Gerald Jones MP

Putting Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney at the Heart of Parliament

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Putting Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney at the heart of Parliament

 

I was first elected to represent Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney in Parliament on May 7th 2015 and was subsequently re-elected in the snap General Election on 8th June 2017.

Gerald_Jones_MP.jpgMerthyr Tydfil and Rhymney is my home, I’ve lived here all my life. Being raised in the village of New Tredegar where I still live to this day, I’ve never wanted to live anywhere else. I believe strongly that wherever you go in the world, you still won’t get a warmer welcome than Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney.

I’m a passionate advocate of these Valleys; we live in the beating heart of Wales. Since the constituency elected Keir Hardie over 100 years ago our constituency has been at the centre of British Politics. We’ve led the debate for better wage, we were the first people across the world to raise the red flag of social justice, and our representatives have included two leaders of the Labour party as well as the Minister responsible for founding the NHS. We have been at the forefront of building a better Britain.

In my time as MP, I've tried to fairly represent our communities and values, putting them at the forefront of the British political debate as my predecessors have done. As a Labour representative I've put the values of fairness and justice at the heart of everything I do. I promise to stand up and speak out for equality of opportunity, and for all the people across the constituency. I

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If you have an issue that you feel I may be of help with, please feel free to get in touch - my details can be found under the 'Get in touch' tab.

Gerald

Welcome

Putting Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney at the heart of Parliament   I was first elected to represent Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney in Parliament on May 7th 2015 and was subsequently re-elected in the snap...

Gerald Jones MP for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney is supporting Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer’s campaign to help raise awareness of bowel cancer symptoms, as part of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month this April.

In April alone, 188 people in Wales will be diagnosed with bowel cancer and 77 people will die of the disease. It’s the nation’s second biggest cancer killer. However, it shouldn’t be. It’s treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early. Nearly everyone diagnosed at the earliest stage will survive bowel cancer but this drops significantly as the disease develops. Early diagnosis really does save lives, but only around 15% of people are diagnosed at the earliest stage.

Being aware of key symptoms and visiting your GP if things don’t feel right can help increase chances of an early diagnosis. However, according to a recent poll commissioned of 4,000 UK adults by the charity, a third of people in Wales (33%) were not aware of any symptoms at all.

Gerald Jones MP said:

“With as much as a third of people in Wales not being aware of any symptoms of Bowel Cancer, and given early diagnosis can save lives, I would urge all constituents, if they are worried that something is wrong, to visit their GP. Your GP may be able to put your mind at rest or refer you for further testing. It is too important to ignore.

“Bowel Cancer UK’s website also offers more information and guidance on the symptoms of Bowel Cancer, and I would encourage everyone to visit it here: bowelcanceruk.org.uk/symptomsguide.”

Asha Kaur, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer, said, “I’d like to thank Gerald Jones MP for supporting our campaign during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month to increase awareness of key bowel cancer symptoms. Every 15 minutes in the UK someone is diagnosed with bowel cancer. That’s almost 42,000 people every year. But it’s treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early.”

To help you raise awareness of bowel cancer, Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer is giving away free copies of their handy symptoms guide for you to share with your family and friends. Sign up now to receive your free guide here: bowelcanceruk.org.uk/symptomsguide

Visit Bowel Cancer UK or Beating Bowel Cancer’s website to find out how you can get involved in their campaign for Bowel Cancer Awareness Month: bowelcanceruk.org.uk or beatingbowelcancer.org

 

Raising Awareness During Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

Gerald Jones MP for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney is supporting Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer’s campaign to help raise awareness of bowel cancer symptoms, as part of Bowel...

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Earlier today I asked the Leader of the House of Commons about the Government's procurement policy for new Mechanised Infantry Vehicles:

Gerald Jones: Recent press reports suggest that the Government are moving towards agreeing a new contract for mechanised infantry vehicles with a German-led consortium without allowing any UK firms, such as General Dynamics UK in my constituency, to have the opportunity to tender for that work. May we have a debate or statement from a Minister so that we can understand the Government’s thinking on procurement? As we approach Brexit, businesses need reassurance and support.

