Monthly newsletter Edition 5 Sir Robert reports:- Page 1

I have just landed something of a substantial task as I have been asked to be the "Rapporteur" responsible for guiding a major Commission Policy Document on the problems of Air Traffic Management through the Transport Committee. This has required me to offer solutions and policies of my own and, whilst much of it is highly technical, if my proposals are accepted, we should see a reduction in the delays which have caused so much inconvenience recently and which will continue this summer.

Much righteous anger was expressed in the last Parliamentary Session about Herr Haider and the Austrian Freedom Party's participation in Government. All left-wing and many Christian Democrat MEPs were hostile in the extreme, wanting to interfere in the democratic choice of another Member State's electorate merely because they did not like the result. Therein lies real extremism. I abhor the declared policies of the Freedom Party but if Austria abides by its international treaty obligations and does not pose a military threat to my country, I do not see that it is any of my business to tell the Austrian people how they should vote.

I made a special trip to B.N.F.L. Sellafield last week to express my public support for the 10,000 or so employees at this difficult time for them. I do not condone the sloppy and negligent behaviour of a tiny number of staff in falsifying records but there was never any safety risk. Heads have rolled and new procedures have been introduced. That should reinforce the sensible view that this Company and its workforce is one in which we in the North West should take great pride.

I met a number of North West road hauliers recently who are very worried about the future of their companies and drivers. Did you know that Road Tax is  in France but €50 in the UK? Or that the annual Duty on Diesel is €63 in Belgium but €767 here? If a continental haulier fills extra tanks with cheap fuel at home, he can operate in Britain for up to a fortnight, probably using lower-paid East European drivers. Is it any wonder that our hauliers are facing difficulties? Those taxes are entirely within the control of Chancellor Gordon Brown so it is up to the Labour Government to remedy the situation - and soon.

So it is with Dairy Farmers. I joined a march of North West producers a week or two ago, who were highlighting the fact that bottled water now costs more than milk and that the price they receive is totally inadequate to maintain their livelihoods. I promised to raise their concerns in the European Parliament on the day they reached Westminster for a National Lobby.

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