Darren backs calls for Military Cross

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has signed a cross-party letter to call for Walter Tull to posthumously receive the Military Cross.

“ I am delighted to have supported David Lammy’s call for Walter Tull to be posthumously awarded the Military Cross – an honour he was recommended to receive during his service. Walter was the first black officer in the British Army and served his country with distinction during the First World War. Prejudice was likely to be an overriding factor as to why he didn’t get the accolade he deserved. Yesterday (25th March) marked the centenary of Walter’s death – this trailblazer and pioneer must be remembered”.


Darren calls for cross-party NHS commission

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has co-signed a letter calling for a cross-party Health and Social Care commission to be set-up. This commission should report to Parliament before Easter 2019 and use expertise from across the house.

Darren commented:

“It is vital the NHS has the resources it needs and there is a whole-system approach to ensuring a high standard of care across both health and social care services. The NHS, public health and social care systems are overstretched and no longer able to keep pace with rising demand and the cost pressures of new drugs and technologies – the government must ensure our-beloved NHS is funded to deliver its services properly”.

Darren speaks on Cambridge Analytica

In Parliament there was an emergency debate in the Commons about the alleged illegal campaigning of the Leave campaign during the Brexit referendum. Here’s what Darren had to say:


Darren speaks on GKN

Melrose is continuing with its hostile take over bid for GKN, and Airbus (GKNs largest customer) has said it can’t work with a business like Melrose. In response to the Government, Melrose has said it will keep GKN in North Bristol for the next five years.

Watch what Darren had to say about the matter below:


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MP visits Shirehampton Nursery to discuss rising childcare costs

Darren Jones (MP for Bristol North West) visited Snap Dragons nursery in Shirehampton on Friday 23rd March to hear from parents and staff about concerns with the Government’s intention to close the Childcare Vouchers scheme, and to move parents to a new Tax Free Childcare scheme.

Today, parents can claim vouchers from their employers to contribute to the cost of childcare. However, in the next financial year the Government will close the Childcare Vouchers scheme and parents will have to use a new Tax Free Childcare system. This will require parents to register on an online system, register each child and then make an online payment for each child per month. The Government will then “top up” the balance by 20% and the system will then pay the childcare provider directly. This change was originally due to take place in April, but following pressure from across the House last week, the Government delayed the roll out to October 2018.

However, Darren wants parents to be aware of the changes now – namely because the system is harder to use, and because many parents will find they receive significantly less childcare support, in effect increasing childcare costs for parents across Bristol. Click here to read more about the changes.

Commenting, Darren said:

“I’ve already had a number of constituents in my surgery at their wits end due to the new tax free childcare system. It doesn’t work, requires parents to re-register every three months and has put my constituents in real difficulties in paying their childcare providers. To make it worse, most parents don’t realise they could lose thousands of pounds in childcare support each year.”

“Supporting families and creating a parent-friendly workplace is one of my top priorities as a local MP. This flawed change by the Government will make it harder for working parents, not easier. And it will make it harder for parents wanting to return to work too. I will continue to call on the Government to get it right. But I also call on parents to get informed as soon as possible, so they aren’t left in difficulty when the childcare voucher scheme closes in a few months’ time.”


Data Protection Bill committee, 4th day highlights

The Data Protection Bill (the “Bill”) applies new EU data protection laws (the General Data Protection Regulation, or “GDPR”) to processes in the UK which EU law has no jurisdiction over, introduces the Law Enforcement Directive for policing and law enforcement powers, and sets out the data protection and privacy rules for the processing of personal data by the secret services (MI5, MI6 and GCHQ). It also provides a legislative “parking space” so that, if the UK leaves the EU, GDPR is copied and pasted into UK law (via the EU Withdrawal Bill) to maintain the same level of laws between the UK and the EU post-Brexit. This is important, because the EU needs to agree that UK laws are adequate in order to allow the continued flow of data between the UK and EU after Brexit.

