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Darren speaks in Meaningful Vote debate

Darren spoke in the House of Commons debate which is taking place before the Meaningful Vote. He spoke about how damaging Brexit would be and how the people deserve a final say on it. You can watch the full speech here:

Darren looks in Government Digital Services on Science and Tech Committee

The Science and Technology Committee, which Darren sits on, is currently holding an inquiry into the progress of Government Digital Services. Government Digital Services is aimed at developing the use of digital services across Government.

Darren asked two witnesses to the inquiry, Tom Loosemore, Partner at Public Digital, former Deputy Director of the Government Digital Service (2011-2015), and Dafydd Vaughan, Director, Cedryrn Ltd, about a variety of issues including the concrete changes needed to improve Government Digital Services.

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Darren calls for parity for children’s mental health funding

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, has commented on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services following release of a major new report from the Children’s Commissioner for England.

The report includes a detailed break-down of spending, waiting times and the number of children turned away for each area of England. This has enabled Darren to take a detailed look at provision in Bristol. Bristol CCG’s results show that between April 2017 and March 2018:

• 41% of children who are referred to NHS CAMHS services are not accepted for treatment. The Commissioner does not know what, if any, alternative support is available to these children.

• Of those who are accepted, 47% are seen within 4 weeks – this compares to 80% across England. 19% have to wait more than 6 weeks.

• Children’s mental health accounts for less than 1% of local NHS spending (0.99% locally). Per capita, adult mental health services are funded at three times the rate of children’s services. Bringing about parity of spending (per head) requires an additional £1.7bn to be invested in children’s mental health services nationally.

In response the Children’s Commissioner calls for the three commitments from NHS England to be included within the forthcoming NHS 10-yr Plan, I support:

1) A spending benchmark that brings parity between child and adult mental health, achieved within five years.

2) A large expansion of community mental health treatment to ensure that by 2023 the NHS is in a position to ensure no child who needs help is turned away. This should be combined with a clear four-week waiting times target.

3) A comprehensive plan for the NHS and local partners to provide lower-level children’s mental health services, to ensure easy access before conditions deteriorate. This should include an NHS-funded counsellor in every school.

Darren said:

“I will be meeting the CCG in the New Year and plan to raise these mattes for further discussion. I believe we can – and must – do better to ensure our young people get the support they need and deserve – the first step would be giving parity of funding per person to children and adolescent services as they do to adult mental health service. 41% of those referred for treatment do not receive it – that is genuinely concerning and must be fully investigated”.

 

 

 

 

 

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Darren backs second reading of Modern Slavery Bill

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, has signed a cross-party letter sent to The Times supporting the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill:

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Dear Sir,

We welcome the Government’s plans to improve support for victims of modern slavery. But their limited proposals are inadequate.

This problem would be addressed directly by the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill, scheduled for Second Reading today (23rd November) in the House of Commons.

The Bill would provide a guaranteed period of 12 months support after someone is confirmed as a victim and, for those who need it, the right to remain in the UK during that year so they can receive the help they need.

Long term support is crucial. Support prevents re-trafficking and allows victims time to rebuild their lives. It also gives them stability enabling them to give evidence against their traffickers, greatly increasing the chance of convictions.

We have a golden opportunity to create a truly world class system of victim support. We urge the Government to give its full support to the Bill before it runs out of time.

