Dear Newcastle March 2021

Dear Newcastle  March 2021

This lockdown feels longer and harder. Perhaps it is the short days, perhaps it is the lack of certainty as to how we will get out of it, or the lack of support for so many business and individuals impacted or isolating. But we are making progress and there is hope! Newcastle cases per 100,000 are now below 70, from a peak of over 250 after Christmas and 500  in September. Newcastle has also been highly successful at rolling out the vaccine  with really good reports of getting the jab from our vaccine centres and travelling vaccine buses!

The budget was  a huge disappointment, seeming designed more to shore up Tory votes than set us on the road to economic recovery.  Extending Covid19 support till September was welcome but there was almost nothing for those excluded by existing support schemes.  Those who have sacrificed so much on the NHS frontline will see an effective cut, there was no mention of Care workers, there will be further cuts for  public services, effective tax rises for poor workers. And absolutely nothing for Newcastle!

                                                                Supporting Kenton Food Bank

Backbench and Constituency Role
  • I held a Constituency Town Hall for those Excluded from Covid 19 support which gave us a real insight into the challenges businesses are facing during this pandemic, many excluded from any support. I wrote to the Chancellor to ask him how he intended to support them but have yet to have a response.
  • I am now planning to hold a Student’s Town Hall.
  • Government announced its plan to come out of lockdown, but it leaves many questions unanswered. Still we look forward to a gradual easing of restrictions – and hopefully of casework!
  • Developed  suggestions for Digital policies for agreement with Jo and Nicola, and then with LOTO
  • I chaired Parliamentary Export Programme Webinar with Department of International trade and others.
  • I continue to engage with the Prime Minister, Ministers, Government Agencies and others regarding issues and demands for the extension of the furlough scheme, as well as issues regarding 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, health and safety precautions for health and safety of Royal Mail staff and the Horizon scandal. I have contacted numerous members of the Cabinet with questions that arose as a result of the Digital Town Hall I attended. I have been in contact with Members of Congress Jeff Fortenberry & Ron Kind regarding my involvement in the British American Parliamentary Group.


                                                                     Stand Up to Racism

Shadow Ministerial and PES Role
  • The Telecoms Infrastructure Bill finally came back to Parliament following a longer then expected sojourn in the House of Lords – the Government was afraid it would lose a vote on a humans rights amendment so would not bring it back until that possibility had been  safely dealt with elsewhere. Government effectively accepted two of our amendments on the Bill  but refused to provide for open, transparent reporting on telecoms infrastructure progress
  • Government announced its new ARIA science funding institution but without setting out what its objectives will be!
  • The Online Safety Bill as it is now expected to be included in the Queens Speech and then go through pre-legislative scrutiny with the result that we will be lucky to see the Bill before the end of the Parliamentary Year. That is almost three years after its consultation on online harms and a decade after online harms were a recognised issue.
  • We are in the process of drafting our own Our Digital Future Report Report.
Parliamentary Activity

Spoken from the back bench: three times

Yemen (Feb 8th), Covid contracts (Feb 24th), Rough Sleeping (Feb 25th)

Spoken from the front bench: Two times

Research and Development (Feb 9th), Telecoms infrastructure Bill (Feb 24th)

                                                  Coach businesses online meeting

Written Questions: 84 Questions

Coronavirus: Newcastle upon Tyne (Feb 5th), Employment: Privacy (Feb 8th), Remote Education: ICT  (Feb 8th), Overseas Aid: Research (Feb 8th),  Self-employed: Coronavirus  (Feb 8th), Internet: Safety (Feb 9th), Internet: Disinformation (Feb 9th), Uganda: Democracy and Freedom of Expression (10th Feb), Home Office: Amazon Web Services (Feb 10th), Key Workers (10th Feb), Overseas Aid: Research (11th Feb), Coronavirus: Vaccination (11th Feb), Broadband (11th Feb), Vaccines: Manufacturing Industries (12th Feb), Postgraduate Education: Finance (12th Feb), Coronavirus: Research (12th Feb), Batteries: Safety (12th Feb), Batteries: Safety (12th Feb), Home Office: Amazon Web Services (15th Feb), Home Office: Amazon Web Services (15th Feb), Home Office: Amazon Web Services (15th Feb), Evictions: Coronavirus (15th Feb), Home Office: Amazon Web Services (16th Feb), Care Homes: Inspections (16th Feb), Cabinet Office: Public Appointments (17th Feb), Coronavirus: Newcastle upon Tyne (22nd Feb), Home Office: Amazon Web Services (22nd Feb), Internet: Fraud (22nd Feb), Computers (22nd Feb), Amazon Web Services: Contracts (22nd Feb), Amazon: Conditions of Employment (22nd Feb), NHS Test and Trace (24th Feb), Coronavirus: Vaccination (24th Feb), Coronavirus: Medical Treatments (24th Feb), Coronavirus: Medical Treatments (24th Feb), Coronavirus: Aviation (25th Feb), Email: Privacy (25th Feb),  NHS: Private Sector  (25th Feb), Oxygen: Blood Tests (25th Feb),  Natural Gas: Safety (25th Feb), Electronic Programme Guides: Public Service Broadcasting (26th Feb), Research: Finance (26th Feb),  Research: Tax Allowances  (26th Feb), Electric Vehicles: Production  (26th Feb), Advanced Research and Invention Agency: Expenditure (1st Mar), Coronavirus: Disease Control (1st Mar),  Science: Finance (1st Mar),  National Skills Fund (1st Mar),  Remote Education: Computer Software(1st Mar),   Remote Education: Computer Software  (1st Mar),

