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Royal Society Enterprise Fund

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Lord Young of Norwood Green): The SIF is intended to support advanced industrial projects of strategic importance, of which £250 million has been set aside for low-carbon initiatives, £75 million for the Innovation Investment Fund, a further £50 million for the Technology Strategy Board and £10 million to promote UK sector expertise through UK Trade and Investment. However, there are no plans to allocate money from the Strategic Investment Fund (SIF to the Royal Society Enterprise Fund).

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills already supports a range of equity investment activities through Capital for Enterprise; the Government's arm's-length body for the delivery of equity investments to support businesses.

The Government through Enterprise Capital Funds invests with a mix of private and public money in small high growth businesses that are seeking up to £2 million in risk capital.

Rural Payments Agency

Questions

Asked by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Davies of Oldham): The Rural Payments Agency applies rules laid down in EU regulations relating to the administration of the single payment scheme (SPS). England has adopted the physical block model, which is consistent with Ordnance Survey mapping and requires that land parcels should be bounded by permanent physical features such as hedges, fences and watercourses. The rules are applied regardless of parcel ownership.

The width of a boundary feature, such as a hedge or watercourse, is significant as it could be ineligible for the SPS. Where the feature is over 4 metres in width the whole feature is ineligible. Where it is 4 metres or less in width, an area up to a maximum 2-metre width can be included within each adjoining parcel for the SPS.

Asked by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Rural Payments Agency has used the most recent Ordnance Survey data available, in conjunction with aerial photography to update the rural land register maps. This includes improving the positional accuracy of our map data and reflecting any real world change recorded by Ordnance Survey.



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Where necessary changes have been identified, older information has been manually updated using digitisation techniques.

Schools: Sport

Question

Asked by Lord Moynihan

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Davies of Oldham): Copies of the executive summaries of the School Sport Partnerships Impact Study 2003-08 will be placed in the Libraries of the House shortly.

Shipping: Light Dues

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): Neither the Department for Transport nor Trinity House gave any instruction to Raven Trading not to consult shipping companies.

Sir Alan Sugar

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Lord Young of Norwood Green): It is not.

Sri Lanka

Question

Asked by Lord Naseby

Lord Brett: In the past five years, the UK has funded a total of £42 million of development assistance and conflict prevention projects in Sri Lanka. The Department for International Development's (DfID) bilateral aid programme was closed in 2007 following Sri Lanka's graduation to middle-income status. However, we recognise that there are many people in great need, especially those affected by the recent conflict. Since September 2008, DfID has committed £12.5 million of humanitarian assistance to support ongoing efforts

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of United Nations, International Committee of the Red Cross and humanitarian agencies. No humanitarian assistance is provided directly to the Government of Sri Lanka.

Asked by Lord Naseby

Lord Brett: I refer the noble Lord to the Written Ministerial Statement made on 14 July (Official Report; col. WS 75). This outlines the Department for International Development's position on humanitarian and early recovery assistance to those internally displaced persons in the northern province of Sri Lanka. Our early recovery work will include support for demining, and we stand by ready to support funds for humanitarian demining agencies with strong capacity in-country such as the mines action group.

Asked by Lord Avebury

Lord Brett: The latest assessment from our humanitarian adviser in Colombo is that international humanitarian agencies, including the United Nations (UN), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and NGOs, continue to have improved access to the sites in Vavuniya. There is significant military presence in many of the zones, with cordon and search activities, and highly controlled movement between the sites. We continue to press the Government of Sri Lanka for full and unrestricted access for the UN, the ICRC and NGOs to enable them to provide humanitarian assistance to all internally displaced persons in Sri Lanka.

I refer the noble Lord to the Written Ministerial Statement made on 14 July (Official Report; col. WS 75). This sets out our current position on the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka.

Swine Flu

Questions

Asked by Viscount Waverley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): Studies of seasonal influenza vaccines since 1976 have found no robust evidence of an increased risk of contracting Guillain-Barré syndrome, including a recent United Kingdom study covering the last 15 years of flu vaccine.



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Detailed pharmacovigilance plans are in place for when the swine flu pandemic vaccination programme is introduced in the UK. This work, co-ordinated by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, will monitor age and sex-specific background incidence rates for a wide range of illnesses, including Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Asked by Viscount Waverley

Lord Darzi of Denham: The details of the implementation of the swine flu vaccination programme are currently being finalised. We are working with the National Health Service and other colleagues to ensure that the programme is robust. We have not yet taken a final decision on the prioritisation of the population. This will be made on the basis of epidemiological evidence, vaccine supply and protecting the capacity of the NHS.

