from Europe Issue 8/2003
REDUCED VAT ON CHURCH REPAIRS
number of constituents have been filling my post bag with concerns about
the future of reduced Valued Added Tax on church repairs.
his 2001 Budget, Gordon Brown promised to cut taxes on church repairs from
17.5% to 5%. He falsely raised the hopes of church groups across the
country with this announcement since firstly, he had to seek the
endorsement of the European Commission.
an interim measure, Mr. Brown established the Listed Places of Worship
Grant Scheme, which returns in grant aid the difference between 5% and
17.5% of the VAT spent on eligible repairs and maintenance to listed
places of worship.
European Commission has been undertaking a review of all VAT levels across
Member States. In July this year, it deemed Mr. Brown's tax cut on church
repairs illegal. It would now take a unanimous decision by European Union
finance ministers to change the law and allow Mr Brown to implement the
cut he pledged.
his failure to convince the Commission, Brown must now decide between
continuing to fund the VAT reduction via the grant scheme, or reneging on
the promises he made. But the Government will not commit itself to
assurances that the grant scheme will continue.
Commission's review on VAT rates is designed to improve the functioning of
the internal market and avoid potential distortions of competition. The
Commission proposals will now be discussed by European finance leaders in
of Ministers. Mr Brown will be able to secure the reduction if he can
persuade other finance ministers to accept it.
are a very significant part of the heritage of Britain, in particular East
Anglia, and I would expect Mr. Brown to deliver the promise he made in his
2001 Budget. I will be pressing him to ensure that he secures a reduced
rate of VAT on repairs to churches.
such a time, I will also be campaigning vigorously to ensure Mr. Brown
honours his commitment by continuing to meet the cost of the 12.5%
difference between the reduced and full rate of VAT offered under the
NORTH SEA FISHERMEN
advising the European Union on fish quotas have recommended a complete ban
on cod fishing in the North Sea.
latest report from the scientists at the International Council for the
Exploration of the Sea (Ices) calls for the European Commission to
implement zero catches in order to rebuild stocks.
threat to our fishing industry is very real. Last year, Ices advised a ban
on fishing for North Sea cod and in December, the EU responded with a
devastating 45 per cent cut in cod fishing quotas.
new findings of Ices will bring our fishing industry to its knees. It is
yet another bitter blow from the Common Fisheries Policy (CPF). Ices
maintains that the minimum recommended stock size for cod in the North Sea
is 150,000 tonnes but the estimated size is 52,000. They propose no more
catches until stocks reach 70,000.
findings contrast those of the Foundation for Ocean Science which last
month confirmed that over-fishing was not the only cause for a decline in
fish stocks in the North Sea. The Foundation discovered that record sea
temperatures, as a result of global warming, are destroying the plankton
which underpin the entire marine food chain. Cold-water species of
plankton have been driven north to colder waters and been replaced by
smaller, warm-water species which are less nutritious.
is clearly not the only contributor to falling fish stocks and it is time
the EU stopped penalising our fishermen and the communities which depend
on the industry along Britain's east coast.
decision on whether to implement Ices' recommendations will be taken at
several meetings of EU fisheries ministers in the lead-up to Christmas.
The EU will call for drastic action to be taken but will our Labour
Government sell us out?
have pledged to take the UK out of the Common Fisheries Policy and to
repatriate fisheries control to Westminster. The only way to save
Britain's precious fishing heritage is to renegotiate our treaty
EU CHEMICAL PACKAGE UNVEILED
In October, the European Commission presented its plans
for a new European chemicals policy.
The legislation has been scaled down from the original proposals,
but will still cost the industry billions of pounds.
legislation would oblige chemical companies to subject each chemical
substance, used in everything from fertilisers to cosmetics, to official
screenings before they can be licensed for use.
1.7 million people are currently employed in the chemical
industry in Europe. If
adopted, these proposals will severely disadvantage EU companies in the
global market. The cost to industry has been estimated at £6
billion which would lead to huge job
losses as companies would quit the EU for more
business friendly climes. It is irrational as we
would still import finished goods containing untested chemicals from
outside the EU.
The testing of these chemicals will also lead to the
unnecessary suffering of up to 10 million laboratory animals as some
of the proposals include specific requirements for animal tests.
The majority of chemicals are safe and beneficial - the
Commission should be prioritising its testing programme to ensure that it
focuses on those that could be dangerous and hazardous to human health. As
they stand, these proposals could lead to more bureaucracy rather than
NORFOLK SCHOOL CHILDREN IN BRUSSELS
This month I hosted a visit from a group of young Norfolk school children to the European Parliament in Brussels.
group was made up of twenty pupils, aged 14 to 15, from a range of schools
across Norfolk. The aim of the visit was to learn more about the work of
the EU and its institutions.
arranged the visit on behalf of the Active Citizenship initiative from
Norfolk County Council and Norfolk Youth and Community Service, which
supports young people as active citizens and helps them express an opinion
about the decisions taken for them.
their visit, the group met with cross party Eastern Region MEPs and
representatives from the European Commission.
I was delighted to welcome such a bright and articulate group of young people to the European Parliament. They have gained a great deal from this experience and will be taking a positive message of the EU back to their friends and families in the UK.
Nov Industry &
Parliamt Trust Conf, Brussels
Nov Visitors group of
Norfolk School children
Nov SME Union debate on
Nov Thorpe St. Andrew engagement
Nov Multicultural Conference, Luton
Nov Bury St. Edmunds CPF
Nov Hemel Hempstead CWC
Nov Commission Conf on Sustainable Energy
Nov Huntingdon Winter Ball
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Promoted & Printed by Conservative MEPs in the EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament, Brussels: Khanbhai, Sturdy, Beazley & Van Orden