassy Bastille Day, CWU, Vocalink, Kola Aluko Foundation, HP, NCG, Oynx Health, Discovery Museum, STV, Law Commission, John Reid, Greg Clark, Café Beam, NUST, Remploy, Newcastle Eagles, Northumbrian Water, Food Nation


  • Speaking engagements: Launch of Newcastle Bangladeshi Taxi Union (NBTU), IPPR Roundtable on Women in Engineering, Digital Leaders Awards Dinner, Digital Leaders Hustings, Tyneside Orientation and Migrant Support Service (TOMSS) Education AwardsPink Lane Jazz Co-op Co-operatives Week Event, IET Women in Engineering Webcast, Inaugural convention of the Nigerian Youth Congress, Wingrove Primary School, NUBS IER Launch, Kenton School Parliamentary Visit, St Mary’s Parliamentary Visit, Digital Policy Alliance, Pictfor Get Girls Coding, Participatory & Deliberative Democracy Specialist Group Conference,  Social Enterprise Keynote, Social Economy Alliance,  Social Saturday Reception, Gaza Rally

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