Monthly newsletter Edition 8 Sir Robert reports:- Page 2

During the European Parliament's short Summer Recess (late July to late August) I overhauled and improved the Website and I hope you like the end result. I shall try to keep it up to date and would welcome your comments and criticisms. Please feel free to download photographs, press releases, etc.

The "big" issue at Strasbourg was a debate on Sport, with particular reference to the Commission's proposals to outlaw football transfer fees. I argued some years ago, when Sports Minister, that the EU should not have any competence over sports issues and indeed there is no provision in the Treaties (of Rome, Maastricht, Amsterdam) for that to happen. However, Commissioners Monti and Reding have decided that FIFA, UEFA and the major Clubs must be subject to the Competition and Employment Directives. This could be very detrimental to those Clubs in the Football League lower divisions and the Conference Leagues and will destroy the incentive to scout for, train, develop and sell on young, talented footballers. It will damage the continuity and consistency of team management, remove an income source for club and player development and ruin the game for fans. I have spoken out publicly against the proposals and, in company with other Tory MEPs, will seek to change the Commissioners' minds.

I spent a useful morning recently being briefed on and inspecting Southport Pier and the progress of the renovation, which is, in part, being funded by European money. Laurence Jones, PPC for Southport, accompanied me and we met also the owner of one of the largest Amusement Arcades in the town. The Pier Complex will be a splendid tourist attraction again shortly - and the sooner the better.

I had a meeting with Cumbrian Farmers last month who spoke their minds with their usual force and were particularly cross with the Government over its continuing lack of interest in their deepening difficulties. For example, the most recent threat by the European Commission to ban or control on-farm incinerators was "overlooked" by Labour Agriculture Ministers. This will cause great inconvenience to farmers who have to dispose of fallen animals during lambing or calving, at a time when external incinerators are few and far between.

An old acquaintance passed through Brussels last week and he brought with him a business colleague from Russia. This gentleman turned out to be a Member of the Tver Region Legislature and a candidate for the Mayoralty of the Regional Capital. As a hard-bitten politico, I assumed that it was just another photo-call but Mr. Kamyshov, aged about 40, was visibly moved at seeing my Committee in action, by watching a vote take place and especially by seeing the Russian Flag alongside the EU Member States in the Entrance Hall. It was a salutary reminder that we should never take democracy for granted.

We were delighted to welcome a large party of NW Conservative Ladies to Strasbourg at its last Sitting and your Tory Team were present in force to brief them on the Parliament and the issues of the day. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and they were off to Luxembourg to see yet more of the European political system. It was, as always, good to see Tory visitors from home.

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