The Bill arrived in the House of Commons from the House of Lords and, having passed second reading, it is now at committee stage. Here are some highlights of Darren’s 4th day on the committee (press play and the videos will skip to Darren’s appearances):


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Darren nominates local NHS Heroes for national awards

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has submitted a number of nominations to the NHS 70 Parliamentary Awards. In July 2018 the NHS will celebrate its 70th birthday. As a key part of the celebrations to mark this milestone, NHS England and NHS Improvement have established the NHS70 Parliamentary Awards.

The purpose of the awards is to celebrate 70 years of the NHS, identify and highlight innovative and high-quality care across every constituency in England, and thank staff for their dedication, hard work and commitment by recognising and honouring their achievements

Darren said:

“ I am incredibly proud of the work all of our NHS staff do in Bristol North West and across the city, it was difficult to narrow down some of the submissions I received but I’m delighted to have been able to make nominations in a wide range of categories. Whilst the national competition is bound to be a tight race, I’ve got my fingers crossed that at least some of our fantastic NHS services in Bristol make the final stage”.


Darren submitted the following nominations (click the links for more info about each nomination):


The Excellence in Urgent and Emergency Care Award Southmead Hospital’s Emergency Dept
The Excellence in Cancer Care Award North Bristol NHS Trust Colorectal Cancer Team
The Care and Compassion Award Southmead Hospital’s End of Life Care Team
The Person-Centred Care Champion Award North Bristol Trust Hospital@Night Team
The Excellence in Mental Health Care Award InterAct Stroke Support @ Southmead Hospital



The change from Childcare Vouchers to Tax Free Childcare, and what it means for you

Childcare Vouchers is a scheme where your employer provides childcare vouchers. For new applicants, it’s being replaced by Tax Free Childcare (although this has been delayed from April to October 2018 due to pressure from the Labour party). Tax Free Childcare is where parents put money into a special account for each child which is then topped up by the Government and paid directly to the childcare provider. The schemes offer different levels of support.

Childcare Vouchers will close to new applicants, from 4th October 2018. People already on this scheme will be allowed to continue, but people won’t be allowed to re-join.

After this point, all new entrants to the Childcare system will receive this bit of their childcare support as Tax Free Childcare. It’s worth nothing that Tax- Free Childcare or Childcare Vouchers are on top of any Free Childcare entitlement you have (for example, the 30 hours free childcare provided to some by the Government).

What does this mean for me?

If you’re eligible for both or for only Childcare Vouchers, you could lose a lot of money if Childcare Vouchers is the better option for you and you’re not on it by October 2018.

What am I eligible for? 

If you fulfil the conditions for either scheme, you’re eligible that scheme –

Childcare Vouchers Tax Free Childcare
Who can apply Only those whose employer offers it. This doesn’t include the self-employed. Anyone
Minimum earnings None. One parent needs to work. £120/week –  and if you’re a couple, both of you must be earning.
Child’s maximum age 15 (16 if disabled) 11 (16 if disabled)
Maximum income None Less than £100,000 per parent


If I’m eligible for both, what’s better for me? 

This depends on your specific circumstances.

According to Money Saving Expert, if you’re spending less than £6,252 a year on Childcare (or £9,252 if you’re a basic rate Taxpayer household) Childcare Vouchers will always be better.

Above these levels, it depends on how much you are earning and how much you are spending on childcare. You can find out more here.

Note that Tax-Free Childcare cannot be used at the same time as Universal Credit, Childcare Vouchers or Tax-Credits (including both Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit). This is different to the Childcare Voucher scheme, and means that Childcare Vouchers might be better for some families who are eligible for both.



Where can I read more information about this?

Money Saving Expert has a great breakdown of this information – https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/Tax-Free-Childcare

The government information on Childcare Vouchers is here https://www.gov.uk/help-with-childcare-costs/childcare-vouchers, and that for Tax Free Childcare is here – https://www.gov.uk/help-with-childcare-costs/tax-free-childcare






Read Darren’s account of his third day on the Data Protection Bill Committee

Data Protection Bill: Committee Day Three Report (ICO Powers, Leveson Two, Intelligence Service Data Transfers, Data Value and other issues).

