Dear Newcastle February 2021

A month in and 2021 is proving hard going – fortunately there is also hope for the spring with the rollout of the vaccine.  The UK passed the terrible milestone of  100,000 deaths from  Covid19, a statistic that hides  immeasurable suffering, grief and loss.  Over the past few months we have cycled through tiers, lockdowns and bubbles at a confusing  rate, and now we are in our third lockdown the message to stay at home is clear and must be followed, but many are understandable daunted by the continuing restrictions, the short days and the impact of jobs and income.  I regularly meet  people who are unsure how they will make it through the next few months and business owners who have invested thousands of pounds of their own money to pay for staff furlough and covid security measures but now fear they will go under.

Town Moor meeting with Showmen’s Guild

We have seen a significant increase in demand for foodbanks and greater need for support. Coronavirus levels in the North East  rose steadily over and after Christmas, before falling back down. They are still at alarming levels, as is the pressure on the NHS. But the vaccine delivery in the North East is something we can all be proud of, and offers hope that better days are ahead.

The end of the Brexit transition period has had a severe impact on many Newcastle businesses exporting to the European Union, with additional bureaucracy and costs as well as confusion if not chaos at our ports.

Backbench and Constituency Role

  • The Brexit transition period ended on 31st The Government secured a last minute bad deal and after some discussion, Labour chose to vote to implement the deal, given the alternative was a no deal exit which would cause untold damage to our economy.
  • Vaccine rollout began in Newcastle and in general has been highly successful.
  • My office continues to be based online whilst looking for ways to improve working practices to make it more effective. Attendance at online surgeries is steadily increasing.
  • Support for the most vulnerable in this lockdown has once again been lacking, whether with regard to free school meals, or appropriate devices and access to broadband for home learning. The inequalities impact of this pandemic will be with us for a long time.

 

Online meeting with Toni&Guy Hairdressers

  • I continue to engage with the Prime Minister, Ministers, Government Agencies and others regarding the rollout and regional data regarding COVID-19 vaccines, availability of testing data and resources to local authorities, challenging the digital divide, financial support for individuals and businesses facing ongoing COVID-19 disruption and restrictions in the North-East, forward planning for next summer’s exams, health and safety precautions for health and safety of Royal Mail staff and the Horizon scandal.

Shadow Ministerial and PES Role

  • The Telecoms Security Bill, on which I am leading for Labour, had its second reading and Committee Stage. This is an important but quite technical bill requiring a huge amount of time from the team to provide briefings, draft amendments and speak to stakeholders
  • The Government continues to drag its feet with regard to online harms legislation. The Online Safety Bill as it is now to be called is not expected before the new Parliamentary session, probably in May. We continue to meet with many stakeholders and prepare the launch of our Report.
  • The National Security and Investment Bill  came back for its Report Stage and Third Reading. I spoke at Report Stage, advocating amendments to give guidance on national security, support small businesses and ensure proper parliamentary oversight. They were all rejected.

Parliamentary Activity

Spoken from the back bench: Nine times

Covid-19 update (2nd Feb), NUFC Foodbank (25th Jan), Point of order Covid ethnic minorities (21st Jan), Covid BAME communities (13th Jan), Unison (12th Jan), Immigration rules (16th Dec), Covid support for businesses (15th Dec), Covid update (Dec 14th),

Northern Women network

Spoken from the front bench: Twelve times

Space sector debate (4th Feb), DCMS Questions far right conspiracy theories (4th Feb), Telecommunications Bill eight sitting (26th Jan), Telecommunications Bill seventh sitting (26th Jan), Telecommunications Bill sixth sitting (21st Jan), Telecommunications Bill fifth sitting (21st Jan), National Security Investment Bill (20th Jan) , Telecommunications Bill fourth sitting (19th Jan), Telecommunication Bill third sitting (19th Jan), Telecommunications Bill second sitting (14th Jan), Telecommunications Bill first sitting (14th Jan), Online Anonymity (13th Jan)

