Digby Jones, Baron Jones of Birmingham
|The Right Honourable|
The Lord Jones of Birmingham
|Minister of State for Trade and Investment|
29 June 2007 – 3 October 2008
|Prime Minister||Gordon Brown|
|Preceded by||Ian McCartney|
|Succeeded by||Gareth Thomas|
|Born||Digby Marritt Jones|
28 October 1955
Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
|Spouse(s)||Patricia, Lady Jones|
|Alma mater||University College London|
Digby Marritt Jones, Baron Jones of Birmingham (born 28 October 1955), known as Sir Digby Jones between 2005 and 2007, is a British businessman and politician, who has served as Director General of the CBI (2000–06) and Minister of State for Trade and Investment (2007–08).
He sits in the House of Lords as a non-aligned active crossbencher. He serves as Non-Executive Chairman of Triumph Motorcycles Ltd., Thatcher’s Cider Ltd., ProBuild 360 Ltd. and On Logistics Ltd, He chairs the Advisory Board of Argentex LLP and is a Non-Executive Director of Leicester Tigers plc. He is Corporate Ambassador to Aon Risk Solutions. Digby is Chairman of the Advisory Board of X-Force (the Social Enterprise helping Veterans into self-employment) and he is a Member of the South Warwickshire Multi Academy Trust.
Education and legal career
Born in Birmingham, Jones was educated at Bromsgrove School where he was Head Boy, and read Law at University College London as a Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Navy on a University Cadetship, graduating with upper second class honours. After graduation, Jones worked for 20 years at Edge & Ellison, a firm of lawyers based in Birmingham, culminating in serving as Senior Partner from 1995-1998.
Jones was Chairman of the CBI's West Midlands Regional Council and became the first serving regional chairman to be appointed Director-General. He was Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) between 1 January 2000 and 30 June 2006. He was appointed a Knight Bachelor in the 2005 New Year Honours for services to Business. He then acted as an adviser to Barclays Capital, Ford, Deloitte and JCB. He served as the unpaid UK Skills Envoy from 2006–07.
Jones was a non-executive director for the IT contractor iSOFT from 2000 until his resignation in July 2005, when he stayed on for one year as an adviser. Following the collapse in the value of iSOFT and investigations into its accountancy practices, Jones said "there is a limit to what a non-executive can know... They have to rely on what advisers tell them and what the executive team tells them. It is important that people understand this."
On 29 June 2007, Jones became Minister of State for Trade and Investment in both the newly created Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and the Foreign Office. He was appointed as a Government Minister in a move to create a government "of all the talents". As he was not a parliamentarian at the time, it was announced that Jones would be made a life peer, thus becoming a member of the House of Lords. It was suggested that he was taking the Labour whip in the House of Lords, but he chose not to join the Labour Party. He was gazetted as a peer on 10 July 2007 as Baron Jones of Birmingham, of Alvechurch and of Bromsgrove in the County of Worcestershire, and took his seat in the House of Lords that same day.
Formally styled Digby, Lord Jones of Birmingham, he sits as a Crossbencher in the House of Lords.
Jones had considered running for Mayor of London after being encouraged by a group of prominent businessmen. He was also approached by the Conservative Party about becoming its candidate, but rejected this idea.
In April 2008 Jones announced his intention to resign as Minister of Trade and Investment later in the year. He resigned in October 2008 and was appointed to be a UK Business Ambassador for UK Trade & Investment. In testimony to the Public Administration Committee he said that his time as a junior minister was "one of the most dehumanising and depersonalising experiences" anyone could have and that he had been amazed by how many civil servants he thought deserved the sack.
On 16 January 2009, in a subsequent blog entry on the Daily Telegraph's blogsite, Jones was described as "the walking personification of the spirit of big business at its corporatist worst".
On 20 September 2013, he spoke at the UK Independence Party conference in London as a guest speaker, addressing the conference on business and economic matters.
On 29 September 2014, Jones introduced the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, before his keynote speech at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham. He said that Osborne "deserves a personal pat on the back" for having "stuck to your guns and did what was right for our country." In response to any rumour regarding a possible defection, he also confirmed "I don't do party politics" and "business is my constituency."
Jones is a Corporate Ambassador for the Cancer Research UK Corporate Ambassadors. He is President of the Diversity Works initiative – a programme led by the disability organisation Scope, a Diamond Ambassador for Mencap's WorkRight initiative, designed to spread the message of equality for disabled people, a Vice-President of Birmingham Hospice, and a Patron of Lifecycle UK, Ladies Fighting Breast Cancer and Get A-Head, the cancer charity fighting head and neck diseases. He is an active supporter of Ovarian Cancer Action, the Royal Navy's Royal Marine Charity, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He is the Patron of the Thomas Edington Scholarship of the University of Western Australia in Perth.
