Digby Jones, Baron Jones of Birmingham

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"Digby Jones" redirects here. For the British musician and producer, see Digby Jones (musician).
The Right Honourable
The Lord Jones of Birmingham
Lord Jones 2.jpg
Digby, Lord Jones of Birmingham
Minister of State for Trade and Investment
In office
29 June 2007 – 3 October 2008
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Ian McCartney
Succeeded by Gareth Thomas
Personal details
Born Digby Marritt Jones
(1955-10-28) 28 October 1955 (age 61)
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Political party Crossbench
Spouse(s) Patricia, Lady Jones
Alma mater University College London
Profession Businessman
Website www.digbylordjones.com

Digby Marritt Jones, Baron Jones of Birmingham (born 28 October 1955) 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).

In addition to his role as an active crossbencher in the House of Lords he is Chairman of Triumph Motorcycles Ltd, Non-Executive Deputy Chairman of the Unipart Expert Practices (UEP) Division, Corporate Ambassador to Aon Risk Solutions, Senior Adviser of Babcock International Group plc, Non-executive Chairman of Thatchers Cider Ltd, Chairman of the Advisory Board of Argentex LLP, Chairman of Celixir Limited, Chairman of On-Logistics Ltd, Non-executive Director of Leicester Tigers plc, Senior Adviser to Harvey Nash plc, Non-Executive Chairman of G-Labs Ltd and Chairman of the Board of Governors at Stratford on Avon College.

Education and legal career[edit]

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.[1]


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 knighted in 2005.[2][3] He then went on to act as an adviser to Barclays Capital, Ford, Deloitte and JCB. He served as the unpaid UK Skills Envoy from 2006–07.

Jones acted as 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."

Political career[edit]

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 talents".[4] 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,[5] 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.[6]

In April 2008 Jones announced his intention to resign as Minister of Trade and Investment later in the year.[7][8] He resigned in October 2008 and was appointed to be a UK Business Ambassador for UK Trade & Investment.[9] 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.[10]

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".[11]

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."[12]

Other posts[edit]

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 also a Vice-President of the Friends of the British Library, a charity which provides funding support to the British Library.[13]

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.

He is a non executive director of Leicester Tigers.[14] He is a Vice-President of The Birmingham Civic Society and President of the Speakers Trust, and was their Speaker of the Year in 2008. Jones is Non-Executive Deputy Chairman of the Unipart Expert Practices (UEP) Division.

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.

Fellowships and doctorates[edit]

Jones is a Fellow of University College London (2004);[citation needed] an Honorary Fellow of Cardiff University (2004);[citation needed] and an Honorary Doctor of the University of Central England (2002),[citation needed] the University of Birmingham (2002),[citation needed] the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (2003),[citation needed] the University of Hertfordshire (2004),[citation needed] Middlesex University (2005),[citation needed] Sheffield Hallam University (2005),[citation needed] Aston University (2006),[citation needed] the University of Hull (2006),[citation needed] Queen's University, Belfast (2006),[citation needed] Warwick University (2006),[citation needed] Bradford University (2006),[citation needed] Thames Valley University (2006),[citation needed] Wolverhampton University (2006),[citation needed] Nottingham University,[citation needed] Loughborough University (2007)[citation needed] and Honorary Fellow of Cardiff Metropolitan University (2013).[citation needed] He is a visiting professor at the University of Hull Business School and Chairman of the Birmingham Business School International Advisory Board.

View on unions[edit]

Jones has said:

Media appearances[edit]

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.[16]

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 the late John Harvey-Jones who presented the original series Troubleshooter.[17]

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.[18]

In 2017 Jones will publish Fixing Business: Making Profitable Business Work for the Good of All, also with Wiley.

Personal life[edit]

Jones is a supporter of Leicester Tigers (officially Leicester Football Club), Aston Villa FC[19] and a member of the Reform Club.

Styles and honours[edit]

  • Mr Digby Jones (1955–2004)
  • Sir Digby Jones (2004–2007)
  • Digby, Lord Jones of Birmingham (2007 – present)


  1. ^ "Biography of Lord Digby Jones". Retrieved 15 January 2016. 
  2. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 57509. p. 1. 31 December 2004. Retrieved 28 July 2009.
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 57737. p. 10898. 23 August 2005.
  4. ^ Brown brings in more 'outsiders' BBC News, 29 June 2007
  5. ^ The London Gazette: no. 58392. p. 10219. 16 July 2007. Retrieved 28 July 2009.
  6. ^ "Tories in Digby mayor offer spat". BBC News. 6 July 2007. Retrieved 12 September 2007. 
  7. ^ Business minister Lord Jones of Birmingham plans to jump ship Times Online, 15 April 2008
  8. ^ Digby Jones offers Brown 100% support despite plans to quit The Guardian, 16 April 2008
  9. ^ Carl Mortishead (4 October 2008). "Former M&S chairman Paul Myners becomes Minister for the City". The Times. Retrieved 4 October 2008. 
  10. ^ Summers, Deborah (16 January 2009). "Brown steps in after Digby Jones calls for half of civil service to be sacked". The Guardian. 
  11. ^ Martin, Iain "Fire Digby Jones" Daily Telegraph blogsite, 16 January 2009
  12. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/11127382/Conservative-Party-Conference-2014-live.html Conservative Party Conference 2014: live, The Daily Telegraph, 29 September 2014
  13. ^ "Friends of the British Library Annual Report 2006/07" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 April 2010. Retrieved 7 September 2009. 
  14. ^ Sir Digby Jones appointed to Tigers Board Guinness Premiership, 5 October 2005
  15. ^ a b Elliott, Larry (26 June 2006). "Sir Digby rides off with all guns blazing". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 July 2007. 
  16. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00tpsvk
  17. ^ "BBC Two – Digby Jones: The New Troubleshooter". Retrieved 30 April 2014. 
  18. ^ "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. 
  19. ^ David Cameron has been Aston Villa fan since a teenager Birmingham Post, 14 May 2010

External links[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by
Adair Turner
Director of the Confederation of British Industry
Succeeded by
Richard Lambert
Political offices
Preceded by
Ian McCartney
Minister of State for Trade
Succeeded by
Gareth Thomas