Written Questions: 136 Questions

Covd-19 freelance support (3rd Feb),  Covid-19 vaccination cancellations (3rd Feb),   Covid Immunity (3rd Feb),   High risk citizens – Newcastle Vaccination targets (3rd Feb),   Covid transmissions – Newcastle   Overseas development R&D (3rd Feb),   Democracy in Uganda (3rd Feb),   ODA Budget(3rd Feb),  Digital device distribution (3rd Feb),   Companies investigated by the ICO (3rd Feb),   Online advertising misinformation (3rd Feb),   Ofcom skills requirement (3rd Feb),   Appointment selection panel (3rd Feb),   PHD funding (3rd Feb),   Vaccine manufacturing (3rd Feb),   Stocks and Shares: Artificial Intelligence  Doctors: Training (3rd Feb), Coronavirus: Disease Control (2nd Feb), Children: Internet  (2nd Feb), Ofcom: Annual Reports (1st Feb),  Mental Health: Children (1st Feb),  Remote Education (29th Jan), Defence Equipment: Procurement (28th Jan),  Employment: Privacy (28th Jan),  Postgraduate Education: Coronavirus (28th Jan),  Coronavirus: Vaccination (27th Jan), Employment: Privacy (27th Jan),  Attorney General: Databases (27th Jan),  Oxygen: Blood Tests (27th Jan),  Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office: Databases (27th Jan), Coronavirus: Vaccination (26th Jan), Tech Nation: Pay (26th Jan),  Wales Office: Databases(26th Jan),   Scotland Office: Databases (26th Jan),  Ministry of Justice: Databases (26th Jan),  Ministry of Defence: Databases (26th Jan),  Home Office: Databases (26th Jan),  Department for Transport: Databases (26th Jan),  Department for International Trade: Databases (26th Jan),  Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Databases (26th Jan),  Department for Education: Databases (26th Jan),  Mobile Phones: Cybercrime  (26th Jan), Tech Nation: Equality (25th Jan), Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government: Databases (25th Jan),  Data Protection: EU Law (25th Jan),

Speaking on BBC Look North

Data Protection: EU Law  (22nd Jan), Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport: Databases (22nd Jan),  Tech Nation: Equality  (22nd Jan), Attorney General: Databases (21st Jan), Tech Nation: Expenditure  (21st Jan), Coronavirus: Vaccination  (21st Jan),  Food: Coronavirus (19th Jan), Hospitals: Coronavirus  Coronavirus: Newcastle upon Tyne (19th Jan),  Disease Control: Coronavirus (19th Jan),  Home Education  (19th Jan), Pupils: Travel (19th Jan),  Digital Technology: Small Businesses (19th Jan),  Business: Digital Technology (19th Jan),  Key Workers  (19th Jan), Coronavirus: Local Government (18th Jan), Coronavirus: Newcastle upon Tyne (18th Jan),  Data Protection (18th Jan),  Mobile Phones: Cybercrime (18th Jan),  UK Shared Prosperity Fund (18th Jan),  Social Media  (15th Jan), Video On Demand (15th Jan),  Fires: Batteries  Retail Trade: Digital Technology (15th Jan),  Department for Work and Pensions: Databases (15th Jan),  Coronavirus: Vaccination  (14th Jan), Data Protection (14th Jan),  Coronavirus: Vaccination (14th Jan),  British Telecom: Disclosure of Information  (14th Jan), Treasury: Databases (13th Jan), Biodiversity and Climate Change: Research (13th Jan), Remote Education: ICT (11th Jan), Huawei (11th Jan),  5G  (11th Jan), Telecommunications (11th Jan),  5G: Standards (11th Jan),  5G (11th Jan),  5G (11th Jan),  5G (11th Jan),  5G (11th Jan),  5G (11th Jan),  Openreach: Huawei (11th Jan),  Telecommunications: Huawei (11th Jan),  Ofcom: Security (11th Jan),  Sovereign Wealth Funds (11th Jan),  Saudi Arabia: Newcastle United Football Club (11th Jan),  Data Protection (11th Jan),  Telecommunications: Diversification (11th Jan),  Research: Finance (11th Jan),  Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: Databases  (11th Jan), Government Departments: Databases (11th Jan),  Internet: Safety (11th Jan),  Travel: North East  (11th Jan), Coronavirus: Vaccination (11th Jan),  Google: Digital Technology (11th Jan),  Small Businesses: Digital Technology (11th Jan),  UK Shared Prosperity Fund: Research (11th Jan),  Broadband (11th Jan),  Coronavirus: Vaccination (11th Jan), Coronavirus: Vaccination (6th Jan), Disease Control: Coronavirus (6th Jan), Coronavirus: Newcastle upon Tyne  (6th Jan), Digital Technology: Training (4th Jan), Casinos: Regulation (31st Dec), Innovation (23rd Dec), Retail Trade: Digital Technology (23rd Dec),  Manufacturing Industries: Digital Technology Health (23rd Dec), Counterfeit Manufacturing: Internet (22nd Dec), Digital Technology: Carbon Emissions (22nd Dec),  Research: Finance (22nd Dec),  OneWeb (22nd Dec),  Research: Finance  Research: Finance (22nd Dec),  Digital Technology: Carbon Emissions (22nd Dec),  Internet: Older People  (22nd Dec), Google: Taxation (21st Dec),

