Helen Jones

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Helen Jones

Official portrait of Helen Jones crop 2.jpg
Helen Jones in 2017
Chairman of the Petitions Committee
Assumed office
17 June 2015
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Theresa May
Preceded byCommittee Established
Vice-Chamberlain of the Household
In office
9 June 2009 – 11 May 2010
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byClaire Ward
Succeeded byMark Francois
Member of Parliament
for Warrington North
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded byDoug Hoyle
Majority9,582 (19.7%)
Personal details
Born (1954-12-24) 24 December 1954 (age 63)
Chester, Cheshire, England
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)Michael Vobe[1]
Alma materUniversity College London, University of Liverpool

Helen Mary Jones (born 24 December 1954) is a British Labour politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Warrington North since 1997. Andrew Roth, writing for The Guardian, described her as an: "intelligent, battle hardened leftwing solicitor built into the Labour machine".[2]

Jones was appointed as an Assistant Government Whip in 2008, and was Vice-Chamberlain of the Household from 2009 to 2010. She wrote a book, entitled "How to be a Government Whip", about her time in the Whip's Office, published by Biteback Publishing in 2016.

Early life[edit]

Jones was born and brought up in Chester, the daughter of Robert Edward Jones and Mary Scanlan.[3]

Jones was educated at St Werburgh's Primary School and Ursuline Convent in Chester. She graduated with a BA from University College London and a MEd from the University of Liverpool. She also holds qualifications from the former Chester College and Manchester Metropolitan University.

Before entering Parliament, Jones had an established political career as a local councillor, serving on Chester City Council from 1984 to 1991. She was unsuccessful in her initial attempts to move beyond local government, contesting the Lancashire Central constituency at the 1984 European Parliament election, and North Shropshire and Ellesmere Port and Neston at the 1983 and 1987 general elections.

Alongside her early political career, Jones has been employed as an English teacher, a solicitor, a development officer with the mental health charity MIND and a justice and peace officer with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Liverpool.

Parliamentary career[edit]

in 1997, Jones was selected as the Labour Party candidate for the 'safe' Labour seat of Warrington North and the subsequent general election saw her win the seat with 62.1% of the vote. Her share of the vote shrunk to 53.5% in the 2005 election and again to 45.5% in the 2010 election but she retained her seat each time.

Jones served as a member of the House of Commons select committees on Catering (1997–98), Public Administration (1998–2000) and Education and Employment (1999–2001 and 2003–). She also served on the Standing Orders Committee (1999–) and the Unopposed Bills (Panel) (1999–). She was also a member of Labour Party backbench committees on Home Affairs (2002–), Education and Employment (1997–2001), Health (1997–2001) and International Development (1997–2001). She served on the all-party groups on Child Abduction (1999–2002) and CAFOD (2003–). From June 2007 to October 2008, she served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Dawn Primarolo MP, Minister of State for Health. On 19 June 2015, she was announced as having been elected to the chairmanship of the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee. On 19 June 2015, it was announced that she had been elected to the chairmanship of the Petitions Select Committee.[4]

Cabinet positions[edit]

In the cabinet reshuffle of October 2008, Jones was promoted to a junior Government role in the position of Assistant Government Whip.[5]

In Opposition in the next Parliament, she became Shadow Minister for Communities and Local Government and was subsequently appointed Shadow Home Office Minister by Ed Miliband in an October 2013 reshuffle.[6] She stepped down from the frontbench in July 2014, stating a desire to focus on community matters and speak freely on matters such as fracking and HS2[7]

Work in Warrington North[edit]

In early 2007, Jones slammed Scottish Power Manweb for its treatment of bereaved relatives of dead customers when the company continued to send bills to a deceased relative's home. She said in the Commons that "Scottish Power Manweb's policy is a blatant attempt to obtain money for electricity which has not been used." [8] In November 2003, she accused her local ambulance service of being a "shambles" and objected to its delays in answering 999 calls during the first weekend of that month.[9]

Jones has engaged in a fierce war of words with Warrington Borough Council on numerous occasions, beginning when she obtained emails that revealed the council's Chief Executive had explored the possibility of legal action against her following an Adjournment Debate in the Commons (where Jones had accused the council of failing to answer her letters on concerns raised by Warrington North constituents). Jones condemned the council's threat as a "waste of time and money", reminding them that any comments made in the House enjoy legal protection. She claimed that the council's threat to sue her for defamation "raised questions about the competence" of council officers.[10] Jones responded to the threat in the Liverpool Daily Post by stating: "Maybe they think it will shut me up – but it won't. I will continue to speak up for my constituents." [10]

In the same year, Jones made local headlines when she posed with a cardboard cut out of the council's Chief Executive in protest at her alleged failure to tackle important community issues, including anti-social behaviour in the Orford area.[10] She accused the council of "showing disrespect" to people in the north of the town and told the Warrington Guardian at the time that: "Our Chief Executive appears to have gone missing." [11]

Personal life[edit]

She married Michael Vobe on 23 July 1988 in Cheshire and has one son, born June 1989. Helen Jones lives in Warrington North with her family, in the village of Culcheth, and employs her husband as her parliamentary assistant.[12]


  1. ^ "House of Commons – The Register of Members' Financial Interests – Part 2: Part 2". Publications.parliament.uk. Archived from the original on 18 September 2012. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  2. ^ "Ask Aristotle: Helen Jones". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 4 March 2007. Retrieved 31 May 2007.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 October 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2008.
  4. ^ "Winning candidates for select committee Chairs announced". UK Parliament. 18 June 2015. Archived from the original on 20 June 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  5. ^ "Labour,Politics". The Guardian. London. 2008-02-09. Archived from the original on 30 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-04.
  6. ^ "MP Helen Jones promoted in reshuffle (From Warrington Guardian)". Warringtonguardian.co.uk. Archived from the original on 17 December 2017. Retrieved 9 October 2013.
  7. ^ "Helen Jones steps down from Labour front bench". Warrington Guardian. 22 July 2014. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  8. ^ [1][dead link]
  9. ^ "MP attacks ambulance 'shambles'". BBC News. 29 November 2003. Archived from the original on 17 July 2004. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  10. ^ a b c Williams, Liza. "Legal threat in MP's spat with council chief – Liverpool News – News". Liverpool Daily Post. Archived from the original on 25 February 2012. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  11. ^ [2]
  12. ^ House of Commons. "House of Commons – The Register of Members' Financial Interests". Publications.parliament.uk. Archived from the original on 19 February 2012. Retrieved 4 June 2012.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Doug Hoyle
Member of Parliament for Warrington North
Political offices
Preceded by
Claire Ward
Vice-Chamberlain of the Household
Succeeded by
Mark Francois