Yours sincerely,

Lord McColl of Dulwich CBE; Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP; Kevin Hyland OBE; Baroness Redfern; Lord Kennedy of Southwark; Lord Hogan-Howe QPM; Lord Elton TD; Kate Green MP; Barry Sheerman MP; Baroness Newlove; Jon Cruddas MP; Baroness Kennedy of Cradley; Baroness Thornton; Rt. Hon Baroness Butler-Sloss GBE; Carolyn Harris MP; Catherine West MP; Baroness Howe of Idlicote CBE; Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP; Jonathan Edwards MP; Kelvin Hopkins MP; Marie Rimmer MP; Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP; Baroness Stroud; Ben Lake MP; Helen Hayes MP; Ruth George MP; Vernon Coaker MP; Caroline Lucas MP; Heidi Allen MP; Lord Hylton; Kerry McCarthy MP; Helen Goodman MP; Sarah Champion MP; Jess Phillips MP; Baroness Sheehan; Ann Coffey MP; Baroness Hamwee; Gareth Snell MP; Daniel Zeichner MP; Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws QC; Bishop Alastair Redfern; Anne Marie Morris MP; Jim McMahon MP; Darren Jones MP; Tim Farron MP; Lord Dubs; Kate Osamor MP; Diana Johnson MP; Baroness Cox; Rt Hon David Lammy MP; Fiona Bruce MP; Lord Alton of Liverpool (Trustee, Arise Foundation); Jim Cunningham MP; Alex Norris MP; Siobhain McDonagh MP; Stuart McDonald MP; Lord Skinkwin; Charlie Elphicke MP; Andrew Selous MP; Gillian Keegan MP;

Darren said:

“I have championed the rights of victims of modern slavery and trafficking since my election in June 2017. This has included raising the rights of victims at a debate in Westminster Hall, calling for new anti Modern Slavery measures to be trialled in Bristol and hosting a Business Forum to raise awareness of modern slavery in supply chains. I have made it my mission to highlight modern slavery, support victims and drive this horrific crime out of Bristol – I therefore fully support the second reading of the Modern Slavery Bill”.

Darren quizzes academics over public R&D spending

The Science and Technology Committee, of which Darren is a member, is currently holding an inquiry into the balance and effectiveness of research and innovation spending. The inquiry is trying to find how the UK can spend public R&D money best, as well as some other linked issues.

As part of this inquiry Darren asked two academics what, in their view, needs to be done to ensure that public R&D spending is monitored more effectively.

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Darren calls for ban on sale of energy drinks to under 16s

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, has submitted a formal response to the government’s consultation on the use of energy drinks by young people.

To inform Darren’s views on this matter, he met students, parents and teaching staff at a Shirehampton school last week (16th Nov) to discuss the government’s consultation on energy drinks which includes options to ban the sale of said drinks to either those under 18 or all under 16’s.

As part of the Science and Tech Committee, Darren has previously shared his concerns about the advertisement and marketing of energy drinks and health impacts on young people and urged for tighter restrictions on their sale.

Darren also launched a constituency-wide survey to gather feedback on the government’s proposals. The survey showed 89% of respondents agreed with banning the sale of energy drinks to under 16’s. There was also overwhelming support (93%) for tighter regulation on the advertisement of energy drinks with 90% of constituents undertaking the survey feeling cigarette-style health warnings should be prominently displayed on packaging.

Darren said:

“The health of young people is of paramount importance and must not be overlooked. That’s why I have called on government to heed the advice of many experts, parents and those who work with young people to ban the sale of high-sugar, high-caffeine energy drinks to those under 16. I have also called on the government to ensure banning the sale of energy drinks to under 16’s extends beyond shops into cafes, restaurants, sports clubs, vending machines, education and healthcare settings – basically anywhere young people are. Such action would send a clear message that, regardless of age, energy drinks are not good for your health and they should be consumed with caution in line with other products that have age restrictions.

I strongly urge the government to swiftly progress a ban for under 16’s and also consider restricting the advertisement, and sponsorship activity, of energy drinks in line with other age-restricted products such as tobacco. Energy drinks should also be much more clearly labelled as harmful to health if consumed regularly so consumers of any age can make informed decisions”.

 

 

 

 

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Darren hosts school debate on energy drinks and social media use for Parliament Week

To celebrate Parliament Week 2018, Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, chaired a debate with students, parents and teaching staff at Oasis Brightstowe in Shirehampton on Friday 15th November.

As both the local MP and a member of the Science and Technology Committee, Darren Jones MP met students, parents and teaching staff at the Shirehampton school to discuss the government’s consultation on energy drinks which includes options to ban the sale of said drinks to either those under 18 or all under 16’s. The debate also included discussion on the impact of screen time and social media use on young people – a subject the committee has also investigated.

Darren has previously shared his concerns about the advertisement and marketing of energy drinks and health impacts on young people and urged for tighter restrictions on their sale.

