February 2020: News from your local MP
I'm backing the Brownies over plastic bottle deposits
Your Voice in Parliament
PARLIAMENT has now returned after the election and Christmas. The Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which makes Brexit happen, was voted through with the Conservative Party’s new significant majority in the House of Commons.
My colleagues and I did all that we could to persuade the Government to keep important legal protections in the Bill: from workers rights to allowing unaccompanied child refugees to be reunited with their families. Sadly, the Government disagreed.
We will now formally leave the EU, and enter a transition period, on 31st January. During that transition period the Government will seek to agree a new trading and security deal with the EU before we leave entirely.
This is not what I wanted – I still believe we could better reform the EU, and protect our prosperity and global standing, by having a seat at that top table – and I know many of you will feel bitterly disappointed.
We must now try and secure the best possible trade and security deal; limiting the damage of Brexit to our economy, jobs, security, worker’s rights and environmental standards. We must also ensure that the voices of the three million EU citizens in the UK are heard and valued and that their status here is protected.
I’ve been devastated to see the bush fire crisis unfold in Australia. As many of you know, my wife is Australian, so it has felt particularly close to home seeing the catastrophic fires each day on TV. Whilst the UK has largely decarbonised its power generation, 75% of electricity in Australia still comes from coal. During a Ministerial statement in mid-January, I called on the government to do far more to share that expertise and ensure the climate emergency is at the forefront of our allies’ minds. With the UK hosting climate conference COP 26 in November, we have a vital and fast-decreasing window to create real change.
Your Champion in Bristol
I’ve recently been in touch with the 21st Henleaze Brownies. On Girlguiding’s behalf, I’ve written to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Theresa Villiers, calling on her department to ensure that any future Deposit Return Scheme (for plastic bottles) considers the views and feedback of young people. For example, members of the division have rightly stated that return banks should be available at schools and colleges to ensure accessibility to young people and staff. I hope to visit the group and hear more about their thoughts on climate change and environmental protection in the coming weeks.
I’ve also been contacted by charity, Business2Schools, who have recently started working in Bristol. Business2Schools provide a vital link between businesses looking to re-home their tech and office furniture and schools that could benefit from free equipment. So far, they’ve been operating in London, but they’ve recently started work with Bristol Free School; they hope to pair more local businesses and schools in the future. As well as giving a welcome boost to our schools, this saves masses of re-usable items going to landfill – over £2m worth of equipment last year alone. If you know a business that’ll have spare kit after a re-fit or upgrade, please contact Business2Schools via their website: www.business2schools.com
Finally, I’m disappointed the government has seen fit to increase parliamentary recess to 17.5 weeks of this year. This is far too long, and it will mean less scrutiny of government, reduced time for select committees and a drop in media attention. The one positive is that I’ll have more time to spend in Bristol and to host new events such as constituency citizen assemblies – further details of how to get involved will follow soon.
As always, if you have any questions or need my help just drop me an e-mail, call 0117 959 6545 or write to me. To chat in person, pop along to one of my coffee mornings or pub politics events or ask me a question during my Wednesday night Facebook Live Q&As from 19:30. All the details can be found on my website at www.darren-jones.co.uk and my Facebook page www.facebook.com/darrenjonesmp
Darren Jones MP
Member of Parliament, Bristol North West