Save the bee, says Tameside MEP

“Gardeners could be using pesticides on this year’s flowers that mean that next year there won’t be any flowers at all.”

Garden and farm pesticides accused of leading to the death of bees should be banned, says our local Lib Dem MEP.

Liberal Democrat Chris Davies is calling for the European Commission to take urgent action to restrict the use of neonicotinoid pesticides after new scientific reports confirmed links between their use and the decline in bee numbers.

Pesticides containing neonicotinoids are widely available in garden centres and do not carry warning labels about their potential effect on bee numbers.

Environmental campaigners are calling for direct action against garden centres that continue to sell the products.

They want shoppers to cause confusion by taking boxes of neonicotinoid pesticides to the till in Garden Centres and then refusing to pay for them.

But Davies says the whole of Europe should follow the example of France and Germany where restrictions on the chemicals have been introduced.

The MEP has cross-party backing for a study into the consequences of a ban to be carried out, and is insisting that the Commissioner concerned must respond to the issue in the European Parliament.

Davies said: “Bees are not only a much-loved part of garden life but vitally important to farmers.

“Gardeners could be using pesticides on this year’s flowers that mean that next year there won’t be any flowers at all.”

Latest research appears to confirm that neonicotinoid pesticides weaken the resistance of bees, leaving them vulnerable to other threats that they would normally survive.

UKIP challenged over “dodgy” maths

“Only in the crazy world of UKIP does the average taxpayer earn well over £1 million per year.”

Latest Treasury figures have revealed claims made by UKIP about the costs of EU membership to be a “complete fabrication”, Tameside’s Lib Dem Euro-MP says.

MEP Chris Davies has accused UKIP of making up figures that suggest that EU costs are 50 times higher than that paid by the UK Treasury. He has challenged UKIP’s Tameside MEP Paul Nuttall to explain his “dodgy maths” in public.

Chris Davies MEP

Chris Davies MEP

Chris said: “UKIP must explain why its sums don’t add up.  There is a debate to be had about getting value for money from the EU, but there cannot be serious discussion with people who make up the figures as they go along.”

A draft Treasury letter that is due to be sent to every taxpayer shows how the money raised through taxes is spent.  It reveals that the UK’s net contribution to the EU costs a taxpayer earning the average £26,000 per year just £51, or less than £1 per week.  The figure compares to interest payments on the national debt that cost the same person £548 per year, and a welfare bill that requires average taxes of £3,537.

Administration costs for the UK government alone, at £172 per person, are three times higher than the entire contribution to the EU.

UKIP have claimed that our EU cost is £2,516 per year for the average taxpayer, but calculations made by Davies have shown that this is the amount that would be paid by someone earning £1,291,710 in salary.

Said Davies, “Only in the crazy world of UKIP does the average taxpayer earn well over £1 million per year.

“UKIP deputy leader Paul Nuttall has already had to apologise for one invented press story this year.  Will he now accept my challenge to explain why the Treasury has got it wrong or will he also apologise for his latest false claims?”

Budget 2012: For the many, not the few

“the biggest ever single uplift in the tax threshold”

The massive £3.5bn tax cut for working people delivers:

  • The biggest ever single uplift in the tax threshold
  • A personal allowance of £9,205 in April 2013
  • 21 million working people getting an extra £220 tax cut
  • Brings the total tax cut for basic rate tax payers to £550
  • Brings the total number of people lifted out of tax to 2 million.

Sunday shopping campaigner says ‘no’ to change

An MEP who campaigned for changes to the Sunday trading laws in the 1990s will be opposing Government plans to relax them further.

Chris Davies, then an MP for Littleborough & Saddleworth and now our area’s Liberal Democrat MEP, was formerly the northern regional organiser for the Shopping Hours Reform Council. He says that a balance was struck that offends few people, pleases most, and should not be changed now. He said: “The 1950 Shops Act imposed ridiculous restrictions on shops.  You could buy ‘Playboy’ on a Sunday but not a bible.  No big stores were allowed to open.

“The balance we struck ensured that shopping everywhere and for everything could take place for up to 6 hours a day.  But we provided employment protection for shop workers who objected to Sunday working, and gave extra freedom for small shops.

“Whether you are religious or not, most people like having a rhythm in their lives and the current arrangements for Sunday shopping provide that very well indeed.”

Tameside Euro-MP wins massive victory

Chris Davies MEP

Chris Davies MEP

A Tameside MEP yesterday won a key vote in the European Parliament that will help shape Britain’s economic future

Liberal Democrat Chris Davies secured cross party support for controversial plans to develop a low carbon economy.

By a margin of 3-1, MEPs backed the ‘Davies report’ intended to combat climate change and promote industrial investment.

It endorses plans by the European Commission to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 80% over the next four decades, with milestones to be reached along the way.

The Commission’s ‘Roadmap’ has the support of the British Government and that of 25 other nations. Although formal acceptance has been blocked by Poland, the vote by MEPs means that the Commission can now introduce specific proposals that must each be judged on their merits.