The Data Protection Bill (the “Bill”) applies new EU data protection laws (the General Data Protection Regulation, or “GDPR”) to processes in the UK which EU law has no jurisdiction over, introduces the Law Enforcement Directive for policing and law enforcement powers, and sets out the data protection and privacy rules for the processing of personal data by the secret services (MI5, MI6 and GCHQ). It also provides a legislative “parking space” so that, if the UK leaves the EU, GDPR is copied and pasted into UK law (via the EU Withdrawal Bill) to maintain the same level of laws between the UK and the EU post-Brexit. This is important, because the EU needs to agree that UK laws are adequate in order to allow the continued flow of data between the UK and EU after Brexit.

The Bill arrived in the House of Commons from the House of Lords and, having passed second reading, it is now at committee stage. This line-by-line review of the Bill kicked off last week.

Here’s my report of Day Three. You can read by report of Day One here and of Day Two here.

Another day, another bill committee. Accept this time, day three of the Bill committee kicked off the morning after the night before. Last night, Channel 4 News followed the excellent reporting of the Observer and the New York Times in exposing the dark arts of Cambridge Analytica, including their alleged sucking up of tens of millions of Facebook profiles.

New Information Commissioner Powers

It’s no surprise, then, that the issue of regulatory powers for the Information Commission (the “ICO”) came up today – albeit without sufficient answers from the Government.

I and others had been led to believe from the Secretary of State, Matt Hancock MP, that the Government intended to bring in new powers to help the ICO, following the Cambridge Analytica revelations.

However, to the surprise of many MPs on the bill committee, Digital Minister Margot James MP confirmed that no new powers were being tabled and, to make it worse, additional criminal sanctions for failing to comply with requests from the ICO weren’t being tabled either! This in the face of comments from the ICO herself that pure monetary fines for breaching ICO notices was clearly less of a deterrent than criminal prosecutions (especially to those with deep pockets). It’s right that some new criminal sanctions are being legislated for, but this approach ought to apply in a uniform fashion.

And without want of asking (I think we raised it three times today), the Government failed to set out whether it would seek to make judges available on an emergency basis when the ICO is running against the clock. This would have helped, for example, last night when the ICO had to wait until today to get a warrant to enter the offices of Cambridge Analytica whilst Facebook was able to use its contractual rights to get access before the regulator could (thankfully, Facebook did as it was asked when the ICO told it to stand down).

Leveson Two

Another contentious topic today was the Government’s insistence in closing part two of the Leveson Inquiry (the part that sought to investigate potential breaches of data protection more widely in the newspaper industry and its alleged connections with the police). As our shadow Digital Minister, Liam Byrne MP, made clear: this investigation was promised by the (previous) Prime Minister on the floor of the House, and it seems wholly unsatisfactory for a new Secretary of State (Matt Hancock) to suddenly decide that there is “nothing to see here, guv!”. We opposed the Government in supporting the Lords amendments which sought to instigate Leveson Two, but Conservative MPs voted it down. Leveson Two will therefore not be going ahead – something that, for the many victims of press intrusion, is likely to be deeply sad news.

Further, amendments had been made in the House of Lords to legislate for a re-balance in power between citizens and newspapers, so that when claims are brought against newspapers the claimants do not have to face paying the often-enormous legal fees of the newspaper giants. Unsurprisingly, the Government voted down these amendments too.

Intelligence Services

The final few clauses for the security services aspects of the Bill were voted through today, but with attempts from the Opposition to ensure that proper rights of redress existed following automated decision making, and that international transfers of personal data went only to countries which had been given the data protection stamp of approval.