Andrea Leadsom: I am not aware of the specific example that the hon. Gentleman gives, but I can tell him in a general sense that the Government have clear and transparent rules on procurement. We are of course big supporters of global free trade as a means of improving prosperity for all. If he would like to write to me on the specific subject, I can take it up with Ministers on his behalf.

Business Statement - 29th March

Earlier today I asked the Leader of the House of Commons about the Government's procurement policy for new Mechanised Infantry Vehicles: Gerald Jones: Recent press reports suggest that the Government...

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Earlier today I spoke in Labour's opposition day debate on police funding. During it, I said:

"It is a pleasure to be called to speak in today’s debate.

It is clear that the UK Statistics Authority, along with police forces across Wales and England and indeed many members of the public, just does not buy the Government’s rhetoric that they are providing an extra £450 million in the forthcoming financial year. That is clearly not the case.

After significant campaigning by my hon. Friend Louise Haigh, the independent watchdog has now identified that, far from providing extra money, the annual police grant is actually a “flat cash settlement” for police forces across the country, and actually amounts to a cut in direct Whitehall grants to local policing. As a result of my hon. Friend’s work, we now know that Home Office funding for local forces will be cut in real terms.

It seems that the Government’s figures are based on an assumption that an extra £270 million will be raised from local taxes—that money comes from local council tax payers and not from the Government. The Government also included £130 million earmarked for national police priorities that will never be available to local policing.

For my local force, South Wales police, an increase in the precept has been essential to help maintain the service, to allow for the protection of vulnerable people and to continue investment in the future of policing in south Wales. Even with the increase in the 2018-19 precept, South Wales police will still have to cut spending by £3.5 million in the coming year, while tackling significant growth in demand and preventing crime through early intervention and prompt, positive action.

There is added frustration in South Wales because despite repeated calls for a review, the Home Office still does not recognise the extra cost of policing Cardiff, the capital city, so South Wales police is further short-changed, whereas additional money is provided to forces policing London and Edinburgh. Although I represent the Merthyr Tydfil part of the South Wales police area, the pressures of policing the capital city clearly put pressure on resources for my constituency. For example, it cost £5.7 million to police the Champions Leaguefinal in Cardiff in June last year. On that occasion, one-off grants were made available from the Home Office, the Welsh Government and the Football Association of Wales. However, South Wales police deployed 1,556 officers and spent £2.1 million of its budget.

The Rhymney side of my constituency is policed under Gwent police. Gwent’s police and crime commissioner, Jeff Cuthbert, has joined other PCCs and Sir David Norgrove, the chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, in calling for clarity over the UK Government’s claims. Gwent Police has already seen its budget cut by 40% in real terms since the start of the UK Government’s austerity agenda, leaving the PCC with little choice other than to turn to council tax payers.

All of this is taking place against the backdrop of 21,000 officers lost since austerity began in 2010; more than 18,000 police staff and more than 6,800 police community support officers have been axed, despite a promise to protect the frontline. On a positive note, one of the few areas where PCSOs have been supported is in Wales, where 500 are directly supported by the Welsh Labour Government, helping to ensure visibility of the policing family and mitigate against Tory cuts. We know that this is also taking place against the backdrop of figures showing that crime has risen nationwide by 14%, the highest annual rise since 1992. Violent crime has risen by 20% and robbery has risen by 29%. In many communities I represent, antisocial behaviour is having a detrimental effect on the quality of life. Public meetings have been called by local communities, and I attended one recently in Abertysswg with the local police, who are doing all that they can with limited resources.

As I said at the start, we know that the “£450 million” is a flat cash settlement for police forces in England and Wales, so we now have the situation where local council tax payers are paying for the Tory cuts imposed from Westminster. I urge the Government to be clear and transparent. I will be fully supporting the motion today, and I urge the Minister to consider it and confirm what action the Government will take to address the concerns."

Police Funding Debate - 28th March 2018

Earlier today I spoke in Labour's opposition day debate on police funding. During it, I said: "It is a pleasure to be called to speak in today’s debate. It is...

Pauline was presented with a certificate and flowers today (Wednesday 28th March) in recognition of her fantastic voluntary efforts in a number of roles for the local community in Troedyrhiw.