                                                                                   Board of Deputies

Retail Trade: Conditions of Employment(1st Mar),   Care Homes: Inspections (1st Mar),  Coronavirus: Vaccination(1st Mar),   Remote Education: Computer Software (1st Mar),  National Skills Fund (1st Mar),  Electronic Government: Proof of Identity (1st Mar),  Broadband (1st Mar),  Coronavirus: Disease Control  (1st Mar), Coronavirus: Newcastle upon Tyne (2nd Mar), ICT (2nd Mar),  ICT (2nd Mar),  ICT (2nd Mar),  ICT (2nd Mar),  Natural Gas: Safety (3rd Mar),  Amazon Web Services: Contracts (3rd Mar),   Amazon Web Services: Contracts (3rd Mar),   Amazon Web Services: Contracts (3rd Mar),   Corporate profits (3rd Mar),   Remote Education: Computer Software (3rd Mar),   EU Horizon funding(3rd Mar),    Global talent Visa (3rd Mar),   Vaccine development funding (3rd Mar),   Vaccine manufacturing (3rd Mar),   Private sector research and development(3rd Mar),    Help to grow scheme(3rd Mar),    Broadband rollout (3rd Mar),   Global talent visa  Super deduction(3rd Mar),    Overseas VAT(3rd Mar),    Hard to reach communities (3rd Mar),   Discretionary business support(3rd Mar),    Digital Skills (3rd Mar),   Armed forced data strategy1 (3rd Mar),  Coronavirus: Screening (4th Mar).


Christine continues to provide support – thanks Christine! Gareth and Kanishka are with us until the end of the financial year.


Sky interview (11/2), ITV Tyne Tees UN International Day against racism, Chronicle St James’ Park anniversary, BBC Radio Sheffield start ups, ZDNet digital identities, Quartz interview China,


                                                                  Excluded businesses Town Hall


Women’s PLP phonebank, PES, British American Parliamentary Group, Newcastle Labour Net Zero, Coach Industry lobby, Minority Businesses matter, Newcastle Scouts, Science Museum Advisory Group, Stop Aids, Demos, Music for Dementia, Internet Trust, Newcastle Central phone bank, Newcastle Council MP meeting, HSE Town Hall, Zurich, Newcastle United Foundation, Ditchley Emerson Csorba, Amazon, Kate Crawford, Hamilton Commission Further Education group, Minister Solloway Research Agency, Northumbria Police Federation, British Transport Police, Jessie Jacobs digital sector, Virgin Money, Roundtable Role of the Online Harms register, Charles Falconer Post Office, Changemakers conference, Kenton Foodbank visit, APPG Nigeria, Alzheimer’s Society, NE & North Cumbria Integrated Care System & Medicines, Susie Boniface Foxy Media, Britain-Palestine APPG, Technology Data & the future of work, APPG Engineering, Lord Richard Allan & Centre for Public Data, Peter Ingram, Israeli Election briefing, Bankers for net zero, APPG BAME Businesses,  STEM for Britain Newcastle Central presentations, Board of Deputies of British Jews, APPG Angola, Newcastle Central councillors & candidates, GMB, Demos briefing,

Speaking Engagements

International Day of Action against Racism, Safer Internet Day APPG Social Media, Industry & Parliament Trust R&D meeting, Energy Network Association future energy workshop, Hospital Radio 10 favourite songs, Newcastle Central Excluded Town Hall, Northern Small Business Series podcast, West Midlands virtual tech start up visit, BAME vaccine webinar, Unison empowering black women in the workplace, Centre For Digital Citizens launch, North East Development Conference, North Shields Heritology project recording, Parliamentary Export Programme event, Women’s History Month IWD video , PES International Women’s day video, Chair judging STEM for Britain Engineering, Barclays SME webinar Newcastle Central businesses,




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