Dear Newcastle July 2021

Dear Newcastle Central

June did not bring Boris Johnsons much promised ‘Freedom Day’ due to his own mishandling of the delta variant which has cases soaring particularly in the North East. In Newcastle the end of June saw us hit 522 cases per 100,000, almost three times the national average and doubling every week approximately, thanks to the Government’s handling of the Delta variant. Deaths and hospitalisations are not rising as fast and are way below the levels seen previously, thanks to the vaccine. Nevertheless further easing of restrictions – now promised for July 19th – must take into account the level of virus circulating particularly amongst the young. Appropriate support must be put in place for the many needing to self isolate.  It would also be unfair if younger people, who have sacrificed so much, are made to suffer additional restrictions because they have not been double jabbed.

                Walk around in Blakelaw

The G7 summit saw Boris Johnson arrive in a plane to preach the UK’s ambitions on Climate Change! He also refused to support Biden’s ambitious proposals for a Minimum Global Corporation Tax, it ended up at 15% which will let many companies and countries of the hook.

The Government planned to abandon some of our protections for steel as part of its free market ideology. We forced a u turn from Liz Truss following an excellent debate led by Emily Thornberry in which I spoke.

The deadline for European Union citizens to apply for settled status passed at the end of June. Labour called for it to be extended but Government refused.

And finally Matt Hancock truly illustrated the lack of responsibility in this Government, breaking the rules he set and trying to escape accountability with the connivance of the Prime Minister!

Backbench and Constituency Role
  • We continue to work effectively online whilst improve working practices to make it easier. We need to continue to use technology to work more effectively whilst considering how we will implement a return to office working and what it might be useful to keep from the Pandemic experience.  We are also looking at what arrangements might be appropriate for a return to the office.

                  Institute for Ageing & Health on General Hospital visit with Stephen Thompkinson

  • Gave keynote to Engineering Professors Council on ethics and diversity in Engineering which became a blog for Research Fortnight.
  • The Online Safety Bill was meant to enter pre-legislative scrutiny before the recess but that now looks impossible. We continue to scrutinise it nevertheless!
  • I supported a bid to the Levelling Up fund for the refurbishment of Grainger market.
  • I held a debate on the Tyne Bridge and supported a bid to the Levelling Up fund to seek to ensure that the £18.5 million of refurbishment that the  Bridge needs is provided well in time for its 100th birthday!
  • The Boundary Review proposals effectively abolish the name Newcastle Central but move the constituency West. There are still a number of stages to go and proposals often change.
  • 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, representing businesses in the constituency with innovations useful for the pandemic response, supporting the levelling up bid for Newcastle and Gateshead quayside, renovation of the Tyne Bridge, and on the poor conditions of asylum seeker housing. I will be following up with Ministers on correspondence regarding a meeting with Wylam brewery and the student town hall meeting I held in March.

                         Local Shop visit in Benwell

Shadow Ministerial and PES Role
  • The ARIA Bill had its Report Stage and Third Reading. Ed took third reading but there was still significant work involved for James and the team in deciding which amendments we should retain for debate and which ones to put to a vote. The Government refused to accept any amendments, we will have to seek to make progress in the Lords.
  • I led for Labour on a debate on Royal Mail Performance. This is the first time I have done so as Shadow Minister and it raised importance issues with regard to Royal Mail. We confirmed that it is Labour policy to support putting it back in public hands.
  • I visited the Dimentia Centre and Brain Bank at Newcastle University with Stephen Thompkinson, actor and patron of Altzeimers UK, to see the fantastic work being done but also to hear from the Early Career Researchers there about the many challenges they face. I then raised that in Parliament.
  • Examined the issues around algorithms and race for a BAME PLP meeting and now preparing a blog
  • Kanishka joined us, one day a week to work on Digital issues particularly the Online Safety Bill. He will be working two days a week for Jo.
  • I joined the Party of European Socialists (PES) Presidency in June representing Labour to emphasise our ongoing commitment to working together with sister parties.

