The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (Vince Cable): With my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, I am pleased to announce that UK Trade & Investment today launched the UK Inward Investment 2009-10 Report, giving the national figures for inward investment over the last financial year.
The UK's ability to attract and retain inward investment is at the heart of the Government's economic recovery plans. These figures demonstrate how important investment is in stimulating growth and creating jobs.
Competition for this investment is intense, which is why the Government are committed to being open for business, and providing the best environment for investors, whether businesses are established here, expanding here, or locating here for the first time.
The estimated number of jobs created or safeguarded by inward investment rose to more than 94,000, a 20% increase on the previous year. There were 1,619 direct investments in the UK by foreign-owned companies during the year.
Inward investment is a long-term decision for any company wanting to grow internationally. More investors are seeking to locate in the UK than anywhere else in Europe, helping to underpin the UK's long-term economic prospects.
In line with reduced global market liquidity, the number of acquisitions, joint ventures and mergers taking place fell 51% from 457 in 2008-09 to 225 in 2009-10. But the number of new projects and the number of expansions have both increased, by 3% and 18% respectively.
Companies investing in the UK will do so with confidence. The UK's economy is stable and resilient and this Government are taking action to secure the recovery and future growth. The UK has positioned itself as a springboard for companies seeking to grow internationally, both in and from a UK base.
UK Trade & Investment is the Government Department leading support for such companies in the international business environment. With my right hon. Friend the
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, I congratulate UK Trade & Investment on the role it has played in significantly assisting a record number of FDI projects, nearly half of the total locating in the UK in the year to 31 March 2010.
The Minister for Housing (Grant Shapps): The Government value the role the park home sector plays in the housing market offering an affordable alternative to mainstream housing for many people, often over the age of 50, in mainly rural, semi-rural and seaside locations. Although many residents appreciate and value the sense of community that park home living engenders, I am aware that many also experience difficulties in exercising their rights and achieving their aspirations. Furthermore, a minority of site owners continue to cause significant problems to residents and the local community in which they operate.
I am, therefore, today announcing that the Government intend, subject to parliamentary consent, to transfer most of the functions of county courts under the Mobile Homes Act 1983 to residential property tribunals. The aim of the transfer of the jurisdiction is to provide residents of park homes and their site owners with a level playing field in the resolution of disputes, by providing access to a dedicated, low-cost specialist (housing) tribunal, which can deal with cases quickly and effectively, without the parties needing to be legally represented. This will mean that park home residents will be able to take action to resolve disputes with site owners, without being restricted by the prospect of facing large legal costs.
I propose to lay before Parliament the necessary secondary legislation to effect the transfer as soon as possible after summer recess, with a view to transferring jurisdiction to the residential property tribunals by the end of the year.
I am also announcing my intention to work closely with interested resident and industry partners in developing potential measures for empowering residents to exercise more control over the management of sites, where there are management failings by site owners which significantly impact upon the well-being of the local communities.
The Secretary of State for Defence (Dr Liam Fox): The next roulement of UK forces in Afghanistan is due to take place in October 2010. Headquarters, 6 (UK) Division will remain as Headquarters, Regional Command (South) until November 2010 but the UK's current lead formation in Helmand, 4th Mechanized Brigade, will be replaced by 16 Air Assault Brigade. The forces deploying include:
Volunteer and regular members of the reserve forces will continue to deploy to Afghanistan as part of this integrated force package, and we expect to issue around 770 call-out notices to fill some 600 posts. On completion of their mobilisation procedures, the reservists will undertake a period of training and, where applicable, integration with their respective receiving units. The majority will serve on operations for around six months. As part of this commitment, we expect up to 16 members of the sponsored reserves to be in theatre at any one time.
The Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington): The Lisbon treaty established new structures for the management of the EU's external relations. These are the High Representative, the European External Action Service and the rebranding and amalgamation of Commission and Council Secretariat offices overseas as EU delegations. It is in the UK's interest that, where we have agreed a position with our EU partners, the EU makes its voice heard-complementing and supplementing our role.
A further element of the external representation question is the ability of the EU to participate in international organisations. In some cases, such as the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the EU has the status of an observer with limited rights of participation. This means that the EU is not able to represent the EU and the member states, where we have an agreed position, to the same extent as was possible for the rotating presidency, which, of course, was a full member of the UNGA.
Following the entry into force of the treaty of Lisbon the role previously played by the rotating presidency in representing the EU externally has passed to the High Representative and the EU delegations who act under her authority. So, in order for the EU to fill effectively the role previously played by the rotating presidency in the UN General Assembly, the Foreign Secretary has agreed that, together with our EU partners, we should table an UNGA resolution which, if approved by the wider UN membership, would grant the EU certain additional rights as an observer delegation. These rights are, as the proposal stands, the right to speak in a timely manner, the right of reply, the right to circulate documents, the right to make proposals and submit amendments, the right to raise points of order, and more seats for the High Representative and her officials. As is currently the case, the EU will not have the right to vote, it will not be a full member of the UNGA, nor will it be seated among the UN member states.
The granting of such rights to the EU will not affect the UK's position as a member of the UNGA or the UN Security Council. Furthermore, this does not change the existing balance of competence between the EU and member states.
The Foreign Secretary has also made clear through the UK Permanent Representative in New York that the UK's support for the proposed UNGA resolution is (i) strictly limited and does not imply agreement to seek additional rights in any other fora; and (ii) does not prejudge whether the EU should actually exercise those rights on any particular issue.
Discussions are ongoing with the wider membership of the UNGA about granting the EU additional rights of participation. The intention is to table a resolution in the UN General Assembly in the coming weeks.
We know that urgent reform of the social care system is needed and we are grateful to the Health Select Committee for its report on social care. This is an important contribution to the debate on how to deliver a care and support system which provides much more control to individuals and their carers, reduces the insecurity they and their families face and ensures that people are treated with dignity and respect.
We have made clear our commitment and determination to move on from more than a decade of indecision on how to fund social care, and to reach a fair and enduring settlement for the system for generations to come. We want a sustainable adult social care system that gives people the support and freedom to lead the life they chose, with dignity.
"establish a commission on long-term care, to report within a year. The commission will consider a range of ideas, including both a voluntary insurance scheme to protect the assets of those who go into residential care, and a partnership scheme as proposed by Derek Wanless".
We recognise that how we should fund care and support is a key question for society to face-and one that will inevitably involve difficult choices and difficult trade-offs. But it is a question we can no longer avoid. We are grateful to the Health Select Committee for its interest in this area and will be recommending that the soon to be established Commission on the Funding of Care and Support consider its report, alongside other contributions to the debate.
We will also take decisive steps to accelerate the pace of reform so that older people and disabled people get the care they need and have more choice and control over how their needs are met. Transformation of services should be a key part of how local authorities continue to deliver services effectively and efficiently during a period of fiscal consolidation. As we take critical steps to reduce the deficit, the right response is for the pace of
transformation to increase-maximising the performance and penetration of services such as re-ablement, intermediate care and telecare.
In addition, as a key component of a lasting settlement for the social care system, we will reform the law underpinning adult social care by creating a single modern statute, helping disabled people, older people and carers to understand whether services can or should be provided. We will be working with the Law Commission as they consider their proposals on this work.
We will bring together the conclusions of the Law Commission and the Commission on the Funding of Care and Support, with our vision, into a White Paper in 2011, with legislation following to establish a sustainable legal and financial framework for adult social care in this Parliament.
As a coalition Government, established with the aim of working together in the national interest, we have an unprecedented political opportunity to deliver reform. Care and support is a good example of where we need pragmatic, sustainable proposals to build a new and lasting settlement.