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.

EU boost for Tameside businesses

Chris Davies MEP

Chris Davies MEP

British inventors are set to benefit from the successful outcome of a 40 year EU battle on patent laws.

Businesses applying for patents currently need to have their application translated into 23 different languages to protect their rights in 25 EU countries.

But Euro-MPs this week gave their backing to a new patent law that will allow inventors to apply in just one language and get protection across the EU. The new unitary patents will be processed in English, French or German but can be submitted in any of the 23 official EU languages.

The new law will reduce the costs of an EU wide patent by 80% with costs of translation no longer being met by the inventors. Costs will fall to _2380 during a short transition period and then _680 after that.

Patent costs in the USA and Japan are significantly lower than in the EU making manufacturing in those countries more competitive.

Chris Davies, Lib Dem Euro-MP for Tameside said, “This is exactly what the EU should be doing, making it easier and cheaper for businesses across Europe to develop new products and promote innovation.

“Manufacturing industry in the North needs to be on a level playing field with international competitors.

“If we are going to grow our way out of the current financial difficulties we need to make things and export them and this will help.”

Davies criticised UKIP MEPs who voted against the new patent law. “UKIP has shown again that its obsessive hatred of the idea of European cooperation puts jobs at risk. Its MEPs let down small and medium sized businesses and our great Universities by voting against this measure.

“Money that is currently being wasted on translating patents can now be used for more research and most importantly to create jobs. A widget made in Tameside today can be sold in Bulgaria tomorrow without the fear it will be copied.”

Nick Clegg’s speech to Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference

Speaking at the Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference in Brighton yesterday, Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, said:
This summer, as we cheered our athletes to gold after gold after gold, Britain remembered how it feels to win again. But more importantly, we remembered what it takes to win again. Whether from Jess Ennis or Mo Farah, Sarah Storey or David Weir, the message was the same: we may be the ones on the podium, but behind each of us stands a coach.  And behind the coach, a team. And behind the team, the organisers, the volunteers, the supporters. And behind them, a whole city, an entire country, the UK nations united behind one goal.

What a contrast from a year ago when England’s cities burned in a week of riots. When the images beamed to the world were not of athletes running for the finishing line, but the mob, running at police lines. When the flames climbed, not from the Olympic torch in east London, but a furniture shop in south London. A 140 year-old family-run business, which had survived two world wars and countless recessions, razed to the ground. Of course, even then, amid the smoke and embers, we saw our country’s true character when residents came out onto the streets to clear up the mess. (more…)

The new Liberal Democrat ministerial Team

You’ve probably seen lots of reporting of the government reshuffle.

The new full Liberal Democrat ministerial team is as follows

The Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP – Deputy Prime Minister, Lord President of the Council (with special responsibility for political and constitutional reform)

The Rt Hon Danny Alexander MP – Chief Secretary to the Treasury

The Rt Hon Dr Vincent Cable MP – Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, and President of the Board of Trade

The Rt Hon Edward Davey MP – Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

The Rt Hon Michael Moore MP – Secretary of State for Scotland

Norman Baker MP – Department for Transport, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State

The Rt Hon Tom Brake MP – Office of the Leader of the Commons, Parliamentary Secretary (Deputy Leader)

Jeremy Browne MP – Home Office, Minister of State

The Rt Hon Alistair Carmichael MP – House of Commons, Deputy Chief Whip (Comptroller of HM Household)

Lynne Featherstone MP – Department for International Development, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State

The Rt Hon Don Foster MP – Department for Communities and Local Government, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State

Baroness Garden – Baroness in Waiting

David Heath CBE MP – Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Minister of State

Mark Hunter MP – Assistant Government Whip

Norman Lamb MP – Department of Health, Minister of State

Rt Hon David Laws MP – Department for Education, Minister of State (jointly with the Cabinet Office)

The Rt Hon Lord McNally – Ministry of Justice, Minister of State (and Deputy Leader of the House of Lords)

Lord Newby OBE – House of Lords, Deputy Chief Whip (Captain of The Queen’s Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard)

Baroness Northover – Baroness in Waiting

Baroness Randerson – Wales Office, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State

Lord Wallace of Saltaire – Lord in Waiting

Jo Swinson MP – Business, Innovation and Skills, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State

The Rt Hon Lord Wallace of Tankerness QC – Law Officers, Advocate General for Scotland

Steve Webb MP – Department for Work and Pensions, Minister of State

Jenny Willott MP – Assistant Government Whip

Liberal Democrats outline plans to build 300,000 new homes a year

The Liberal Democrats have outlined plans to build 300,000 new homes a year. The proposals, outlined in housing policy paper Decent Homes for All, would see up to 300,000 homes being built annually and provide greater powers for tenants and local councils. They will be debated at our Autumn Party Conference in Brighton this September – where our party members make Lib Dem policy.

The proposals include:

  • Building up to 300,000 new houses by supporting investment and giving local authorities and social landlords more freedom to build
  • Increasing protection for private tenants by promoting longer tenancies and cracking down on rogue landlords
  • Giving local authorities more power to control second homes and bring empty homes back into use.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader, Simon Hughes MP said:

“Successive governments have failed to address what is now a housing crisis.

“A shortage of homes has made it impossible for many to get on the housing ladder and has seen rents, especially in big cities, rise to historic and unaffordable highs.

“That’s why Liberal Democrats have outlined our most ambitious ever proposals for building the new homes Britain needs.

“Building 300,000 new houses a year will ease demand, stimulate the economy and generate jobs. It’s a win-win.

“We also want to give tenants more security and empower local councils to bring empty homes into use and end the scandal of overseas investors buying up property only to let it sit unoccupied.

“We need to be shamelessly ambitious if we are to tackle the problem head on. Everyone is entitled to a decent and affordable roof over their head and Liberal Democrats are committed to delivering it.”

You can read the policy paper here.