The Lords is bloated and is not fit for purpose. In the name of democracy reform is long overdue

Dear Editor,

I am pleased, and not surprised, that a poll has shown overwhelming opposition to new appointments to the House of Lords.

This has been revealed by new BMG Research polling commissioned by the Electoral Reform Society and it would appear it has put a halt, at least for now, on plans for about 15 new peers to be appointed.

These mooted appointments are opposed by the majority of Conservative, Labour and UKIP supporters who expressed views. The poll shows that 78% think there are already too many Lords – compared to just 18% who think the current size of nearly 800 is ‘about right’.

I am, and always have been, with the majority on this – the Lords is simply bloated and is not fit for purpose. In the name of democracy reform is long overdue.

It is packed with sycophantic cronies as recently demonstrated by the stated aim of several to derail the desire of the majority of the public for Brexit. The Lords was once a respected and respectable chamber but quite frankly that era has gone and the public has had enough of this unelected and unaccountable bunch.

Yours sincerely

Jonathan Arnott MEP

It’s not too late to adopt the right approach

Dear Editor,

While the EU continues to stamp its feet like a petulant child over Brexit it was reassuring, though not surprising, to hear that our relations with China will not change.

At least the beleaguered Mrs May was able to return from her trip there with that good news from the Chinese Prime Minister – something she generally needs more of right now – and our trading relationship with that vast country should continue to strengthen.

The EU is a declining economic bloc; by 2050 the EU’s own projections show that the whole EU27 put together will only be the world’s 4th-largest economy.  China is just one of the countries with a growing economy outside the European Union with which we can have mutually beneficial trade deals.

The British government’s negotiating position has so far been weak; a confident, forward-looking, outward-looking robust approach is needed. It’s not too late for us to adopt the right approach.

Yours sincerely,

Jonathan Arnott MEP

Remainers are fighting against shadows

Dear Editor,

As far as I can tell the bottom hasn’t fallen out of the world since the UK voted for Brexit – and nor will it.

But those in favour of remaining still invent opportunities to proclaim, or at least imply, that our future is a bleak one filled with doom and gloom.

The latest I spotted was a report from  Parcelhero (no, I’d never heard of them either) who suggest that Brexit could mean consumer rights giving online shoppers a 14 day ‘cooling off’ period being rescinded. But leaving the EU does not mean that this and all the other EU legislation foisted on us will be torn up by our government. Indeed, in many areas of workers’ rights and consumer rights, UK law is stronger than the EU requirements. If a British government truly wished to erode rights, this would not be the case.

Some legislation, particularly anything imposed with the EU ‘one size fits all” philosophy which does not suit our country, may rightly be amended post-Brexit to be tailored to the UK’s actual needs.

There are virtually no opponents to rights such as those in the Consumer Rights Directive. It is wrong to suggest that legislation that benefits our citizens is automatically at threat; Remainers are fighting against shadows, tilting against windmills.

Yours sincerely

Jonathan Arnott,

The North East requires more investment in transport

Dear Editor,

I quite agree with the 26 North East Labour MPs demanding more transport investment in the region.

They are quite right and it is a subject close to my heart about which I have spoken on many many occasions. There may be some dispute about the exact figures involved in the discrepancy between the North East and London but there is undoubtedly a yawning gap.

It is an issue that must be pursued but I have to say it’s a pity that the local Labour MPs did not take action when they were in power between 1997 – 2010.

Yours sincerely

Jonathan Arnott, North East Independent MEP

Promises to address the transport spending gap between the North and South usually prove to be no more than empty words

Dear Editor,

I am not surprised that a row has broken out about the transport spending gap between the North and South, it is a perennial problem and likely to remain so I’m afraid.

This issue has spanned many successive governments, both Labour and Tory. We have heard countless promises of investment but it usually proves to be no more than empty words.

Whether the think tank IPPR North has got its figures right or not, as claimed by the Department of Transport, there can be no doubt that there is large discrepancy and it needs to be addressed.

But governments rise and governments fall and though I’d love to be wrong about this,I fear this spending gap will survive.

