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MEP’s fury at postponement of Strasbourg travelling circus vote

Wednesday, 20th October 2010

Local Conservative MEP Roger Helmer has expressed his dismay at the European Parliament’s decision to postpone a planned vote on the European Parliament’s calendar, which could have seen the annual number of plenary weeks in Strasbourg reduced from twelve to eleven.

The proposal was seen as a stepping stone towards ending the European parliament's farcical travelling circus between Brussels and Strasbourg. Every month 736 MEPs, their staff and the majority of the parliament employees travel to the east of France to take part in the plenary session, which lasts a mere four days, but costs tax payers an extra £200 million a year.

The amendment had been tabled by Mr Helmer’s Conservative colleague Ashley Fox MEP (South West), who spoke out after the chamber voted to postpone the vote voicing his doubts about the legal implications of the delay.

Mr Helmer commented from outside the chamber in Strasbourg after the votes:

“I am hugely disappointed that the amendment on the issue of plenary sessions in Strasbourg has not been voted on today. It is common knowledge that travelling to Strasbourg twice in one month wastes time and money. On a day when Westminster is announcing major cuts in UK public spending, the European Parliament should set an example in saving public money. This is why today's vote really mattered.

“The postponement was a cynical procedural ploy by the large Socialist and European Peoples' Party groups in the parliament, who were clearly rattled at the prospect that they would have lost the vote. However, we have raised the profile of the issue, and I feel confident that it will be back on the agenda soon.”