Monthly newsletter Edition 24 Sir Robert reports:- Page 1
The European Parliament's Special Committee, investigating the F & M outbreak in Britain, has issued its preliminary report and it is scathing about the Labour Government's handling of the epidemic. This Committee was established largely at the behest of British Tory MEPs, frustrated that the Government had refused to hold a proper public inquiry, but comprised of MEPs from different countries and all political persuasions - in other words, totally independent. The report damns the British Government as "cruel, incompetent and confused", with the "lack of a valid contingency plan, crippling bureaucracy and animal suffering on a massive scale". Criticism after criticism reverberate through the pages, concluding with the indictment that "the information policy was inadequate before and during the crisis" and that "farmers had been intimidated and pressurised" to such an extent that it "caused considerable stress amongst those concerned, many of whom are still suffering psychologically as a result, months after the crisis". Add all this to the equally excellent and informative Report produced independently for Cumbria County Council and we are presented with a damning indictment of the Labour Government. Is it any wonder that Tony Blair did not want a Public Inquiry of his own!
Whilst on matters agricultural, at long last our battle for the lifting of the French ban on British beef has been successful. Tory MEPs cannot claim all the credit, of course, but we have fought long, hard and effectively in Parliament to highlight the unreasonable behaviour of the French Government, even to the extent of marching down the Champs Elysee with banners flying. More than can be said of Labour or Liberal MEPs.
Despite preventative attempts by Commissioner Kinnock and others, Tory MEPs have been successful in persuading the Budgetary Control Committee to interview the Commission's former Chief Accountant, Marta Andreasen, about her allegations of incompetence and fraud in the EC's accounts. Kinnock had over-reacted to her claims and made a fool of himself at the Committee by his usual long-winded and emotional excuses, so it was something of a triumph to force him to recognise that Mrs. Andreasen had presented a case which must be answered. Yet again in the face of opposition from Labour MEPs, protecting their own rather than British interests.
Following one of my regular visits to Sellafield last month, I have been attacked - yet again - by the anti-nuclear lobby for defending the nuclear industry. I look upon this as a badge of honour, I may say, but they are so often wrong in their facts and distort the issue out of all proportion. The Irish, especially, simply ignore the professional advice of their own experts who have declared Sellafield to be an extremely safe site, but all their politicians, across the spectrum, seem to think that there are votes for them in demanding closure. They will not succeed!