John used to work with Margaret Thatcher when she was Prime Minister and remmains a close friend. Pictured together at the No Turning Back Group Christmas dinner in December

John Whittingdale supports the International League for the Protection of Horses.

John Whittingdale pictured, meeting representatives of the International League for the Protection of Horses lobby of Parliament against the lifting of the export ban on live horses for slaughter on 31 March.

My Conservative colleague, James Gray MP, the Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs, has campaigned tirelessly, in conjunction with groups such as the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH), to bring attention to this issue. We held an exhibition in the House of Commons in April and also secured an Adjournment debate on 31st March to discuss the issue.

Under the current Minimum Values Legislation, the export of horses and ponies is effectively banned with the exception of high value horses for breeding and for competition. The UK’s exemption had been under threat by EU proposals to revise animal transport regulations and it had appeared that the Government was failing to protect our position. This would have resulted in the resumption of the live export of low-value horses for salami, which we, as a nation of horse lovers, find nauseating.

British MEPs, led by my Conservative colleagues, Neil Parish MEP and Roger Helmer MEP, successfully secured an opt-out provision in the European Parliament which would have enabled the UK to prevent the live export of horses to slaughter abroad and this was endorsed by the EU Commissioner in charge of the legislation. Despite this, the Government still continued to ignore our efforts. In the end the Government was saved from having to show its true colours as agreement on the animal transport proposals collapsed at an EU Council Meeting in April.

You will be relieved to hear that our campaign appears to have been successful in convincing the Government at last to accept the merits of retaining the minimum values legislation. Alun Michael MP, the Minister for the Horse, replied to a Parliamentary question from James Gray MP in June explaining that the Government was not in favour of the live export of horses for slaughter and that it would continue to operate the export rules until they succeeded in obtaining an EU-wide agreement. As I am sure you will agree this is welcome news and a testament to the efforts of all those involved in our campaign.

 

John Whittingdale and Olympian Rebecca Romero add gold to community sports clubs campaign.

John Whittingdale joined up with two-time Olympic medallist Rebecca Romero this week to support CCPR’s Subs for Clubs campaign. Romero, track cycling gold medallist in Beijing, as well as silver rowing medallist in Athens was in the House of Commons to show off her medals and tell MPs about the importance of community sports clubs.

The aim of CCPR’s Subs for Clubs campaign is to allow Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs) to claim Gift Aid on junior membership subscriptions – just as organisations like the National Trust are permitted to do on their subscriptions. Currently 51% of sports clubs operate at a deficit or just manage to break even.

The cost would be small - £1.2 million in the first year rising to £4.4 million by 2012 – but the value to community sport would be enormous, allowing clubs to improve their facilities, train and improve their coaches, and re-invest in vital kit.

Rebecca Romero, 2008 Olympic track cycling champion and 2004 rowing silver medallist said:“Without grassroots provision, elite success is not possible. Even though we do not know who many of them are yet, our Olympic champions of the future are being given a chance to succeed at community sports clubs across the country. This is why it is so vital that community clubs are given as much financial help and support as possible. Allowing them to reclaim Gift Aid on junior subscriptions is a step in the right direction.”

John Whittingdale said: “With an ageing and growing population, as well as an obesity crisis looming, we have to support sports clubs which help us to lead healthy and active lives. Community sport is the base from which elite success springs and I am particularly proud that xxx (my constituency) has a variety of sports clubs so that people can get involved.

“This is why I support CCPR’s Subs for Clubs campaign to allow sports clubs to claim Gift Aid on junior subscriptions, providing a much needed resource for these clubs who contribute so much to our community.”

John Whittingdale visited the new Wembley Stadium in his capacity as Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select committee, to see how construction was progressing.

Also pictured are Janet Anderson MP, Paul Farrely MP and Adrian Sanders MP.