Dear Newcastle November 2020
The news of a successful vaccine trail has lifted spirits – together with the election of a US President who believes in Science! But we still have some way to go before the vaccine is manufactured, distributed and delivered to all those who need it and in the meantime, we have to stay safe, protect the NHS and our amazing frontline heroes, as well as ourselves and our loved ones.
Newcastle is once again in lockdown, but this second lockdown is very different to the first. People tell me they feel disappointed and frustrated, they have lost confidence in the Government’s handling of this terrible pandemic. The chopping and changing of the Chancellor, the mixed messaging of the Government have increased confusion and concerns amongst constituents. The support available keeps changing and then was dramatically increased when the lockdown went national, after an ugly argument with Northern mayors and council leaders about what was needed. Some people and businesses, like the Coach business I highlighted in last week’s Prime Ministers Questions, have had no support in this difficult time.
Enquiries and questions to my office have significantly increased because of the pandemic. Ministers are slow to answer, causing frustration. And then by the time we get an answer from Ministers the issue may have changed. There is also increasing desperation for those excluded from support, increasing loneliness and mental health issues for those isolated by the virus. Newcastle’s infection rates had been coming down – from a very high base – but has started to climb back up more recently. We have to follow the guidance.
Backbench and Constituency Role
- The Overseas Operations Bill came back to the Commons for its Third Reading without the Government accepting Labour’s proposed changes. As the Director General of the Royal British Legion said, it seemed more designed to protect the Ministry of Defence than service personnel and so I voted against it.
- I had a Question to the Prime Minister on November 4th where I raised the case of Rikki Wilson, a Newcastle Coach Business owner and one of the Excluded from any Covid support.
- I met with a constituent, two of whose daughters have a rare blood cancer, one has already died. I am supporting her in her campaign to have more people of colour on the donor list.
- We continue to work effectively online whilst improve working practices to make it easier. We must all share ideas for more effective working. I have noted improved use of technology from zoom to Whatsapp and looking for further improvements.
- I continue to engage with Ministers, Government Agencies and others regarding enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions, urgent processing of citizenship for a local girl’s mother so she can accompany her daughter to pursue cancer treatment abroad, availability of testing data to local authorities, increasing track and trace capacity, financial support for individuals and businesses facing ongoing COVID-19 disruption and restrictions in the North-East, calling for increased transparency in football governance, raising questions surrounding Newcastle United’s failed takeover, ensuring funding for measures taken to ensure children can return safely to Newcastle’s schools, forward planning for next summer’s exams, health and safety precautions of health and safety of Royal Mail staff and the Horizon scandal.
Shadow Ministerial and PES Role
- The Our Digital Future consultation closed with over six hundred responses which required a huge team effort to read and summarise. I summarised the Digital Government submissions and currently the report is being written from the summaries.
- Newcastle Central Labour Party held a discussion on the consultation which resulted in a very useful submission, which I summarised
- As the transition period comes to an end the number of Statutory Instruments rises as the Government seeks to drive through the changes needed. There is much work to be done before 31st December!
- The Government refuse to change the terms and references of their inquiry into the Post Office Scandal and we are supporting the subpostmasters in refusing to work with the inquiry as a consequence.
- We are continuing to meet with key stakeholders for the different briefs.
Spoken from the back bench: Eight times
Covid 19 update (12th Oct), Black History Month (20th Oct), Covid 19 Newcastle Transport (22nd Oct), Covid 19 disparate impact (22nd Oct), Veterans covid 19 (2nd Nov), Business of the house (2nd Nov), Court Delays (3rd Nov), PMQ Coaches (4th Nov),
Spoken from the front bench: Four times
Written Questions: 69 Questions
