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Darren praises Bristol Charity in Parliament

On Wednesday I spoke in a debate about the effect of arts on health. Amongst other things, I praised Bristol Music Trust for their work in increasing arts access, and called for support for the Musicians’ Union campaign for free movement for musicians.

WATCH here:

Read the full text of the speech here:

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Dorries. I congratulate Mr Vaizey on securing this important debate. I agree with the Arts Council, which says:

“Art and culture make life better, help to build diverse communities and improve our quality of life.”

As a Bristol MP, I am proud of the reputation my great city has in support for and delivery of the arts. I say to the Minister, whose Department is making the decision on the Channel 4 relocation, that Bristol is its natural home. Channel 4 would be welcomed with open arms, supported by a booming sector with expertise and a vision for the future of broadcasting.

As the Member for Bristol North West, I represent a constituency of haves and have-nots when it comes to access to the arts. For many of my constituents, getting to and accessing the best of Bristol’s art and culture is economically unviable. That is why I welcome the excellent work of Bristol’s Colston Hall, and the Bristol Music Trust, which works from it, in reaching out to distant communities to bring affordable arts to the many, not just the few. I also congratulate them on their funding efforts to build the first fully accessible music venue in the country.

In Bristol, we rely on performers from across the world and, indeed, Europe. I therefore call on the Minister and the Government to support the Musicians Union’s call for a commitment to ensuring the free movement of musicians.

I will conclude my remarks by talking about music and performance. As a child growing up in Lawrence Weston in my consistency—a council estate on the outskirts of Bristol—I never really got to experience the arts, but one Christmas, when I was in primary school, there was a performance from a local orchestra. There I was, sat on the floor, amazed by the noise that the musicians produced and the sound that they created, together, as an outfit. I decided that that was what I wanted to do, so I went to Portway Community School, now Oasis Academy Brightstowe, which had an amazing school orchestra, led at the time by Nicola Berry, and I learned the tenor saxophone—first, in the symphonic wind orchestra and, latterly, as a jazz musician.

Thanks to predecessors of the Bristol Music Trust, I got access to instruments, one-on-one tuition, music and the ability to practise and take my grades—because of public funding. Music taught me discipline and teamwork, and built my confidence, but public funds are required for pupils whose parents cannot afford to provide them with access to music. Children from low-income families are three times more likely to get a degree if they have been involved in arts and culture than those who have not.

I am always grateful to the people who gave me that opportunity and I call on the Government to ensure that other children, in my constituency and around the country, are not left behind. We must not let the music halls of our schools fall silent across the country. Our performance and confidence as young people, as cities and as a country is based on arts and culture. I hope that the Government will continue to invest in and support local authorities and charities to ensure that all of us, regardless of background, have access to excellent arts and culture training and performance, and the ability to build our confidence for roles such as becoming a Member of Parliament in the future.

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Darren Jones MP attends Parliament to hear statement on BAE Systems job losses

I was in the Chamber today to hear from the Government on aerospace job losses. Whilst there are currently no job losses suggested in Bristol, a significant number of key workers in this space are reaching retirement age. The Government needs to secure jobs and investment, and help to train young people in Bristol to ensure we keep these high level skilled workers in Britain.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41566841

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Darren Jones MP challenges Conservatives on nurses’ Pay

WATCH HERE:

In Parliament, your MP for Bristol North West Darren Jones MP recently challenged the Conservatives on nurses’ pay.

The Conservative government has limited Nurses’ pay rises to 1% a year for the last seven years. After price rises, this has often meant a pay cut for hard working nurses. They are still refusing to lift the cap, despite evidence it has gone too far.

 

Darren asked Conservative Helen Whately MP

‘She clearly wishes to champion nurses and their selfless desire to serve the public, but does she acknowledge that nurses in my constituency have to visit a food bank after a long shift at the hospital? Should not their selflessness in wanting to serve the public be recognised by their being paid what they deserve so that they can fund their families and their livelihoods?’

 

She responded that

‘I genuinely believe that all members of the public sector should be paid a fair amount, and that is exactly what the pay review body will report on in its next report.

I was making the important point that pay has not been the No. 1 issue among nurses and other healthcare professionals when I have asked them what worries them most. Instead, they mentioned having time to care; being part of a stable team rather than having a high turnover of staff and lots of temporary staff; being listened to by the people they work with, particularly the senior people in the institution; and being valued. Being valued is not all to do with pay; it is much more to do with the way they are treated. In fact, I remember very well talking to one nurse whose line manager had not talked to her since the previous appraisal. To me, that is an extraordinary way of not valuing a member of staff; everyone should have regular conversations with their manager about how they are progressing.

Part of the problem in some NHS institutions is, therefore, in my view, not good enough management practices. If they were improved, we would have a much better environment for staff to work in, and I would very much like to see more attention paid to creating the right environment for healthcare workers, as well as ensuring that there is a fair and sensible pay settlement.’

 

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Darren votes against Conservative control of all Select Committees

Despite not gaining a Parliamentary majority at the last election, the Conservative Party have taken majority control of all Select Committees through a House of Commons motion which only passed due to DUP votes. Ordinarily, Select Committee make up reflects that of the house.

