Euro-MP wins another fish fight

Chris Davies MEP

Chris Davies MEP

Our local Euro-MP Chris Davies won support from MEPs for beleaguered fish stocks in a marathon voting session today in Strasbourg.  MEPs from France and Spain attempted to put aside large amounts of taxpayer money for fleet renewal – effectively giving fishermen cash for better boats that could catch more fish.

Chris, who founded the cross party Fish for the Future group of MEPs, led the fight to prevent more subsidy cash being wasted on measures that would encourage overfishing and the further decline of fish stocks.

The European Maritime & Fisheries Fund (EMFF) will provide €6 billion towards the fishing industry between 2014 and 2020.  MEPs approved payment of subsidies to help fishermen adjust to change but not to catch more fish.

Chris welcomed the decision as proof that the EU was serious about improving its fisheries policy, saying “We still have too many boats chasing too few fish, so to use public money to pay for building new boats would only make the problem worse. Grants of this kind were scrapped a decade ago, when 90% of the money was going to France, Spain and Portugal.  To have reinstated them would have been a massive step backwards.”

“Fishermen only have a future if we can help fish stocks to recover.  That is why Lib Dem MEPs supported investment based on sound science rather than subsidies for the few.”

The Parliament supported the use of funds to help fishermen buy more selective gear, to improve port facilities, and to obtain more scientific data about the state of fish stocks.

Victory for e-cig campaigners

Local Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies today won a major victory for users of e-cigs when the European Parliament backed his call for e-cigs to be available for sale on the same basis as tobacco.  MEPs rejected plans for them to be treated as medicines, increasing their cost and reducing their availability in many countries.

Chris won support for his demand that e-cigs meet product safety standards and for restrictions on their advertising and marketing, but he insisted they had a major role to play in reducing tobacco-related deaths.

He said: “E-cigs can be a game changer in the fight against smoking. Hundreds of former smokers have written to tell me that they have helped them give up cigarettes when nothing else worked.

“They are successful because they are not medicines but products that smokers enjoy using as an alternative to cigarettes.

“Every year 700,000 people in Europe die of smoking-related disease and we should do nothing that makes e-cigs harder to obtain than tobacco cigarettes.”

The European Parliament decision on e-cigs was opposed by Labour MEPs but supported by Liberal Democrat, Conservative and UKIP members.  It puts the Parliament in conflict with the governments of Britain and a majority of EU countries.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt wrote to all British MEPs last week urging them to back medicinal regulation for e-cigs.

Attempts must now be made to find a compromise between the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers.

Chris Davies called for ministers to think afresh about their attitude: “E-cigs are a new product so it’s not surprising that many politicians have still not realised how big a role they could play in reducing the use of tobacco.”

Davies welcomes launch of million job campaign

Chris Davies MEP

Chris Davies MEP

Tameside Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies has welcomed the Liberal Democrat Million Jobs Campaign, which was launched by Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg today. More than one million private sector jobs have been created since the Coalition Government came to power. Liberal Democrats now want to create a million more.

This will build on what Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government have already achieved. Business Secretary, Vince Cable has overseen a record rise in apprenticeships, including over 207,830 in the North West. To support jobs in manufacturing, £5.5bn extra has been invested into science, high-tech manufacturing and renewable energy and Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander has introduced £2,000 cash back on National Insurance contributions for employers who take on more staff.

The Liberal Democrats are aiming to create more jobs outside London and have invested £2.6 billion in a Regional growth fund that is already benefiting northern England.

Commenting, Chris said: “The Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy in a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life.

“That’s why Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government have helped businesses create more than one million private sector jobs, and now we’re working to help them create a million more. I am also working to bring more European investment to the area, to invest in new skills and give new businesses the premises and capital they need to get going.

“I look forward to me and my fellow Liberal Democrats working with local businesses, community groups and schools and colleges to turn this ambition into reality in Tameside.”

Have ferret, will travel

Ferrets, dogs and cats are set today (Thursday) to gain greater opportunities to travel across EU borders.

MEPs are expected to give their support to changes in the law providing for the movement of non-commercial pet animals.  The new arrangements are built on the success of ‘pets passports’ legislation approved a decade ago. They simplify procedures and allow more animals to be moved to take part in
competitions and sporting events.

Pet animals can accompany their owners if they carry a microchip ‘passport’
that proves they have been vaccinated against rabies.

Human cases of rabies average only one per year in the EU.

Tameside MEP and cat owner Chris Davies, speaking in the Parliament today
hailed the measure as an example of an EU law that made life better for
people – and their pets.

He said:  “Ferrets, cats and dogs can now travel across Europe for holidays, competitions or sexual liaisons.

“The misery of quarantine restrictions for both pets and their owners has come to an end, and cases of rabies have been held in check.

“Lib Dems in the EU are trying to make a fairer society for all – including lovelorn ferrets and their long suffering owners.

“I’m sure that pet dogs will be excited and pet cats will be indifferent to the legislation but on a serious point this is the EU creating opportunities and adding value to the experience of people and their pets in a way that no single country could do alone.”

Potential bee killer banned by EU

A chemical implicated in the recent rapid decline of bee numbers has been banned by the EU despite the objections of the UK government.

