La Treizième Étoile: 06/01/13 - 13/01/13 Blog Archives
News from the European Union with a focus on the South West UK and Gibraltar region and its MEPs
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SW MEP calls for solidarity and vigilance as Schmallenberg virus continues to spread across West Country

Tuesday, 8 January 2013
South West Conservative MEP Julie Girling has urged constituents to remain vigilant and continue to support their local farms throughout 2013 as the Schmallenberg virus continues to spread across the region.

The virus, first discovered in the UK just over a year ago, causes fatal birth defects in sheep and cattle and vets in the region have recently warned the virus is poised to again rip through the West Country reporting that up to 50% of some flocks were already affected.

Carried by midges, the first identified case in the region was in Cornwall in February last year and within a number of weeks farms in Devon and Somerset were also reporting infections. During a parliamentary debate in March 2012, Mrs Girling said the Schmallenberg virus is a European problem and therefore requires a European response.

According to testing statistics from the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, there are currently 58 confirmed cases of Schmallenberg in Cornwall, 89 in Devon, 49 in Dorset and 42 in Somerset.

No illness has been reported to date in humans exposed to animals infected with Schmallenberg.

Mrs Girling, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, said: “Unfortunately, perhaps inevitably, SBV reached the South West last year and spread rapidly. A vaccine is under development but is unlikely to be available until next year's lambing season. In the South West, the lambing season is just beginning so we don't yet know the full extent of the disease's spread this year.

We need to make some decisions on how to deal with this disease. Over the last few years we have become used to dealing with Bluetongue in the UK which is an entirely airborne virus spread by insects. It was well known in other parts of the world and a vaccination exists, whereas Schmallenberg is a relatively new virus with very little research completed on its cause and spread,she added.

I urge readers to continue to support their local farms throughout 2013; agriculture is the backbone of the South West and imperative to the future of our rural economy.


‘It ain’t broke so why fix it?’ SW MEP Giles Chichester hits out at PM over his support for same sex marriage

Monday, 7 January 2013
South West Conservative MEP Giles Chichester has decided to start 2013 with a bang, penning an open letter heavily criticising his party leader and current Prime Minister David Cameron over his support for same sex marriage. In his letter, he says grass roots Tories will ignore his call to “stop complaining” so long as Government policies depart from promises made in the Conservative manifesto to support families and marriage.

The letter in full:

David Cameron tells grass roots Tories to stop complaining. But I do complain, and will continue to complain, that the Government’s policies are departing from the promises made in the Conservative Manifesto to support families and marriage.

I am a grass roots Tory. My membership of the Party spans nearly 50 years, including over 18 years as a Member of the European Parliament. Throughout my career, I have followed the dictum that “when it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change” and believe that we live not just for our own generation but also for those that have gone before and those who will come after us.

Yet, despite the fact that neither Conservative, Liberal Democrat nor Coalition Manifestos made mention of proposals to redefine traditional marriage by legislating to establish to right to same sex marriage, the Government has chosen to give this legislation their full and urgent support. I must make clear that I support civil unions or partnerships having equal rights to traditional marriage as to legal status, taxation and inheritance rights, but cannot agree that being equal must mean being the same. They are not the same, for marriage is about a man and a woman joined in matrimony for the procreation of children. However, the current system works well to the benefit of both homosexual and heterosexual couples. It ain’t broke so why spend valuable parliamentary time trying to fix it; time that is much needed to deal with the economic and social problems we inherited from the previous government.

This Government has ignored the views of over 600,000 people who signed a petition calling for the current definition of marriage to be retained. The radical change in social policy which legislation for same sex marriage would bring about requires careful consideration and must be debated thoroughly before the decision to legislate to redefine marriage is taken. Before parliament is called upon to enact legislation for same sex marriage, it is my view that the issues should be discussed by a Royal Commission or, at the very least, parliamentary green and white papers should be provided to brief MPs on the full implications of the proposed legislation. To date, the only Government information available is contained in an announcement made at the Party Conference!

In the Conservative Election Manifesto, David Cameron pledged to make Britain the most family-friendly country in Europe and stressed his belief that strong families are the bedrock of a strong society. He promised to support families in the tax and benefit system but the Government’s first efforts to reform child benefit have resulted in widespread anger. The Treasury has introduced a system which ignores the joint family earnings of couples and instead concentrates the benefit cut on a single parent’s earnings. This is patently unfair. It appears that the Treasury claims they need more time to gather this joint family income information so one can only remind them that if you “act in haste then you will repent at leisure”.


Last election:

Click here to see which six MEPs were elected.