New statistics on hate crime should be a stark warning to anyone who denied it was a problem, campaigning MEP Anthea McIntyre said today.
The co- founder of the anti hate-crime organisation West Midlands Together spoke out after figures showed a huge surge in offences linked to people's religious beliefs.
She said: "Every one of these incidents is a denial of someone's dignity, security and peace of mind. Every one is a stain on our country's reputation for tolerance, and we must do all we can to turn this tide."
Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands launched the cross-party group with her Labour colleague Neena Gill following a sharp rise in hate crime following the EU referendum.
Today Police in England and Wales announced an increase of 40% in religious hate crime compared with last year's figures. Some 52% of this was aimed at Muslims.
The overall number of incidents rose to a record high of 94,098, from April 2017 to March this year - a rise of 17%. More than three quarters of those were classified as "race hate".
Crimes targeted at people because of their sexual orientation made up 12% of the total, with religious hatred at 9%, disability hate 8% and transgender hate crimes 2%.
Miss Mcintyre welcomed the announcement of a raft of Government measures to tackle hate crime including a Law Commission review, a public campaign to tackle intolerance, funding for educational programmes and extra security at a further 45 places of worship.
Mis McIntyre said: "West Midlands together was formed to show that this is overwhelmingly a respectful and tolerant society and that such poisonous behaviour is not acceptable or the norm.
"It may be that we are seeing hate crime treated more seriously and better-recorded. That would be a good thing, but the these figures are also a stark warning that the problem is real and is far from going away yet."
Measures championed by Conservative MEPs to stamp out unfair trading practices in the food supply chain have been backed by the European Parliament's Agriculture committee.
The proposals aim to protect farmers and suppliers from practices including the cancellation of contracts for fresh produce at short notice, late payments by retailers and by demanding more clarity in agreements.
It draws on the experience of the UK's Groceries Code Adjudicator, a position created in 2013 to re-evaluate the relationship between supermarkets and their suppliers.
Conservative Agriculture spokesman Anthea McIntyre MEP welcomed the vote and said: "If it weren't for our farmers' hard work growing food, supermarket shelves and tills would be empty, yet these stores take the lion's share of the profit.
"Farmers deserve a fair price and fair treatment and today's vote is a step towards ending these unfair practices.
"I am pleased MEPs have backed proposals which are modelled on the UK's adjudicator which has made good progress in this area. It has helped bring companies into line and each year the number of issues raised by farmers has reduced."
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Violence and oppression in Kashmir can no longer be seen as a private matter between India and Pakistan.
It must be treated seriously as an urgent and global human rights issue and resolution sought by the whole international community.
That was the message from a high-powered International Conference on Kashmir organised in the European Parliament by Anthea McIntyre MEP.
Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands and co-chair of Friends of Kashmir group in the parliament, set the agenda for delegates by outlining the findings of her visit last week to Azad Jammu and Kashmir with a delegation of British Parliamentarians.
She said: "This is one of the longest-running conflicts in the world and the ordinary citizens of Kashmir are the forgotten victims.
"We heard heartbreaking accounts from people tortured and shot by the Indian authorities, who have lost loved ones and been divided from their families.
"We spoke to a woman who suffered beatings at the border in front of her daughter, then was forced to separate from her husband who is gravely ill in Indian Occupied Kashmir."
She said the delegates heard repeated accounts of civilians, including infants, being blasted with shotguns and insisted: "Whatever justification may be claimed - and in these cases there really is none - there can never be any excuse for killing and maiming and blinding small children."
Speakers included Pakistan's Ambassador to the EU Naghmana A. Hashmi; Syed Nazir Ahmed Gilani, President of the Jammu Kashmir Human Rights Council in the United Nations; Zaffar Ahmad Qureshi, Chairman of Kashmir Campaign Global; Sheikh Tajammul Ulislam, Director of Kashmir Media Services; Abdul Hameed Lone, Secretary of the Hurriyat Conference of Azad Kashmir; and Pakistan Senators Faisal Javed and Sardar Tareen.
Raja Najabat Hussain, the Bradford-based chairman of the Jammu Kashmir Self Determination Movement International, thanked Miss McIntyre for hosting the conference. He said his group stood ready to help sister organisations across Europe and the world to urge the European Union and national governments to take action.
As the conference closed, Miss McIntyre said: "Today has sent a clear message that the world needs to wake up.
"I am a huge respecter of India, a great nation and a wonderful democracy. Kashmir is such a stain on the integrity of India. I cannot understand why that country, with its democratically elected politicians, allows a situation like Kashmir to continue."
Figures from some of the West Midlands' leading businesses gathered at a Conservative Conference fringe event today to discuss job creation and the challenges posed by Brexit.
The business breakfast at the Park Regis Hotel, Birmingham, was organised and hosted by Anthea McIntyre and Daniel Dalton, Conservative MEPs for the West Midlands. Miss McIntyre is also the party's employment spokesman in Brussels.
Speaking in the hotel's 16th-floor "sky loft" which has 360-degree views of the city, West Midlands Mayor And Street said: "If you want to know what business can do - look out there.
"Business is a force for good and business in the West Midlands has put its money where its mouth is by investing in bricks and mortar and creating jobs.
"Since I last spoke at this conference more jobs have been created here than anywhere else."
Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell said: "It needs to be understood that the Tory Party not only understands business but is on business's side."
Speakers included Andrew Churchill of Nuneaton aerospace company JJ Churchill, Matt Lewis of criminal intelligence firm Arquebus Solutions, Michael Worley of West Bromwich engineers William King, and James Stephens from Aston Martin's headquarters at Gaydon in Warwickshire.
Miss McIntyre said: "The quality and range of views we had from these exceptional business people about their ambitions and concerns was remarkable.
"It has all been noted in detail and I will make sure it is shared with policy-makers and our Brexit negotiators.
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Groundbreaking work at a West Midlands University has been highlighted in the European Parliament for cutting use of pesticides and reducing farming's environmental impact.
Anthea McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, praised the achievements of Harper Adams University in Shropshire and in particular its Centre for Integrated Pest Management.
During a Brussels debate in the Parliament's Agriculture Committee, she said the centre addressed global issues in agriculture, forestry and horticultural crop production.
Miss McIntyre said: "They have undertaken active research in important areas such as pest monitoring, application technology, nematology (the study of worms), plant pathology and weed science.
“There are research projects looking at laser treatment for precisely targeting weeds in farm crops, and at forecasting attacks of pests based on environmental conditions in various crops.
"We mustn't forget that pesticides are a part of integrated pest management (IPM). With everyone’s desire to minimise the use of chemicals, it is very important to encourage the development of precision farming techniques.
"Using precision technologies to apply fertilisers and pesticides within agricultural systems we can reduce environmental impacts and make savings for farmers."
Miss McIntyre, Conservative agriculture spokesman in Brussels, has produced a series of reports promoting the harnessing of advancing technology to enhance yields and create environmental improvements in farming, forestry and horticulture.
She called for further promotion of Integrated Pest Management systems, such as crop rotation and conservation tillage, and alternative approaches with the use of agri-tech, and concluded "There is still a lot of untapped potential for farmers.”
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