MP’s report August 3rd 2019
Now summer is here even with thunder and lightening, I hope everyone is able to enjoy some time with family and loved ones and a break from the pressures and stresses of daily life. It is always a pleasure for me to return to Newcastle when Parliament recesses but it is particularly true this year after the last few weeks in Westminster. No meaningful progress was achieved in any of the great challenges our country faces – Brexit, Climate Change, Social Care – but decisions were taken which are very significant for all our futures. The tiny unrepresentative proportion of the UK population that is the Conservative Party chose Boris Johnson as their leader and therefore our Prime Minister. The leadership campaign led to a significant increase in the No Deal Brexit rhetoric and Johnson’s commitment to leaving ‘Do or Die’ is having a severe impact on business confidence, the value of the pound and policy planning.
Johnson has given the Tories a boost in the polls as some Brexit Party voters move to the Conservatives. The hard right Tory Brexit commitments and concerns that the free trade deal they want with the US will imperil our NHS, our farming and our manufacturing, all helped persuade Labour that it is essential to give the people a final say on any deal and the party made that commitment publicly together with the commitment to campaign for Reman in any further referendum.
In the last week of the Parliamentary term I had a question the old Prime Minister on her last day and the new Prime Minister on his first day. I chose to focus on the plight of Waspi women with Theresa May, as she is one, and on the North East and Brexit with Boris Johnson. Both answers were depressing although it was Johnson’s which was the most ridiculous. Recess was very welcome after that!
Backbench and Constituency Role
- I had a final PMQ to Theresa May and, having crowd sourced suggestions, I chose Waspi women as the topic, with a reference to NUFC thrown in. The Prime Minister’s response was disappointing with regard to
- I spoke in the debate on Leasehold Reform and finally received a letter from the then Minister which was positive and said concretely that the St Thomas area leasehold tenants should be able to buy their freehold.
- I chair the APPG for Africa and we launched our report on visa problems for African visitors. It received quite a lot of publicity as well as a thoughtful initial response from the Minister – who is unfortunately no longer the Minister. But the report is clearly an important contribution to resolving some of our immigration system’s many issues.
Spoken from the backbenches 12 times – Courts Digitisation Programme (9 July) Leaving the EU: UK Trade Policy (11 July), Pension Inequality (11 July), Resignation of UK Ambassador to USA (11 July), Leasehold Reform (11 July) Community and Neighbourhood Policing (15 July), Police Surveillance of Journalists (17 July), Children’s Social Care Funding (22 July), Hong Kong (22 July), Topical Question – Equality in Health (23 July), Engagements – WASPI (24 July), Priorities for Government- North East and no-deal Brexit (25 July)
- 30 Written Questions – BEIS Research: Finance (10 July), MHCLG Local Government Finance: Newcastle upon Tyne (11 July), DCMS Internet: Safety (18 July), DCMS 5G:Meteorology (18 July), BEIS Insolvency (22 July), BEIS Small Businesses (22 July), BEIS Science: Finance (17 July), BEIS Research: Finance (17 July), DCMS Football Association and Premier League (17 July ), DFID Africa: Overseas Aid (17 July), DCMS Cultural Heritage: Africa (17 July), BEIS Research: Expenditure (18 July), BEIS Research: Investment (18 July), MOJ Prisoners: Death and Self-harm (18 July), MOJ Prisons: Mental Health Services (18 July), DfE Private Education: Overseas Aid (18 July), BEIS Manufacturing Industries (18 July), BEIS Manufacturing Industries: Warehouses (18 July), BEIS Manufacturing Industries (18 July), BEIS Manufacturing Industries (18 July), BEIS Manufacturing Industries (18 July), Cabinet Office National Underground Asset Register (19 July), MOJ Administration of Justice: Artificial Intelligence (25 July), HO Artificial Intelligence: Public Sector (25 July), HO Police: Artificial Intelligence (25 July), HO Police: Artificial Intelligence (25 July), MHCLG North of Tyne Combines Authority (22 July), Dept Health Health: Disadvantaged (22 July), DWP Employment: Poverty (22 July), BEIS Industry (22 July)
- Some progress on Correspondence – encouraging letters from the Housing Minister on Leasehold and the Sports Minister on the Premier League, but these ministers have changed in the Johnson reshuffle. So I continue to be engaged in correspondence with Ministers or Government Agencies on Leasehold, Litter, Long Term Support for Victims of Operation Sanctuary, Newcastle United Finance, Weinstein and Ipsa, Relocation and Ipsa, use of Algorithms in the Home Office with the Council on Kittiwakes and Homelessnes and with LNER on Disability Access
Shadow Ministerial and PES Role
- I met with Mariana Mazzucato and her team at the Institute of Innovation and Public Policy and with IPPR to discuss the work they are doing over the summer on how to achieve greater private sector spend on R&D. This is an important part of our commitment to build an innovation nation.
