Newsletter

Chaos in Westminster as crises multiply

Whilst covid cases numbers continue to be very high, hospitalisations and deaths appear to have peaked and it has been possible to reduce and remove some restrictions. However there is continued disruption particularly to school education and the NHS. It is very wrong to think that covid is over.

But we do have other growing crises. Russian forces continue to mass on the Ukraine border but the UK is dragging its feet on imposing financial sanctions on Russia, and remains a destination for Russian dirty money and influence. The cost of living is rocketing, Ofcom has doubled the energy price cap and with people staring massive energy bills in the face the Government has come up with a complex buy now pay later policy whilst Labour is calling for a windfall tax on the huge profits being made by energy companies such as Shell and BP. We also have an NHS crisis, with record breaking waiting lists and backlog of unseen patients.

Meanwhile in Afghanistan millions face starvation and terrible oppression.  Constituents are desperate to get their relatives out of the country

And Partygate rumbles on with the Metropolitan Police now investigating at least ten parties, some of which the Prime Minister himself attended. Whilst key staff resign or are sacked the Prime Minister insists on carrying on when his premiership is clearly not in the interest of the country.

Backbench and Constituency Role

Progress

  • I launched two campaigns – Better Buses in Newcastle, and Celebrating Hadrian’s Wall in Newcastle’s West End.
  • Better buses scored an early success with real time integrated bus info soon to be available on Citymapper.
  • My Hadrian’s Wall Westminster Hall debate garnered a lot of interest and media coverage but we are still awaiting the detailed written response from the minister.
  • We also, finally, received a response from Newcastle City Council with regard to putting up notices asking for people not to feed the pigeons.
  • I raised the near-crush experienced by Newcastle United fans at Elland Road on 22 January 2022 and obtained a commitment to investigate.
  • With the Ukraine in the news I raised the progress of justice for John Alder and Liam Sweeney victims of flight MH17.
  • I continue to engage with the Prime Minister, Ministers, Government Agencies and others regarding families of constituents in Afghanistan, the availability of tests for businesses, the war memorial in Eldon Square and the use of community car clubs. Newcastle City Council agreed to put up signs saying not to feed the pigeons, after much correspondence.

Shadow Ministerial and PES Role

  • The Government finally and belatedly published its much anticipated Levelling Up report. Maddy worked hard to provide initial analysis. It looks as if R&D is actually the only new money and the commitment to increase R&D outside London and the South East by 40% has no detail and no plan. In other areas such as transport and housing the commitments are vague or reannouncements.  Apparently by 2030 our bus services will be ‘significantly closer’ to London’s. Still not as good though.
  • We continue to work to clarify the Government research spending.
  • ARIA returned to the House of Commons with the Labour Lords amendment on IP. I spoke for Labour in the debate but the amendment was defeated and returned to the Lords
  • I served as Shadow Minister on the Professional Qualifications Bill Committee. This Bill enables European qualifications to be recognised here according to professional bodies’ regulations although it does not guarantee reciprocity.
  • I started Shadow Ministerial stakeholder meetings and will be looking to hold roundtables on Research, Innovation and Science

Organisation

  • Assia joined the Newcastle office as a trainee Administrative Officer. Sam joined the Westminster office on a student placement, from Pennsylvania and Mukilan joined the Newcastle office on a student placement from Newcastle University.

Media

Quoted often in local and regional media. Times Radio Bob Hughes tribute, ITV interview NUFC fans near crush at Leeds, BBC Look North Hadrian’s Wall, Guardian Live panel event Online Trolling,  GB News on  Hadrian’s Wall. Tweeted 115 times with 534,000 impressions.

Top Tweet earned 20.7K impressions – Happy New Year to everyone in #Newcastle & everywhere! May 2022 be healthier, fairer, more equal and better for us all! pic.twitter.com/6lCMkSiCQt

Parliamentary Activity

From the Front Bench: 3

Life Sciences (11th January) Professional Qualifications Bill (18th January, Public Bill Committee) Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill (31st January, spoke three times)

From the Back Bench: 17 times

Downing Street Garden Event (11th January, UQ) Covid-19 Update (13th January) Draft Online Safety Bill Report (13th January, spoke twice) Foreign Interference: Intelligence and Security (17th January) BBC Funding (17th January) Health Topical Questions (18th January) English Football League Governance: Derby County FC (18th January) Levelling-up Fund (24th January) Downing Street Parties: Police Investigation (25th January) Freedom of Religion or Belief (27th January) Russia: Sanctions (27th January) Hadrian’s Wall: Newcastle’s West End (1st February, spoke five times) Levelling Up (2nd February) Bus Services (3rd February) Elective Care Recovery in England (7th February) Leamside Line (8th February) Russia Sanctions Legislation (10th February)

