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Watch Darren ask business and third sector representatives about post-Brexit visas

The Science and Technology committee, which Darren is a member of, held a one off evidence session on post-Brexit immigration arrangements. The session was set up to help the committee develop proposals for an immigration system which works for science and innovation.

The witnesses were from a range of bodies, including techUK (the main trade body for technology companies in the UK), the Wellcome Trust (a health research charity) and the Campaign for Science and Engineering.

Darren asked them about which non-EEA countries we should focus on getting visa arrangements in place with.

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Darren votes on EU withdrawal bill amendments

This week, the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, which decides how we will leave the EU – if we do – came back to the House of Commons. The House of Lords had added amendments including for EEA membership and a meaningful vote in Parliament on the final deal. The Commons was asked to vote on these. Darren wrote a letter to constituents, published on Facebook, explaining how he would vote. You can read the letter here.

 

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Darren asks experts about Energy Drinks

The Science and Technology Committee are currently holding an inquiry into energy drinks. They are looking at the effect of these drinks on health, particularly of young people and children.

Darren asked a board of academics, dietitians and a representative from a teachers union about this issue. He focused on the advertising of energy drinks, and how this might affect their consumption.

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Darren asks scientists about UK Quantum Technology

Darren attended an evidence session for the Science and Technology Committee’s Quantum Technologies inquiry, which will look at how Quantum Technology development in the UK can be aided.

Quantum technology was picked out as an industrial challenges to be addressed by the Industrial Strategy. The Quantum Tech sector, as a result, will be allocated £20m ‘pioneer funding’. This is on top of existing government support, including the establishment of a National Quantum Technologies Programme in 2013. This programmes translates academic work on quantum into new products and services.

In the first part of the evidence session, two witnesses who have been closely involved in the programme gave evidence. In the second, there was a broader discussion about Quantum Technology development with academics and learned societies with an interest in quantum technologies.

Darren asked the first set of witnesses about international collaboration after Brexit:

 

He asked the second set about the skills, standards and regulations for Quantum Technology:


 

 

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Darren asks experts about social media and violence

 

The Science and Technology Committee, which Darren is a member of, held public evidence session on social media and its links to violence. This was part of its inquiry on Social Media and screens-use.

The witnesses present were Martin Hewitt, Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service, Dr Netta Weinstein, Senior Lecturer, Cardiff University, Beth Murray, Director of Communications and Engagement, Catch 22, Dr Keir Irwin-Rogers, Lecturer, The Open University, and Sheldon Thomas, Consultant on gang and youth violence, Gangsline.

Darren asked the witnesses about the funding for online policing, and who should be responsible for enforcing regulation on the internet.

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Darren asks scientific experts about social media and the harm it could cause

Darren was present at the Science and Technology committee’s first evidence session for its Social media and screens-use inquiry. Here, charities, learned societies and academics were asked about cyber-bullying, addiction and body image.

The witnesses shown here were Matt Blow, Policy and Government Affairs Manager, YoungMinds, Dr Liam Hackett, CEO, Ditch the Label, Dustin Hutchinson, Research and Policy Analyst, National Children’s Bureau, and Carolyn Bunting, CEO, Internet Matters.

Darren asked the witnesses about the age of consent for social media, and about evidence linking social media to health related harms.

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Darren speaks to TalkRadio about tipping scandals

Darren spoke to TalkRadio about scandals around waiting staff tips. Some restaurants are taking staff tips, and some are even charging waiting staff money in case they get any tips. Darren then talked about what he was going to do about this.

You can listen to the full interview here:

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Darren asks government about Brexit

In European Scrutiny Committee today, Darren asked the Northern Ireland secretary – Karen Bradley MP – about Brexit, particularly in relation to Northern Ireland.

He first asked about the single market, customs arrangements (including the possibility of EU customs at Avonmouth port) and the Good Friday agreement after Brexit, and if she knew of any global examples of arrangements which might work here.

He then asked whether she had had meetings with the DUP on this issue, and on the content of these meetings.

He finally asked about whether or not we were running out of time to get customs and trade arrangements in place before Brexit.

Darren challenges the government over Universities and Defence

In Science and Technology Committee today, Darren asked Government minister Sam Gymiah – Minister for Universities and Science – about two different issues.

Firstly, he asked whether or not universities could really be expected to regulate themselves. Currently, aside from in a few high risk areas universities are responsible for regulating the integrity of their own research. Darren asked whether or not this presented a conflict of interest risk. The minister agreed, and promised to ‘keep looking at’ the issue. But he thought there was ‘no immediate’ need to do anything. You can watch this exchange below:

Secondly, Darren asked when employees of defence companies were going to know about post-Brexit contracts, including contracts for the Galileo satellite project. Currently, security co-operation with the EU after Brexit has not been negotiated, meaning that Britain’s ability to win EU defence contracts is up in the air.  You can watch this exchange here:

 

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Darren speaks on Grandparents’ issues, and supports Bristol Grandparent Support Group

Currently, there is no legal right for grandparents in the UK to see their grandchildren. That can lead to some grandparents having contact with grandchildren completely halted. That’s what happened to Jane Jackson – but she used the experience to build a support group for people in a similar situations to her, and to speak out and campaign on this issue. Darren spoke in Parliament in support of her and her work.