Monthly newsletter Sir Robert reports:-

This last month or so in the European Parliament has been somewhat hectic. What with the hearing for the new Commissioners, the organisation of offices - in the Region, in Brussels, in Strasbourg and at home - the first meetings of Committees and much, much more, it has been extraordinarily busy. Add to that the socialising and politicking at the Party Conference in Blackpool, Constituency commitments, Regional lobbying and Press calls and I begin to realise that I am back in the loop of public life again!

A fortnight ago I was present at a meeting with the Bishop of Blackburn which he had called to discuss rural concerns in Lancashire. There were present, representatives of the Church, local government, business, education, police and the NFU, all with points to make about the current crisis in the countryside - largely ignored by Labour.

This knitted neatly into a discussion that Lord Inglewood and I had a week or so ago with the leadership of the Lancashire and Cumbria County NFU branches. They were angry, worried and defiant but determined to get their case across to politicians and the public. We aim to help them and started by fighting the corner in the European Parliament for the retention of school milk. This is important to children and farmers alike and the entire Conservative Group of 36 MEP's rallied to the cause.

I have been asked to be the Conservative Spokesman on the Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism Committee - vital to our region in all three departments - and serve also on the Foreign Affairs Committee. In addition, I have been elected to the Management Bureau of the Conservation Group and have be tasked with the responsibility of liaising with Westminster and the Parliamentary Party there. That way communication is two-way and we can act together to counter the damaging effects of a Labour Government.

The recent Government announcement about the new Regional Assistance Funds is very bad news for East Lancashire, in that Boroughs such as Hyndburn, Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale are to lose their European Funding so that, for example, Preston and Blackpool may benefit. I wonder how the Labour "spin-doctors" will sell that to those who suffer!
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