It is hard to believe that we have spent over a year now in various forms of lockdown with so much loss of life and so much sacrifice by so many. We hope that there is a sustainable path out of the Covid restrictions and that we can build back a fairer, better society. A big part of this is the vaccine rollout, which continued to be successful in the North East with great co-ordination between the NHS, Public Health professionals and volunteers. Our infection rates have reduced to around 40 per 100,000 but this is still the highest amongst the seven local authorities and twice the UK average. However it is positive that despite easing of certain restrictions we have not seen any spike in infections.
But part of building back better is investment in local communities and businesses and we are yet to see a plan from this Government that does that.
Opposing the European Super League
In Newcastle it was good to see non essential shops opening in a covid secure way. So many local businesses have suffered during lockdown, it is important to support them as much as possible. I want to thank everyone who has followed the rules during this difficult time and I hope everyone can look forward to a better spring and summer.
In Parliament my work focused on two of the Bills I am leading on for Labour – the National Security and Investment Bill and the Advanced Research and Innovation Bill – as well as continuing to highlight the impact of the pandemic, and Brexit, on the region.
Backbench and Constituency Role
- It was great to be able to be able to have some face to face meetings, in accordance with Covid restrictions, to hear direct from constituents what their concerns were!
- The Government’s Race Report was published, refusing to recognise institutional racism. I heard from many constituents concerned about the report and worked with colleagues and comrades to co-ordinate a response.
- I continue to engage with the Prime Minister, Ministers, Government Agencies and others regarding issues and demands for support for constituents and businesses as we follow the roadmap out of lockdown, the Horizon scandal and the need for a government inquiry, the life cycle of electric vehicles, medical care for veterans and identity theft. I have contacted numerous members of the Cabinet with questions that arose as a result of the student open meeting I hosted.
Out and about at the Elections
Shadow Ministerial and PES Role
- The Online Safety Bill will be introduced in the new session and we continue to engage with stakeholders with regard to what should be in it! There is significant interest in adding aspects of online harm not currently covered such as financial harms.
- We are working on the launch of our Digital Report on May 17th. I spoke to the Lords Communications and Digital Select Committee the importance of a proper regulatory framework.
- When Parliament returned mid April the ARIA Bill had its Committee Stage. We are supportive of the Bill but feel changes are required to make it more effective and accountable for example the fact the Government wants to exempt it from Freedom of Information Requests and normal procurement rules is worrying.
- The National Security and Investment Bill came back to the Commons for ping pong with the Lords over Intelligence and Security Committee oversight. Despite concerns expressed by many members of Parliament and peers the Government refused to budge!
May Day Rally online this year
Spoken from the back bench: four times
Spoken from the front bench: ten times
ARIA debate first sitting (14th Apr) ARIA Debate second sitting (14th Apr) Audiovisual media services (19th Apr) ARIA third sitting (20th Apr), ARIA fourth sitting (20th Apr), ARIA fifth sitting (22nd Apr), ARIA sixth sitting (22nd Apr), NSI Bill (26th Apr), Post Office appeal Horizon (27th Apr), NSI Bill (28th Apr)
Written Questions: 34
Schools: Coronavirus (1st Apr), Broadband: Rural Areas (9th Apr), Coronavirus: Medical Treatments (12th Apr), Coronavirus: Medical Treatments (12th Apr), Sexual Offences (12th Apr), National Tutoring Programme (13th Apr), National Tutoring Programme (13th Apr), Business: Government Assistance (13th Apr), Students: Coronavirus (15th Apr), Facebook: Data Protection (15th Apr), Advanced Research and Invention Agency (19th Apr), Advanced Research and Invention Agency (19th Apr), Advanced Research and Invention Agency (19th Apr), UK Research and Innovation: Freedom of Information (19th Apr), Advanced Research and Invention Agency: Public Appointments (19th Apr), Advanced Research and Invention Agency: Finance (19th Apr), Advanced Research and Invention Agency: Engineering (19th Apr), Africa: Research (20th Apr), Football: Takeovers (20th Apr), Advanced Research and Invention Agency (20th Apr), Research: Finance (21st Apr), Advanced Research and Invention Agency: Finance (21st Apr), Care Homes: Coronavirus (26th Apr), Public Sector: Procurement (27th Apr), Foreign Investment in UK: National Security (27th Apr), Sexual Offences (29th Apr), Sexual Offences (29th Apr), NHS: Ventilators (29th Apr), Horizon Europe: Quantum Technology and Space (29th Apr), Horizon Europe: Quantum Technology and Space (29th Apr), Research: Africa (29th Apr)
Digital Voice for Communities discussion
We have recruited a new parliamentary intern who will start in the next few weeks.
Interviewed on local media including ITV NUFC lobbying, BBC Radio Newcastle, NUFC lobbying,
Digital consultation, Helen Baker postmaster, Teakisi African Women, Anxious Minds, Newcastle University Student Union, British Society for Immunology, Africa APPG, Connected Voice, Internet Watcher Foundation, Is the NHS being privatised, Labour Muslim Network Iftaar, Minister Scully, Mears Group asylum accommodation, Newcastle City Council MP meeting, Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry, Match Tax protest,
Backing British Gas workers who face Fire & Rehire threats
Science Museum Group, The future of professional visas, Palantir, Deepmind, Northumbria University, Onlyfans, Association for Black Engineers, Jessie Jacobs for Mayor, INNSiders, Prof Christensen & Tony McGuirk Electric Batteries, Ericsson, Football Association Online Harms, WIRED conference, Unison Digitalisation, Vodafon BCS The Government by Algorithm debate, Diversity & Inclusion in STEM roundtable, Changing lives, Global Development Fund
Discussing the wide variety of support Anxious Minds provides for our veterans
Digital Voice Race Hate crime, Labour Tech CEO roundtable, Cambridge Labour manifesto launch, Lords Communication & Digital committee, Alliance for IP, Newcastle University Health literacy conference, Bridgewater School virtual Parliament visit, Show Racism the Red Card Black Women Engineers, Chair Westminster Forum Trade & Investment for UK tech sector, Democracy, Representation & Women’s Political participation in the time of Coronavirus, May Day Rally, Great North Run recording,