Despite recent tragic events in Tunisia and economic uncertainty in the Eurozone, many of us are thinking of traveling overseas for some guaranteed summer sunshine.
If you are planning a family holiday abroad this summer please do double check that your passports and EHIC cards are up to date. The government has tightened up border controls and strengthened child protection. This is of course welcome, but it does mean that it is no longer possible to renew a child’s passport at the last minute using the “same day appointment” system.
Please also remember that the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is not a replacement for full travel insurance. It can be used in state-run hospitals in cases where immediate treatment is necessary across the EU. Do make sure you check out the details of the country you are visiting as it can be advisable to have a comprehensive plan as well. You do not need to pay for an EHIC card and information is available online at https://www.ehic.org.uk/ or by calling 0300 3301350.
I am also very pleased that overseas roaming charges – which make it expensive to use a mobile phone when abroad – will be abolished in two years’ time in Europe. This welcome change will be preceded by a 14 month interim period in which companies can still add surcharges but at a reduced rate. It is estimated that roaming within the EU will be 75% cheaper during the interim period.
This month’s postbag has been dominated by insecticides and bees, and in particular calls for restrictions on neonicotinoids. Bees and other pollinators play a vital role in the security of our food supply and the quality of our natural environment. In this constituency, Rowes Honey based in Wallingford is one of the largest producers of honey for our tables, and recently sponsored an important event on bee keeping hosted by the BBC presenter Martha Kearney. I am pleased the Government has done considerable work over the last few years to understand and protect them, most recently through the National Pollinator Strategy. I have been assured that my Ministerial colleagues are keeping evidence on neonicotinoids under close, open-minded scrutiny and will restrict their usage if the evidence shows the need.
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Ed Vaizey MP