Darren voted against this motion.

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Darren Jones MP backs campaign to scrap public sector pay cap for nurses

Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones has backed the growing campaign for the Government to scrap the 1 per cent cap on public sector pay in the upcoming Budget.

As the Commons returned from summer recess, Jones met with frontline nurses as part of the Royal College of Nursing’s lobby of Parliament.
Read more

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Darren Jones MP votes against the government’s Brexit bill

Darren today voted against the government’s EU Withdrawal Bill, which proposes handing over huge powers to the government from Parliament. It also proposes getting rid of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Here’s Darren explaining why he voted the way he did:

We have the first round of important votes next week on Brexit. This is why I’m voting against the EU Withdrawal Bill on Monday.

I’ve just come from the House of Commons, where I listened to Brexit Secretary David Davies introduce what’s called the “second reading” of the EU Withdrawal Bill.

I’ve always been clear on my views about Brexit. I think it’s a disaster. But my deep concern about this Bill isn’t about Brexit. It’s about the fact that the Bill, as worded, is a massive power grab by the government.

You elect an MP to represent you in Parliament. I have one vote on behalf of about 100,000 of you. You therefore get a say on what this country does. That’s why the Prime Minister must get votes through Parliament to do stuff.

The EU Withdrawal Bill gives the Prime Minister and her Ministers the legal right to make stuff up without requiring a vote in Parliament. That means that lots of the rights you have from EU law (such as maternity leave, holiday pay, consumer rights and much more) could be changed by a Minister without a debate and vote in Parliament. That means I can’t vote against the Government to protect your rights being changed.

The Bill doesn’t have to be this way. The purpose of it is to copy and paste EU law into UK law so that, if we leave entirely, the laws that we have today carry on as they are. But the Government is using this Bill to increase its power in a way which hasn’t been done before.

Ministers, including the Prime Minister, are accountable to Parliament so that – through me – they’re accountable to you. This Bill fundamentally changes the way that Parliament works.

It’s for that reason that I won’t be voting for it.

The final vote on this bill will be in the next few months. Keep your eyes peeled for more news and views on this from your MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones.

 

 

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Darren raises post-Brexit education funding with government

Brexit could have a devastating effect on public services, because they are funded by taxes and Brexit will cripple our tax receipts to the tune of up to £100 billion for 50 years (Berenberg Bank and OBR).

And as well as a possible tax receipt hit of £100 billion over the next 50 years, up to £100 billion of taxes will have to instead be spent on the EU ‘divorce bill’.

Education is a vital public service and so Darren raised it with the relevant minister, writing

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment she has made of the effect on forecasted funding for her Department in the event that the UK leaves the EU and only operates as a member of the WTO in its trading relationship with the EU.

Robert Goodwill, a Minister of State for the Department of Education, replied

As part of our preparations for exiting the European Union, the Government is in the process of carrying out a programme of rigorous and extensive analytical work across departments. This programme will contribute to our exit negotiations with the European Union and inform our understanding of how EU exit will affect the United Kingdom’s domestic policies and frameworks. This Department’s interests will be fully considered as part of this process and we are planning for a range of scenarios, working alongside HM Treasury and the Department for Exiting the European Union.

It is perhaps disappointing that the government cannot deliver an answer on this forecasted funding.

Agree with Darren? Keep updated on everything he’s doing here: https://www.facebook.com/darrenjonesmp/?fref=ts

 

Darren challenges the government on Brexit’s effect on public services

With Brexit looming, so is a potential ‘no-deal’ arrangement with the EU could have. This would be devastating for the economy, with trade tariffs implemented overnight on UK exports. And what is bad for the economy is bad for public services, because there is less tax money.

Darren wrote to Treasury and said the following:

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential effect on forecasted funding for public services in the UK in the event that the UK leaves the EU and operates as a member of the WTO in its trading relationship with the EU.

Elizabeth truss MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, responded:

The independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) produces forecasts independently of Ministers, doing so objectively, transparently and impartially, as required by law.

It is worth noting that the latest set of OBR forecasts, available here, do not include forecasts specific to different EU negotiation outcomes.

 

Agree with Darren? Keep updated on everything he’s doing here: https://www.facebook.com/darrenjonesmp/?fref=ts

 

Darren Jones MP asks the government about post-Brexit trade arrangments

Darren asked:

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment she has made of the potential effect of the UK operating only as a member of the WTO on the UK’s preparations for complying with the General Data Protection Regulation; and what key differences exist between the (a) WTO rules in respect of the digital sector and (b) those rules that exist by being a member of the EU.

Matthew Hancock, a minister at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, replied:

The Government is committed to ensuring the highest level of data protection for UK citizens now and in the future. To that end, the Data Protection Bill, as announced in the Queen’s Speech, will be introduced to Parliament in due course.

Agree with Darren? Keep updated on everything he’s doing here: https://www.facebook.com/darrenjonesmp/?fref=ts