The rights of disabled people are on the agenda as Anthea McIntyre leads a delegation of MEPs to New York this week.

Miss McIntyre will head a mission made up of fellow members of the European Parliament's Employment Committee to discuss issues including employment opportunity and fair treatment at work, plus legal equality and political participation for disabled people globally.

The MEPs awill take part in the 11th conference at the United Nations Headquarters for signatories to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, beginning tomorrow (Tues).

They will also contribute to a series of side events on subjects which include the potential for artificial intelligence to improve inclusion, and a presentation by the European Union on using development aid to improve accessibility for the disabled in under-developed countries.

Miss McIntyre, MEP for the West Midlands and Conservative employment spokesman in the European Parliament, said:  "The issue of equal opportunity, equal access and equal recognition for disabled people is something I care about deeply. 

"You can judge a country's character as well as its progress by its expectations of disabled people. Everyone should be able to fulfil their true potential. There is still a way for us to go in the developed West before things are as they should be, but in some other parts of the word it can be a truly dismal picture.

"I know from direct experience through different organisations I have been involved in, that employment opportunities with good conditions and proper accessibility are the best way for disabled people to find fulfilment and wellbeing.
 
"That is why the Convention matters and that is why we want to see it taken up and acted upon worldwide."


The Birmingham-based John Lewis partnership and a list of other British companies were highlighted in European parliament as prime examples of successful employee ownership schemes.

Anthea McIntyre, Conservative employment spokesman in the European Parliament, said the UK had more than 100 such companies contributing more than £25 billion to the economy.

And she gave a roll call of UK businesses which were achieving better performance by making their staff their stakeholders.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, addressed the parliament's Employment Committee in Brussels as it considered a new report to encourage the development of Employee Financial Participation (EFP) in Europe. The report highlights the potential of such schemes for both workers and employers and suggests a number of measures which could be taken at EU level to promote EFP.

She said: "I very much support the need for awareness-raising campaigns, exchanges of best practice, more transparency and information, the promotion of financial education with respect to retail and equities investment. 

"There are several excellent examples of EFP particularly in my own country, for example John Lewis - a large and well known retailer. John Lewis is an employee-owned partnership model which operates differently from private-equity backed businesses and stockmarket-listed companies as instead of profits flowing to the shareholders, at John Lewis they flow to the staff in the form of the annual bonus.

"There are more than 100 companies in the UK with significant employee ownership. These include some well know names such as Blackwell bookshops, jam makers Wilkin & Sons - who make wonderful jams and sauces – and Scott Bader, a polymers manufacturer. 

"A survey of financial data from more than 250 firms (both private and employee owned)  backs up other studies showing that employee-owned businesses typically out-perform those companies in which employees do not have an ownership stake or the right to participate in decision-making. 

"Employees who have a stake in the company are more committed to delivering quality and more flexible in supporting the needs of the business."

 
 
The European Parliament's temporary committee on pesticides must take a common sense approach to regulation if it is to make a useful contribution, a leading member said.
 
Anthea McIntyre MEP, UK Conservative spokesman on Agriculture, told a Brussels debate on pesticides regulation to bear in mind that the so-called PEST committee was a political initiative by certain political groups with an eye to next year’s European elections. It had a temporary lifespan and a short timeline.
 
Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, was a panelist in the debate "How should we regulate pesticides?", organised by the publisher Euractiv.
 
She said: "The whole process is relatively short, it will only produce an opinion, not legislation. I nevertheless would welcome the opportunity for MEPs to ask questions to experts in a format that allows a 'ping-pong' of questions and answers back and forth."
 
Miss McIntyre said that the argument for some people was not about whether glyphosate was safe or not. It was about whether we should authorise any chemicals for use in food and agricultural production.
 
She said: "In my opinion, we should authorise them because we need them if we are to maintain food security. We must have a common sense approach to this issue.”
 
Miss McIntyre rejected an assertion by an agricultural trade union that farmers generally used pesticides inappropriately.
 
She said chemicals were expensive, so farmers would use the smallest amount possible. Precision farming and integrated pest-management methods were making sure pesticides were applied in an ever more efficient and environmentally-friendly way.
 
“I hope that something sensible will come out of the PEST committee and I hope it will deliver on its mandate. We need to provide science-based policy making and distinguish fact from fiction.”

The European Union must be on the lookout for cases of "gold plating" when it undertakes its Annual Burden Survey, MEPs were told today.

The warning over so-called gold plating - when member-state governments take EU legislation and add their own unrelated and burdensome clauses at the implementation stage - was issued by Anthea McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands.

She spoke out as she published detailed proposals on behalf of her political group, the European Conservatives and Reformists, to improve the European Commission’s annual burden survey (ABS) and help reduce over regulation across the EU.

Miss McIntyre was instrumental in setting up the survey as a potential warning system for the Commission on the consequences of excessive regulation.

She believes that while the Commission's first ABS had been worthwhile, future ones must show more ambition.

She said: "We may create a simple piece of legislation at EU level - easy for businesses to understand and comply with. But when it’s transposed into national legislation, it doesn’t stay like that.

"Additional or completely unrelated elements are added to the legislation. The Annual Burden Survey should identify these cases of gold plating.

"By using the ABS to bring transparency to the legislative process, we can ensure that legislation remains simple, clear and enforceable. And we can make sure that Europe is not blamed for unpopular legislation that has in fact been created by a Member State."

Other proposals from an ECR policy working group chaired by Miss McIntyre include calling on the European Parliament's research arm to produce in-depth reports into the impact of its proposals, and a truly independent Regulatory Scrutiny Board with experts in place of European Commission officials.

Practical measures for harnessing cutting edge technology on farms were on the agenda at a high-level conference organised by Anthea McIntyre MEP.
 
Experts from a range of scientific, engineering, and agricultural disciplines gathered in Ross-on-Wye to discuss how advances in areas such as big data, precision farming and robotics can be converted into greater productivity, sustainability and profitability for farmers and growers.
 
Miss McIntyre, MEP for the West Midlands and Conservative Agriculture spokesman in the European Parliament, convened the conference at the Royal Hotel to consider the next steps needed following her parliamentary report on Tech logical Solutions for Sustainable Agriculture.
 
She said: “Policy-makers, academia and industry, breeders, the agro-chemicals sector, farmers and food manufacturers must all work together to improve the translation of research into practice. From lab to farm to fork.
 
“We need to make sure politicians and governments properly understand the imperative to let expertise and experience feed through into real advances in breeding, tools, techniques.”
 
Sessions covered issues including conservation farming, genetic modification and gene editing, genetic diversity and crop wild relatives, innovation and plant protection.
 
Expert speakers included Professor Pat Heslop-Harrison of Leicester University, Dr Nigel Maxted of Birmingham University, Dr Nicola Cannon of the Royal Agriculture University, Dr Rosemary Collier of Warwick Crop Centre, John Chinn of the Centre for Crop Health and Protection and Jon Knight of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.