John Bowis MEP, who is standing down at the next European elections, is the draftsman of a European Parliament report on cross border healthcare. His colleagues in the environment and public health committee have adopted his proposals today.
The report aims to outline when patients may travel abroad for treatment. Hitherto it has been for the courts to decide. Patients will not need to pay up front for their treatment.
Mr Bowis commented:
"Patients will have a right to seek treatment across the European Union if their national health provider has let them down with a poor or delayed service. The current system has too often caused people unnecessary confusion at a particularly vulnerable time in their lives and it is essential that we provide greater clarity and legal certainty.
This directive will enable patients to seek treatment across the EU with a greater sense of confidence and certainty. It is particularly important that this system is not exclusive and bases a patient's right to treatment on their needs and not their means."
Mr Bowis is an admirably dedicated politician and a man of principle. But this development does of course beg the question about how much such a right to treatment will cost UK taxpayers, as well as raising broader questions pertaining to the rights and responsibilities entailed by EU
John Bowis, who speaks on health and the environment for the Conservatives in the European Parliament, has put out a press release about incandescent light bulbs. A European Commission committee has proposed phasing out such bulbs by 2012, and now the Council of Ministers and European Parliament will consider the matter.
The Migraine Action Association has warned that an energy-saving bulb's flicker rate can trigger attacks. There are also concerns because the energy-saving bulbs (which use 80 per cent less electricity for the same amount of light) contain mercury.
Mr Bowis comments:
"Energy-saving light bulbs are clearly good for the environment and we welcome the Commission's move to reduce the use of incandescent bulbs.
However, the Commission and the British Government must be careful not to cause pain and disability in the process.
There are a number of conditions, including epilepsy, lupus, migraine, and autism, which can be adversely affected by fluorescent lighting.
We must make sure that, at the very least, incandescent bulbs continue to be readily available and that no total ban is contemplated before adequate alternatives have been researched and brought into production. This is one of those occasions where we must strike the right balance between the environment and health."
It is perhaps a bit prissy to point out that we should always strike such a balance. But it seems fair to say that the case for insisting on energy-saving bulbs has not yet been made. Why not leave it up to the individual for now?
Personally I like rooms to be as light as possible. It has a massive impact on my mood, and the reality is that I consider this a priority. Consequently I buy normal bulbs. But what do readers think - can an energy-saving bulb really shine as brightly - whilst saving me money, protecting the environment and not affecting my health?
Small businesses and hospitals have been exempted from the Emissions Trading Scheme and carbon capture and storage technology projects have secured funding. But a Conservative amendment - to make coal-fired power stations capture their CO2 in order to be approved - was defeated.
Mr Bowis comments:
"We give two cheers for the Climate and Energy Package MEPs have agreed, Conservative MEPs have striven for ambitious measures to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
We are disappointed that Europe's governments, including Britain, failed to provide a lead to the world and agreed to water down the proposals, particularly on emissions trading. However we have supported the package so that industry has greater certainty and can begin to meet the challenges we have set. We can look to the Copenhagen Climate Change conference next December with the tools in place to reduce the greenhouse gases that threaten us.
It is disappointing that the Emissions Trading Scheme has been watered down in key areas, such as the amount of emission allowances to be allocated by auctioning and by the complex methodology agreed for allocating free allowances. It is also sad that governments would not commit to earmarking some of the revenues generated from auctioning for tackling climate change. That money will now disappear into the Chancellor's coffers rather than supporting eco-innovation and new technologies, supporting adaptation in developing countries and protecting forests around the world.
There have been welcome improvements on Renewable Energy, where our demand for rigorous sustainability criteria on biofuels has been agreed.
It is time to act on our commitment to cut emissions by at least 20% by 2020. It is a start. At Copenhagen we must set higher targets for the future."
It is noteworthy that Mr Bowis accepts so readily that limiting carbon emissions is worth such a cost. It is understandable to worry about money going into "the Chancellor's coffers" when Labour have been so profligate in the past - but is eco-innovation and public funding of new technologies a good use of taxpayers' money? Over to you ...
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