Jones is a Vice-Patron of the National Museum of the Royal Navy. The National Museum through its six museums tell the stories and preserves the rich heritage of all aspects of the Royal Navy.
In November 2006, Jones was appointed "Business Adviser" to HRH The Duke of York, receiving £1,000 a month from the royal payroll for working one day a month. This position ended upon his appointment as a Minister in July 2007.
Jones is “Chairman of the Advisory Board of X-Force, the Social Enterprise helping Veterans into self-employment”.
Jones is also "Adjunct Professor at the University of Western Australia."
Fellowships and doctorates
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Jones is a Fellow of University College London (2004); an Honorary Fellow of Cardiff University (2004); and an Honorary Doctor of the University of Central England (2002), the University of Birmingham (2002), the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (2003), the University of Hertfordshire (2004), Middlesex University (2005), Sheffield Hallam University (2005), Aston University (2006), the University of Hull (2006), Queen's University, Belfast (2006), Warwick University (2006), Bradford University (2006), Thames Valley University (2006), Wolverhampton University (2006), the University of Nottingham, Loughborough University (2007) and Honorary Fellow of Cardiff Metropolitan University (2013).
View on unions
Jones has said of trades unions:
They are in danger of withering on the vine of irrelevance. They are backward looking and not on today's agenda.
The trade unions put their members first and not the country. Labour is always in thrall to the unions. People keep banging on about cash for peerages, but the unions have bunged money to the government for years.
Jones was the guest on BBC Radio's Desert Island Discs, broadcast on 21 May 2006. He won BBC1's Celebrity Mastermind with a 9-point margin finishing on 33 points on 5 January 2011. Jones nominated Winston Churchill on BBC Radio 4 Great Lives.
He presented the BBC Two programme The New Troubleshooter where he "helps businesses realise their potential, ruffling feathers and bruising egos along the way as he gets stuck in and delivers his analysis and advice", taking over the mantle of John Harvey-Jones who presented the original series Troubleshooter.
In July 2014 he presented a programme on BBC Radio 4, The Business Covenant.
In 2011 Jones published his first book Fixing Britain: The Business of Reshaping Our Nation (with publisher Wiley) which was shortlisted for the 2012 CMI Management Book of the Year.
In 2017 Fixing Business: Making Profitable Business Work for the Good of All, was published in April 2017, also with Wiley.
Styles and honours
- Mr Digby Jones (1955–2004)
- Sir Digby Jones (2005–2007)
- The Rt. Hon. Lord Jones of Birmingham (2007 – present)
- "Biography of Lord Digby Jones". Retrieved 15 January 2016.
- "No. 57509". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2004. p. 1.
- Brown brings in more 'outsiders' BBC News, 29 June 2007
- "No. 58392". The London Gazette. 16 July 2007. p. 10219.
- "Tories in Digby mayor offer spat". BBC News. 6 July 2007. Retrieved 12 September 2007.
- Business minister Lord Jones of Birmingham plans to jump ship Times Online, 15 April 2008
- Digby Jones offers Brown 100% support despite plans to quit The Guardian, 16 April 2008
- Carl Mortishead (4 October 2008). "Former M&S chairman Paul Myners becomes Minister for the City". The Times. Retrieved 4 October 2008.
- Summers, Deborah (16 January 2009). "Brown steps in after Digby Jones calls for half of civil service to be sacked". The Guardian.
- Martin, Iain "Fire Digby Jones" Daily Telegraph blog site, 16 January 2009
- "Conservative Party Conference 2014: live". The Daily Telegraph. 29 September 2014.
- "Friends of the British Library Annual Report 2006/07" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 April 2010. Retrieved 7 September 2009.
- Sir Digby Jones appointed to Tigers Board Guinness Premiership, 5 October 2005
- Elliott, Larry (26 June 2006). "Sir Digby rides off with all guns blazing". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 July 2007.
- "Winston Churchill, Series 22, Great Lives - BBC Radio 4". BBC.
- "BBC Two – Digby Jones: The New Troubleshooter". Retrieved 30 April 2014.
- "CMI Management Book of the Year – Celebrating excellence in all areas of Management and Leadership writing". Management Book of the Year. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
- David Cameron has been Aston Villa fan since a teenager Birmingham Post, 14 May 2010
| Director of the Confederation of British Industry
| Minister of State for Trade