Anthea McIntyre, Conservative employment spokesman in the European Parliament, today welcomed news that the National Living Wage (NLW) will rise to £8.72 an hour from April 1.

It is the biggest cash increase ever, boosting the NLW from the current value of £8.21.

She noted that in her constituency, the West Midlands, 272,000 people will benefit from the pay rise - 11.8 per cent of all workers across the region. 

Nearly 3 million people across the country will benefit from a pay rise of 6.2 per cent in April – an increase of £930 over the year for a full-time worker.

Miss McIntyre said: “This is exactly the kind of news people in the West Midlands and across Britain want to hear. I’m very proud to be part of a Conservative party that is delivering the higher-wage, lower-tax economy we all want to see.

“We’re backing hard work and aspiration – creating opportunity for hardworking people across the country. We are building a better Britain for everyone in this country, regardless of how they voted."

New rules on plant health, designed to stop diseases spreading or jumping borders, will become effective on Saturday.

The EU Regulation 2016/2031 on protective measures against plant pests was steered through the European Parliament by UK member Anthea McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands.

It became law in December 2016 and is directly applicable in all EU countries from December 14.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative spokesman on both agriculture and the environment, said: "Plant disease can have a devastating effect commercially, on biodiversity and the environment generally, so it was vital that we should make ourselves ourselves more resilient.

"In Britain we were taught in the most direct and damaging way by Ash Dieback.

"But it is also important to remain practical and to try not to over-burden the growers, importers, dealers and retailers who will have to make the news rules work. I believe we have got that balance right."

The new regulations will mean more-effective protection, with greater focus on specific pests. New requirements will cover  the movement of plants, both in and out of the EU and within the bloc.

The new regime includes revised quarantine rules, wider application of the phytosanitary certificate regime and so-called plant passports, introduction of the concept of "priority pests" to target urgent cases, and outright bans on plants and products deemed high risk.

Growers and plant-trade professionals will have to register and will be obliged to notify the authorities of any pest found - then take immediate precautions to prevent its spread.

Miss McIntyre said: "The new regulation repeals seven previous pieces of law and brings all the relevant legislation together in one place, so that should help make understanding simpler.

"It will mean some more responsibility and obligations for professionals in the field, but they do have to be our front line in this battle. Without that the danger is that the whole industry can be undermined at huge expense to everyone."

The EU must not unfairly punish the makers of plant protection products - and the farmers who rely on them -  if approval expires because of delays which are non their fault.

That was the message from West Midlands MEP Anthea McIntyre in Brussels today. She spoke out as the European Parliament's Environment Committee considered the cases of ten "active substances" used in insecticides and other products, whose approval is set to expire because national regulators have failed to complete necessary assessments in time.

The EU commission is proposing to grant a temporary extension of the approval period until the work is done - but Left-wing and Green MEPs are insisting that the approvals should lapse and the agents should be effectively  banned.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative spokesman on both environment and agriculture, said: "To effectively ban these products overnight would be grossly unfair. Our farmers would be put at an instant competitive disadvantage.

"With regard to Dimoxystrobin, the Commission itself notes that although the European Food Safety Agency conclusions are not yet available, there are so far no clear indications that the approval criteria have not been met.

"As for Mancozeb, the agency's conclusion has been available since June, and the Commission has been clear that it seeking a short extension only.

 "If these extensions were rejected, it would remove approved products from EU growers and farmers, and deny them solutions they need for their farms, and for which they require predictable access. 

"That would be totally unnecessary, disproportionate and wrong."

The European Union must denounce Government-led murder and repression in Iran - and lead moves to bring the Tehran regime to justice.

That was the message from campaigning MEP Anthea McIntyre in a speech to the European Parliament.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, said the EU response so far to events in Iran had been woefully inadequate.

She said: "We cannot ignore or minimise what is going on. The EU and international community must denounce the intentional, lethal use of force by the Revolutionary Guards, police and plain-clothes agents of the Iranian regime."

She noted that 143 deaths had been recorded by Amnesty International, but the toll was thought to be significantly higher. Most had been shot.

"Like Nikka Esfandani," said Miss McIntyre. "She was 14 years old. She was shot in the head. Her family searched for her for three days before they were given her body by officials of the regime.

"There must be no joint commission with Iran while the Iranian regime is perpetrating crimes against humanity.

"We must demand that leaders of the regime face justice for their crimes."

Campaigning MEP Anthea McIntyre has raised the case of tragic football fan Robert Spray with a senior Bulgarian politician - and gained assurances that the investigation into his death will be thorough and timely.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, met Bulgarian MEP Angel Djambazki at the European Parliament in Strasbourg to highlight  the concerns of Mr Spray's family over the circumstances of his death when he travelled to Sofia to support England.

She said Mr Djambazki, whose Bulgarian National Movement party forms part of his country's coalition government, expressed deep sympathy for the bereaved family and said he would do all he could to ensure they received the answers they sought as soon as possible.

Miss McIntyre was invited to help by Mr Spray's then Cannock Chase MP, now Conservative candidate, Amanda Milling, who is aiding the family in their quest for information.

Mr Spray died of cardiac arrest in a police car after officers removed him from a hospital where he was being treated after he collapsed.

Miss McIntyre said: "Mr Djambazki has direct lines of communication with the relevant ministry in Bulgaria and has already received background briefings.

"He feels very strongly for the family's plight and assures us he will keep us updated about the progress of the investigation.

"He is satisfied that the correct toxicology reports and witness statements have been filed - but they cannot be made public until the investigation as a whole is completed.

"He insists that suggestions that this could take up to four years are entirely wrong and believes a thorough investigation can be completed in a matter of a few months.

"It was an encouraging meeting and I will continue to liaise with him to keep Mr Spray's relatives informed."