- I did not receive any response to my letter to the Chancellor asking support for manufacturing as they stockpile for Brexit and will now direct our efforts towards the new Chancellor.
- I continue to meet with business organisations on the implications of a no-deal Brexit as the first Brexit deadline approached.
- Brexit is severely impacting capacity to develop policy in other areas but I continue to work on science and industrial strategy.
Unfortunately there were staff changes this month as Chi Chi left us and Emma announced that she had been made ‘an offer she could not refuse’. We congratulate them both and wish them all the best in the future.
Al Jazeera English TV – APPG Africa Visa Report, BBC Africa Today – APPG Africa Report Launch, Labour Public Vote – No Deal Briefing Interview, BBC Politics, Sky News – the Conservatives & Trump, Metro – New Prime Minister, Imperial College – Inspiring your Career in Politics, Quartz Africa – Denial of Visas, Young Fabians.
Meetings and visits
Cycling Infrastructure Ride, Charlotte Butterick PES, Thales, Tom Jones ALFED, The National Farmers Union, Remi Marechaux Africa Director French Ministry Foreign Affairs, APPG on Cycling, #LoveSwimming, Alzheimer’s Society, APPG on Print, Action for Children’s 150th Birthday, Transforming Mortgages, What Next for the North up to 2030, Press Night of Peter Gynt, FA’s Grassroots, Wellcome, LSE Seminar on Competition Policy, Taste of Hampshire, British-American APPG, Food and Drink Federation, Ramblers, Film Distributors Association, British Sign Language Choir Performance, techUK, NatCen’s 36th British Social Attitudes Survey Report Launch, APPG Engineering AGM, BIA, Clare Bambra Health Inequalities, Northumbrian Water Innovation Festival, Benwell Terraces Rubbish, Bishop’s Garden Party, Durham Miners Gala, Edelman, Launch of Improving Outcomes, Enhancing Care, B&CE, Law Society, Royal College of Nursing, Taste of Social Enterprise, APPG Diversity & Inclusion in STEM AGM, Disability Benefits Consortium, LSHB MPs & John McDonnell, APPG Africa Immigration Minister, Netflix & Grill, Open Banking, Edvard Munch: Love and Angst, Lifting Equipment Engineers Association, Fair Pay for RFA Seafarers, LNER, LMAX Exchange Group, APPG on South Africa AGM, Mark Simpson Labour, Investment Association, Federation of Small Businesses National Chairman, Crowding-In Private R&D Funding, Ian Hall Adult Social Services, North of Tyne Mayor, Newcastle Pride, ABPI, LSHB MPs & EPLP, South Asian Heritage Month, Cancer Research R&D, Integrated Water Resources International, Ambassador Liberia, Danielle Rowley MP, National Infrastructure Commission, Virendra Sharma MP, Labour Business Green Policy Group Launch, Prom 7 – BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, IPP-IPPR Crowding-In Private R&D Funding, APPG on Manufacturing AGM, No to No Deal, North East for Europe, IWGB Trade Union, Hair Equality, Press Night of Blues in the Night, Biosignatures, Councillor Linda Hobson, PICTFOR Reception, English Collective of Prostitutes
Unity Carnival, Fabian Women’s Network Annual Fundraising Dinner, British Council Science & Policy Making Day, Adult Ed APPG, Chair Westminster E Forum Next Steps for Telecoms Infrastructure, July Plenary of the National Engineering Policy Centre, Leasehold Debate, APPG Africa Report Launch, Panel Discussion on the Women and Automation IPPR Report Launch, Computer Aid International Reception, Be Internet Legends Assembly, Sister Shack’s Pride Social, APPG Creative Diversity Launch, Unveiling of Plaque to Celebrate Action for Children’s 150th Anniversary.