I re-made my case, in line with comments from the Joint Committee on Human Rights, that if the UK leaves the EU it will no longer be able to rely on the national security exemption under the EU Treaties (namely that national security is a reserved matter for Member States and nothing to do with the EU).

As such, when seeking to secure and maintain adequacy, the EU could post-Brexit look at the whole data protection environment in the UK as a third country. This would mean that any international transfers of the personal data of UK or EU citizens to countries deemed by the EU to be inadequate would risk cancelling our adequacy agreement.

The Home Office Minister, Victoria Atkins MP, made the point that Canada has an adequacy decision but failed to recognise that the European Commission has raised concerns with it about data transfers to the US (which puts Canada’s data adequacy at risk, too). This issue seemed, therefore, to not be of concern to the Government.

I also moved another amendment in my name, which made it clear that UK courts must have “regard” to EU courts in the developing area of data protection law. This would help the UK maintain its adequacy with EU law in the future. However, even though the Minister seemed to agree with all my arguments, the Conservative MPs on the committee voted down my amendment anyway.

Other Issues

We covered lots of other issues today, including new laws for age appropriate design to put extra pressure on companies to build consent and privacy tools that work for children.

We also started a conversation on the value of personal data: an area which I think needs much deeper and more urgent attention. The NHS, for example, is a global treasure trove of health data yet we don’t employ data scientists in the NHS nor do we have formal Government policy on how to ensure full value of that data for the NHS and NHS patients. This is a topic which I’ll return to later in the year through other related work.

And I raised the question with the Minister about the issues of consent, and the new offence of re-identification of de-identified personal data. However, I failed to get a useful response, so we will need to return to this at a later stage.

Finally, I wrote to Margot James MP today to re-assert my concerns with the democratic engagement rule which allows companies to process personal data without consent in the public interest. My concern is that this would have allowed Cambridge Analytica to do what it did. You can read my letter to the Minister here.

I’d better leave it there – but we’re back at it on Thursday for what will probably be the final day. I’ll be moving my new clause which seeks to bring technology ethics on a statutory footing. Given the big ethical questions associated with Cambridge Analytica, I hope the Government supports my new clause!

Darren Jones is the Labour MP for Bristol North West, a member of the EU Scrutiny Select Committee and Science and Technology Select Committee and is currently serving on the Public Bill Committee for the Data Protection Bill. He tweets at @darrenpjones.

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Darren supports Cystic Fibrosis Trust’s campaign for Orkambi

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has shared his views on access to Orkambi for constituents with Cystic Fibrosis.

Darren said:

“ I sympathise profoundly with anyone affected by Cystic Fibrosis (CF) and I appreciate the strength of support for making Orkambi available on the NHS, this is demonstrated by an online petition signed by  113,000 people.

In July 2016, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) concluded in its final guidance that Orkambi “could not be considered a cost-effective use of NHS resources” and subsequently did not recommend the drug for use on the NHS. I share the disappointment that will have been felt by many at this decision.

I understand that access to the drug Orkambi can extend the lives of 50% of the 10,400 people in the UK who currently live with CF, with this drug already available in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Italy, the Republic of Ireland, Greece and the United States.

The Government has welcomed dialogue between the pharmaceutical company, Vertex, and NHS England to agree a deal that would make Orkambi available to NHS patients. I know that the Cystic Fibrosis Trust has been working hard in pushing Vertex to put forward a substantive proposal to NHS England.

Parliament will hold a debate on access to Orkambi for people with CF on 19 March 2018. I will follow the debate closely and keep in mind the points my constituents have raised. In the meantime, I believe it is the responsibility of Ministers to facilitate the end of the deadlock between Vertex and NHS England so that people can access this vital drug and see their lives transformed.

At the General Election I stood on a manifesto that pledged to tackle the growing problem of rationing of services and medicines across England. The manifesto also committed to ensuring that all NHS patients get fast access to the most effective new drugs and treatments, and to insist on value-for-money agreements with pharmaceutical companies”.