Vintage week in Europe

It has been a varied week, ranging from the awful Working Time Directive, to the plight of the Bulgarian nurses still incarcerated by the Libyans, to terrorism in Sri Lanka and at home, where my specific focus has been on airport security.

It has been a varied week, ranging from the awful Working Time Directive, to the plight of the Bulgarian nurses still incarcerated by the Libyans, to terrorism in Sri Lanka and at home, where my specific focus has been on airport security.

But amid these difficult and gloomy topics, there has also been a brighter side. Apart from the fact that this is fast becoming a vintage year for Conservatives, I've also had my eye on other vintages.

First of all, vintage cars.

The European Commission wanted to scrap varying national car and road taxes in EU countries in favour of a standard tax system.

As a Conservative, I instinctively oppose any measure that would erode UK tax sovereignty.

Furthermore, this particular measure - perhaps unintentionally - would have had a very adverse effect on the owners of vintage cars, who would have seen their exemption from road tax ended.

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Conservatives successfully defended this exemption for vintage car owners, whose pastime brings enjoyment to so many people - both owners and spectators.

I am therefore particularly delighted to welcome members of the Rolls-Royce Enthusiast Club in Strasbourg today (18 September).

Next stop, vintage aircraft.

Many people devote themselves to restoring and flying vintage aircraft, such as the famous Avro Vulcan bomber, one of that magnificent trio of V-bomber marques.

There is now just one remaining Vulcan being restored to flying standard and it should be ready to take part in next June's commemoration ceremony to mark the 25th anniversary of the Falklands conflict.

The case that has particularly caught my attention, though, is the B17 'Flying Fortress' Sally B.

The EU has unhelpfully introduced new insurance regulations for aircraft operators and the effect of this was to ground aircraft like the Sally B.

I am working hard to change this to enable the Sally B to keep on flying.

Such aircraft are an essential part of our military heritage and I work to ensure that they can continue to give us all pleasure and sustain the memory of the sacrifices made by our own aircrew and our American allies in the course of many conflicts.

Finally, it is set to be a vintage year for English wine makers, with some forecasting that the industry could expand by fifty per cent over the next year.

I want to make sure that EU regulation works to the benefit of our growers and not to their disadvantage.

Geoffrey Van Orden is the Conservative MEP focusing on Essex and Suffolk. He can be contacted at: 88 Rectory Lane, Chelmsford, CM1 1RF or email: gvanorden@europarl.eu.int

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