In conversation with Darren Jones MP

Policy Connect was delighted to host Darren Jones MP (Bristol North West) to speak to an audience of over eighty leading industry and academic figures about the work of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee.

In one of his first engagements since being elected to chair the Select Committee in May 2020, Mr Jones spoke about his ambitions for the Committee during the current Parliament. Noting the tremendous challenges associated with Brexit, the on-going COVID-19 crisis, as well as the wider challenges associated with climate change, Mr Jones said that the work of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy would be central to government over coming years. He added that the scrutiny provided by the Select Committee play a constructive and sustained role in offering solutions and holding government to account.

In a wide-ranging discussion with Policy Connect’s Chief Executive, Jonathan Shaw, Mr Jones spoke extensively about the key confronting businesses in the wake of the pandemic and the importance of the UK acting as a world leader in moving towards net-zero.

Darren began by noting the Committee’s recently-announced ‘super inquiry’ – running for the duration of the current Parliament to examine the response to COVID-19 and to develop a green, inclusive and sustainable economic recovery.

He also discussed the work of the Committee in responding to current issues, such as the on-going furlough scheme and the extent to which the Government would support workers and business during the lockdown period. He noted that the future economy would also necessitate a range of issues pertaining to re-skilling of workers to meet the challenges and opportunities of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”. He said that he was looking forward to working with other Select Committees on universities, skills and employment matters, especially with regard to the Education Select Committee.

On climate change, Darren said that the Committee was dedicated to investigating the Government’s approach to the forthcoming COP26 summit in Glasgow in 2021. He announced that the Committee would co-operate extensively with colleagues in the devolved administrations to ensure high-levels of scrutiny operated across the UK.

Darren took a range of questions from Policy Connect members from across the manufacturing, energy and skills sectors, and said that he would continue to work to develop positive links between parliament, industry and academia.

Prior to his election as Chair of the BEIS Select Committee, Darren Jones co-chaired Policy Connect’s Trust, Transparency and Tech report into data and technology ethics.

In the coming weeks, Policy Connect will be submitting evidence to the Committee’s inquiry into the post-COVID-19 economic recovery inquiry, as well as following-up on the recommendations made in recent reports on England’s Skills Puzzle, and Levelling-up Manufacturing.