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None of the applications received on the old form came from Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership. Therefore, to the best of my knowledge, no bids from the LEP had to be discarded because of changes to the form.

Royal Mail: Channel Islands

Question

Asked by Lord Lucas

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Movement of mail is an operational matter for the Royal Mail.

I have therefore asked the chief executive of Royal Mail, Moya Greene, to respond directly to my noble friend and a copy of her reply will be placed in the Library of the House.

Sale of Goods Act 1979

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark



16 Feb 2011 : Column WA197

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Government believe the Sale of Goods Act 1979 provides consumers with a high level of protection but is more complicated than it needs to be. This complexity of the law can reduce consumers' awareness and understanding of their rights. For example, many consumers are not aware that the rights granted under the 1979 Act are attached to (added into) the contract the consumer has with the seller. Also, where goods are supplied in the course of a service it can be difficult for consumers to know whether this is a contract for the sale of goods covered by the 1979 Act, or the supply of services to which the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 would apply.

The previous Government commissioned academic research on how the law on the sale and supply of goods and services to consumers might be modernised and simplified to make it clearer and more accessible to consumers and businesses. Their report has been published on the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills website. The Government are currently considering this report with a view to publishing a consultation paper in the spring.

Sarfraz Ibrahim

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The Cabinet Office does not comment on the specific details of individual cases referred to the Minister for the Civil Service for his consideration; these are confidential personnel management matters. This would similarly apply to the police and health service pension schemes.

Shipping: General Lighthouse Authorities

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: None.



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Sport: Athletics

Question

Asked by Lord Inglewood

Baroness Garden of Frognal: The National Sports Centre at Crystal Palace is owned by the London Development Agency. UK Athletics (whose headquarters and key performance centres are located elsewhere) use it for specific events. Given the accordingly very limited role of government in determining the future of the facility, we have made no such assessment.

Taxation: Tax Bands

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The threshold at which the additional rate of tax-the highest rate of income tax-is paid is £150,000 in 2011-12, unchanged from 2010-11. There have been no announcements to change this threshold.

The June 2010 Budget announced a £1,000 cash increase in the income tax personal allowance for those aged under 65 to £7,475 in 2011-12, with real terms gains focused on basic rate taxpayers through a £1,400 cash reduction in the higher rate threshold in income tax.

As a result of this announcement, an estimated 380,000 individuals are likely to move into higher rate of tax in 2011-12. However, an estimated 280,000 of those moving into higher rate tax are better off as a result of the measure because they experience the full benefit of the allowance increase without experiencing the full loss from the reduction in the basic rate limit. The increase in numbers paying higher rate tax as a result of this measure is estimated to be 400,000 in 2012-13 and 420,000 in 2013-14.

These impacts are described in the tax impact and information note Income Tax Rates, Rate Limits and Personal Allowances for 2011-12, available on the HM Revenue & Customs website: www.hmrc.gov.uk/budget-updates/autumn-tax/tiin2525.pdf.

These estimates do not take account of announced cash freezes in the basic rate limit in 2011-12, the higher rate threshold in 2012-13 and the basic rate limit in 2013-14, none of which leads to a cash reduction in the higher rate threshold.



16 Feb 2011 : Column WA199

Taxation: VAT

Question

Asked by Lord Pendry

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government provide support to the tourism industry, including working with the industry on initiatives such as a joint marketing fund which seeks to generate more than £100 million to boost tourism.

The most urgent priority is to tackle the record budget deficit to restore confidence in our economy and support the recovery. The Government keep all taxes under review and will consider proposals for new reliefs carefully, but the financial position we inherited means we must give priority to maintaining our fiscal base.

Transport: MoT Scheme

Question

Asked by Viscount Waverley

Earl Attlee: Directive 2009/40/EC lays down minimum requirements for periodical technical inspections (MoT tests). However, member states may apply additional requirements or standards if they wish.

The MoT test is largely based on minimum requirements, although the Department for Transport is planning to make some minor changes to the list of test failure items in January 2012, as required by Directive 2010/48/EU.

MoT testing stations are only approved to conduct testing in Great Britain, because the legislative provisions under which they are authorised to carry out tests do not apply elsewhere. There is in any case not yet a harmonised test which applies throughout the EU.

Trees: Phytophthora

Questions

Asked by The Duke of Montrose

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Updates regarding the ongoing programme of research under the Phytophthora programme are available on the Food and Environment Research Agency website.

Recently a review of the programme was undertaken, given the emergence of disease in Japanese larch, to consider what changes were necessary in the light of this new development and to confirm funding for the remainder of the planned programme period. This concluded that expenditure should continue at current levels, with some adjustments in priority to take account of the larch situation. We will continue to issue updates about the programme and research outcomes, as appropriate.

Asked by The Duke of Montrose

Lord Henley: There are two Phytophthora species causing the current disease outbreaks on rhododendron, ornamentals, trees and heathland plants. Research at the Food and Environment Research Agency is showing that the two species, P. ramorum and P. kernoviae, are very different in their sensitivity to environmental conditions and that growth and sporulation of P. kernoviae is limited by extremes of heat and cold, whereas P. ramorum is more tolerant. These results may indicate that the recent extreme cold weather might have adversely affected the survival and spread of P. kernoviae, but they also indicate that P. ramorum may have been relatively unaffected by such conditions.

It is not possible to state with confidence that the cold weather will have reduced levels of inoculum or restricted further spread of the pathogens in the natural environment, as there are many other factors involved in the epidemiology of these organisms. The relative rates of epidemic spread in relation to weather factors will continue to be closely monitored over the next 12 months.

Visas

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The available statistics are given in the following table. The table shows statistics for grants of extensions

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of leave to remain in the point-based system tier 1 post study and international graduates scheme categories for the 12 months to September 2010. Data for the full year 2010 will be published on 24 February 2011.

Grants of an extension of leave to remain (1)(2) in the United Kingdom in Tier 1 post study and international graduates scheme categories, excluding EEA and Swiss nationals, Q4 2009 to Q3 2010
Number of decisions
Quarter/YearTier 1 Post StudyInternational Graduates Scheme

2009 (P)

Q4

8,770

5

2010 (P)

Q1

13,790

5

Q2

4,345

-

Q3

7,060

-

Statistics for grants of extensions of leave to remain are published in table 4.2 of Control of Immigration: Quarterly Statistical SummaryUnited Kingdom July-September 2010. This Home Office statistical bulletin

16 Feb 2011 : Column WA202

is available from the Home Office's research, development and statistics website at: www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration-asylum-stats.html. A copy has been placed in the House Library.

The routes of both the points-based system tier 1 post study and the international graduates scheme have never led directly to settlement in their own right.

However, migrants on these routes are allowed to apply for indefinite leave under Long Residence where such leave would count towards the requirement or they are able to switch into routes which do lead to indefinite leave such as tier 1 general of the points-based system.

Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Neville-Jones: Time spent in the United Kingdom on a student visa can count towards the residence requirements for naturalisation if a person meets the statutory requirements on the date of application.


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