Roberta Blackman-Woods

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Roberta Blackman-Woods
Member of Parliament
for City of Durham
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded by Gerry Steinberg
Majority 11,439 (25.0%)
Personal details
Born Roberta Carol Woods
(1957-08-16) 16 August 1957 (age 61)
Belfast, Northern Ireland,
United Kingdom
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Alma mater University of Ulster
Profession Academic

Professor Roberta Blackman-Woods (born Roberta Carol Woods; 16 August 1957) is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for the City of Durham since 2005.


Blackman-Woods is from Northern Ireland and was educated at the University of Ulster, graduating with a BSc degree and later a PhD in Social Science. Following this she was employed as a welfare rights officer for Newcastle City Council, before going on to pursue a career in academia.[citation needed]

As a sociologist with expertise in housing, she served as Professor of Social Policy and an Associate Dean in the School of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Northumbria prior to her election, and had previously been Dean of Social and Labour studies at Ruskin College, Oxford and head of policy at the Local Government Information Unit. Blackman-Woods had previously been Chair of the City of Durham Constituency Labour Party and before that in Newcastle upon Tyne East and Wallsend. She has also served as a Councillor on Oxford and Newcastle City Councils.[1]

Parliamentary career

In 2004 Blackman-Woods was selected as the Labour candidate for the City of Durham constituency through a controversial All-Women Shortlist.[2] In her previous work she had been known by her maiden name, Roberta Woods. She added her husband's surname, Blackman, after selection by the constituency Labour Party, to avoid confusion with Liberal Democrat candidate Carol Woods.[3]

Elected with a majority of 3,274, Blackman-Woods made her maiden speech to the House of Commons on 24 May 2005, in which she referred to the work of her predecessor Gerry Steinberg, as well as referring at length to the importance to Durham of Durham Cathedral, the University of Durham and the historic legacy of mining within the area. She also quoted Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island: "Why, it's wonderful - a perfect little city... If you have never been to Durham, go there at once. Take my car. It's wonderful."

Blackman-Woods was a member of the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments from 2005–2010 and has also been a member of the Education and Skills Select Committee and the Business, Innovation, Science and Skills Select Committee. In 2006 she became the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Hilary Armstrong. This post lasted until Hilary Armstrong was returned to the backbenches when Gordon Brown became Prime Minister, but she was then appointed PPS to the Secretary of State for Defence, Des Browne, in 2007. Following Des Brown's retirement to the backbenches she served as PPS to David Lammy MP as Minister of State for Higher Education.[citation needed]

In 2005, she became Chair of the All Party Afghanistan Group and in 2007 she also became Chair of the All Party Balanced and Sustainable Communities Group. She was appointed Shadow Minister for Business in June 2010, before being moved to shadow the Civil Society Minister by new Labour Leader Ed Miliband in October 2010. In the October 2011 shadow cabinet re-shuffle Roberta was moved to Shadow Minister in Communities and Local Government covering planning policy and procurement.[citation needed] In May 2015, she was confirmed as the shadow housing minister.[4]


External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Gerry Steinberg
Member of Parliament for City of Durham