Written Questions: 98

Data Protection (10th February); Visas: Afghanistan (2nd February); IAB Europe (3rd February); Innovation (2nd February); Nurseries: Special Educational Needs (31st January); Research: Regional Planning and Development (2nd February); Innovation and Research: Regional Planning and Development (2nd February); Innovation and Research: Regional Planning and Development (2nd February); UK Research and Innovation: Regional Planning and Development (2nd February); Imports (1st February); Research: Regional Planning and Development (7th February); NHS: Universities (7th February); Defence: Regional Planning and Development (7th February); Research: Expenditure (7th February); Research: Expenditure (7th February); Carbon Emissions: Research (7th February); Life Sciences (7th February); Innovation: Regional Planning and Development (7th February); Innovation: Regional Planning and Development (7th February); Science: Regional Planning and Development (7th February); Research: Expenditure (7th February); Hartree National Centre for Digital Innovation: Finance (7th February); Spaceflight: Finance (7th February); Regional Planning and Development: Finance (7th February); Research: Expenditure (7th February); Public Transport (2nd February); Dstl: Newcastle upon Tyne (2nd February); Refugees: Employment (28th January); British Nationality (1st February); Visas: Afghanistan (1st February); Visas: Afghanistan (1st February); Debts: Advisory Services (1st February); British Nationality (1st February); Car Sharing: Insurance (31st January); Car Sharing: Carbon Emissions (31st January); Life Sciences (31st January); Innovation (31st January); Bus Services: Newcastle upon Tyne (31st January); Nurseries: Finance (31st January); Nurseries: Finance (31st January); Research: Private Sector (28th January); Research: Investment (28th January); Research: Investment (27th January); Research: Finance (27th January); Innovation: Finance (27th January); Research: Finance (2nd February); Research: Finance (2nd February); Neonicotinoids (2nd February); Refugees: Employment (28th January); Government Departments: Procurement (28th January); Life Sciences: Finance (24th January); Horizon Europe: Small Businesses (24th January); Research: Finance (24th January); Research: Finance (24th January); Ukraine: Aviation (25th January); Football: Safety (25th January); British Nationality (17th January); Bus Services: Travel Information (24th January); Patents: Corporation Tax (24th January); Life Sciences: Task Forces (24th January); Patents: Corporation Tax (24th January); Research: Private Sector (24th January); Coronavirus: Vaccination (19th January); Coronavirus: Vaccination (19th January); Schools: Air Conditioning (19th January); Africa: Overseas Students (19th January); Africa: Overseas Investment (19th January); Broadband: Optical Fibres (19th January); National Lottery: North of England (19th January); Broadband: Optical Fibres (18th January); Broadband: Optical Fibres (18th January); NHS: Innovation (17th January); Medical Technologies Directorate: Life Sciences (17th January); Medical Technologies Directorate: Life Sciences (17th January); Medical Technologies Directorate: Life Sciences (17th January); Schools: Coronavirus (19th January); National Lottery: Regional Planning and Development (19th January); Broadband: Optical Fibres (18th January); Broadband: Optical Fibres (18th January); Debts: Advisory Services (18th January); Development Aid: Research (13th January); Medical Technologies Directorate: Life Sciences (17th January); Plastics: Taxation (17th January); Government Departments: Procurement (17th January); Employment and Support Allowance: Newcastle upon Tyne Central (17th January); Development Aid: Research (13th January); Health: Research (13th January); Paint: Recycling (13th January); Dementia: Research (13th January); Coronavirus: Screening (13th January); Public Health: Investment (13th January); Development Aid: Research (13th January); Research: Finance (13th January); Life Sciences (11th January); Dementia: Research (11th January); British Nationality (11th January); Government: ICT (11th January); National Lottery: Regional Planning and Development (11th January)

 

Meetings

Ian Sample Guardian, National Youth Jazz Orchestra, Eli Lilly, Professors from Five Research Universities, Archbishops Advisers for appointments office, Liz Blackshaw TUC, Hazel Nolan GMB, Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration, Yachad, Chris Day Newcastle University Levelling up, Tribune Group, British Sign Language drop in, APPG for France, Open Doors 2022 Launch, Red Wall voters & digital regulation, Northern Powergrid, Stagecoach North East, Red Cross, Cycling meeting with Council and constituents, Bloom Procurement  Services, Russell Group R&D, Manchester University Bio-industry, Barry Lynn Open Markets Institute, BFI, Wallace Collection, Holocaust survivor testimony event, Bioindustry Association, Ukraine Ambassador, Northern Powerhouse Partnership, Royal Society Science & Technology priorities event, JDRF Diabetes research, Nurseries meeting, Science in Parliament, Co-Wheels, Freemen, Jack Dromey funeral, Dementia Industry Group, LNER, Faircharge Campaign, National Education Union, IPT, BGIPU French Delegation, PLP Boundary review consultation, Parkinson’s UK, Influential people of North East photo, Wise Steps, Burntfoot Close, IPT The impact of the Semiconductor shortage event, APPG Engineering Group, Private equity & venture capital investment in the North East event, British American Parliamentary Group, RoboTIPS roundtable, National Space Strategy event,

Speaking

Fabian New Year Conference, Professional Footballer’s Association interview, APPG Ireland & Irish in Britain, Black Mental Health event, Chair APPG Diversity in STEM, Holocaust Memorial Day video, Westminster Forum Next steps for UK research & innovation, Rohingya Action North East, Success4All podcast, Which online safety video , stand up to Racism NE for UN Day of Action video,

 

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