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Darren demands formal apology for Amritsar Massacre

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has received a reply from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office after signing a cross party letter, calling on the government to issue a formal apology for British actions in the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre in 1919.

Darren said:

” I’ve now received a reply from the Government following the joint letter I signed seeking a full apology for the massacre in 1919 at Amritsar.

This half-hearted response isn’t good enough – the Government has missed an important opportunity, given the 100 year anniversary, to issue an apology for this appalling event. I will continue to call for an official apology”.

“I“.

 

 

 

 

 

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Darren demands cessation of visa fees for commonwealth armed forces personnel

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has signed a cross party letter, along with 130 other MPs, calling on the Home Secretary to cease charging visa fees for commonwealth servicemen and women who, after their service to this country, apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (which costs £2389 per person, per application).

Darren said:

“I am pleased to have signed this letter – all visa fees, alongside the assessment process, need a total re-think, but making money out of those  who have risked their lives for this country (as the cost to the tax payer to process these applications is very low) is totally unacceptable and must stop”.

 

 

 

 

 

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Darren meets Southmead Sudanese community

Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones recently met members of Southmead’s Sudanese community at the Greenway Café to discuss the on-going conflict in Sudan.

Darren said after their meeting:

“I was pleased to meet a number of Southmead constituents with Sudanese heritage to discuss the on-going violence in the country. We talked about what I can do to raise the profile of this often-invisible conflict in Westminster and share the plight of those living surrounded war, food shortages and human rights abuses including sexual violence.”.

 

Darren questions Government over arms sales to Saudi Arabia

In light of the concern over the use of UK made weapons by Saudi Arabia in the Yemen, Darren raised a question with the Department for International Trade. The Department is responsible for making risk assessments for the purpose of handing out licences to UK businesses to export weapons.

Darren asked:

 To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, if he will publish the risk assessments made by his Department on the granting of export licences for arms sales to Saudi Arabia since 25 May 2010.

A representative of the Department, Graham Stuart MP (Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) replied:

The Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria provides a thorough risk assessment framework for considering all applications to export military goods to Saudi Arabia. The policy remains as announced to Parliament in a Written Ministerial Statement on 25 March 2014:

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140325/wmstext/140325m0001.htm#14032566000018 and updated with an additional policy, as announced in a Written Ministerial Statement on 13 September 2018:

https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2018-09-13/HCWS957/.

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Darren speaks about Modern Slavery in Bristol

Modern slavery, whereby people are forced into slavery often after being trafficked, is a serious problem in Bristol North West; Avon and Somerset Police have found slavery at Nail Bars and Car Washes in the constituency.

Darren spoke in a Parliamentary debate on Modern Slavery in Westminster Hall (Parliament’s second chamber) to highlight the problem in Bristol North West and further afield, and what is being done to address it. You can watch this below:

Darren voices concerns about technology defence risks

Darren asked Sam Gyimah, Conservative Minister for Universities and Science, about how we can make sure high-tech Quantam technology doesn’t fall into the wrong hands through business deals. He also asked the minister about other aspects of UK science, including access to funding after Brexit.

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Darren highlights issues of climate change and arms technology in relation to Britain’s place in the world

Today there was a debate in the House of Commons about ‘Global Britain’. Darren used the opportunity to talk about the risks of climate change and arms technology to Britain and the international order.

Darren shares his views on the ongoing crisis in Western Sahara

The Moroccan monarchy has occupied Western Sahara since the 1970s. Many original inhabitants of this area and their descendants have long been seeking self-determination.

There is widespread concern that Morocco is committing human rights abuses here, and economically exploiting the region. Furthermore, there has not been a referendum on the self-determination of the region during Moroccan rule.

Darren said this about the situation:

It is apparent that human rights violations are taking place regularly in the Western Sahara region, with – for example – many in Western Sahara serving long prison terms after unfair trials for politically motivated offences. I therefore believe urgent and large-scale action against this would be in order, including via the UN. Furthermore, it is clear to me that trade deals are not being made with regard to fair distribution of the Western Sahara’s resources, in particular the EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement. This should end, with foreign countries refusing to enter these trade deals.

Finally, each group of people has the right to self-determination, including those in Western Sahara. That said, Moroccan settlers now constitute a majority in the Western Sahara . With the difficulties this presents, I encourage peaceful dialogue between all sides, in order to determine any independence referendum’s terms. If a resolution is not possible here, then autonomous region status within Morocco is an alternative which is worth exploring.

Darren on the current Syria situation

Darren said:

Thank you to those of you that have been in touch with me about Syria. I want Parliament to have a say, but I haven’t been told by the Government yet whether this will happen.

My current view is that it needs to be made clear that the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable. Therefore, something must be done about what has happened in Douma.

However, I haven’t yet been provided with the evidence, the options or the view on consequences of those options for taking military action in Syria.

Airstrikes don’t seem to solve the issue, and taking any further action to defeat Assad still leaves us with the potential of an unacceptable leadership in Syria from the Assad opposition. This is a complicated situation that requires careful consideration and a calm approach.

If I do get the chance to vote, I will listen to the Government, the evidence and the debate in the House. Until then I’m keeping an open mind about how I vote (not least because I haven’t yet been told what I’d be voting for!).

I hope that helps, and I promise to keep you all posted.

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Darren shares his views on UK aid budget

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has shared his thoughts on maintaining 0.7% of UK gross national income(GNI) for the overseas aid budget.

Darren said:

“ During the 2010-15 Parliament, the UK became the first G7 country to enshrine in law a target to spend 0.7% of GNI on overseas aid and did so with cross-party support. The development and improvements in hundreds of millions of people’s lives that have resulted from this commitment have been a credit to humanity. For example, from 2010-15, British aid supported 11 million children through school and helped more than 60 million people to access clean water, better sanitation and improved hygiene conditions. UK support during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, meanwhile, halted the spread of the disease. Such achievements should be a source of pride for everyone in the UK. I therefore remain profoundly committed to spending 0.7% of GNI on overseas aid. 

I share people’s concerns at recent questioning of the UK’s foreign aid budget. It is worrying that, while the Government has committed to maintaining the 0.7% target, its plans also suggest a shift away from the current cross-party consensus on international development. For example, the Government has stated its intention to attempt to change international definitions of development assistance. It has further stated that if it fails to do this, it will change the law to allow it to use its own definition of development assistance. I am concerned that this is an attempt to use overseas aid intended for poverty reduction for things such as security and counter-terrorism, and to plug funding gaps in other departments. 

It is vital that we continue to abide by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development definition of aid and use our overseas assistance to promote the economic development and welfare of developing countries. Abandoning this global standard would undermine the purpose of the 0.7% commitment and send the wrong message to the rest of the world. I will continue to defend the UK’s aid target and press for the correct use of the international aid budget”.