Nicola Blackwood

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The Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford
Blackwood in 2020
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Life Science
In office
10 January 2019 – 13 February 2020
Prime Minister
Preceded byThe Lord O'Shaughnessy
Succeeded byThe Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Public Health and Innovation
In office
14 July 2016 – 9 June 2017
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byBen Gummer
Succeeded bySteve Brine
Chair of the Science and Technology Select Committee
In office
18 June 2015 – 14 July 2016
Preceded byAndrew Miller
Succeeded byStephen Metcalfe
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
4 February 2019
Life peerage
Member of Parliament
for Oxford West and Abingdon
In office
6 May 2010 – 3 May 2017
Preceded byEvan Harris
Succeeded byLayla Moran
Personal details
Nicola Claire Blackwood

(1979-10-16) 16 October 1979 (age 44)
Johannesburg, South Africa
Political partyConservative
Paul Bate
(m. 2016)
Alma mater

Nicola Claire Blackwood, Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford[1] (born 16 October 1979) is a British politician of the Conservative Party. Baroness Blackwood was a Member of Parliament (MP) for Oxford West and Abingdon from 2010 to 2017. She has also been known by her married name Nicola Blackwood-Bate since 2016.[2]

Early life[edit]

Blackwood was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, but has lived in the UK since she was two months old. She is the daughter of a medical doctor and a nurse. Blackwood was given a flute aged six, which led to a lifelong interest in music, later learning to sing and play the piano. At 14 she began studying at the Trinity School of Music, and eventually studied music at university.[3]

She studied music at St Anne's College, Oxford and Somerville College, Oxford, and later studied for an MPhil degree in musicology at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.[4][5]

Parliamentary career[edit]

Blackwood was chosen as the Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for Oxford West and Abingdon at an open primary on 13 November 2006.[6] Boundary changes which came into effect in 2010 were thought to have favoured the Conservatives, with some 8,000 urban voters (including many students) being moved into the Oxford East constituency and more rural voters added.[7]

Blackwood won the seat at the 2010 general election by 176 votes on a 6.9% swing to the Conservatives from the Liberal Democrats. In late 2010, she was elected to serve on the Home Affairs Select Committee and was secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Overseas Development. She was a member of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission,[8] as well as holding a position on the Council of Advisors for ZANE, a charity which seeks to support pensioners in Zimbabwe.[9]

She was elected Member of Parliament at the 2010 election with a majority of 176, defeating the Liberal Democrats, who had held the seat since 1997. She lost her seat to the Liberal Democrats at the 2017 election, who won it back with a majority of 816.[10] During her time as Member of Parliament, she was chaired the Science and Technology Select Committee during the second Cameron ministry and served as a junior health minister during the first May ministry.[citation needed]

On 10 January 2019, Blackwood was appointed to replace Lord O'Shaughnessy as a junior minister for innovation in the Department of Health and Social Care serving in the House of Lords with the formal title of Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health and she would thus be created a life peer.[11][12][13] Blackwood resigned from her ministerial position in the House of Lords in February 2020 to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to pursue time with her family.[citation needed]

Blackwood voted against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in 2013 after indicating to many students and constituents that she would support the measure, for which she was criticised by the Oxford University Student Union.[14] Blackwood said she had voted against the final draft of the Bill because she was not satisfied with the protection afforded religious freedoms.[citation needed]

At the 2015 general election, Blackwood retained her seat with a majority of 9,582,[15] which was in part due to the national swing of voters against the Liberal Democrats.[16]

In 2015, student activists criticised Blackwood for her support of fox hunting and she later confirmed pro-hunting group Vote-OK assisted with her election campaign during the 2015 general election.[17][18] In June 2015, Blackwood was elected to the chairmanship of the Science & Technology Select Committee.[19]

She was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (PUS) at the Department of Health from July 2016–May 2017. In the 2017 general election, she lost her seat to the Liberal Democrat candidate Layla Moran who won with a majority of 816.[10] She has chaired the Human Tissue Authority since March 2018.[20]

On 1 February 2019, she was created a life peer as Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford, of North Oxford in the County of Oxfordshire.[21] She was briefly the youngest member of the House of Lords until Lord Ravensdale became a member of the House in March 2019.[22]

