May 2019: Darren Jones Column
Baby No2's delivery rather quicker than Brexit ...
Your Voice in Parliament
I LONG for the day when I get the chance to write this monthly update without it being entirely dominated by Brexit. Whether it’s finally dealing with the productivity challenges in the economy so we can start to see wage growth again, or transforming our public services, or how we solve the housing crisis or even some bigger problems like meeting negative emissions to tackle climate change. But, alas, Brexit it is.
The past month has been a crucial time with one main aim in Parliament: to stop the government taking the UK out of the EU without a deal. The vast majority of parliamentarians know this would be a disaster for our economy and security, and so I’m pleased to report back (even though you’ll already know!) that we managed to force the government’s hand to agree a new extension. Our indicative voting process, however, hasn’t been overly successful with no alternative agreed on. We have learnt that a public ratification of a closer trading relationship with the EU has the most support of MPs. Without any surprise, readers will know that I continue to call for a public vote with remain on the ballot and, after months of working hard and campaigning on this, we now need to bring it home. I, along with many colleagues, won’t vote for any deal unless it includes seeking the consent of the public. If you disagree with my stance on this, please do let me know.
April has been a bit quieter for me on other fronts, albeit only politically. That’s because my wife, Lucy, and I were delighted to welcome our second daughter, Edie, to the world at the start of April. Edie came just over three weeks early but thanks to rule changes in the Commons a few months ago I have been able to vote “by proxy” via Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy. I was somewhat relieved that I managed to get my proxy vote sorted in time from the delivery suite ready for the Yvette Cooper bill (to rule out a no deal exit from the EU). We won that bill by one vote.
I also recently had the privilege of welcoming representatives from Westbury-based Cold Homes Energy Efficiency Survey Experts (CHEESE for short) to the Climate Coalition’s Green Hero awards in Parliament to receive an award for their energy efficiency work. Well done to Mike and the team for all their hard work.
Your Champion in Bristol
Readers will know how much work has gone into the A4018 bus lanes consultation and, specifically by me and my office, in making sure that residents had a proper chance to make their voices heard. The council is now reviewing this feedback and I’m hopeful of proposed changes that will reflect this. These updated proposals won’t be imminent, but I’ll be sure to keep you up-to-date.
I have also responded to the industrial strategy consultation put out by our regional level of government: the West of England Combined Authority. We have some of the most innovative businesses, a proud manufacturing heritage and some of the best university-business collaborations in the country. As a member of the House of Commons Science & Technology Select Committee I’m always proud to champion our region, including in our current inquiry on the effectiveness of public spending into research and development. My major concern was the lack of attention - in the WECA industrial strategy - on the impact of automation on local jobs. Using the best available data and looking at the types of businesses we have in North and West Bristol I have estimated that up to 17,000 jobs in my constituency alone are at risk of being displaced due to automation. It’s vital that government puts in measures to help workers who lose their job or have to re-train to support their transition to the new economy. I’m yet to see any real commitment to that, but I’ll continue to push for it.
This month, in less than two years as your MP, we reached over 11,000 case files in my constituency office. If you have contacted me about a personal matter or shared your view on local or national policy, your enquiry will be included in that number. It’s great to have such highly engaged and curious constituents so thank you for sharing your views with me and giving me the opportunity to help you when you need support. If you or someone you know who lives in Bristol North West needs help or has a question for me, you can always contact me by email, phone or in the post. Or you can come to a coffee morning, pub politics or surgery to have a chat face to face (all the details can be found at www.darren-jones.co.uk).
You can also find me on Facebook (fb.com/darrenjonesmp) and Twitter (@darrenpjones) or you can join my weekly Facebook Live chat on Wednesdays at 7.30pm or sign up to my monthly newsletter (darren-jones.co.uk/sign-up).