Following the committee’s inquiry into energy drinks, Darren launched a constituency-wide survey to gather feedback on the government’s proposals. The survey showed 89% of respondents agreed with banning the sale of energy drinks to under 16’s, 80% believed only those over 18 should be allowed to purchase energy drinks. There was also overwhelming support (93%) for tighter regulation on the advertisement of energy drinks with 90% of constituents undertaking the survey feeling cigarette-style health warnings should be prominently displayed on packaging.

One anonymous constituent who works with children with SEN said “Children often miss meals, lose out on sleep (due to social media and gaming) and make poor dietary choices. Energy drinks have a massive impact on all children, but for those who are medicated for conditions such as ADHD it has a hugely detrimental effect. Although these drinks are banned in school, many children drink them on their way to school as they believe it will help them focus. This is especially true during exams.”

Darren said:

“  I would like to thank everyone who completed my survey on energy drinks and attended today’s debate at Oasis Brightstowe. Whilst I have my own views and experiences of energy drinks and social media use, it is vital I hear from a wide range of people, so I can best represent their views – especially those of young people themselves.

Prior to the government’s consultation, I called for a detailed investigation on the health impact of these sugary, caffeine-filled drinks and urged for closer regulation of their sale and advertising. It’s clear people in Bristol North West share my concerns as did the young people I spoke with today – I continue to urge the government to bring a bill before parliament that restricts the sale of these drinks to those under 16”.

Darren added

“We also discussed social media use and the impact of screen time – with some of the students saying they spend around three hours a day on their phone and with all of the students having a phone by aged 12 clearly impact of ‘prolonged phone time’ needs more investigation. Interestingly, all the students and parents were supportive of the school’s ban on phones throughout the day to help support learning and ensure the school was a cyber-bullying free space.

At committee meetings, I’ve asked experts what affect social media and screen use have on young people’s health and it’s clear whilst most experts agree there is an impact on concentration, body image and self-confidence, we don’t know enough and technology is continuing to outpace the government’s regulation of the sector. I will continue to seek greater funding for cyber-policing, research and enforcement of online regulation to ensure our young people and all our data is safe”.

 

 

 

 

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Darren comments on MP Expenses

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has spoke about his expenses claims:

Darren said:

“ Every year some newspapers run a story on MPs expenses. Because I’m the only newly elected MP in Bristol, my expenses are the highest in the city.

That’s because I’m given “start-up” budgets to pay for new IT and a new office. I also bought in consultant staff to get us set up and to carry me over until I recruited a full time team, and I had higher transport costs at the very beginning of my time as an MP because I needed to use a hire car.

My expenses have always been on the transparency page of my website, and I’ve included a link to the full details every month in my monthly e-mails to constituents.

As a consequence of investing in my staff, office, IT and software we were really proud to receive a 90% satisfaction rating from constituents who completed my annual survey in respect of my casework, policy responses and campaigning in Bristol North West.

MPs can either keep their head down when these stories come out, or they can be upfront and honest with people about the costs of being an active Member of Parliament. I will always pick the latter!

Here’s the transparency page of my website if you’d like to look at the detail: www.darren-jones.co.uk/my-expenses”.

 

 

 

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Darren calls for investment in bowel cancer diagnosis

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has signed a cross-party letter, along with 44 other MPs, calling on the government to commit to dramatically improve the speed of diagnosis of bowel cancer.

The letter backs Bowel Cancer UK’s campaign to ensure bowel cancer is diagnosed quickly so patients have access to treatment and the highest possible chance of beating the disease.

Darren said:

Ahead of the Government’s spending review and publication of the NHS 10 Year Plan in November, I’ve signed a cross-party letter supporting Bowel Cancer UK‘s campaign to end the crisis in diagnosis.

Early diagnosis can make bowel cancer more treatable and potentially, curable. Too many people are waiting far too long to get screened and tested – with investment and commitment to a funded action plan the government have the power to change this. With 9 of 10 people diagnosed at the earliest stage surviving bowel cancer, I call on them to act now, ahead of the Autumn Budget, to bring an end to this potentially life-threatening crisis!”