Dear Newcastle December  2020

Dear Newcastle December  2020

I suspect there are few Newcastle Central constituents who are not looking forward to the end of 2020. This has been the strangest year, and the hardest for many. Whether you have lost a loved one to Covid, or suffered the stress and responsibility of working on the frontline, been furloughed or, worse, made redundant, or had to close your business, or have had your studies interrupted or have simply missed the contact with friends, family and other human beings, this year has challenged so many of us on so many levels. As we end a second lockdown in Tier 3 and look forward to a Christmas holiday with limited contact, we all hope that 2021  will be better, and indeed the vaccine does offer the hope     of a return to normality, even, we can hope, a better normality!

But for the moment we must follow the public health measures in place and right now that means Tier 3, with the relaxation of rules for Christmas. We have already made huge sacrifices, with a significant improvement in our coronavirus infection rates from a peak of almost 450 per 100k mid November to just over 100 8th December.  That is very welcome and is now below the national average, which did lead us to hope that we might be placed in Tier 2. However we  must recognise the continued risks of transmission and protect ourselves, the vulnerable and the NHS.

And in return we have a right to expect the support from Government to enable businesses and communities to get through this crisis. Unfortunately that is not the case. Businesses are constantly contacting me to tell me what they are going through and some of the stories are  heart-rending. A number said they did not see how they could make it through January.  These are local businesses and local jobs. We must persuade Government to provide local support for businesses, and for our communities and the services we all depend on.


Joining Hawthorn Primary School pupils during a Google online awareness event

As well as Covid, we face the end of the Brexit transition period without, for the moment, a deal. This continued uncertainty is hard on business and people who have so many other challenges to face.

But Christmas is a time for hope and I do hope that everyone finds time to relax, in a covid secure way, with friends and family.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Newcastle Central Team

Newcastle Central Team Christmas Lunch

Backbench and Constituency Role

  • The office continues to work successfully remotely whilst seeking to improve working practices to make it easier and more effective for constituents.
  • My Covid Communication went out to constituents to set out the ways in which I can provide support during the crisis, what other sources of help are available, and explain how my surgeries and constituency engagement have changed to be Covid secure
  • I continue to engage with the Prime Minister, Ministers, Government Agencies and others regarding the data that is driving decision-making in placing Newcastle in Tier 3, enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions, availability of testing data and resourced to local authorities, 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, forward planning for next summer’s exams, health and safety precautions for health and safety of Royal Mail staff and the Horizon scandal.
  • I presented a petition against police brutality in Nigeria on behalf of Tyne and Wear Nigerian Association
  • For Small Business Saturday I visited, at a social distance, many brilliant small businesses across the constituency.
  • I raised the terrible rise in child poverty in the North East with the Prime Minister, but he refused to acknowledge it.
  • I have put down a number of parliamentary questions to shed light on the role of the Foreign Office in the Newcastle United failed takeover.
  • Shadow Ministerial and PES Role

    • I led for Labour on the National Security and Investment Bill as it went through its committee stage. The Bill enables Government to intervene in mergers and acquisitions on the basis of National Security, something Labour has been calling for for some years now.  However the Bill does not go far enough and in particular, does not offer enough support for small businesses who may be impacted, or enable the scrutiny of the Intelligence and Security Committee.

At FAB Bakery on small business Saturday

  • We are drafting the report for our Digital Future consultation.
  • We are continuing to meet with key stakeholders for the different briefs

I will be leading for Labour on the  Telecoms Security Bill  as it goes through its  committee stage. The Bill covers the removal of Huawei from our 5G network and the diversification of our telecoms infrastructure. However it does not do enough to ensure the long term security and resilience of our essential telecoms infrastructure, or develop a UK sovereign capability in telecoms network provision.

Parliamentary Activity

Spoken from the back bench: Ten times

Africa Trade (17th Nov), Police Violence in Nigeria (17th Nov), Child Poverty (18th Nov), Towns Fund (18th Nov), PPE Delays (19th Nov), North East defence procurement contracts (19th Nov), Covid winter plan (19th Nov), Leaseholders and cladding (24th Nov), Hong Kong activists (7th Dec), Brexit (9th Dec),

Spoken from the front bench: Seventeen times

Wireless Telegraphy SI (10th Nov), Audio visual media services SI (17th Nov), NSI Bill (17th Nov), Protection Certificates SI (19th Nov), Online Harms (19th Nov), NSI Bill first sitting (Nov 24th), 5G network (24th Nov),  GDPR SI (25th Nov), NSI Bill third sitting (26th Nov), Telecoms Security Bill (30th Nov), NSI Bill fifth sitting (1st Dec), Devon and Summerset Broadband (2nd Dec), NSI Bill seventh sitting (3rd Dec), Digital Infrastructure Connectivity (3rd Dec), NSI Bill ninth sitting (8th Dec), NSI Bill eleventh sitting (10th Dec), Digital Advertising (10th Dec),

