April 2018: From Your Local MP
Your Voice in Parliament
You may be unsurprised to read that Brexit has been top of the agenda, including in the context of our response to Russia’s actions not far from us in Salisbury. During March, I travelled to Brussels to meet with British diplomats and Brexit negotiators, and EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier. Following my event with constituents, I took the questions: (1) how can we stop Brexit if we want to?; and (2) how do we extend the transition period if we need to? Sadly, Monseiur Barnier was clear that he can only negotiate with the British Government, and not the British Parliament. He and the EU are disappointed that the UK is leaving, but until the Government position changes the EU is not working towards a scenario of either stopping Brexit, or extending our transition. However, he did say that we continue to have the right to change our mind. We just need to persuade the British Government to do so!
Back at Westminster, I cross examined Immigration Minister Caroline Noakes about the rights of EU citizens (which you can read about in detail on my website), Brexit Secretary David Davis about the news that Airbus may need to relocate, Chancellor Philip Hammond about the suggestion that the Northern Irish border could be in Avonmouth (no joke…) and Brexit Minister Robin Walker about extending the transition period. Readers won’t be surprised to hear that I was disappointed by much of the answers I heard, although the Government’s position on EU citizens does seem to be positive (we just need to turn good words into actions).
In mid-March I also held a Westminster Hall debate on the immoral tipping practises of Bristol-based restaurants Aqua Italia and Turtle Bay, where staff have reported having to pay a percentage of table sales to their employer, regardless of tips received. I am pushing the Government to ensure proper regulation of tipping and service charges so that waiting staff get to keep all of their tips.
I know many of you are concerned about the environment and waste regulation. I’ve backed new enforcement powers against businesses who breach waste and environmental regulation. The use of stronger powers against non-compliant waste companies has long been called for by constituents – especially in areas such as Avonmouth where lots of waste-related industry is based. I’m also working with the council to ensure these new powers can benefit Bristol North West by calling for a ‘regulated border’ around Avonmouth to keep noisy and dirty businesses further away from residential areas.
And lastly, many families will be conscious of proposed changes from Childcare Vouchers to Tax Free Childcare. The IT system for Tax Free Childcare is useless, but most importantly, the drop in support for working families over the course of a year could account for thousands of pounds. This hasn’t been communicated to people properly and, thanks to Opposition pressure in March, the Government agreed to postpone the closure of the voucher scheme until improvements have been made to tax free childcare. You can read about these changes in detail on my website.
Your Champion in Bristol
Thank you for all of emails supporting the reunification of refugee families – my inbox has been bulging with support for the protection of these vulnerable families’ rights to reunion.
I recently met First bus Managing Director, James Freeman. I raised recent fare rises alongside several service issues including the number 2 through Henleaze (which many of you have told me is erratic and prone to cancellation), as well as changes to the 76 – which are affecting attendance at Southmead Hospital and Henbury School. I was pleased to hear James will investigate the issues with service and route changes.
My next pub politics, on Friday 6 April, will take place at The Eastfield Inn in Henleaze. If you fancy an informal chat about local or national policy issues, then please reserve your ticket online: http://darren-jones.co.uk/pubpolitics/.
As ever, if you’d like to keep in touch with what I’m up to please sign up to my newsletter at www.darren-jones.co.uk or check out my Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/darrenjonesmp) or Twitter (www.twitter.com/darrenpjones). You can also tune in on Wednesday nights at 19:30 for my weekly Facebook Live from Westminster. And if you’d like to book an appointment at my local surgery, or want me to come to a local event, then please get in touch with my office.
Darren Jones MP
Member of Parliament Bristol North West
"Your voice in Parliament. Your champion in Bristol."