Dawn Bowden AM made the presentation saying:

“Pauline makes a huge contribution to her local community and in the service of others. Whether helping at the local youth club or in teaching young people to cook. Pauline assists homeless people and others who are in need of a hot meal or some friendship. She is part of the Neighbourhood Watch group and helps with community litter picks. Pauline packs a lot in to her time. She also helps at Greenfield school above and beyond her job, and Pauline was central to seeing a carnival return to Troedyrhiw last Summer. Pauline is someone who gives so much back to her local community and is deserving of this recognition”.

Gerald Jones MP recorded a message of congratulations to Pauline as he had to be in Parliament for important votes. Gerald Jones told Pauline

“I offer my congratulations to you on becoming the newest “Community Star”. The work you are doing in Troedyrhiw really brings home the community spirit that exists in our communities. It is great stuff you are doing, and more power to your elbow. Keep up the good work and sincere congratulations."

Community Stars

Dawn Bowden AM and Gerald Jones MP created the “Community Stars” award in response to the TV series Valleys Cops because they felt the programme reinforced negative stereotypes of the local area. They introduced a “Community Stars” scheme to highlight and recognise some of the great work taking place in communities across Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney.

 

Pauline Rees named as second "Community Star"

Pauline was presented with a certificate and flowers today (Wednesday 28th March) in recognition of her fantastic voluntary efforts in a number of roles for the local community in Troedyrhiw....

I have recently received answers to a number of Written Parliamentary Questions. They were as follows:

 

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to the Answer of 3 April 2017 to Question 69592, on Reserve Forces: Pay, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the changes to internal tax code procedures for Reservist personnel.

Tobias Ellwood: The Ministry of Defence considers that the current arrangements are an improvement over those previously in place. However, accurate collection of income tax from our deployed Reservists requires their civilian employers to follow the guidance issued online at: https://www.gov.uk/employee-reservist.

 

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the oral contribution of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence of 5 March 2018, Official Report, column 12, when his Department plans to write to the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney on its definition of a core activity and an additional facility.

Tobias Ellwood: I wrote to the hon. Member on 19 March.

 

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the Answer of 16 March 2018 to Question 131619, on armoured fighting vehicles, which eight organisations returned questionnaires.

Guto Bebb: The eight organisations that returned questionnaires for the Mechanised Infantry Vehicle requirement are: ARTEC, BAES, FNSS, General Dynamics, Nexter, Patria, ST Engineering, and Thales.

 

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many expressions of interest his Department has received on the supply of the future Mechanised Infantry Vehicle.

Guto Bebb: The Ministry of Defence has not received any Expressions of Interest. In 2016, it did conduct market analysis of the supply base for 8 x 8 Mechanised Infantry Vehicles via Defence Contracts On-Line; eight organisations returned questionnaires.

 

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that equipment purchased via the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation or single source procurement provides value for money.

Guto Bebb: The Ministry of Defence (MOD) approach to acquisition is to carefully assess the choices available to achieve best value for money while meeting the needs of the UK Armed Forces. This is sometimes achieved through competition, sometimes through single source arrangements, and sometimes through collaboration, which itself may involve elements of competition.

International organisations such as the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) will establish value for money in a similar way to the UK MOD. This can include establishing prices via competitions. They will also have similar provisions in place to those under the UK's Single Source Contract Regulations (SSCR), which includes detailed visibility of the breakdown of costs.

The MOD seeks to ensure value for money in single source procurement through the provisions of the Defence Reform Act 2014 and the associated SSCR. Parliament enacted this legislation specifically to address some of the difficulties the MOD had previously faced in assuring value for money when undertaking single source procurement. This approach has already significantly strengthened the MOD's ability to secure value for money through single source procurement.

 

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what recent progress has been made on establishing the Strike Experimentation Group.

Mark Lancaster: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 6 December 2017 to Question 117878 to the hon. Member for Llanelli (Nia Griffith). 

 

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the participation rates in the Continuous Attitude Surveys were for (a) the armed forces, (b) families and (c) the reserves in each of the last five years.

