The Minister for Employment Relations and Postal Affairs (Mr. Pat McFadden): My noble Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform has made the following statement:
In the pre-Budget report on 24 November 2008, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a package of Government support for small and medium-sized businesses to help them through the current economic difficulties.
Since then the Government have been working alongside the banks, business organisations and financial organisations to ensure that we speedily transform this announcement into real help for business.
I am pleased to announce that as part of the Governments Real Help campaign, businesses can now access the full range of support, providing up to £21 billion worth of real help to business.
The Real Help with Finance package will provide:
Up to £1.3 billion of additional lending to smaller businesses through the Enterprise Finance Guarantee. This 75 per cent. guarantee will support bank lending to businesses of less than £25 million turnover who are otherwise credit worthy but are facing problems in accessing working capital because of economic conditions;
up to £10 billion Working Capital Guarantee, which by guaranteeing up to 50 per cent. of a portfolio of loans will support bank lending of up to £20 billion. Banks have been invited to submit their portfolios of loans for approval. The first £1 billion guarantee tranche should be operational by 1 March, supporting around £2 billion of loans. Use of this facility will of course be subject to final terms guaranteeing value for money;
a £75 million Capital for Enterprise Fund, made up of £50 million of Government funds and £25 million from Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds TSB and RBS. The fund will provide long-term capital to businesses who have exhausted traditional forms of finance.
Information on these schemes and initial diagnosis of eligibility is available at: www.businesslink.gov.uk/realhelp/finance
The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Ian Pearson): Copies of the 2008 UK Convergence Programme are available in the Vote Office and have been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.
The Minister for the Armed Forces (Mr. Bob Ainsworth): With the expiry of the call-out order made last January, I am reporting that a new order was made under section 54 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 so that reservists may continue to be called out into service to support operations in Iraq. The new order is valid for 12 months.
Some 310 reservists are currently mobilised and deployed in support of operations in Iraq compared with 270 for the same period last year and 640 in December 2006. With the forthcoming drawdown in Iraq, the overall number of reservists deployed to theatre is expected to reduce during the course of this year but nevertheless there is a continued need to call out reservists, particularly to assist with the logistics and service support elements of the operation both in the UK and overseas.
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Jane Kennedy): My hon. Friend the Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Jonathan Shaw) the then Minister for Marine Landscape and Rural Affairs announced on 26 March 2008 the creation of a new DEFRA executive agency to be vested on 1 April 2009. The agency will be formed from merging the Central Science Laboratory (CSL), the Plant Health Division (PHD)/ Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate (PHSI) and the Plant Variety Rights Office and Seeds Division (PVS). He explained that the new science agency would operate in shadow form from 1 April 2008.
I am pleased to announce that the new agency will be called the Food and Environment Research Agency. The role of the new agency is to provide robust evidence, rigorous analysis and professional advice to Government, international organisations and the private sector, in order to support and develop a sustainable food chain, a healthy natural environment, and to protect the global community from biological and chemical risks. The Food and Environment Research Agency will be a key organisation within Governments strategic science capability and in supporting DEFRAs strategic priorities to:
Secure a healthy natural environment for us all and deal with environmental risks
Promote a sustainable, low-carbon and resource-efficient economy
Ensure a thriving farming sector and a sustainable, healthy and secure food supply
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice): The Government have today published the Coroners and Justice Bill.
I have also published today two additional documents which relate to the coroner provisions in the Bill.
The first of these documents is a revised draft Charter for bereaved people who come into contact with a reformed coroner system. This follows our most recent discussion paper on the draft Charter which was issued for comment between June and September last year. The draft illustrates what a Charter for bereaved people under a reformed service might look like. The final version of the Charter would be issued by the Lord Chancellor, following discussion with the new Chief Coroner, when the coroners provisions in the Bill are implemented. The Charter is intended as an illustration of the key benefits which a reformed coroner system will deliver for bereaved families.
The second document is Sensitive reporting in coroners courtsresponse to comments 2006-08. The Government have carried out extensive consultation on the reporting of inquests, since the draft Coroners Bill was published in 2006, and this document summarises our position as a result of this process.
The draft Coroners Bill originally contained new powers for coroners to impose anonymity of reporting in any case where the coroner believed there to be no public interest in the names of families being made public. In October 2007 I announced that, following our first consultation, we had agreed to remove the provision on reporting restrictions from the BillOfficial Report, 25 October, column 20WS.
On 27 March 2008 we sought views again on alternative approachesOfficial Report, 27 March 2008, column 17WS and have concluded that it would be more appropriate to work with the Press Complaints Commission on how their existing code of practice, insofar as it refers to the reporting of inquests, can be brought better to the attention of bereaved families.
Today I have deposited copies of both documents in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies are also available in the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office. Copies are also available on the internet at: www.justice.gov.uk.