Nicola Blackwood

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Nicola Blackwood
Nicola Blackwood.jpg
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health & Innovation
Assumed office
14 July 2016
Prime Minister Theresa May
Preceded by Ben Gummer
Chair of the Science and Technology Select Committee
In office
18 June 2015 – 14 July 2016
Preceded by Andrew Miller
Succeeded by Stephen Metcalfe
Member of Parliament
for Oxford West and Abingdon
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by Evan Harris
Majority 9,582 (16.7%)
Personal details
Born (1979-10-16) 16 October 1979 (age 37)
Johannesburg, South Africa
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Alma mater St Anne's College, Oxford
Emmanuel College, Cambridge
Religion Church of England

Nicola Claire Blackwood[1] (born 16 October 1979[2]) is a British Conservative Party politician. She was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Oxford West and Abingdon at the 2010 election and as Chair of the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee in June 2015.[3] She became Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health Services (Public Health Minister) in July 2016.[4]

Early life[edit]

Blackwood was born on 16 October 1979 in Johannesburg to parents who were a nurse and a cardiologist. Two months later, her family returned to the United Kingdom and she was brought up in Oxford.[5] As a child she suffered from asthma, and was also diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome when she was 15, which meant that she was taught at home for her GCSE and A-Level exams.[6] From the age of fourteen, she trained as a singer at Trinity College of Music, then went up to St Anne's College, Oxford, where she obtained a First class degree in music. She later graduated M.Phil. in musicology from Emmanuel College, Cambridge.[5]

Before her election to parliament, Blackwood worked for MP Andrew Mitchell. She also worked as a volunteer in the Middle East, Mozambique, Rwanda and Bangladesh, and has also worked as a volunteer among the disadvantaged in Birmingham and Blackpool.

Prior to standing for election, Blackwood worked with the Conservative Party Human Rights Group which was set up to find ways for the UK to combat human rights abuses in countries like Burma and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and subsequently for the then Shadow International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell during the 2005–10 parliament.

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.[7] The seat had previously been held by the Conservatives between its creation in 1983 and 1997, when it was won by Dr Evan Harris for the Liberal Democrats, he had held the seat comfortably in 2001 and 2005. 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.[8]

Blackwood won the seat at the 2010 general election by just 176 votes on a 6.9% swing to the Conservatives from the Liberal Democrats. In late 2010, Blackwood was elected to serve on the Home Affairs Select Committee and is secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Overseas Development.[9] She is a member of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission,[10] as well as holding a position on the Council of Advisors for ZANE, a charity which seeks to support pensioners in Zimbabwe.[11]

Blackwood voted against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in 2013 after intimating to students that she would support the measure, for which she was criticised by Oxford University Student Union.[12] Blackwood said she had voted against the final draft of the Bill because she was not satisfied with the protections of religious freedoms. She has also been criticised by student activists for her support of fox-hunting and her wish to have the ban on fox-hunting repealed.[13]

Blackwood criticised the handling of Work Capability Assessments by ATOS after an Oxfordshire man starved to death in 2013 after his Incapacity Benefit was wrongly stopped,[14] and later said that she had spoken personally "on numerous occasions" with her colleague Mark Harper at the Department of Work and Pensions to complain about the length of time it has taken the DWP to finalise the report into his death".

At the 2015 general election, Blackwood retained her seat with an increased majority of 9,582.[15] Following the announcement of the result, she said that she will "continue to fight for A34 investment, affordable housing and flood defences".[16]

Blackwood's biggest donor in the lead up to the 2015 election was a company called Countrywide Developments Limited,[17] controlled by AC Gallagher who was also Director of Gallagher Estates No1 Limited. Gallagher Estates was and continues to be involved in several housing developments in Oxfordshire, including those near Banbury and Bicester. Countrywide Developments made two donations of £10,000 to Blackwood, one in July 2014 and the other in March 2015.[18]

On 19 June 2015, she was announced as having been elected to the chairmanship of the Science & Technology Select Committee.[3] She became Undersecretary of State for Health Services (Public Health Minister) in July 2016.

Blackwood was undecided on Brexit prior to the 2016 referendum.[19]

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.[11]

In March 2015, she revealed 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 tachycardia syndrome, which causes chronic migraines for which she is treated by having 32 injections in the head every 10–12 weeks.[6] She also stated that her medical conditions had not affected her performance as a member of parliament.[6]


  1. ^ "No. 59418". The London Gazette. 13 May 2010. p. 8744. 
  2. ^ "Democracy Live: Your representatives: Nicola Blackwood". BBC. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Winning candidates for select committee Chairs announced". UK Parliament. 18 June 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2015. 
  4. ^ "Nicola Blackwood appointed Minister in Department of Health". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  5. ^ a b "About Nicola Blackwood". Retrieved 25 April 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c Rodgers, Keeley (31 March 2015). "Nicola Blackwood: I'm battling a genetic mobility condition EhlersDanlos". Oxford Mail. 
  7. ^ ConservativeHome's Seats & Candidates blog: Oxford West and Abingdon open primary
  8. ^ Tory topples Evan Harris (From The Oxford Times)
  9. ^ Executive, Apgood, UK.
  10. ^ Oxford City Conservatives — Nicola Blackwood Archived 1 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ a b Profile of Nicola Blackwood
  12. ^ Gerretsen, Isabelle (23 May 2013). "Anger as Oxford MP votes against gay marriage". Cherwell. 
  13. ^ Mintz, Luke (24 April 2015). "Oxford West MP under fire for fox hunting stance". The Oxford Student. 
  14. ^ Ormiston, Katriona (29 March 2014). "Government admits Mark Wood's benefits cut before he starved to death 'was wrong'". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 26 March 2015. 
  15. ^ "Oxford West & Abingdon parliamentary constituency – Election 2015". BBC News. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  16. ^ "Oxford West & Abingdon: Nicola Blackwood 'I will continue to fight for A34 investment, affordable housing and flood defences.' Meridian – ITV News". ITV News. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ Goodenough, Tom (16 February 2016). "Which Tory MPs back Brexit, who doesn't and who is still on the fence?". The Spectator. Retrieved 11 October 2016. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Evan Harris
Member of Parliament for Oxford West and Abingdon