Asked by Viscount Waverley

Lord Darzi of Denham: All departments and agencies are fully engaged in the Government's business continuity programme, which includes public, private and voluntary sector organisations.

Following the World Health Organisation's announcement of WHO phase 6, the Government produced supplementary human resources guidance reiterating reasonable worst-case planning assumptions to aid business continuity preparations for use by all government departments and agencies.

In particular, departments employing large numbers of people, with flexibility of staff redeployment, are planning for cumulative staff absence rates of up to 15 per cent over a two to three-week period. Smaller departments, or larger organisations with small critical teams, are planning for a level of absence rising to 30 to 35 per cent.

Departments and agencies are keeping staff up to date on the current situation and continue to promote good personal hygiene, reminding individuals to stay away from work if they are unwell. There is no presumption that departments and agencies would close as a result of swine flu, but effective business continuity management will help to ensure the continuity of critical functions in the event of any disruption and effective recovery afterwards.

Swine Vesicular Disease Regulations

Questions

Asked by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Davies of Oldham): Veterinary inspectors are trained to recognise signs of notifiable exotic animal diseases, and will always consult colleagues in the Veterinary Exotic Notifiable Diseases Unit before confirming that a premises is under suspicion. This process of consultation has an inbuilt challenge function.

Where there is any suspicion of a notifiable exotic animal disease, it is important to act quickly to contain any disease on the premises and minimise the risk of further spread. It is in the interests of the wider farming industry that restrictions are placed on the suspect premises as soon as possible.

Whilst the owner of the premises would not have recourse to a second opinion, testing methods employed mean it is normally possible to negate disease and lift restrictions within 48 hours of samples being received at the reference laboratory (Institute of Animal Health, Pirbright). The pig keeper may still wish to confirm what the cause of the health problem was if the suspicion of swine vesicular disease was ruled out.

Asked by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

Lord Davies of Oldham: Compensation is only paid for animals which are slaughtered because they are affected or suspected of being affected with swine vesicular disease or had been exposed to infection. It is longstanding government policy not to compensate for consequential losses. Therefore no compensation will be payable when restrictions on suspect premises are lifted under Regulation 9(7) of the Swine Vesicular Disease Regulations 2009.

Asked by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

Lord Davies of Oldham: The decision on whether to exercise Regulation 10(3)(a) or 10(3)(b) would be made based on a veterinary risk assessment that takes into account the degree of exposure of the contact premises with the infected premises, and the risk that disease virus would have been transferred.

The pig keeper of the contact premises would input essential information into this assessment themselves as part of the data-gathering process. Killing pigs on contact premises is not a decision taken lightly and this is a judgment for veterinary experts.



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Where the owner of stock classified as dangerous contacts does not agree with the decision, they may ask the divisional veterinary manager, or their nominated deputy, to review the decision to cull. However, if culling is deemed necessary and the Secretary of State considers the necessary veterinary evidence is present, it is important that killing takes place quickly in order to minimise risk of disease spread.

Taxation: Income Tax

Question

Asked by Lord Selkirk of Douglas

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) would implement any change to the basic rate of income tax as provided by the Scotland Act 1988 (the "Scottish Variable Rate") through pay as you earn (PAYE) and self-assessment.

The Scotland Act 1988 sets out the rules that determine whether an individual is a Scottish taxpayer for a tax year. HMRC would initially identify a Scottish taxpayer on the basis of their address and postcode as recorded on their income tax records.

Where a Scottish taxpayer is in receipt of earnings from employment or a pension, and therefore within PAYE, HMRC would issue a notice of coding to their employer or pension provider indicating that the employer should deduct income tax from their pay or pension by reference to an alternative set of tax tables that would include the Scottish Variable Rate.

Where Scottish taxpayers are subject to self assessment, because they are engaged in a trade or are company directors or have complex tax affairs, they could complete the relevant box in their self assessment tax return to identify themselves as Scottish taxpayers.

The tax collected through PAYE and self assessment from Scottish taxpayers would be passed to the Scottish Executive.

HMRC would deal with any appeals against a decision that an individual was a Scottish taxpayer under its existing independent appeals process.

Full details of the whole process will not be finalised until after the Scottish Variable Rate has been invoked.

Terrorism

Question

Asked by Lord Ahmed



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Her Majesty's Government do not take decisions whether or not to prosecute an individual. This is a matter for the police and the Crown Prosecution Service, who do so on the basis of the evidence available to them relating to an offence.

Twinning Associations


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