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A Labour MEP told the European Parliament today the UK government had serious questions to answer over the export of tear gas to China.

This year, seven export licenses have been issued for British companies to export £180,000 of tear gas and CS gas to Hong Kong, where the Chinese authorities have been clamping down on pro-democracy protesters.

Richard Howitt MEP, Labour's European spokesperson on foreign affairs, said:

"I am concerned that my own country, which is party to the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, has chosen to grant seven export licenses to export £180,000 of tear and CS gas to Hong Kong up to March this year, which is surely being used against the protesters.

"And whilst I respect one country, two systems, I find it shocking that a country run by a Communist Party appears to be advocating a system which brings representation only to those with wealth and privilege."

Protesters have accused the government in Hong Kong of "mobilising and paying" for violent mobs who have attacked them, are backing plans to restrict voting to the top half of the population earning above $1800 per month and that the students say negotiations are producing "not even close" to what they want.

Mr Howitt also relayed the personal testimony of student protester Kristine Chan, telling MEPs:

"Kristine told me that the police are beating the protestors. One of her friends was taken to what she called a dark corner and was beaten by no fewer than seven policemen. Her friends' heads are bleeding, she told me.

"The umbrella is not just a symbol of the protest, she said. It is the only defence they have against the widespread use of pepper spray and tear gas, which she told me she believes have been exported to Hong Kong from my own country, the United Kingdom.

"Kristine said that the portrayal from Beijing that their protest is a revolution inspired by the West is a total myth. She asked me to make clear that the West is not trying to overthrow the Government but to say on her and their behalf that democracy must be universal. Today I endorse those messages."

Labour MEP demands answers over UK exports of tear gas to China

A Labour MEP told the European Parliament today the UK government had serious questions to answer over the export of tear gas to China.

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Labour MEPs voted today against a number of measures which would have seen the overall EU budget increase. They voted to focus the EU budget more heavily upon investment for growth and jobs and against proposed rises for agricultural subsidies and administration.

Clare Moody MEP, Labour's European spokesperson on the EU budget, said:

"We voted today for the EU to do more of what it is good at, working collectively to deliver real benefits and developments in technology, like the Composite Centre in Bristol in my constituency, where cutting edge research is delivering for industry.

"We voted for investment for growth, for projects like The Hub in Lockleaze where small businesses and social housing have benefitted from funding that wouldn't have happened without the EU, and voted for regional funding that goes directly to communities, communities like Cornwall, that are best able to determine how to deliver for people locally.

"These are areas where we are more than the sum of our parts, where the EU makes a real difference and I'm proud that Labour MEPs have stood up for our constituents in these areas today."

Ms Moody added:

"David Cameron has no strategy to deliver an EU budget that benefits the UK, he is alienated and has failed to deliver reform or cut areas such as the common agricultural policy.

"He has also failed to put an end to the parliament's wasteful second seat in Strasbourg, a shambolic waste of money that the Conservatives helped create. More than £150 million a year is spent on having a monthly plenary session in Strasbourg - with the 818km round trip creating 19,000 tonnes of CO2 each session.

"Labour MEPs want to see real budget reform in the EU we want to see an end to wasteful agricultural subsidies, an end to vanity projects like the European House of History. The monthly trip to Strasbourg that John Major's government signed us up to also needs to be abolished. It is important that added value is placed at the centre of EU budget decision making, we want to see areas that do not bring real benefits to our constituents cut.

"I know from my Labour colleagues that EU investment in our regions, our businesses and in our Universities is delivering for our communities and for the UK as a whole. More needs to be done to ensure we make the absolute most of the many opportunities EU membership brings us."

Labour MEPs push for EU budget reform to deliver growth, jobs and innovation for the UK

Labour MEPs voted today against a number of measures which would have seen the overall EU budget increase. They voted to focus the EU budget more heavily upon investment for...

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MEPs formally voted in the new team of European Commissioners today, 423 votes to 209, with 67 abstentions.

In a speech to the European Parliament, Glenis Willmott MEP, Labour's Leader in Europe, told new Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker:

"Mr Juncker, I am sure you're aware of the magnitude of the job facing your Commission.

"With a Europe still struggling to create jobs and growth, a Europe still faced with the consequences of climate change. A Europe where people are turning their backs on mainstream politics in favour of the extremes.

"It's easy to see why many people say the EU is in crisis. This Commission has the opportunity to turn the tide and take a different approach."

Mrs Willmott added:

"Here are a few suggestions: revise the posted workers directive, and stop the exploitation of migrant workers, and undercutting of local pay and conditions. Take action to protect people from the scourge of precarious employment, such as zero hours contracts.

"Tackle excessively high energy prices across the EU. And get our young people into work.

"Mr Juncker, this Commission cannot just defend the status quo. Europe is a force for good in the world. But it could be so much better. It will need leadership and courage to make the change we need. That's the challenge.

"Mr Juncker, are you up for it?"

Labour MEPs call on Juncker's new Commission to tackle climate change, unemployment and extremism

MEPs formally voted in the new team of European Commissioners today, 423 votes to 209, with 67 abstentions.

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