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Latest letter from Bill Newton Dunn MEP LibDem MEP for the East Midlands

September 18, 2008 3:05 PM

July 2008 letter from Bill Newton Dunn - East Midlands Liberal Democrat MEP

Dear LibDem Members in the East Midlands,

A few more jottings to report to you.

Climate Change and Buildings

Pilkington, the UK glass manufacturers, gave MEPs an interesting briefing about Buildings. Points which impressed me were:

• The EU has 160 million buildings and they account for 40% of greenhouse gas emissions

• By 2016 by law, all new buildings in the UK must be 'zero carbon'. In other words, their net heat and gas emissions must be compensated by generating electricity into the national grid. This will have to be achieved by several methods: using A-rated White Goods, energy-saving light-bulbs, triple glazing, insulation of floor walls and roof, smart glass and solar panels.

Suggestions:

• Why is VAT on Fuel only 5% but VAT on Insulation materials and Solar Panels is 17.5%?

• UK Stamp Duty on selling a house ought to be graded and linked to the house's Energy Performance Rating, rather than having the same duty on all houses

A Swedish joke about British buildings:

Q 'Why are the pipes on the outside of British buildings?'

A 'So that it's easier to thaw them out when they're frozen!'

Lisbon Treaty

This has been ratified by 23 member states - leaving only Ireland, the Czechs, Italy and Sweden (Scheduled for November)

• The great underlying dilemma is that the British public has never been told (by leaders at Westminster) how the EU works and that it is a miracle (peaceful and prosperous compared to most of the world) but also why changes and updates are needed to the EU's internal rules - because the world is changing SO fast. All Europe is challenged by China and India and we need to adapt.

When will somebody, anybody, at Westminster start informing the British public?

• If the Treaty is not ratified by summer 2009, there will be at least one unexpected consequence. The previous Treaty, of Nice, says that the parliament should only appoint 18 Commissioners from Autumn 2009 - so therefore, nine member states will not be able to nominate a candidate Commissioner - which could mean NOBODY from the UK!

Washington DC

In mid July, with two other Liberal MEPs, a Swede and a German, I visited Washington DC. There we talked about aligning Consumer Protection standards and Data Protection standards between the EU and the US. Ideally, in some cases, it would help industry and jobs to have the same standard across the whole of the EU and the USA.

Nancy Nord, the director of the Federal Consumer Product Safety Commission agreed. Looking at Toy Safety, she had already suggested to the Congress that they adopt the EU standard on lead paint - but Congress is unwilling.

In September, she and the EU consumer Protection Commissioner, Kuneva, are going to Bejing together to try to persuade the Chinese government to enforce high standards on Chinese manufacturing of childrens' toys.

Bumper sticker seen on the back of a Mini in Washington DC during my visit:

'What is our oil doing under their soil?'

That's it for now, the parliament has closed for its summer break - and will reconvene on Monday 25th August.

Until then, all good wishes!

Bill

Please contact me in any of the following ways:

Email: bill.newtondunn@europarl.europa.eu

Tel: 01522 810 812

Or - Brussels Office: 00322 284 5712

Post: 10 Church Lane, Navenby, Lincoln LN5 0E

Web: www.newton-dunn.com