Davies admitted that securing cross-party agreement had required tough negotiations and difficult compromises. He acknowledged that the wrong decisions could put future jobs at risk.

He said: “But get it right and we will promote investment, technological innovation and new employment. It will be a cleaner, safer, more secure world.

“Europe cannot solve the world’s problems by itself but changes are happening fast and are inevitable. The more we do now the cheaper it will be in the future.

“Either we take a lead in promoting a low carbon economy or we will get left behind as the Asian economies exploit the opportunities and take a technological lead.”

Chris Davies received warm congratulations for his work from Europe’s Climate Action Commissioner, Connie Hedegaard.

Tim Farron on Equal Marriage

Tim Farron photo

Tim Farron MP

Lib Dem Party President and MP for the Lake District, Tim Farron, has sent a message to party members about the new consultation on same-sex civil marriage. He said:

One of our fundamental values as a party is our firm belief in equality. This is why I am member of our party and why I am so proud to be your President. We have always stood for individual liberty and the right to choose how we lead our lives. That’s why we came into being in the 19th century to protect the rights of religious minorities, its why we led the support for equality for women and why we decided before any other major party that civil marriage should be open to same-sex couples equally. The Liberal Democrats in Government are now delivering on that, with today’s consultation on how best to deliver equal civil marriage, which will lead to new legislation in this Parliament.

The Government consultation asks about the best way to implement equal civil marriage, and our party conference agreed that the best way to do that is in the context of full equality of marriage and civil partnerships.

It’s important that you, and as many people as possible, respond to this consultation. LGBT+ Liberal Democrats have prepared a guide to the consultation, what it means, and how to respond to support the Liberal Democrat policy of equality. You can also order free leaflets from LGBT+ Lib Dems to distribute around local venues – not just ones specific to the LGBT+ communities, since equal marriage affects everyone!

For more detail on our LGBT+ campaigning, please see or follow @lgbtld on Twitter.

Best Wishes,

Tim Farron MP
Liberal Democrat Party President

Viv Bingham

Viv Bingham

Viv Bingham

We are sad to report that Viv Bingham OBE, who was Lib Dem candidate for Stalybridge & Hyde in 2005, has passed away just over a week ago.

Viv was a Liberal and then Lib Dem member for many many years, his passions in politics included the Co-Operative movement and the campaign for nuclear disarmament.

A popular figure in the party, he was President of the Liberal Party nationally in 1981-82, and perhaps best known and loved for his leading of singing “We Shall Overcome” at the close of party conference Glee Club each year.

Our thoughts are with his family and close friends, and with the many happy moments we shared with him on and off the campaign trail.


Viv Bingham, 11 April 1932 – 3 March 2012

Local police crack down on cannabis cultivation

Chris Davies MEP

Chris Davies MEP

A campaigner against Britain’s drugs laws has welcomed the crackdown on cannabis factories being launched by police forces across the North West from Monday, March 5th.

Tameside’s Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies says that a targeted campaign against serious criminals has his full support, although he believes the law on drugs is an ass.

According to government figures, more than one third of the British population have used illegal drugs at some point in their lives. The number of cannabis ‘farms’ detected across the UK has increased from 3,032 to 6,866 over the past four years. Often located in private houses, many are said to be run by criminal gangs. Chris Davies says that the police crackdown on criminals makes more sense than arresting drug users who may be causing no harm to anyone other than themselves.

But the Liberal Democrat MEP says the production and sale of drugs should be legalised, licensed, taxed and accompanied by health warnings.

He said: “We celebrate the owners of breweries and distilleries as captains of industry, yet their products are every bit as harmful as cannabis. Drugs prohibition has failed across the world because it puts their production and supply into the hands of some evil people. The criminality associated with the drugs trade causes vastly more harm to society than their use. Drugs use should be matter for health professionals not law enforcement officers.”

A new law in Switzerland allows any citizen to grow up to four cannabis plants for their personal use, an approach to destroying the criminal supply chain that Chris describes as making good sense.

Guidance from the Association of Chief Police Officers says that cannabis ‘farms’ are usually located in private dwellings. While some are of little commercial value the largest ever discovered, in Cambridgeshire in 2010, led to the seizure of 7,600 plants with a value of £2.5 million.

The number of plants is not relevant. A property will be treated as a ‘farm’ if it possesses either high intensity lighting, ventilation, a hydroponics system or is bypassing an electrical

Commercial cannabis production has been associated with trafficking of adults and their children from China and Vietnam.

ACPO says: “It is believed that there are a small number of teams who specialise in specific aspects of the cultivation chain. Higher level criminals are coordinating these teams and are highly organised.

Nick Clegg calls for ‘John Lewis economy’

Nick Clegg yesterday called on more British companies to offer shares to their employees, arguing it will improve productivity and unlock growth. “We don’t believe our problem is too much capitalism – we think it’s that too few people have capital.”

Read yesterday’s news story on this site for the full speech.

(Also available on the BBC website here.)