Angelou Centre briefing and discussion

Financial Services: Digital Technology (21st Dec), Business: Digital Technology (18th Dec),  Digital Technology: Small Businesses (18th Dec),   Digital Markets Taskforce Digital Markets Unit (18th Dec),   Digital Markets Unit (18th Dec),   Association of Medical Research Charities (18th Dec),   Casinos: Ownership (18th Dec),   Research: Expenditure (18th Dec),  Postal Services (17th Dec), Innovate UK (17th Dec),  Digital Technology: Carbon Emissions  (17th Dec), Vaccination: Local Press  (17th Dec), Sewage: River Tyne (16th Dec), Horizon 2020 (16th Dec),  Data Protection (16th Dec),  Newcastle United Football Club: Saudi Arabia (16th Dec),  Universal Credit: Newcastle upon Tyne (16th Dec),   Science: Research  (16th Dec), Coronavirus: Vaccination (15th Dec), Government Departments: Databases (15th Dec),  Radiation Exposure  (15th Dec), Data Protection: EU Law (14th Dec), Coronavirus: Vaccination (14th Dec),  Coronavirus: Vaccination (14th Dec),  Research: Expenditure (14th Dec),  Research: Finance (14th Dec),  Immigrants (14th Dec),  Data Protection (14th Dec),  Data Protection (14th Dec),  Broadband (14th Dec),  Coronavirus: Newcastle upon Tyne (14th Dec),  Motor Vehicles: Technology (14th Dec),  Motor Vehicles: Technology  Insulin: Imports  (14th Dec), Ethiopia: Armed Conflict (11th Dec), Telecommunications (11th Dec).

Organisation

Brook and Victoria’s time with us came to an end. We have recruited a new short term Caseworker, Gareth Fearn, to work with us until the end of the Financial Year, and possibly beyond. Kanishka Narayan will also join us till the end of the financial year as a part time Senior Parliamentary Assistant working on Digital.

Media

Chronicle Online abuse, BBC Look North Brexit & NE Business, Westminster Hour, BBC Radio Newcastle Vaccine scams

Discussing plight of freelancers & the creative Industry

Meetings

Marshall Scholars Exchange, Transport for the North Conference, Richard Leese Leader Manchester Council, Labour’s Northern Soul, Adult Gaming Centres, APPG Africa & Ethiopia with Ethiopian Embassy, British American Parliamentary Group, Building a wellbeing recovery in the North of Tyne, Peter Ingram, Tyneside Cinema Simon Drysdale, Showman’s Guild, Damian Tambini LSE, Newcastle Council Covid update, Regulatory Policy Committee, NE MP Transport briefing, Covid impact on charities in Newcastle – Angelou Centre, Rape Crisis, Connected Voice, Mermaids, Coadec Internet & Digital Parliamentary Scheme, Parliamentary Export Programme, MP Briefing Newcastle City Council, Open Banking, Cross Party Yorks & NE MPs vaccine distribution, Airspan, Empowered Employment, Double Wicked challenge Covid & Brexit discussion, BAME Network Labour North, Foundation for Science & Technology Creating a UK ARPA, Holocaust Memorial Day, Channel 4 – Online Harms, Ditchley New Space Race, What does the UK-EU Deal mean for Science, Elected Technologies, Freemen of Newcastle, Athena Space, Russell Group, Astra Zenica, Board of Deputies of British Jews, US Embassy – Cyber Security, Tree planting Town Moor, Cancer Research UK, Science Museum Group , Hewlett Packard Enterprises, VONNE North East Climate Coalition, NHS Newcastle Gateshead CCG

NHS Newcastle Gateshead CCG update and discussion

Speaking Engagements

Westminster Forum Women in Tech, Newcastle University Politics Society Question Time, Entrepreneurs Network, Newcastle University Holmes Memorial Lecture Women in STEM, Holocaust Memorial day video, Parent Zone in conversation with Vicki Shotbolt, Vaccination video, Northumberland Labour Group, Inuit Prosperity Hub, New Statesman Sustainable Recovery Global Policy Forum, Digital Democracy Social Media & Disinformation book launch,

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