Monthly newsletter Edition 10 Sir Robert reports:- Page 2

I took the opportunity of the By-Election to visit Preston North End FC to discuss with the Club's Chief Executive the ill-advised plans of the Commission to abolish soccer transfer fees. He confirmed that the threat, particularly to the many smaller clubs in lower divisions, was real and very damaging and urged me to speak up for them. That I am doing, along with everyone else who values the future of the game, and I detect a retreat on the part of the Commissioners.

A French Green MEP has produced a report to my Committee, seeking to prevent or tightly restrict the transport of nuclear material by any means. The contents and conclusions are biased beyond belief, tendentious in the extreme and often just factually wrong. It is an insult to all those who work in the nuclear industry in Cumbria & Lancashire and I slammed it. No one is ever complacent about safety but it is a fact that there has never even been an incident during the movement of this material and that cannot be said of almost any other industry.

I visited some Fylde pig farmers last month, in the company of the Rt. Hon. Michael Jack MP, and we heard at first hand about the increasing difficulties that the producers are experiencing. Supermarket prices are at rock bottom, foreign imports undercut their market, welfare regulations are long-winded and expensive and the future for British pigmeat is bleak. Both Michael and I promised to highlight their problems but, of course, it is Labour Ministers who could - and should - do more to help.

In June 1999, three MEPs from the UK Independence Party were elected. Some facts on their attendance and voting have just become available. Due to illness, one does not attend at all. The other two were absent for just under 50% of the time and, when they came, they abstained in just over 50% of the votes. How's that for not serving your Constituents and not defending British interests?

I was a member of the MEPs' Panel at a recent meeting of the Cheshire Local Government Association and a number of points were raised with us, especially in connection with the need for the County to be better represented in Brussels and for communication at all levels to be improved. I was heartened that Councillors recognise what has to be done but I made it quite clear that it should not be at the expense of the hard-pressed taxpayer.

It is excellent news about the quality of N.W. beaches and the EU's decision to pass them as fit - at long last. I was Environment Minister when the improvement was set in train and I encouraged North West Water in their multi-million pound investment to clean up our coastline. We still need to deal with locally-generated litter and animal manure, as well as waste and detritus from ships, but the last Conservative Government can claim a good deal of the credit for pushing this lengthy process along.

Visits this month have included Crewe & Nantwich, Liverpool, Manchester, Morecambe, Lancaster & Wyre, Fylde and Lancashire C.C. Tory Group.

May I take this opportunity of wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy & Prosperous New Millennium.

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