Yours faithfully

Jonathan Arnott MEP

 

 

 EU Commissioners are ignoring their own scientific advice by letting Dutch fishermen use electro-pulse fishing on British fishing grounds

Dear Sir, You can’t beat a fish and chip supper, but how often do we stop to think about where and how the fish was caught? We all know that our fishing grounds have been decimated by the EU Common Fisheries Policy and so many of our traditional fleets, including in North East, have literally […]

 The UK is on the brink of a massive recycling crisis

Dear Sir,

It is plain that the UK is on the brink of a massive recycling crisis and it is one the government can no longer ignore.

We had impossible recycling targets thrust on us by the EU under the Waste Framework Directive and this threw our local authorities into a tail spin to try to achieve them without any real hope of success.

Attention has been concentrated on meeting these targets instead of a developing proper detailed proposals to deal with waste, particularly plastics.

The general public are waking up to the menace of plastic packaging – some of it which is not or cannot be recycled – at the same time as China has declined to keep taking our plastic detritus.

This eventuality must surely have been anticipated by the government but according to our recycling industry leaders there seems to be no Plan B.

The concept of incinerating such materials must raise concerns about potential air pollution and landfill sites are already getting full.

There is plainly no easy answer to the existing plastic waste – but meanwhile it is essential that pressure is applied to ensure manufacturers cut right back on using such materials in the first place.

Yours sincerely

Jonathan Arnott MEP

It is right that we should take back control of our waters as soon as we leave the EU 

Dear Sir.

I am pleased to read that we are to get a squadron of armed navy patrol boats to prevent European boats fishing illegally in UK waters.

It is right that we should take back control of our waters as soon as we leave the EU and without any delay. These four boats, being paid for by DEFRA, should help ensure a thriving future for our fishermen and we must stand up to the inevitable challenges by foreign operators.

We have tragically lost so much of our fishing fleet over the years because of the Common Fisheries Policy but with time I hope it can be re-built, at least to some extent.

Meanwhile though I do hope that these proposed vessels are really shipshape, unlike the £3.1 bn HMS Queen Elizabeth which has embarrassingly sprung a leak.

We have a proud naval tradition – sadly eroded by successive governments – and we need to be able to protect our country as well as our fishing fleets and let the world know we are not to be messed with.

Yours sincerely

Jonathan Arnott,

UK train fares are among the highest in Europe but that is not matched by the services provided on many lines

Dear Editor,

The depressing hike in rail fares from next month will hit travellers all over the country, but it is those in the poorer areas, like the North East, who will feel it most.

Trains provide a vital link for commuters so they can earn a living and keep a roof over their family’s heads. Every penny counts and many people are already feeling the pinch in funding their transport costs without a rise in costs.

The RMT Union has rightly described it as “another kick in the teeth” for passengers who are already unimpressed by the fact that 12% of trains failed to meet the rail industry’s punctuality target in the past 12 months.

According to Transport Focus, fewer than half (47%) of passengers are satisfied with the value for money of train tickets and that figure is now bound to rise.

The hard pressed train users are entitled to an efficient and affordable service on good quality rolling stock. Investments have been made in new trains, track and signals but this should not be coming out of commuters’ pockets.

UK train fares are among the highest in Europe but that is not matched by the services provided on many lines.

Yours faithfully

Jonathan Arnott MEP

Fishing for Amendments

Seeing the slow but inexorable decline in our fishing industry has been frankly heartbreaking.
Our once proud fishing fleets have been decimated by EU legislation and during the referendum campaign fishing communities were amongst the loudest voices in the Leave camp having experienced how disastrous EU policy has been to our country.

It was hoped that with the Brexit vote, we could reclaim the 200 – mile exclusive economic zone to which we are entitled under international law and repatriate the 70% of the total allowable catch in British waters that are currently taken by EU vessels.

However, government ministers have confirmed that the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) will be included in the Great Repeal Bill, which will transpose all EU law on to the British statue books for a transitional period.
Frankly this is abject betrayal of Brexit and my colleague, Mike Hookem, UKIP’s Fisheries Spokesperson, has launched a petition to force the Government to remove it from the Repeal Bill.

I have long been dismayed as the fishing fleets in the North East have decreased thanks to the EU and I would urge everyone to get behind this petition, which can be found at petition.parliament.uk/petitions/204098

Regards,

 

Jonathan Arnott MEP