Happy New Year!
Let us hope that this is the last year we begin amid rising pandemic case numbers. The festive period was a welcome and much needed break for many, but many also face growing workloads and falling real pay as we enter the New Year.
Ballet Lorent perform in their new home The John Marley Centre
The NHS has longer waiting lists then at any time in its history, Newcastle’s Covid 19 case rates are higher than at any time in the pandemic’s history and the NHS staff on which we all rely are facing an unprecedented winter crisis after two years of sacrificing mental and physical well being to keep us all safe.
At the same time people are feeling the pinch crisis as prices go up, and energy price rises and tax hikes are around the corner. We need a Government which can give clear public health messages, plan effectively for staff shortages in key sectors, and keep young people safe in schools and universities with appropriate support and ventilation. Unfortunately, our Government is facing investigation in the on-going Partygate scandal and cannot even deliver the lateral flow tests we all need to keep ourselves safe. They were late in bringing in the ‘Plan B’ Covid restrictions and that legislation only passed with Labour’s support as almost 100 Tory MPs rebelled against their Prime Minister. Whilst I recognise the genuinely held concerns about civil liberties as I said in my statement, I feel that mask-wearing is a minimal imposition to help protect the NHS and each other especially in the North East where we have a strong history of taking care of each other.
In the first two weeks of January lost two great Parliamentarians Jack Dromey, MP for Birmingham Erdington and (Lord) Bob Hughes, former MP for Aberdeen North and Chair of the Anti Apartheid Movement.
Backbench and Constituency Role
- It was a real pleasure to share socially distanced and Covid secure Christmas events with constituents particularly carol services which were cancelled last year.
- But it was particularly concerning to see the rapid rise in Omicron cases whilst the Government refused to put in place basic protections.
- When Government finally responded to Omicron by putting in place the so called Plan B my Newcastle and Westminster Office staff moved back to working from home. I continued to travel into Parliament as required by Government even when their official advise was for people to work from home. Case rates in London were rocketing and there was much concern from MPs and staff that Parliament was a vector for transmission.
Outdoor Carol Concert at St James, Benwell
• The office was closed briefly over Christmas but we continued to respond to urgent and important casework.
• We recruited a new trainee administrative supporter who will start at the end of January.
• I raised the cost of buses and the lack of investment in North East infrastructure in Parliament, again!
• I continue to engage with the Prime Minister, Ministers, Government Agencies, local and national businesses and organisations and others regarding issues like homelessness, repairs to the Cooperage on Newcastle quayside, COVID19 vaccinations and racist language at St James park.
Shadow Ministerial and PES Role
• With my Parliamentary research Maddy Eagan I set out the key objectives of my Shadow Ministerial responsibilities.
• We continue to work to clarify the Government research spending.
• I closed the Professional Qualifications Bill which is led by Bill Esterson
• I started Shadow Ministerial stakeholder meetings and will be looking to hold roundtables on Research, Innovation and Science
Quoted regularly in local and national media. Tweeted 118 times reaching 582,000 impressions. Facebook reached over 2000 feeds.
Online briefing with CatchUpWith Cancer Campaign
Parliamentary business December 4th to January 10th 2021
From the Front Bench: 2
Professional Qualifications Bill (Lords Amendments) (15th December) Thanks to House of Commons Staff (15th December, point of order)
From the Back Bench: 5
DEFRA Topicals – Sewage Dumping into Newcastle waterways (9th December) Affordable Bus Travel: North-east England (16th December) (spoke twice) Storm Arwen: Power Outages (6th December) Covid-19: Government Support for Business (16th December)
Written Questions: 63
Research (6th January); Research (5th January); Research (5th January); Refugees: Afghanistan (5th January); Refugees: Employment (5th January); Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre: Investment (5th January); Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre: Sales (5th January); Research: Finance (5th January); Developing Countries: Research (5th January); Research: Tax Allowances (5th January); Afghanistan: Politics and Government (4th January); Global Britain Investment Fund: Life Sciences (4th January); Research: Finance (4th January); Research England: Finance (4th January); Artificial Intelligence: Finance (4th January); Global Britain Investment Fund: Motor Vehicles (4th January); Dementia: Research (4th January); Small Businesses: Finance (4th January); Business: Public Bodies (16th December); Life Sciences: Finance (16th December); Innovate UK: Grants (16th December); Manufacturing Industries: Vaccination (16th December); Future Fund: Greater London and North East (16th December); Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (16th December); Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (16th December); Dementia: Research (16th December); Industry: Technology (16th December); Horizon Europe (16th December); Life Sciences: Finance (16th December); Research: Investment (16th December); Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre: Shareholders (16th December); Horizon Europe (16th December); Dementia: Research (16th December); Coronavirus: Vaccination (16th December); Research: Finance (16th December); Research: Finance (16th December);
Cycling for all in Fenham
Innovation: European Union (16th December); National Science and Technology Council: Finance (16th December); Horizon Europe: Greater London and North East (16th December); Dementia: Research (14th December); Medical Technologies Directorate (14th December); Innovation: Expenditure (14th December); Innovate UK: Expenditure (14th December); Countryside: Access (14th December); Medical Technologies Directorate (14th December); Medical Technologies Directorate (14th December); Medical Equipment (14th December); OneWeb (13th December); Sewage: Pollution Control (9th December); Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (8th December); Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (8th December); Vaccination: Manufacturing Industries (8th December); Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (8th December); Coronavirus: Vaccination (8th December);
ACTSA, IPT UK Space race discussion, Amnesty International, High Speed Rail Group, BAPG, APPG Writers Group, Durham Miners, Alzheimers Research, APPG Manufacturing & Make UK, Lord Callanan Help Grow Digital Scheme, World Jewish Relief briefing, RSC at Barbican, EveryDoctor NHS Winter crises briefing, Ballet Lorent at John Marley Centre, Gurdwara, Heather Flynn Senate Foreign Relations, APPG Manufacturing roundtable, Lord Bird, Catch up with Cancer campaign, Parliamentary Dialogue Taxation-Inflation Nexus, Highliner Technology, APPG Engineering, Northumbria Police, Sean Bullick, St Andrews Carol Service,
Supporting the Fans Foodbank collection
Guardian Mark Brown, St Mary’s Cathedral Carols, Carols St Nicholas Cathedral, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Plastics Federation, North East Space Leadership group, Jericho Chambers Ahead of the Curves: Health Tech. UK Space, RMT Demo, NFU reception, Ian Sample Guardian, David Clouston. , Kiddical Mass cycle ride,
Sudan conference, Chair IPT Tech Investment, Video for National Museum of Computing, 25 for 25 Black History podcase, 50th Victory Day celebration of Bangladesh, St James’s Benwell Carol Service,
Meeting Newcastle’s Gurdwara Representatives