Local Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies has been campaigning for neonicotinoids to be banned since evidence first started being reported that the controversial pesticide could be causing bee colonies to die.

15 EU governments today voted in favour of a ban – not enough to impose one but enough to throw the decision to the EU Commission which is likely to announce a two year ban while more research is carried out.

The UK government voted against – and Davies slammed Ministers for bowing to pressure from big business.

Chris said, “There is enough evidence that neonicotinoids could be causing the catastrophic decline in bee numbers to warrant at least a temporary suspension in their use.

“Bees and other wild pollinators are worth over £100 million per year to the UK agricultural sector and we can’t keep taking risks with crop production like this.”

Income tax: promise delivered


Income tax cut for 80,000 workers across Tameside borough

From the front page of our manifesto – to your pocket!

8,800 people in Tameside borough have been taken completely out of paying income tax through the increases in the tax threshold.

80,000 people in the borough have had a tax cut.

Budget boost for North West

Chris Davies, the Lib Dem MEP who represents Tameside and the rest of North West England, has welcomed the budget for the help it provides to his constituents.  He said, “2.6 million of my constituents will get a £700 tax cut compared to 2010 when Labour were in power – and it is the lowest paid that are getting the benefit with 286,000 people taken out of tax altogether.

“279,231 families in the region could benefit from tax free childcare and 95,000 businesses will benefit from the changes to National Insurance, creating and preserving jobs.

“A typical motorist will save £7 per tank of petrol compared to Labour’s plans and I am working in the EU to try and increase that number by making  sure new cars use less fuel to travel the same distance – delivering savings for working people as well as benefits to our environment.

“There is even good news for Tameside pubs with 6,714 pubs across the region set to benefit from the cut in beer duty.  Even the serial complainers of UKIP should be happy with that, after all their MEP did promise to hold surgeries in pubs.  Personally I shall be enjoying my cheaper pints outside work hours.

“The Liberal Democrats are trying to build a stronger economy and a fairer society and this budget proves our influence in government.”

High Speed 2 the route to a stronger economy

Responding to the Judicial Review of High Speed 2, Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Transport Parliamentary Committee, Alan Reid said today, “Liberal Democrats were the first political party to back a new High Speed Rail Network in the UK. This is a fantastic investment in our infrastructure and will help to build a stronger economy.

“The first phase will support the creation of more than 40,000 jobs, while phase two will support around 100,000 jobs across the country, regenerating areas around the route and bringing new services and amenities for local communities.

“Increasing rail capacity is also good for the environment and is expected to dramatically reduce our reliance on domestic flights and transfer nine million journeys from road to rail. Even those cities not directly on the network after phase two will benefit, with journeys between London and Edinburgh reduced by almost an hour.”

40th anniversary of Britain joining the EU

The United Kingdom has today been a member of the European Union for 40 years.

Tameside Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies says that EU membership has helped to maintain British influence in a fast-changing world.

“We applied to join late because politicians realised that Britain was being left behind and losing influence.  The EU remains for now the largest trading bloc in the world and I believe the UK has contributed a great deal to make it more prosperous.”

Chris says that membership of the European Union has boosted British trade and helped create more jobs than ever before.  He points to its achievements in promoting peace, democracy and human rights.

“Twenty-five years ago some of our closest partners were still communist dictatorships within the Soviet Union.  We were fearful of the future and spending a fortune on defending ourselves from a real threat of attack.  The contrast with today could hardly be greater.”

The MEP claimed that few people can name more than one or two EU rules that they would like to have repealed.  Rules and regulations have improved our environment and made life better and safer for the majority.

He said: “There are many things I want to change, but that’s true of rules made in London as well as those from Brussels.

“I want the EU to be a stronger force for good on the world stage.  The challenge for the future is to maintain our influence in a world with power moving towards China and many other fast-developing countries.”

Fish set to have a Merrier Christmas

Radical reforms to Europe’s common fisheries policy won strong support from MEPs today.

MEPs gave stronger than expected support to radical reforms to EU fishing policy today, voting to end the discard of perfectly edible fish and take steps to rebuild depleted fish stocks.

In a series of votes on 2500 amendments MEPs followed the lead of Tameside MEP Chris Davies, founder of the cross party ‘Fish for the Future’ group of Euro-MPs in 2010.

Davies has been campaigning for reform of the controversial Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) since being re-elected in 2009 and today’s votes marked a significant milestone in ending the practice of discarding fish, dead, into the sea just because they are over quota.

Chris said, “We have been throwing perfectly edible fish overboard while fish stocks have dropped and dropped over the last few decades.

“Meanwhile Fisheries Ministers from across the EU have met every December, listened to scientific advice, and then ignored it by setting fishing quotas far too high for fish to survive.

“With this reform in place we should finally see the number and size of fish start to recover above minimum levels and back to a level where the fishing industry is viable again.”

MEPs were voting during a once in a decade chance to change the law underpinning fishing policy across the 27 state EU.

The legislation will now need to be ratified by the entire European Parliament, prior to detailed negotiations between MEPs and Fisheries Ministers from the 27 EU countries.