from Europe Winter 2001
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
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.
TOBACCO - PERSONAL USE
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.
CANNOT FIGHT POVERTY
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