Blackwood was appointed Chair of Genomics England in May 2020 which runs the 100,000 Genomes Project.[23]

Personal life[edit]

Blackwood has been a member of the Conservative Christian Fellowship since 2005, and is a regular worshipper at the Church of England's St Aldate's in Oxford.[9]

In March 2015, Blackwood said that she had been diagnosed with the genetic condition Ehlers–Danlos syndrome in 2013 and had later been diagnosed with the associated secondary condition of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), which causes chronic migraines for which she is treated by having 32 injections in the head every 10–12 weeks.[24] She also stated that her medical conditions had not affected her performance as a Member of Parliament.[24] Her POTS was thought to be the cause of her fainting in the House of Lords whilst giving a statement at the despatch box on 17 June 2019, although she later said it was "no big deal".[25]

Blackwood married Paul Bate, founder, chief executive officer and portfolio manager at Matterhorn Investment Management LLP, in September 2016 at Merton College, Oxford.[26] Bate is a member of Oxford's Vincent's Club.[27]


  1. ^ "No. 59418". The London Gazette. 13 May 2010. p. 8744.
  2. ^ "Blackwood-Bate, Nicola - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health and Innovation at the Department of Health - ACOBA recommendation". GOV.UK. 20 November 2018.
  3. ^ "God in the life of Nicola Blackwood". Diocese of Oxford. 17 May 2013. Retrieved 14 September 2020.
  4. ^ "St Anne's Alumnae Elected to Parliament". St Anne's College. Archived from the original on 8 August 2018. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  5. ^ "Four Somervillian MPs appointed to new roles in Cabinet reshuffle". Somerville College, Oxford. 20 July 2016. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  6. ^ "ConservativeHome's Seats & Candidates blog: Oxford West and Abingdon open primary".
  7. ^ "Tory topples Evan Harris". The Oxford Times. 7 May 2010.
  8. ^ Oxford City Conservatives — Nicola Blackwood Archived 1 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ a b "Profile of Nicola Blackwood". 17 July 2011. Archived from the original on 17 July 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  10. ^ a b "Election results 2017: Lib Dems gain Oxford West and Abingdon". BBC News. 9 June 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  11. ^ Sparrow, Andrew; Rawlinson, Kevin (10 January 2019). "Brexit: Japanese PM tells May 'whole world' wants her to avoid no deal - as it happened". The Guardian.
  12. ^ "Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health (Lords)".
  13. ^ "Defeated Tory MP made minister and peer". BBC News. 11 January 2019.
  14. ^ Gerretsen, Isabelle (23 May 2013). "Anger as Oxford MP votes against gay marriage". Cherwell.
  15. ^ "Oxford West & Abingdon parliamentary constituency – Election 2015". BBC News. Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  16. ^ Jacobs, Josh (20 May 2015). "Why Did 27 Lib Dem Seats Swing to the Conservatives?". Huffington Post. Retrieved 20 May 2016.
  17. ^ The Herald. "Nicola Blackwood's campaign being helped by pro-hunting group volunteers". The Herald. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  18. ^ Mintz, Luke (24 April 2015). "Oxford West MP under fire for fox hunting stance". The Oxford Student.
  19. ^ "Winning candidates for select committee Chairs announced". UK Parliament. 18 June 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  20. ^ "Biographies: Nicola Blackwood". Human Tissue Authority. Archived from the original on 9 March 2021. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  21. ^ "No. 62553". The London Gazette. 6 February 2019. p. 1986.
  22. ^ "Membership and principal office holders". UK Parliament. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  23. ^ "Register of Interests for Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford - MPs and Lords - UK Parliament". Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  24. ^ a b Rodgers, Keeley (31 March 2015). "Nicola Blackwood: I'm battling a genetic mobility condition EhlersDanlos". Oxford Mail.
  25. ^ "House of Lords collapse 'no big deal'". BBC News. 25 June 2019. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  26. ^ "Nicola Blackwood MP becomes Mrs as she weds in classical ceremony at Merton College". Oxford Mail. 8 September 2016. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  27. ^ Vincents Oxford. "Vincent's Club Members' Register" (PDF). Vincents.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Oxford West and Abingdon
Succeeded by
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by Ladies
Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford
Followed by