Monthly newsletter Edition 18 Sir Robert reports:- Page 2
Spain took over the EU Presidency on January 1st and the Prime Minister, Senor Aznar, was in Parliament recently to explain his programme. I asked him about the supposed "deal" that has been done over Gibraltar between Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, and his Spanish counterpart. There does need to be some movement - if only to assist the aviation industry - but nothing must happen without the wholehearted consent of Gibraltarians. S. Aznar was polite in his reply but evasive, so Tory MEPs will monitor developments very closely, especially when the Rock's Chief Minister visits us in Brussels shortly.
More incompetence from Labour Ministers is provoking the illegal dumping of old fridges throughout the UK. An EU proposal to control disposal - a sensible measure, bearing in mind the hazardous chemicals in the refrigeration unit - will increase costs, but the Government did not do its homework. Scant financial provision has been made to assist local councils in recycling the 3 million old fridges that are dumped every year - at a cost of some £100 million - and the result will be fly-tipping on a huge scale. This is environmentally disastrous and potentially very dangerous for young children. The Government was warned by Tory MEPs but chose to dismiss our concerns. Now Ministers must act - and quickly.With West Lancashire DC By-Election winner - Paul Greenall - and at the Halton Ladies Supper Club (below)
I paid my ritual visit to the NW Regional Assembly the other day and was not sure whether to be pleased or sorry. The agenda was so insignificant that the hour-long meeting actually finished in half the time. Yet all the documentation and glossy pamphlets that pour out of the offices of this ludicrous and self-important body must cost the taxpayer a small fortune. And then the Constitutional Convention met to discuss how Labour and Liberals will divide the eventual bureaucratic spoils of a Regional Government. It will hardly surprise you to learn that there are no Conservatives on the Policy Committee nor is there any representative from our three Shire Counties! The sooner we have a referendum on this nonsense and let sensible voters decide to abolish it, lock, stock and barrel, the better it will be for proper local government in our region!
In contrast, I went to the Cumbria CC Conservative Group meeting in Kendal earlier this month and saw for myself just how an effective team of County Councillors is addressing the problems of years of Labour mismanagement. Under the deft guidance of Rex Toft, Tory Leader, they were dealing with a variety of issues ranging over FMD, employment, social services, transport, council tax, etc. Sensible people, representing a real area, addressing local problems with commitment and expertise. So different to the "Regional Assembly" which is nothing of the sort!
Lorry drivers will now find themselves under closer scrutiny, following the passing of a Parliamentary Report - with Labour support, of course! - which will require them to retrain for 420 hours for a European HGV Licence. They will be examined on driving technology, environmental impact, languages and even their dietary habits. (Farewell to "The Greasy Spoon"?) This is a well-intentioned attempt to raise driving standards across the EU but it goes to extreme bureaucratic lengths to achieve its objective. I opposed it in Committee and every Conservative voted against it in Parliament. Sadly, Labour MEPs did not and the future difficulties of small road-haulage businesses will be laid at their door.