Parliamentary Activity

Parliamentary business 4th June – 5th July

Spoken from the back bench: ten times

NHS Data (8th June), Free trade agreements (9th June), Napier Barracks (10th June), Sexual abuse in schools (10th June), G7 and NATO summits (16th June), UK Steel (21st June), River Tyne transport links (24th June), Office security (28th June), Covid update (28th June), EU settlement scheme (29th June)

Spoken from the front bench: four times

ICO commissioner salary (7th June), ARIA Bill (7th June), Royal Mail (17th June), Tyne Bridge (23rd June)

                                   Wylam Brewery visit in Exhibition Park


Written Questions: 44 questions

Travel Restrictions: Coronavirus (7th June), NHS: Ventilators (7th June), Social Media: Females (7th June), Visual Impairment: Children (8th June), Remote Education: Computers (9th June), Clinical Trials: Equality (9th June), Clinical Trials (9th June),  Clinical Trials (9th June),  Mental Health Services: Newcastle upon Tyne  (9th June), Overseas Trade: Animal Welfare (10th June), Racial Discrimination: Technology (14th June), Racial Discrimination: Technology (14th June), Racial Discrimination: Technology (14th June), Medical Records: Data Protection (17th June), Medicine: Research (17th June), Coronavirus: Screening (23rd June), Amazon: Competition (14th June), Telecommunications: Infrastructure (28th June), Telecommunications: Infrastructure (28th June),  Ofcom: Public Appointments (28th June),  Telecommunications: Infrastructure (28th June),  Batteries: Lithium (28th June),  Students: Housing  (28th June), Telecommunications: Infrastructure  (28th June), Research: Publishing (19th June), Research: Publishing (29th June), Digital Technology: Security (29th June),  Internet: Safety (29th June),  Data Protection (29th June),  Broadband (29th June),  Biometrics: Public Places (29th June),  Telecommunications: Infrastructure (29th June),  Broadband (29th June),  Research: Publishing  (29th June), Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (29th June),  Telecommunications: Disadvantaged (29th June), Microprocessors: Silicon and Lithium (30th June), Health Data (30th June), Solar Events (1st July), Student Wastage: Coronavirus (1st July), Greenhouse Gas Emissions (2nd July),  Business: Newcastle upon Tyne Central (2nd July), Computers: Common Law (2nd July).



                  Disability organisations in Newcastle discuss how to improve the Benefits system


Quoted in national and local media including BBC Look North & Radio Newcastle Tyne Bridge,

Top Tweet: At the request of @nufctrust – & many #NUFC fans who have contacted me as their MP – I will be writing to the Secretary of State for Digital, Media & #Sport (Oliver Dowden) & @premierleague to demand greater transparency.…

” – 180k Impressions, 221 Retweets, 1191 Likes


Northern Slice Nunsmoor, MP briefing vaccine shortage, Engineering UK STEM career provision, Ada Lovelace Institute Biometrics discussion, Africa diaspora in school curriculum enquiry, Wellcome Trust, Northumbria Police Federation, DWP, Tyne Theatre, US Embassy African Diaspora event, TUC, APPG  Diversity in STEM, PES Presidency,  Professor Julie Sanders Newcastle university, IPT Tackling Covid, Covid-19 Epidemiological Data briefing, ICO, Peter Jackson Postmaster (tbc), GMB, Newcastle Gateshead CCG, Dementia Research Visit Campus for Ageing & Vitality, Councillor walkabout Blakelaw, , PSC National Space Strategy, APPG Engineering, Trade Remedies Authority, Digital Feudalism

                              Black Businesses discussion

Speaking Engagements

Newcastle Central Disability Benefit open meeting, BAME PLP Alorithms & Ethnic Minorities, Engineering Professors Council Congress, Labour BAME start ups, O2 Womens Network Women in Engineering, Constituency Parliamentary Export event, Digital Infra Leaders event, British Council Internationalism importance of language podcast, North East for Europe (message read), British Intellectual Property Day event,





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