JANUARY 2012

Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme

Due to service commitments, I was unable to travel to Strasbourg until Wednesday morning, thus missing the first half of the session. As a result, this report is somewhat briefer than usual.
 
However, I hope that you will agree with me that our armed forces must come first. My training with the Royal Air Force not only gives me a valuable insight into defence issues, but also allows to speak to servicemen and women and to better understand the issues that are of concern to them. I was recently in Afghanistan, and I can tell you that our forces deserve all the respect and support we can give them. They are, quite simply, the best!

 

Human Rights in Northern Cyprus

The forthcoming UN Human Rights Council meeting was discussed in the parliament, and with one of the issues on the agenda being human rights in Cyprus, I took the chance to discuss unresolved issues following the Turkish invasion.
 
Having lived and worked in Cyprus myself, this is a subject that I care a great deal about.
 
I linked the disappearances of over a thousand Cypriots, the theft of land and property, and the continued violations of the rights of citizens with Turkish ambitions for accession to the EU.
 
In fact, the EU's own rules technically disallow the accession of any state that is involved with unresolved border disputes, but that does not stop the pressure on member states to accept Turkey.
 
After my speech I was heartened by the words of support I received from a Cypriot MEP. The island is still home to a number of British military bases, and we must not neglect our responsibilities to the people of Cyprus.

 

The King Canute of the 21st Century!

Derek Vaughan is a charming gentleman, who has authored a report on the EU's 2013 budget. His calls for fiscal discipline and transparency are laudable. However, asking the EU institutions to cut spending is somewhat akin to Canute's attempts to turn back the tide.
 
I took the opportunity to speak out against excess and lack of accountability. Many MEPs nodded and agreed with me, but in reality they have no real intention of stopping the gravy train.

 

Books for the blind

Members and European Commission representatives discussed the possibility of a legal obligation for book publishers to accept having to print copies of their published works specifically prepared for the blind. This was in response to a petition presented by a UK citizen.

In a speech on the subject, I voiced my opinion that the EU has been insensitive to the needs of millions of blind and partially-sighted people. I fully support the concept of an internationally binding treaty to establish a targeted exception to copyright, in order to increase the range of books available in Braille. However, I strongly believe that this should be done under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organisation, and not at EU level.

I now sit on the parliament's petitions committee, and I will do my best there to promote the interests of British petitioners.

 



Campaign For A Referendum NEW Petition

We achieved our first goal of collecting 120,000+ signatures gaining the debate in Parliament we wanted on 24th October 2011. To keep the pressure on the government, we started a NEW petition on 31st October 2011. The aim is to collect as many signatures as we can in 12 months. Please register your signature on the link below even if you signed the previous petition.

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