Monthly newsletter Edition 22 Sir Robert reports:- Page 1
The cockle fishing and processing industry in the UK is under severe threat and it is not the fault of Brussels! So I discovered when I visited our only local firm, Kershaw's in Southport, to be briefed on the difficulties they are facing with British civil servants. Apparently, the European Commission issued a Directive some years ago, specifying a series of health tests to prevent a nasty disease called Diarhetic Shellfish Poisoning from upsetting humans. All well and good, except that the Food Standards Authority here in Britain has chosen the one option which is not used by any of our European competitors and which has been demonstrated by boffins to be extra harsh and possibly inaccurate. The consequences of this are simple. The British cockle industry disappears, our European competitors corner the British market, boats are laid up and jobs are lost - all because officials at the FSA will not listen to reason or scientific advice. I am arranging for some of those affected to meet Commissioner Byrne shortly to ask him to prevail upon the British Government to intervene before the industry collapses but I am not too hopeful that he can help. For the record, DSP has never caused a single death in the UK.
Incidentally, this Commissioner has been at the forefront of pressing the French Government to obey EU law in connection with the import of British Beef and, recently, British Lamb. Whilst, of course, limited by the powers of the Treaties, he has been very insistent with the French. But, in the final analysis, he cannot use physical force to compel France to open its borders to our exports and we just have to continue the lengthy legal process.
As many of you know, I am something of a cricket buff and still play when the bones allow. During the last weekend in June, the Lord's Taverners, of whom I am a member, sent a team to Patterdale to participate in the Ullswater Festival and to demonstrate support for Cumbria's Tourist industry after its savaging by the Foot & Mouth epidemic. I was invited to speak at the Dinner on the preceding evening and was able to tell guests from all over the UK about the devastation to the County of the previous year. They were astonished at the extent of the damage but also pleased to hear about the positive actions being taken by the County Council - under Tory Leadership, of course! - and other local organisations. The Match followed the next day at Patterdale CC, against a local side, and the Taverners included stars of both Test Cricket and the Stage. Brian Close, Fred Rumsey, Graham Roope and Peter Lever plus Robert Powell, John Alderton and Frazer Hines. And me - to make up the numbers! A great weekend and lots of money raised for disadvantaged children, plus a bag of cricket kit for Patterdale Junior School.
The dreadful air collision in Germany, which killed so many Russian children, resulted in my being asked to react to the media on the effects of my policy report about the EU's proposals for a "Single Sky" in air traffic management. The present cumbersome, fragmented and inefficient system would not have caused the crash but the situation can only be improved by early implementation of new infrastructure, new procedures and a single international control structure. If this happens - as it must - then at least some good will come out of the tragedy. .