Conservative MEP Anthea McIntyre has headed off an attempt to slap an immediate ban on British undertakers from the traditional practice of embalming bodies.

Miss McIntyre, MEP for the West Midlands and Conservative Employment Spokesman in the European Parliament, intervened over concerns from the UK funeral industry that new rules on workplace exposure to carcinogens and mutagens would mean an immediate end to the use of embalming fluid to preserve cadavers.

Currently in more than half of British funerals, families ask undertakers for the body of their loved one to undergo some form of embalming, often when they wish to see them in repose. The practice is not so frequent in other parts of Europe.

British funeral directors were concerned that new EU exposure limits for formaldehyde - the key ingredient in embalming fluid - would mean an end to traditional embalming before any replacement products could be developed.

Now Miss McIntyre has persuaded fellow MEPs to grant the funeral industry an exceptional three-year delay in implementation so that proposed new methods and materials can be tested and introduced. The parliament's Employment Committee accepted her compromise in a vote in Brussels

She said: "Many British families choose to visit a funeral parlour to see their loved ones after they have died. It is part of the grieving process and often provides great comfort. Embalming ensures that they have the reassurance of seeing the deceased as they remember them.

"The truth is that lower effective concentrations of embalming fluid and better ventilation have been keeping exposure of workers to formaldehyde fumes lower and lower in Britain as time goes on. It is safer than it has ever been.

"This new legislation is well meant, but I don't think official in Brussels realised quite how big the impact would be on Britain. I am thankful that colleagues have allowed this extended implementation and avoided an immediate ban."

Anthea McIntyre, Conservative Employment spokesman in the European Parliament, today hailed new figures on wage growth as evidence that Government policy continued to create more jobs and better prospects.

She said: "More people are working - and their efforts are earning them more. This broad progress continues month after month, year after year.

 

Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, spoke as new statistics showed real wages rising at their fastest pace in nearly ten years - while the number of people in work was at record high as the economy continued to grow. 

She said: "Some people are calling it the jobs miracle  - but this is down to good government rather than divine intervention.

"I always say businesses create jobs - not politicians. But businesses need the right conditions and encouragement to thrive.

"Our government is helping people into work by backing business and delivering a  modern Industrial Strategy.

 

 "That is helping businesses create more and better-paying jobs across the whole country.” 

West Midlands MEP Anthea McIntyre has joined farmers and producers' groups in a "flash" event outside the European Parliament to highlight unfair trading practices by retail giants.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative agriculture spokesman, joined the action in Strasbourg ahead of key vote on proposals to deliver a fairer deal for growers and protection from bullying by major supermarket chains.

COPA COGECA, the European farmers' and co-operatives trade body, organised the event which saw tractors parked outside the parliament building with a message "#CutTheUnfair".

Miss McIntyre has played a key role in shaping EU-wide proposals put forward by the parliament's Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. They aim to protect farmers and suppliers from sharp practice including late payments and last-minute cancellation of contracts for fresh produce.

They also demand greater clarity in supply agreements.

At Miss McIntyre's recommendation, the proposals draw 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.

After the event,  Miss McIntyre said: "We were aiming to send a clear message to any wavering MEPs that farmers and growers are not seeking special status - just respect and fairness from the businesses which ultimately depend on them.

"It would be good if this could happen everywhere without the intervention of politicians or regulation,  but sadly there a some big businesses out there that will seek to take unfair advantage from what they see as a one-sided relationship.

"I am pleased that the UK has taken a lead in providing a solution and set the course for the rest of Europe."

British vineyards are heading for a bumper year  - and it could finally seal their international reputation for quality.

Anthea McIntyre MEP, an official ambassador for English regional wines, said: "I am confident that the 2018 vintage looks like being so productive and so good that it finally puts our wines right where they belong on the global map."

The combination of a near-perfect weather sequence and increasing land under vines means Britain’s wine growers are anticipating both large volumes and great quality in one of the earliest harvests in living memory.

The growing season has been hailed as offering "dream conditions" - in contrast with  last year when many vineyards were devastated by late April frosts, meaning yields were down.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands and Conservative Agriculture spokesman in  the European Parliament, said: "The quality and reputation of English and Welsh wines has been growing gradually for years.

"Many regions offer a genuinely outstanding climate and terroir for the right vines and international wine experts are increasingly recognising the excellence we deliver."

Miss McIntyre is herself a partner in a small family vineyard in Herefordshire and has been named an official wine champion by the English and Welsh wine industry.

She said: "This year we expect the perfect combination of a tip-top product with potentially thousands more bottles produced - and that means more retailers, more restaurant, more wine-lovers all over the world potentially trying our best wines.

"I think we may well end up looking back on 2018 as our global breakthrough vintage."



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."