Asylum: Newcastle upon Tyne (5th Oct), Telecommunications: Watford (9th Oct), Coronavirus: Disease Control (9th Oct), Coronavirus: Disease Control (12th Oct), Telecommunications (13th Oct), Sustainable Innovation Fund (13th Oct), Disease Control: Newcastle upon Tyne (13th Oct), Coronavirus: Newcastle upon Tyne (13th Oct), Coronavirus: Newcastle upon Tyne (13th Oct), Ministerial Policy Advisers: Shares (14th Oct), Broadband: Rural Areas (14th Oct), Amazon Web Services (14th Oct), Coronavirus: Newcastle upon Tyne (16th Oct), NHS: Computer Software (16th Oct), Contact Tracing: Computer Software (16th Oct), Coronavirus: Vaccination (16th Oct), UK Trade with EU (16th Oct), Broadband (16th Oct), Amazon: Taxation (19th Oct), Senior Civil Servants: Codes of Practice (19th Oct), Health Services: Computer Software (20th Oct), Iron and Steel: EU Grants and Loans (20th Oct), Horizon Europe: Finance (20th Oct), Universities: Coronavirus (20th Oct), Dementia: Research (20th Oct), Football (20th Oct), Vaccination: Research (20th Oct), 5G (20th Oct), Broadband (20th Oct), Huawei: 5G (20th Oct), Fuel Cells: Exports (20th Oct), Data Protection: Public Sector (20th Oct), Autoimmune Diseases (21st Oct), Companies: Fraud (21st Oct), Companies: Fraud (21st Oct), Artificial Intelligence: Racial Discrimination (21st Oct), Coronavirus: Screening (21st Oct), Coronavirus: Screening (21st Oct), Radio Frequencies (22nd Oct), Broadband (22nd Oct), Broadband: Housing (22nd Oct), Astrazeneca: Coronavirus (22nd Oct), Cancer: Children (22nd Oct), Clinical Trials (23rd Oct), Data Protection: USA (23rd Oct), ARM: NVIDIA (23rd Oct), STEM Subjects: Recruitment (23rd Oct), Research and Universities: Equality (23rd Oct), Coronavirus: Disinformation (23rd Oct), Small Business Grants Fund: Newcastle Upon Tyne (26th Oct), Bounce Back Loan Scheme (26th Oct), Postal Services (26th Oct), Coronavirus: Clinical Trials (27th Oct), Coal: Carbon Emissions (27th Oct), Clinical Trials and Research (27th Oct), Global Navigation Satellite Systems (27th Oct), Global Navigation Satellite Systems Coronavirus: Vaccination (27th Oct), Batteries: Waste Disposal (28th Oct), Skilled workers: Brexit (29th Oct), Coronavirus: Disease Control (30th Oct), NHS: Productivity (30th Oct), Broadband (2nd Nov), Data Protection: EU Law (2nd Nov), Coronavirus: Screening (2nd Nov), Science: Females (3rd Nov), Government Departments: Internet (3rd Nov), Innovation and Research: Finance (4th Nov), Broadband: Rural Areas (5th Nov), Medicine: Research (5th Nov)
All staff continue to work from home. Charlotte Butterick time came with us came to end, and we thank her for the great contribution she made. We are in the process of recruiting a Parliamentary Intern, this time based in Newcastle.
Quoted frequently in local and national media including a lot of Black History Month appearances, also Any Questions, Look North – Covid & new restrictions, House Magazine the book that changed my life, ATI Blood Stem Cell interview, Horizon Europe Science Business interview, The Courier Newcastle University – school meals.
Intellectual Property APPG, Ant-Sikh Hate lobby, Royal Society Making Europe a Leader in AI, Alan Bates & Charles Falconer Post Office, North East Ambulance Service, Dr Carol Davenport Northumbria University STEM, North East 7 local authorities & MPs, Parliamentary & Scientific Committee racial inequalities, Bombardier & Hitachi Sustaining rail manufacture jobs, APPG 4IR, Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, End Child Poverty, Fiona Stanton, APPG China, Newcastle City Council MP meeting, APPG Football supporters, Digital at the Party, Minister Whittingdale, BT Alex Towers, Royal Academy Engineering racial parity in engineering, Nigeria Association Tyne & Wear, Diana Award anti bullying, Post Office re ATMs, Andrea Coscelli Competition & Markets Authority, North East MP briefing on Covid data & measures, NHS Trust New Hospital In Newcastle, British-American Parliamentary Group, National Cyber Security Centre & Ofcom, Africa Trade meeting, Bessemer Society, Alzheimer’s Society, ITV digital consultation, Campaign for Science & Engineering, GW Pharma, Three UK, APPG Post Offices
Black Lives Mater Ampito Group, Unison Black History Month video, Google Safety Engineering Centre, British Science Association Reimagining Science engagement post Covid-19, Our Digital Future roundtable for members, Lloyds Roundtable Bridging the digital divide, Institute for Government Role of Evidence in policy making, Digital consultation roundtable Trade unions, PES Presidency, Fabians Women in Business digital policy, Tech for the Future roundtable, Labour Black History event, Broadwood Primary Google & Parent zone online safety assembly, Pictfor pro-tech/innovation/diversity, Black History Gateshead NHS Foundation, Africa APPG protecting human rights in supply chain of UK companies, Pride Black History event, Rebuilding Macroeconomics conference, Newcastle University Medical School BAME event, Black Britain Beyond video, Women Engineering Society Finding Ada recording, Newcastle Central Digital consultation, Ralph Miliband Programme LSE, Kings College Cyber Security event, Newcastle City Council Black History month event, BAME Science & Media Museum Black History Month, Parliament Week video, University of York Labour club Black History Month, Black History Month at Parliament event, Poppy Appeal British Legion video, Teen tech discussion, Advertising Association Media Smart educational resource launch, New Statesman virtual cyber security event recording, Westminster Forum 5G.