MEP Anthea McIntyre has warmly welcomed the announcement of a deal with the West Midlands Combined Authority to build more than 200,000 extra new homes.

She said the announcement should provide "important fuel" for the West Midlands engine.

A £350 million package of Government support, to include a land fund of £100 million announced in the Chancellor's statement today, will mean thousands more homes built over the next 12 years.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the wider West Midlands region, said: "The West Midlands Engine project is all about improving our skills and technology to put ourselves at the forefront of creating prosperity and jobs.

"That momentum can stall if there are not enough proper homes for a growing workforce to live. This investment will tackle one of the major obstacles to our progress and will provide important fuel for the engine."

Anthea McIntyre, Conservative agriculture spokesman in the European Parliament, has been appointed to a special committee on pesticides and will lead as Coordinator for the European Conservatives and Reformists group.

The committee has been set up in the wake of an attempt by some MEPs to ban the popular weedkiller glyphosate.

Sitting for nine months, it will examine the scientific evaluation of glyphosate, the world's most commonly-used weed killer, which was eventually relicensed for five years by the EU in December after months of uncertainty.

The committee will also consider wider issues around the authorisation of pesticides and how the EU applies scientific advice in weighing risk.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, said:  "My message will be that the science must come first, last and always in deciding the safety and effectiveness of pesticides.

"Scare stories and rogue studies must never lead the process. Instead we need to weigh the full body of scientific research and heed the advice of our own experts.

"The glyphosate controversy was a prime example of people putting scaremongering before science for reasons of political convenience.  It nearly resulted in farmers losing their most effective weapon against plant pests, with zero gain for public health.

"A ban would have been bad for rural livelihoods, bad for food prices and bad for the environment - because alternatives methods to using glyphosate harm biodiversity."

Miss McIntyre will be joined on the Committee by her fellow West Midlands MEP Daniel Dalton.

Anthea McIntyre has been appointed Spokesman on Agriculture and Rural Affairs for Britain's Conservative MEPs.

She is herself a grower and vineyard-owner on a small scale in her home county of Herefordshire.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, has been a member of the Agriculture Committee and the Employment Committee since she joined the European Parliament in 2011.

She has pursued a keen interest in promoting the potential of farming technology and has been a vocal opponent of attempts to ban the use of the weedkiller glyphosate.

Her appointment was announced yesterday (Weds) as she hosted a meeting in the parliament for the European Landowners' Organisation to explore the scope for applying "big data" in agriculture.

She told the meeting: "With the future of farming becoming increasingly data-driven and data-enabled, the key area for policy development will be on the use and ownership of all this data.

"Without a supportive regulatory regime, European industry will relocate to more dynamic markets."
On her appointment, she said: "I am delighted to be entrusted with this key portfolio.

"Managing our countryside sympathetically and putting food on our tables are both vital tasks. I firmly believe the right broad approach for legislators is to help farmers to do this in a sustainable way rather than by hindering them with over-regulation."

"We may be leaving the EU, but I expect EU rules and standards to continue to be part of our agricultural structure for some time to come. It is important that we continue to have an influence over its direction for as long as possible."

Farmers' opinions must be part of the equation as the European Union considers how rules on pesticides are applied, MEPs have been warned.

 “We, as members of the Agriculture Committee, must stand up for our farmers and growers and give voice to their concerns,” said Anthea McIntyre MEP.

She issued the caution as the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee published its contribution to a review of the implentation of the Plant Protection Products Regulation (EU/1107/2009).

The regulation sets down rules on which pesticides can be used and how. Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West  Midlands, will help negotiate the final report on implementation as shadow rapporteur for the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the parliament.

As Conservative employment spokesman and a member of the parliament's Agriculture Committee, she is concerned that science must be allowed to guide decisions on the safe application of pesticides, rather than speculation or scaremongering.

She would also like more done to help small and specialist growers get over the administrative and financial hurdles that stop them seeking authorisation to use plant protection products (PPPs).

In a speech to the Agriculture Committee she spoke of the need to "give a voice to the needs of the farmers".

She continued: "I find it concerning that since the adoption of 1107 we’ve only managed to authorise five new active substances. 

"This shrinking of the farmers’ toolbox is denying them effective and low-risk products that has led to a dependency on just a handful of Plant Protection Products (PPPs), Glyphosate being the prime example of that. 

"I have a particular plea for minor uses and speciality crops. In my region, fruit and vegetables are extremely important and they are on the whole speciality crops. 

"We really have not done enough to incentivise the industry to push for authorisation of PPPs in this area. I do not think that the minor uses fund has achieved anything like we had hoped it might.

"We also need to understand what the future of agri technology is going to bring. We need to have PPPs authorised in a way that matches the way they are used on farms.

"We now have the possibility of using drones and robotic tools that can highly target PPPs, so there really is scope for matching the way they are applied to the quantities and to the process for authorising them."

Young people from across the West Midlands are to hear the untold story of the millions of Muslims who fought for the Allies in World War One.

A special youth conference on Friday, organised to discuss hate crime, will learn from Hayyan Bhabha, Director of The Muslim Experience in WW1, about his researchers’ discovery of the unknown scale of the contribution Muslims made in the 1914-18 conflict.

Through combing previously untouched archives in Urdu, Farsi and other tongues, the team discovered that more than 2.5 million Muslim troops fought for the Allies in the various campaigns. 

Mr Bhabba's address is one of the final touches put to arrangements for the conference by organisers West Midlands Together.

The event will take place from 10am to 2pm on Friday February 2 at Birmingham City University's Curzon Building, with participants travelling from schools and colleges across the region.

They will perform dance pieces, music, songs, prose, poetry and sketches which they have created to celebrate mutual respect and racial harmony, and to explore concerns over hate crime.

There is also a competition for the best poster design to promote an anti-hate message.

Louise White, Commissioning Officer for West Mercia's Police and Crime Commissioner, has arranged for a number of people to speak about their personal experience of hate crime.

West Midlands Together is a cross-party campaign launched by regional MEPs Anthea McIntyre and Neena Gill following a sharp increase in incidents of hate crime following the Brexit referendum.

Other organisations taking part will be Hope not Hate, Unite the union which has also sponsored catering, and First Class Legacy which specialises in youth and community engagement.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, said: "The programme we have managed to put together is really exciting.

"The story of the Muslim participants in World War One is truly inspiring and shows that people from all backgrounds have a stake in our shared history and culture.

"The youngsters involved have really thrown themselves into preparing their messages and performances.  

"We expect it to be colourful, loud, lively and inspirational - everything young people are about - but with a serious message at the heart of things about tolerance, fairness and humanity."

Education establishments taking part will include Smestow School, Wolverhampton; Nishkam High School, Birmingham; Wednesfield High School, Sandwell; Eden Boys School, Aston; Hillcrest Shifnal School, Shropshire; Harborne Academy, Birmingham; South and City College, Birmingham; Bishop Vesey School, Sutton Coldfield; the Khalsa Academy, Wolverhampton, Coventry College and Shireland College, Smethwick.