Tobias Ellwood: The Armed Forces constantly strive to sustain and improve the response rates for the three Continuous Attitude Surveys (CAS). We do this in various ways, including by reducing the burden on respondents by ensuring that the number of questions is minimised and that they are written in a straightforward way. We also ensure that the surveys reach their intended audience by tracking their distribution and using nominated points of contact at unit level to assist with the distribution of surveys and with communications. Units are given their individual response rates so they can gauge where they rank against other units and the chain of command is held responsible for maximising response rates. Response rates compare favourably with other large public sector organisations.

The requested information is provided below:

Response Rates for the Continuous Attitude Surveys since 2013

 

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey (AFCAS)

48%

48%

44%

45%

45%

Tri-Service Families Continuous Attitude Survey (FamCAS)

17%

25%

25%

28%

25%

Tri-Service Reserves Continuous Attitude Survey (ResCAS)

*

13%1

31%

34%

33%

Source: Defence Statistics (Surveys)

Notes:

  1. Prior to ResCAS 2014 the Navy, Army and RAF ran separate, independent surveys among their Reservists. In 2014 the individual Reserve surveys included a set of harmonised Tri-Service questions and by ResCAS 2015 the individual Reserve surveys also included a harmonised methodology and target population. Due to the changes in the survey methodology and target population in 2015, the results and response rates between ResCAS 2014 and later ResCAS surveys are not comparable.

--

Tobias Ellwood - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Defence People and Veterans

Guto BebbMinister for Defence Procurement

Mark Lancaster - Minister of State for the Armed Forces

Written Questions - March 2018

I have recently received answers to a number of Written Parliamentary Questions. They were as follows:   To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to the Answer...

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During yesterday's Westminster Hall debate on access to cystic fibrosis medicine, Orkambi, I said:

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Roger, as we debate a petition to support patient access to Orkambi. I congratulate the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Paul Scully) on making a powerful case. I also congratulate members of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust on all the work they have done to bring about this debate.

Cystic fibrosis is a hugely debilitating illness that has a massive impact on individuals’ quality of life. Research shows that Orkambi can slow down the decline in lung function, which is the main cause of death for people with cystic fibrosis. About 3,300 people in the UK could benefit from the use of that medication, including 118 people in Wales. Those research figures are from 2014, and I know they have been updated somewhat.

We have heard that many of our European neighbours, including Ireland, support the use of this medication, as do other countries across the world, such as the USA. I represent Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney—a Welsh constituency. I am speaking for 170 of my constituents, including Mr and Mrs Bow, whose seven-year-old daughter, Sofia, lives with cystic fibrosis. At that tender age, she already takes 30-plus tablets a day. Over and above the personal impact on Sofia, that medication constitutes a cost.

CF is a debilitating condition that restricts individuals’ employment opportunities and their capacity to contribute to society. My hon. Friend the Member for Dudley North (Ian Austin), who has done so much to highlight the need for action, mentioned earlier in the debate that it is important for us to look at the bigger picture and the bigger cost, rather than only at the cost of the medication itself—at savings to the NHS in hospital admissions, treatment and medication, or reduction in tax revenue from restricting the opportunities for people with cystic fibrosis to contribute to society. The wider cost needs to be considered against the cost of not licensing this medication.

As a Welsh MP, I fully appreciate that a decision on the medication in Wales will depend on the view of the Welsh NHS and the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group. However, the outcome of today’s debate and any agreement between NHS England and Vertex will undoubtedly have an impact by setting the tone in the other regions and countries of the United Kingdom. In Wales, the strategy group has encouraged Vertex strongly to make a submission for appraisal. Apparently Vertex has agreed, but it has not yet agreed a date, which we hope will be soon.

As we have heard, the latest discussion between NHS England and Vertex, released on Friday, did not seem go well, which has left cystic fibrosis sufferers throughout the UK and their families hugely despondent. Progress and answers are needed to offer comfort and support to families. It is time for the Secretary of State, or indeed the Minister, to take hold of the situation and commit to making progress. This has gone on for far too long and time is of the essence. I hope the Minister achieves progress in this long-standing situation—it has been a good three years. It seems to have stagnated, and we need more urgency.

I agree with the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Alex Chalk) on the need for pricing to be realistic, but we are talking about life-saving, life-changing drugs, and the cost of research needs to be covered. We also need to ensure that the companies are not looking to profit unduly from their medication, because far too much is at stake. I hope progress can be made and that the Minister will commit to ensuring action sooner rather than later.

