Newsletter from Europe Winter 2001
Bashir Khanbhai MEP
(Norfolk and Suffolk)




The European Parliament debated a "Vibration Directive" that aims to set a 3-hour limit on use per day for vibrating machinery such as tractors, dump trucks and excavators. I voted against this impractical directive as such silly legislation is harmful to business. Modern tractors and earth moving equipment are very well designed to enhance health and safety of the operator. Purchase of such expensive equipment can only be justified if there is adequate use. Further, no operator can live on 3 hours pay per day! Farmers, the construction industry, the road haulage industry and many others would be devastated by such mindless legislation.

Sadly, our own Labour and Liberal MEPs voted in favour - an act of betrayal that  electors should not forget! Opposition from Conservative MEPs did manage to secure a 5-year grace period for farmers and foresters, but this is insufficient as a wide swathe of UK industry will still be affected. There will be a decision by the Council of Ministers and we will have another opportunity to amend the ruling in conciliation. I will do my best to ensure that common sense prevails!


The European Parliament will debate the legislation on Transport of Live Farm Animals. The issues are:-

a) Should live animals be transported over long distances or should they be slaughtered in local abattoirs so that only carcasses are transported?

b) What type of vehicles should be used for transport of animals over long distances?

c) How long should the journey be to minimise fatigue, dehydration and stress?

d) Should the EU subsidise the transport of live animals?

Over 2 million animals a year are transported for fattening or slaughter. Many suffer from excessively long journeys, dehydration, fatigue, inadequate ventilation and stress. There is a need to specify journey time, distance, health and safety measures that are applicable throughout the EU. In the UK, transport of animals did spread the Foot and Mouth disease and this could have been prevented with slaughter in local abattoirs. The European Commission will propose a comprehensive plan by 2003 and I will monitor developments to ensure that good practice can be achieved without penalising farmers, the road hauliers and related businesses.


So many of us are tempted to buy cheaper cigarettes, beer wines and spirits in European supermarkets. These purchases already include excise duty and VAT of the European country. The EU is a single market. Therefore, we should be free to import into the UK, without any further UK duty or VAT, any quantity for our personal use. Sadly, UK Customs & Excise supported by the Treasury does not agree! Their "guideline" for personal use is as follows: -

800 cigarettes, 400 cigarillos, 200 cigars, 1kg tobacco, 90l wine (60 sparkling), 10l of spirits, 20l of fortified wine and 110l of beer, 60 cc/ml perfume

Any excess may be subject to UK duty and VAT! There is no law passed in Westminster that specifies these quantities. The European Commission has challenged this "guideline". If the EU is a free open single market for goods and services then Gordon Brown must change his policy on UK's high excise duty and VAT on these products!



Many politicians presume that Islamic states deny women freedom, political participation and violate their human rights. Such a belief reflects a lack of understanding of both Islam and the politics of Islamic states. A billion people including Arabs, Asians, Africans, Chinese and Europeans embrace Islam. Their share the same faith. Some are denied their freedom by autocratic monarchs and political dictators who impose social control and fear to perpetuate their rule. The fall of the Taliban government in Afghanistan has liberated women to practice their faith without the veil and social exclusion! Women in Saudi Arabia are denied equal rights and we do not question their King! Women enjoy full freedom in Islamic countries such as Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Morocco, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, China and Turkey. Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Indonesia have elected women Prime Ministers whilst most European countries and the USA have not. Clearly, Islam does not advocate discrimination or subjugation of women.


Patent protection for pharmaceutical products is identified as the cause of high prices of medication that the poor cannot afford for diseases such as HIV/AIDS, TB & Malaria. Politicians, including some Labour MEPs, seek cheap publicity by accusing pharmaceutical companies for not investing in research for developing drugs for diseases of the poor whilst benefiting from high prices of patented medicines.

Patents encourage investment in innovation and development and apply to all products from vacuum cleaners to medicines. Pharmaceutical companies operate in a free market just like multinational oil and food companies whose products are also essential but equally unaffordable to the poor. These companies are not charitable organisations and are not obliged to invest in drugs for rare diseases affecting a small number of people if rich nations themselves are unwilling to finance access of the medication for the poor. Not a single global company has invested in affordable appliances for the poor to access wind or solar energy. Developing nations continue to depend on oil-fed power plants that generate electricity - electricity that is either unavailable or unaffordable for the poorest who live in rural areas. Not a single food company has produced an affordable food package that provides the nutritional value to satisfy the daily needs of the starving millions. Development assistance, including paying for better health for the poor, is a task for governments of rich nations not for private companies!



1. 9-10 Oct: Tory Party Conference, Blackpool.

2. 12 Oct: addressed Mid Norfolk CWC.

3. 19 Oct: addressed members of Creaks Branch.

4. 29 Oct - 1 Nov: ACP-EU Conference.

5. 31 Oct: Westminster: Asian Achievers Awards.

6. 3 Nov: Norfolk/Suffolk Seminar, Diss.

7. 9 Nov: addressed South West Norfolk CA.

8. 10 Nov: addressed opening of Mosque, Bedford.

9. 13-16 Nov: AIDS Conference, South Africa.

10.18-21 Nov: EU-Africa Conference, Ghana.






 Promoted & Printed by Conservative MEPs in the EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament, Brussels: Khanbhai, Sturdy, Beazley & Van Orden