4 Dec 2008 : Column 1WS

Written Ministerial Statements

Thursday 4 December 2008

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

National Minimum Wage

The Minister for Employment Relations and Postal Affairs (Mr. Pat McFadden): I am pleased to announce that the Government have submitted their economic evidence on the national minimum wage to the Low Pay Commission. The Commission will take this and all the other evidence received into account when preparing its next report on the minimum wage, which will be submitted to the Government by the end of February 2009.

The economic evidence addresses recent trends in economic and labour market performance, as well as the impact of the national minimum wage on pay, employment and younger workers.

Copies of the Government’s economic evidence have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and will be posted on the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform website at: www.berr.qov.uk.

The Government submitted their evidence on non-economic issues to the Commission in October.

EU Telecoms Council

The Minister for Employment Relations and Postal Affairs (Mr. Pat McFadden): Today my noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communication, Technology and Broadcasting made the following statement.

4 Dec 2008 : Column 3WS


HM Revenue and Customs (Reorganisation)

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Stephen Timms): Today HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is publishing the last in a series of decisions about its future office structure. These latest decisions affect HMRC staff in offices outside its urban centres in the east, north west, south west, Yorkshire and the Humber, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

HMRC’s regional review programme, which began in 2006, has been a massive and complex task. When HMRC was created in April 2005 from the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise, it had 105,000 staff and two separate office networks with a total of 590 office buildings in well over 300 locations.

Throughout the review programme HMRC has consulted on its proposals with staff, trade unions and key external stakeholders including MPs to ensure that no relevant factors were overlooked during the decision-making process.

These have not been easy decisions. However, the overriding consideration has to be the Department’s need to address new and challenging customer demands by restructuring its business and estate in the most effective and efficient way possible.

Enquiry centre services, where customers can get face to face advice, will continue to be provided at or nearby their current locations.

HMRC plans to withdraw from locations between now and 2011-12 as circumstances allow and at a pace which enables it to maintain and improve customer services.

Details of the decisions, impact assessments and equality impact assessments will be published on the HMRC website today and MPs will receive email confirmation of decisions relevant to their constituencies along with copies of related assessments.

Tax Law Rewrite Project

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Stephen Timms): I am pleased to tell the House that today we are introducing the Corporation Tax Bill. This is the Tax Law Rewrite project’s fifth Bill and is the first of two which will rewrite substantially the whole of the legislation relating to corporation tax. This Bill maintains the Tax Law Rewrite project’s high standards in making tax legislation significantly easier to use. This would not have been possible without the expertise, time and commitment of all those involved in commenting on the provisions during consultation and I would like to thank them and the members of the Tax Law Rewrite project’s Steering and Consultative Committees for their invaluable help in making the project’s work such a success.

The Bill was published in draft on 22 February 2008 for consultation and a response document reporting on the outcome of that consultation was published on 22 August this year.

4 Dec 2008 : Column 4WS

The Bill rewrites the charge to corporation tax and the main provisions used by companies in computing their income. Its scope was agreed with the project’s Steering and Consultative Committees which together include the main representative bodies and other users and I am pleased for the wide support it has among the tax community. Like all previous Bills prepared by the project, it rewrites the law without changing its general effect. All the provisions have benefited from detailed consultation and the drafting style and structure is in line with that of the previous rewrite Bills.

Children, Schools and Families

School Admissions Code and School Admission Appeals Code

The Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (Ed Balls): Today I have presented to Parliament the revised school admissions code and school admission appeals code. Subject to the parliamentary procedure, these codes will come into force in February 2009.

This statement follows on from previous statements I have made to the House on improvements I have made to strengthen the statutory school admissions framework and place children and families at the heart of the process.

Through the Education and Skills Act 2008 we have strengthened the statutory admissions framework to ensure that all schools adopt fair and lawful admissions practices. Local authorities have an important role to monitor compliance with the code and are now required to report annually to the schools adjudicator on the fairness and legality of the admission arrangements for all schools in their area. As the independent enforcer of fair access to schools, schools adjudicators now have a wider remit to consider any admission arrangements that come to their attention in addition to any complaints received through an objection. The schools adjudicator will report annually to the Secretary of State on how fair access is being achieved locally.

Following extensive consultation throughout the summer on a number of proposals to improve the application and allocation process for parents and further strengthen the admission system so that it works for all children, I have revised both codes to achieve a better, fairer system for all families. The revised codes:

The new provisions in the Education and Skills Act 2008 and the revised codes I have laid before Parliament today will help ensure that every parent has a fair
4 Dec 2008 : Column 5WS
chance of getting their child a place at a school of their choice, and that no parent or child will be disadvantaged by unfair admission arrangements.