Orkambi Debate - 19th March 2018

During yesterday's Westminster Hall debate on access to cystic fibrosis medicine, Orkambi, I said: It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Roger, as we debate a petition...

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Earlier today I questioned the Chancellor on his Spring Statement. I said:

Gerald Jones (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney): The Conservatives have cut the Welsh Government’s budget by around £1 billion a year since 2010, and the knock-on impact on public services in Wales and on Welsh local government’s ability to deliver key services has been huge. Will the Chancellor apologise for the failed Tory austerity that has caused so much damage to public services in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney and across the UK? Given his outlining of a rosy picture, will he set out his plan to adequately fund the public services on which many people rely?

Phillip Hammond (Chancellor of the Exchequer): I do not have the figures to hand, but if my memory serves me correctly, I was able to confirm at the Budget last year that Wales will receive over £1 billion of additional funding, including as a result of changes to the agreed formula. So funding is not down, but up. The failure of services in Wales, mainly in the Welsh health service, that we regularly catalogue across the Dispatch Box is a result of decisions made and priorities set by the Welsh Government, not the UK Government.

Spring Statement 2018

Earlier today I questioned the Chancellor on his Spring Statement. I said: Gerald Jones (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney): The Conservatives have cut the Welsh Government’s budget by around £1 billion...

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Earlier today, I questioned the Minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on Carillion:

Gerald Jones MP: Whether he is taking steps to safeguard the employment of people who were working under private sector Carillion contracts at the time of that company’s liquidation.

Andrew Griffiths MP (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for BEIS): The official receiver and special manager are working to ensure an orderly transition by facilitating the transfer of contracts. As of 12 March, 8,521 jobs have been safeguarded and 1,536 people have been made redundant, sadly, through the liquidation. My right hon. Friend the Business Secretary has set up a taskforce, bringing together trade associations, bankers and representatives of Government to ensure that we support the Carillion supply chain. The taskforce has delivered a range of supportive measures, including more than £900 million of support from UK lenders.

Gerald Jones MP: Let me seek some further clarification. If there is any doubt that TUPE applies, can the Government confirm that they will instruct the official receiver to transfer employees on private sector contracts as if TUPE applied? Will the Government also ensure that trade union recognition is transferred with those staff?

Andrew Griffiths MP: I thank the hon. Gentleman for that question and refer him to the recent Westminster Hall debate, when we discussed at some length the legal responsibilities in relation to TUPE, which do not apply in many cases during a liquidation. Transferring employers may well decide to offer terms to transferring employees that recognise existing employment rights, terms and conditions. The Government are focused on ensuring that transferred employees are no worse off, and the official receiver is doing all he can to facilitate this wherever possible.

BEIS Questions - 13th March 2018

Earlier today, I questioned the Minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on Carillion: Gerald Jones MP: Whether he is taking steps to safeguard the employment of people who were working...

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To mark St David’s Day, Gerald Jones, Member of Parliament for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, attended an event in parliament on behalf of Leonard Cheshire Cymru, a charity that supports disabled people across Wales to live, learn and work as independently as possible.

2018 marks the 70th birthday of the charity, which provides social care across Wales, as well as running innovative programmes such as Can Do to help build the skills and confidence of young disabled people to support them on their journeys to independence. The charity also recently launched their Untapped Talent campaign to remove the barriers to employment for disabled people.

Speaking after the event, Gerald said, “I was pleased to meet with Leonard Cheshire Cymru, who do such important work supporting people here in Wales, and to discuss the issues facing disabled people."

Glyn Meredith, Wales Director for Leonard Cheshire Cymru, added: “We know that good quality support can transform disabled peoples’ lives. At Leonard Cheshire we are committed to supporting peoples’ journeys to greater independence.

It was great to have the opportunity to showcase our programmes, like Can Do and Discover IT, which are having such a positive impact on hundreds of young disabled people across Wales and I look forward to working with Gerald on issues of importance to disabled people in the future.”

Supporting Disabled People on St David's Day

To mark St David’s Day, Gerald Jones, Member of Parliament for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, attended an event in parliament on behalf of Leonard Cheshire Cymru, a charity that supports...

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