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A Postcard from Bill

August 7, 2013 5:15 PM
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

I am spending my summer break from the European Parliament on two weeks with my wife in Nepal. Nepal lies between Tibet and India on the south side of the Himalayas. Before you ask, all the cost is paid by us alone.

We see many interesting links between Nepal and the UK. They supply Gurkhas to serve in the our army. English is becoming their second language, and is taught compulsorily in all schools.

In some ways they are ahead. Nepal too had a hereditary monarchy, but abolished it in 2001. They elect their parliament. In Britain the upper house of our parliament was enlarged last month to almost a thousand "lords", who pass laws over you and me although not a single one of them is elected. This is hard to explain to Nepalis, and to anyone else in the world.

Nepal is very beautiful, with eight of the world's highest mountains including Everest. It has World Heritage sites in the Kathmandu valley. And humid tropical jungles in the south where there are laudable efforts to conserve tigers and black rhinos whose numbers had shrunk dramatically. They grow fruits, mangoes, pineapples, bananas, and rice but in the rice-fields fast-running "mugger" crocodiles can lurk unseen.

Malaria has been eliminated but there is no health service. I was told that anybody over sixty who becomes ill may not be taken to a hospital but must take a chance with traditional herbs. But they have few irritating bureaucratic "health and safety" regulations.

Nepal has no pollution except the millions of fragments of plastic bags which are strewn in every street.

Inequality is less than it is with us. I can not explain how we can justify Barclays Bank setting aside over five hundred million pounds for bonuses for their staff this year.

Nick Clegg with Joanna Lumley after hearing the resultTwo Brits are particularly well-known in Nepal. One is King George V who, in 1911, visited India and Nepal where he infamously shot a total of 39 tigers, 18 rhinos, and 4 bears.The other is Joanna Lumley who recently championed the pension rights of Ghurka soldiers against cuts by our government.

Electricity in Nepal is generated by hydroelectric power so their greenhouse gas emissions are tiny. Emissions in Britain are far above the world average as our selfish materialism helps to heat up the same planet's atmosphere.

We are all humans together and I believe strongly we have a duty to help each other. Helping developing countries is in Britain's interest. Their 27 million people can become our customers. Who knows where the next genius will be born. We live on one planet with the same flora and fauna, and we breath the same atmosphere. We will suffer the same fate if we overheat our planet.