Monthly newsletter Edition 25 Sir Robert reports:- Page 2

One of the most disturbing problems confronting us at present is the terrible plight of those in the fishing industry. The Conservative Chairman of the Fisheries Committee, Struan Stevenson, is leading a fierce resistance to the swingeing attempts by the Committee to close down parts of the North Sea for an indefinite period. We are all aware of the decline in numbers and size of cod, haddock, plaice etc. and there is an understanding of a need to restrict or reduce catches so that stocks may be replenished. But we cannot accept complete closure, with a loss of livelihoods throughout the supply chain equivalent to some 20,000 jobs. We want fair play for our fishermen and British Tories will campaign to that end.

I have just been appointed the Industry Committee's Rapporteur on an Environmental Liability Directive, currently going through Parliament. This is a huge, controversial issue with the potential to be very damaging indeed to British industry and commerce. Indeed, I dealt with the matter when Environment Minister in 1994 and I am determined to consult with a wide range of organisations affected by the legislation. Thankfully, Richard Inglewood is our Spokesman on the lead Committee, Legal Affairs, and we are combining resources with our other Spokesmen to try and obtain a Parliamentary majority against the excesses of the Green/Liberal/Communist groups, to whom anything industrial is anathema.

At last the testing of cosmetics on animals is to end - as a direct result of a sensible Conservative compromise devised by our Health Spokesman, John Bowis, which proved acceptable to a majority of MEPs. Tests, where there is an alternative in sight, will be phased out in six years and the small minority where there is, as yet, no alternative, in ten.

Belated congratulations to Cheshire CC - and especially its Tory Leadership - on the results of the Audit Commission's recent assessment. Rated as "EXCELLENT", an accolade granted to very few local authorities, the judgement is a well-deserved commentary on the achievements of a splendid Conservative-controlled council. But then, would you have expected anything less!

I was asked to stand again for election to the British Delegation Bureau (management committee) last December, having been narrowly defeated the previous year, and I was delighted to be successful. The position will give added weight to my representations on behalf of the region and allow me to contribute a little in the Party's corridors of power.

British Labour and Liberal MEPs have just voted for a ludicrous Parliamentary Report which attacks the UK, amongst others, for its record on human rights. The specific criticism is of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime & Security Act 2001, promulgated and passed by a Labour Government with the support of Labour MPs, and, in such difficult times as these, it is simply astonishing that Labour and Liberal representatives should be defying the best interests of the British people, let alone the Government that at least some of them supposedly support!

The Parliamentary Year did not start well for me as my trip to Strasbourg took over 13 hours last Monday. Flight cancellations, delays and missed connections combined with totally unco-operative airline staff all served to reinforce the argument against the Parliament meeting in Strasbourg at all! It costs nearly £100 million to shift people, papers and paraphernalia backwards and forwards twelve times a year and it is an utterly unjustifiable waste of taxpayers' money and everyone's time. But only Governments can stop the charade.

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