Many constituents have written to me in recent months regarding proposed new EU regulations for motorbikes and motorcyclists. As a result I have taken an especial interest in this issue and have pressed the Commission to reconsider the proposals. I am glad that the Federation of European Motorcyclists felt I was able to help their cause in this way as I firmly believe that the EU should never restrict citizen’s freedoms without genuine justification. I feel that this particular development has actually managed to highlight nearly all of the usual issues that arise while making laws at the EU level, namely, insufficient consultation by the Commission of European citizens, wild misrepresentations of actual legislation within national medias and right wing eurosceptics trying to hop on every unpopular bandwagon without actually doing anything.
The proposals that are going through at the moment are actually very well intentioned, designed to make riding safer and some of them, like insisting that new bikes are fitted with warning systems similar to cars, can only be a good idea. However, others, like the anti-tampering measures, will actually do more harm than good. This is because many motorcyclists within the EU, not least in the UK, have strong traditions of building and modifying their own bikes and are often expert at it. The Commission has failed to convince me that simply because 0.7% of accidents are related to modifications the whole practice is inherently unsafe.
Of course, much of what is involved in the proposals has been grossly misrepresented. There have been rumours that the EU is forcing all motorcyclists to wear reflective clothing; this is absolutely not the case (although reflective clothing is in itself a good thing). It has also been propagated that the on-board safety alerts will be used as a justification for more police checks. Again, absolutely false. These are just examples of how anti-EU groups not only bend the truth but actively circulate falsehoods about the EU in order to garner support.
Now we come on to the issue of UKIP and how they are pretending to be the only group fighting for the rights of motorcyclists. This is categorically not true. They might have talked a lot about it and offered their “support” but given that they always abstain on every single vote in the Parliament how they plan to do that is not clear. This is the problem with not engaging with the Parliamentary system that pays you – you can’t influence it even when your constituents would want you to. Nor have UKIP tabled any amendments to the bill in order to remove the concerning aspects. Rather, that job has been left to Labour MEPs and our allies in the Socialist and Democrat party. Hopefully we should be able to put paid to the anti-tampering proposals and safeguard the freedom of British motorcyclists.
The Governments Health Care Reform Bill will go through parliament in the first proper session following the summer recess.
The Tories attempted clever tactic, first they postponed the Bill and then debated it as soon as the new school (Parliamentary) term begins- clearly hoping that opposition will not have had enough time to mount. It’s as clear as a fresh autumnal morning!
But it [the tactic] failed in any case. The Labour Party along with the trade union, Unison, mounted opposition over the weekend and protested across the nation over the weekend, and mounting media interest next week will make the Government feel rightly under scrutiny as some 1000 amendments to the Bill which are poured over and in very little time.
Guardian Columnist Polly Toynbee covered it well in apiece last week which you can read in full here.
Amid the entire Bill is a reform on abortion – supported by Nadine Dorries MP. She hopes that counselling services will be offered by a greater range of people and groups.
My concern as I highlighted in a letter published in last weeks Gaurdian, is that it will make women vulnerable to those who are ideologically opposed to abortion.
You can read more here.
Angela Merkel is set to face one of her toughest fights. She has shouldered much of the blame of the eurozone crisis and unsurprisingly exit polls suggest she’s managed to gain no more than 24% of the vote.
Today’s Telegraph suggests she is being punished for the euro zone debt crisis. The full article can be read here.
Next week is set to be busy with both domestic and European politics on the edge.
Paul Flynn, MP for Newport West, has recently had part of his House of Commons parliamentary allowance taken away because his blog, allegedly paid for out of the public purse, ws deemed “rude” as well as disseminating political propaganda.
You can read the full story on the link below.
I think this an unnecessarily harsh punishment by the House of Commons authorities. Communicating with their electorates is one of the main jobs of MPs and other representatives including MEPs. We should not be shackled by unelected bureaucrats.
The European Parliament normally meets in Brussels. But 12 times a year it is obliged to hold a full session in the French city of Strasbourg. This is a ridiculous state of affairs, but unfortunately MEPs do not have the power to decide where the Parliament actually meets.
The requirement to meet in Strasbourg is written into a European treaty which former Tory Prime Minister John Major sadly signed up to in 1992. Any attempt to abolish Strasbourg would now require the agreement of all member states – something France has been resisting.
More than one million European citizens have signed an online petition ( www.oneseat.eu ) which calls for scrapping of the Strasbourg Parliament. Why not add your name to the petition?
MEPs were therefore delighted when, over the summer recess, the ceiling of the Strasbourg Parliament collapsed. MEPs were due to have two four-day-long meetings in Strasbourg this September. But, because of the repair work, the meetings have been relocated to take place in Brussels.
By holding all our meetings in Brussels this week, MEPs have clearly demonstrated that there is absolutely no reason to continue holding meetings in Strasbourg. The Parliament in Strasbourg sits empty for 307 days a year costs €200 million per year. The only reason for keeping it open is French national pride. That is certainly not worth €200 million a year.
I will certainly be continuing my campaign against the wasteful commute to Strasbourg. At the moment I’m investigating whether MEPs can use a legal loophole to abolish Strasbourg without having to change the European treaties.
Watch this space for more information.