Dear Newcastle 17th April 2020
It seems amazing to think that just a month ago we were living in a world where you could pop into the library on your way to work and go to the gym on your way back all whilst planning a visit to family for Easter … now the country is in lockdown, hundreds are dying from corona virus every day, millions not working, the economy is halted, low paid carers, supermarket workers and bus drivers are now frontline heroes and no-one is going anywhere.
The Government has taken some welcome steps to support individuals and businesses. But their response has often been slow and messages mixed. I applaud all the work our front line heroes are doing and the sacrifices they are making. I believe the least we can do for them is ensure they have the right protective equipment, but I have been contacted on a daily basis by nurses, medics, carers and key workers who don’t have the equipment they need to protect themselves and us. That is why I have written to the Care Minister, to ask the ten key questions care workers are asking me.
In these difficult times we all need to be doing everything we can to look after each other. Newcastle City Council have a website to for those who want to help – and for those who need help. It’s very easy to register . My office has seen a huge rise in constituency casework at the same time as all staff have done a fantastic job in adapting to working from home. We are still taking phone calls and answering emails though there may be some delay because of the volume of issues.
Parliament being in recess limits our ability to hold Government to account. I think it is important that we return, whilst maintaining social distancing, and have therefore been leading calls for a Digital Parliament. I am pleased to say that on Wednesday we should see the first PMQs with MPs working from home! Then I can get back to raising your issues in Parliament with Ministers.
Backbench and Constituency Role
- We have identified key areas of support and information on the Coronavirus outbreak to be able to share with constituents. We have made progress in helping constituents stranded abroad, or left without support here in Newcastle.
- Surgeries have moved online using zoom and phone calls. I have offered zoom calls with all the community groups I am aware of and had some take up.
- I have been campaigning for a digital parliament – 150 MPs sign a letter from me to the Clerk of the House of Commons.
- I have written numerous letters to various Ministers for clarity or support on Coronavirus issues. I have also written to various companies who appear to be flouting social distancing guidelines in the work place.
- Spoke from the Back Benches 21 times: US Trade Deal for the North East (Mar 5th), Call for farmers protections (Mar 5th), Flybe (5th Mar), International Women’s Day (Mar 5th), Coronavirus and Newcastle Hospitals (Mar 11th), Recycling Lithium Batteries (Mar 11th), Bus patronage (Mar 12th), Hospitality trade insecurity due to coronavirus (Mar 17th), Fast food employment rights during Coronavirus (Mar 18th), Economic safety net (Mar 18th), Free school meals students (Mar 18th), Food supplies in the North East (19th Mar), Food supplies for vulnerable people (Mar 19th), Support for digital services (Mar 19th), Coronavirus employment support (Mar 19th), Windrush (Mar 19th), Online crime coronavirus (Mar 23rd), Coronavirus Bill (Mar 23rd), Sports Direct and coronavirus (Mar 23rd), Digital Parliament (Mar 23rd), Financial and Social Emergency Support Package Mar 23rd),
- Coronavirus outbreak has led to much new correspondence, including with Ministers on PPE for social care, Nightingale Hospital in the North East and workplace social distancing. I am also in correspondence with many employers on the policies they have in place to support their employees. I have also raised the issue of mobile digital access for vulnerable groups. I continue to engage with Ministers or Government Agencies on Litter, Long Term Support for Victims of Operation Sanctuary, Newcastle United Finance, Weinstein, support for Digital Products and Algorithms in the Home Office, with Ipsa on Relocation, with the Council on Homelessness and with LNER and Nexus on Disability Access
- Asked 24 written questions:
- Technology: Finance (Mar 9th), Digital Technology: Proof of Identity (Mar 9th), Migrant Workers (Mar 9th), Broadband: Tenants (Mar 9th), Internet: Disinformation (Mar 12th), DXC Technology (Mar 13th), Prisons: Coronavirus (Mar 13th), Data Protection: UK Relations With EU (Mar 17th), Ofcom: Finance (Mar 17th), Google: Data Protection (Mar 17th), Broadband: Remote Working (Mar 18th), Research: Finance (Mar 18th), Science: Finance (Mar 19th), Coronavirus: Research (Mar 23rd), Coronavirus: Research (Mar 23rd), Disinformation: Coronavirus (Mar 23rd), Internet: Coronavirus (Mar 23rd), Video Conferencing: Coronavirus (Mar 23rd), Disclosure of Information: Coronavirus (Mar 24th), Google: Data Protection (Mar 24th), Telecommunications: Coronavirus (Mar 24th), Small Businesses: Coronavirus (Mar 24th), Mobile Phones: Coronavirus (Mar 24th), Artificial Intelligence: Carbon Emissions (Mar 27th).
Shadow Ministerial and PES Role
- The issue of Huawei and 5G was raised in the Telecoms Infra Bill Committee and Third Reading. The Government majority was slashed to 24. That was the last time we voted.
- Spoke from the Frontbench twice: Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill (Mar 10th), Horizon: Post Office (Mar 19th),
- The entire team has moved to home working which is a significant achievement. We are meeting by zoom and sharing information and work flow in new ways in order to deal with the changing demands on all of us.
Quoted frequently in local and national media including BBC Politics North and Sky on a Digital Parliament.
Meetings and visits
Kenton photos, STEM for Britain constituents, Labour for the North, Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders, Labour Party International Women’s Day in Parliament, Green Heart Heros Awards, APPG Choice at End of Life, Citizens Advice, Royal Society of Chemistry, Posters in Parliament constituents, World Kidney Day event, Science & Technology Committee, Roger Taylor – CDEI, Deputy Ambassador Embassy of Israel, Elevator Festival, Chief Executive NHS Trust, Coronavirus MP hotline, Eugene Milne Head of Public Health Newcastle, Bishop Robert, Linda Conlon – Centre for LIfe, LEP network, APPG Africa – Hetty Bailey, Advertising Association, HSBC, BVCA, IET Webinar, GDPR, Energy Intensive Users Group, Northumbria Police – Inspector Karen Madge, Search, Digital Service – Tracey Jessup, Sally Howes, Savanta ComRes Survey, Online Harms webinar, Timmo Hannay – Digital Parliament, Airbus, National Cyber Security Centre – Ian levy, Scientists for Labour, SMMT zoom, Tim O’Reilly & Marci Harris – Digital Parliament, Andrew Peters – Softswitch tech, Make UK – Ben Fletcher, MP meeting, Family Fund, Matthew Ryder, Tim Goodill, Search community group
National Education Union Women’s Conference, Unison Women in Energy, Telecommunications Bill, Adjournment debate Disposal and recycling of electric car batteries, Sacred Heart School, Online Harms Stakeholders virtual event, BBC Digital Parliament,