Review into drugs and serious violence

Unfortunately, those with drug addictions can be overlooked by the system due to other pressures and can end up in serious danger to themselves or others. These people need to be helped so they can start the next chapter of their lives and give back to society.

Therefore, I was pleased to hear the Home Secretary has appointed Professor Dame Carol Black to lead a major review that will look into the ways in which drugs are fuelling serious violence.
The review will investigate who drug users are, what they are taking and how often. Hopefully, this will build the most in-depth and comprehensive picture of this issue to date in order to provide more effective support for drug users.
This information will build on existing Government strategies to combat drugs, serious violence and serious, organised crime. Consequently, we can expand our knowledge on the harmful side effects drugs cause and the best ways to prevent drug-taking.
Dame Carol Black, the Principal of Newnham College, Cambridge, …

Irish backstop

In these uncertain times issues such as the Irish backstop in Brexit negotiations seems to be making the water cloudier rather than clearer. I share my concerns with my colleague Mr Ashely Fox, Conservative MEP leader, that the Irish backstop may not prevent a hard border post-Brexit but could will create one if not amended.

Mr Fox warned the European Parliament about his concerns when speaking in a set piece debate to discuss the vote in Westminster. He urged the European Union to engage constructively with the Prime Minister to amend the Withdrawal Agreement and secure the approval of MPs to move forward.
He said: "There is now a clearer road ahead – if we choose to take it.
"My government and the House of Commons want to leave the EU in an orderly manner and with a deal. And to achieve that we need to amend how the Protocol on Northern Ireland operates.
"We must do all we can to support the Good Friday Agreement. But it is a paradox that the backstop, whose purpose is to…

Europe and AI

We all know that technological advancements are improving at a rapid rate, because of this I believe that Europe must start to reap the benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI). By utilising AI Europe will achieve economic, social and technological progress.
This is off the back of a report from Mr Ashley Fox MEP, a Conservative Industry spokesman, which has been approved by the European Parliament. The report highlights the potential benefits of AI in sectors as diverse as healthcare and finance.
The report also cautions against over-hasty regulation and stresses the need for governments to work with the private sector. It encourages countries to prepare to AI-linked changes to employment patterns by adapting their education and welfare policies.
Therefore, at a European Union level the report recommends the establishment of an EU task force providing technical, ethical and regulatory expertise to ensure common standards.
Mr Fox said: “We have arrived at a pivotal point. AI has the sa…

Broadcasting reform

Keeping up to date with current affairs is very important to stay connected to the rest of the world and events that occur. Therefore, I was pleased to hear that a new online broadcasting reform agreement had been reached between EU institutions. This means viewers will be able to watch news and current affairs programs from across the EU online under new arrangements agreed by the European Council and Parliament.

This will enable all radio productions will also be made available across border under the new copyright rules as well as other programs which are funded by the broadcaster. The new regulations also apply to live online broadcasts and catch up services. The only program which will be excluded is sport productions and co-financed productions whose business model depends on them being sold to different broadcasters. Conservative Legal Affairs spokesman Sajjad Karmin MEP has followed the agreement as shadow rapporteur through the process and was present in the recent negotiation…

Police and Local Government Funding

The new provisional police funding and local government settlements for the next year have been announced. I was delighted to hear that more will be done than ever to keep our communities safe and ensure councils can continue to deliver high quality services.
It is crucial to support our local communities which is why the move to increase core local government spending power in real terms from £45.1 billion in 2018-19 to £46.4 billion in 2019-20. This is an exciting step forward which will hopefully mean that a high quality of service can be delivered.
Most importantly there has been an increase in funding for the police of up to £970 million next year which is the biggest increase since 2010. This increase is alongside the increase in government grant funding so they can have full use of precept flexibility, funding to support pensions costs.
This significant increase in national funding will be used to meet the threats from terrorism and serious and organised crime to protect our fa…

Challenging parole board decisions

If someone has suffered an injustice it is important that they feel confident in the decision of our justice system. This is why I was delighted to hear that the announcement from the Justice Secretary that victims of crime are to be given new powers to challenge Parole Board decisions.

These new powers will mean that victims can challenge decisions to release dangerous offenders if they believe it is fundamentally flawed. This will restore public confidence in the parole system.
The new rules will be used in cases involving the most dangerous offenders, which give victims the comfort and confidence that perpetrators will not be released if they still pose a danger to society.
It is incredibly important that victims have belief in the decisions made by the Parole Board and if they have suffered at the hands of an offender, they are placed at the heart of our justice system.

Brexit and Article 24

Many people have been talking about using Article 24 of GATT to solve the No Deal Brexit conundrum, so I thought I would take a closer look at what would be involved. My colleague David Campbell Bannerman MEP has suggested if there was a No Deal scenario after 29th March there is a way to avoid raising tariffs or quotas.
Mr Campbell Bannerman argues that there is a way to manage a No Deal outcome which within World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules which is not widely known about. This includes not having to levy tariffs or (arguably) pay membership fees to the EU, but requires some customs forms levied on the 7% of UK businesses that actually trade with the EU. Therefore, this is the deal with the EU used by China, the USA, India, Australia and New Zealand for example.
Additionally, he argues that in the event of a No Deal there is a very strong case to maintain preferential tariff and quota rates at zero between the UK and the EU for a limited period, about two years. There are many arg…