In addition to presenting the revised codes to the House, I am pleased to announce today the appointment of a new chief schools adjudicator, following the retirement of Sir Philip Hunter at the end of the year. Ian Craig will take up post from April 2009 with Dr. Elizabeth Passmore acting as interim chief schools adjudicator until this time. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sir Philip Hunter for all his hard work in ensuring that schools and local authorities comply with the mandatory provisions set out in the school admissions code, to help achieve fair access for all families.

I have placed a copy of the revised school admissions code and the school admission appeals code in the Libraries of both Houses.

Culture, Media and Sport

Funding for Elite Sport

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Andy Burnham): I wish to update the House on a revised funding package to prepare our Olympic and Paralympic athletes in preparation for London 2012.

In the 2006 Budget statement the Government announced a £600 million package for the remaining three years of the Beijing cycle and for the London cycle, comprising £200 million of Exchequer funding matched by £100 million of private sector investment, and supported by £300 million of lottery investment.

This represents a record level of investment for the UK’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes and helped secure the best British Olympic performance in a hundred years.

Today we are announcing an enhanced public sector commitment for the London cycle that will allow us to build on this momentum.

Public funding allocation for the London cycle

A total of £550 million of public funds—an additional £50 million—has been allocated to UK Sport to fund its elite programme. This consists of additional Exchequer funding of £29 million to UK Sport over the four years to 2012; plus a projected uplift in lottery income of £21 million.

This means that for the London cycle the elite sport system will receive the highest level of public funding ever made available over a four-year Olympic/Paralympic cycle—an increase over the Beijing cycle and an unprecedented package of support for elite athletes.

Private sector funding: Medal hopes scheme

Alongside the Exchequer and lottery investment, the 2006 Budget also set a challenge to British business to support our athletes. Funding for elite sport has moved from lottery money for Sydney and Athens, to Exchequer and lottery money for Beijing, and now Exchequer, lottery and private money for London. I believe this mixed economy funding for elite sport is the right long-term approach—and similar to the way excellence in arts is funded by my department. Alongside Exchequer and lottery funding, the Government wish to see the establishment of a third fundraising stream from the
4 Dec 2008 : Column 6WS
private sector as a permanent legacy of the London games, using the wave of interest that comes with our home games to establish this.

The new funding announced is the limit of public investment in Olympic and Paralympic sport. Raising private funds is challenging in the current economic conditions, but British business has a great track record of investing in sport.

Since the summer we have worked with Fast Track Ltd and UK Sport to develop a dedicated sponsorship brand called “Medal Hopes”. This will be the only official way to sponsor athletes on the UK Sport’s World Class Performance Programme and directly influence the country’s chances of sporting success at World Championship Games and Commonwealth Games as well as the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Medal Hopes brand will support a range of schemes giving national, regional and local companies and individuals the opportunity to be a highly visible part of supporting athletes on the international sporting stage.

This work is now moving to a new phase of delivery. We will be working intensively over the next few months with national governing bodies, athletes and sports partners in preparation for the launch of this major fundraising drive to help secure the remaining £50 million from the private sector. In doing so, we have put in place a new partnership with Government: UK Sport will lead on the development of Medal Hopes, utilising its strong relationships with national governing bodies and athletes working with Fast-Track and drawing on the expertise and advice from the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). I will be seeking regular updates from all partners.

UK Sport allocations to national governing bodies

The decision on how this public and private funding is allocated to each of our Olympic and Paralympic sports, and the accompanying support systems, is a matter for UK Sport. Through their success in Beijing, UK Sport has demonstrated its expertise in delivering results through carefully targeted funding.

This record level of investment over the London cycle allows UK Sport to give national governing bodies the certainty they have requested across the full Olympic and Paralympic cycle. In return for this enhanced public funding package all governing bodies are being asked to participate fully in the Medal Hopes scheme.

UK Sport have confirmed that this funding package enables it to set a target to attain fourth place in the Olympic Games, and second place in the Paralympic Games in 2012—aiming to win more medals in more sports than in Beijing.

For those sports that have not yet been given funding allocations by UK Sport, we will be working with them and our partners to put in place plans to support their development until private funds come on stream. I will be meeting with the national governing bodies of these sports and our partners before their funding allocations are made in January 2009.


Next Section Index Home Page