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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 30 April 2007

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AN investigation by weekly computer publication Micro Mart has revealed that nearly a 6th of Members Of Parliament in England, Scotland and Wales have failed to respond to emails from their constituents.

In February, 625 MPs were contacted by a constituent (who, in reality, was a Micro Mart reporter) via an individual email. The email asked for help with regards the recycling of technology, going on to ask what plans the Government had in that area. The investigation found that:-

· 98 MPs ignored the emails altogether

· 73 needed a 2nd mail to be sent before they responded

· Some took nearly 2 months to reply

· Several high profile MPs, including William Hague, Lembit Opik, Ruth Kelly and David Davies, were among those who failed to reply

Micro Mart Editor, Simon Brew, commented:- "Considering MPs can claim allowances running to over £100,000 of taxpayers' money to fund their offices, including a specific £10,000 communications allowance, we were staggered to find so many hadn't put any system in place to simply reply to a constituent's emailed question. Given the speed and convenience of electronic communication, not least the amount of paper it saves, we expected a greater willingness to reply to an e-mail than we found."

The investigation also found, more positively, that many MPs fully embraced the potential of electronic communication, and offered genuine help and guidance on the environmental issues they were asked about. Furthermore, some went to substantial lengths to help, none more so than Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrat member for East Dunbartonshire.

Micro Mart has crowned Jo Swinson, Britain's youngest MP, as its tech savviest. Her replies were comprehensive, and she consistently kept our fictional constituent up to date on her findings electronically. She scanned in and e-mailed relevant documents, and backed up her use of technology with a helpful, relevant and up-to-date website.

"Jo Swinson is a great example of how an MP can embrace technology, not only to help with their casework, but also simply to keep in touch with their constituents.  By using affordable, simple methods of electronic communication to great effect, she was both incredibly responsive, and quick to get fresh and useful information to us." said Simon Brew


NORTH West delegates to UNISON’s National Health Conference are outraged at the penny pinching of NHS employers. At the very time that low pay amongst women and the gender pay gap is hitting the headlines, our mainly female membership face real cuts in pay. Stephanie Thomas, Head of Health in the North West said:- “Many of our 70,000 health care members in the North West are low paid, and part time. Yet to deliver the vital personalised care that our members provide, high motivation and morale is essential. Fair and adequate pay is central to this. The miserly 2.5% offer is bad enough. Yet to stage this offer, giving health workers just 1.9% across the year, is the final insult. Our members in the health service are determined to deliver a quality service that we believe the public deserve. On top of cut backs, stress at work due to non-filling of vacancies and a continual array of disruptive initiatives – not to mention record levels of violence - we are now being asked to pay for the money that is being wasted on privatisation and PFI

Health workers from the North West are fully supporting the call for a ballot and hope the employers listen seriously to our concerns and that good sense and fairness will prevail. We are also working hard to ensure that members in health not employed by the NHS are protected too. UNISON is negotiating hard with private contractors to reach agreement in implementing Agenda for Change and agreement is expected within the next few weeks."


A SOUTHPORT Euro-MP has added his voice to a campaign calling for an end to the use of monkeys and other primates in scientific experiments.

Around 10,000 primates are used in experiments across the EU each year. But with 80% of the public opposed to such tests, MEPs are calling for a primate testing to be replaced with other alternatives.  Techniques such as computer modelling and use of tissue and cell culture are proving to be more efficient and reliable than animal experiments.

Southport Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies is backing calls for the European Commission to make ending the use of apes and wild-caught monkeys in scientific experiments and urgent priority.  He said:- "Techniques to recognise animals' pain and suffering are too often inadequate in research laboratories. Particular attention has to be paid to the needs of primates, man's closest relatives.  The aim must be to reduce and eventually end all tests using monkeys and primates, even for medical research".

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