Monthly newsletter Edition 22 Sir Robert reports:- Page 2
The Centre-Right Group in the Parliament - of which we Conservatives are members - has an annual Study Week, held in a Member State city, to plan future policies and tactics. This year it was in Edinburgh, so it fell to Tory MEPs and our staff to set out the British stall. You will not be surprised to learn that it was done to the highest possible organisational standards and all our guests were hugely complimentary about the arrangements. There were, of course, social gatherings in the evenings and speakers included Iain Duncan Smith, David Trimble, Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Chris Patten. The External Affairs Commissioner spoke at a Reception on HMY Britannia, much moved by his previous memories of this wonderful vessel which had been when, as the last Governor, he had sailed away from Hong Kong after the handover to China.
A splendid joint celebration was held recently by the West Lancashire Association, to mark both the Queen's Jubilee and the splendid Tory takeover of the District Council. The local golf club was packed with new councillors and their supporters and I took great pleasure in leading the congratulations to all concerned. Cllr. Geoff Roberts, now in charge at Ormskirk, has a heavy but satisfying burden to carry but I am sure that he and his team will keep control of the Council for many a year. Another Tory Gain!
There has been much sound and fury in Parliament over recent weeks about Genetically Modified Organisms and the effects thereof on food and the environment. Many people, across the political spectrum, have differing views, all of which seem to be black or white with little room for compromise. I have no problems with GMO's and believe they are simply a beneficial continuation of developments that have been going on for centuries - less pesticide, less fossil fuel, less greenhouse gases, healthier lives for crop-producers, stronger and more nutritional harvests for the world's poor. There must be practical tests on which to judge progress and draw conclusions - to prevent them is prejudiced and irrational - but I do recognise other concerns. That is why, when the issue came to a vote in Strasbourg recently, Tory MEPs sought a balanced result. Where sensible and practical, as much information as possible about the origin of such material should be available to the consumer so that a personal judgement can be made. Clearly, every tiny constituent part cannot be identified but a general statement should suffice.
With the Party Conference being in Bournemouth this year, your five Tory MEPs have decided to have a roadshow around the region, to thank you all for your efforts for us and the Party. Details will be winging their way to you shortly and I hope to see a good many of you at one of the events. In the meantime, enjoy the holiday season and keep your fingers crossed for some sunshine!