Question to the PM on child poverty and the Universal Credit top up

Written Questions: 86 Questions

Broadband: Rural Areas (9th Nov), Coronavirus: Newcastle upon Tyne (10th Nov), Contact Tracing: Computer Software (12th Nov), Newcastle United Football Club: Saudi Arabia (13th Nov), Newcastle United Football Club: Saudi Arabia (13th Nov), Contact Tracing: Computer Software (16th Nov), Coronavirus: Newcastle upon Tyne (16th Nov), Mobile Phones: Rural Areas (17th Nov), Coronavirus: Screening (17th Nov),  Coronavirus: Screening (17th Nov),  NHS: Productivity (17th Nov),  Data Protection: UK Relations with EU (17th Nov),  Telecommunications: Coronavirus (17th Nov),  Amazon Web Services (17th Nov),  Amazon Web Services (17th Nov),  Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority (17th Nov),  Coronavirus: Contact Tracing (17th Nov), NHS: Computer Software (18th Nov), Internet: Training (18th Nov), Coronavirus: Newcastle upon Tyne (18th Nov), OneWeb (18th Nov), Newcastle United Football Club: Saudi Arabia (19th Nov), Government Departments: Internet (19th Nov), Data Protection: Japan (19th Nov), Data Protection: Japan (19th Nov), Data Protection: Japan (19th Nov), Broadband (20th Nov), Data Protection: Japan (20th Nov), Medicine: Research (20th Nov), Horizon Europe: Finance (20th Nov), Research and Universities: Equality (20th Nov), Universities: Finance (20th Nov), New Businesses: Ethnic Groups (20th Nov), Food: Labelling (20th Nov), Local Government: Greenhouse Gas Emissions (20th Nov), Remote Working: Coronavirus (23rd Nov), Transport: North East (23rd Nov), Data Protection: Japan (23rd Nov), Computer Software: Japan (23rd Nov), Public Sector: Artificial Intelligence (24th Nov), Broadband (25th Nov), Coronavirus: Newcastle upon Tyne (25th Nov), Coronavirus: Newcastle upon Tyne (26th Nov), Football: Clubs (26th Nov), Football Association Premier League (30th Nov), Business: Coronavirus (3rd Dec), Non-domestic Rates: Coronavirus (3rd Dec), Coronavirus: Newcastle upon Tyne (3rd Dec), Telecommunications (3rd Dec), Insulin: Imports (4th Dec), Disease Control: Coronavirus (7th Dec), Digital Technology (7th Dec), Motor Vehicles: Technology (7th Dec), Motor Vehicles: Technology (7th Dec), Ethiopia: Armed Conflict (7th Dec), Amazon Web Services (8th Dec), Science: Research (8th Dec), Research: Public Expenditure (8th Dec), Telecommunications (8th Dec), Coronavirus: Newcastle (8th Dec), Broadband: Openreach (8th Dec),

With Charlotte the Butcher on Small Business Saturday

Science: Research (8th Dec), Data Rights (8th Dec), Data Protection (8th Dec), Sahel: Human Rights (8th Dec), Nigeria: Politics and Government (8th Dec), Immigration: Finance (8th Dec), Radiation Exposure (8th Dec), Universal Credit: Newcastle upon Tyne (8th Dec), Research and Development Budgett (9th Dec), Charity Research (9th Dec),  Research and Development Spending (9th Dec),  Vaccine Funding (9th Dec),  Casinos Ownership  (9th Dec), Medical Charity Research (9th Dec),  Newcastle United: Saudi Arabia (9th Dec),  Misinformation: Vaccine (9th Dec),  Data Protection (9th Dec),  Data Protection (9th Dec), Digital Technology (10th Dec), Broadband (10th Dec), Organs: Donors (10th Dec), Niger: Armed Forces (10th Dec), Government Department Databases (10th Dec).


We welcome India Gerritsen as our Living Wage Parliamentary Intern and Christine Shepherd as  a volunteer to help out Carol.


Discussing plight of Hospitality businesses in the Cosy Dove in Spital Tongues


Westminster Hour, BBC Radio Newcastle US Election, Guardian Nigeria interview, Global Radio – Universal Credit, Bureau of Investigative Journalism -phone network vulnerabilities, Look North Northumberland Street,


AMRC Roundtable, Minister Hands International Trade Digital & Data, National Institute Economic & Social Research, Supporting the Uyghurs, Mayor North of Tyne, Alice Frost UKRI, Dr Helen Weeds, James Arbuthnot – Post Office, UCL retrospective on US Election, Unions 21 New economies & inequalities, DMA National Data Strategy Roundtable, Minister Warman DCMS Telecoms Security Bill, AMRC, Ivana Bartoletti & Fabians – AI, Simon McDougal – ICO, National Security & Investment Bill, National Data Strategy, Nick Wallis – Post Office, Park Lane Cards, Warren East Rolls Royce, Harper North, Small Business visits  Amnesty Bookshop, Lindsay Brothers Fishmongers Grainger Market, Fenham Artisan Bakery, Charlotte’s Butchery, Keyes Eyecare, Cosy Dove Pub, Fiona Stanton – Northern Powerhouse partnership,  Reddit, Facebook & Be Business SME discussion

Speaking Engagements

Suzy Lamplugh Trust, End SARS Nigeria Leadership Initiative, New Statesman World beyond Covid 19, The Road to Equality – diverse representation in UK clinical trials, APPG STEM launch, Newcastle University Students – Parliamentary Studies, Politico interview Horizon Europe, Unison – supporting School staff, Labour North phone bank, Presentation of SARS petition to Parliament, Durham University Labour Club, Big Issue Child Poverty interview, WIRED interview, Labour International CLP Digital consultation, Labour North event for Women, Westminster Hall Debate 5G, Delegated Legislation Data Protection, Icebreaker – Green Recovery from Covid, UK Fibre Connectivity Forum, Money & Retail discussion, Westminster Hall Rollout of Broadband in Devon & Somerset, FES Digital Social Democratic event, African Business Chamber, Nominet Cyber Security event, Northern Power, inclusion matters interview,

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