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The Minister for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education (Alan Johnson): The House will know that following the publication of The Future of Higher Education White Paper, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Skills announced that we would be reviewing the income threshold below which a student would be eligible to the new Higher Education Grant.
I am pleased to be able to inform the House that the upper income threshold for receiving the full £1,000 grant will be £15,200. Those with incomes of between £15,201 and £21,185 will get a partial grant through a taper scheme. Based on the current student cohort we estimate about 30 per cent. of English and Welsh students will benefit from the full grant when it is introduced in the 200405 academic year. Approximately a further 10 per cent. of students should benefit from a partial grant.
Eligible students will be entitled to a fee grant, capped at the equivalent of 50 per cent. of the full-time fee grant rate: in 200405 we estimate this will be £575. They will also be entitled to a grant of £250 for course costs.
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Both grants will be available to those on low incomes who are studying at least the equivalent of 50 per cent. of a full-time course. Entitlement will be via a simple means test. Students who are on certain benefits would automatically qualify for full support.
The Paymaster General (Dawn Primarolo): The Inland Revenue will publish today an Extra Statutory Concession (ESC) to enable employers of armed forces reservists who participate in an Inland Revenue approved employee share scheme, to take action to maintain the reservist's participation in the scheme, for the period they are away on active service.
By concession, employers and scheme providers will also be allowed to take such action as is necessary to maintain a reservist's participation in an approved employee share scheme for the period they are away serving with the MOD, and this action will not compromise the approval of the scheme.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Mr. David Lammy): I have today published a consultation paper detailing proposals for a new system for High Court writ enforcement, High Court EnforcementThe Enforcement Review: Writs of Fieri Facias and Possession. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Bill Rammell): The thirteenth Report on the implementation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong was published today and copies have been placed in the Library of the House. A copy of the Report is also available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Bill Rammell): Following an open competition, Mr. Sam Bulgin has been appointed as the new Attorney-General for the Cayman Islands. He is currently the Cayman Islands' Solicitor-General, and has been acting as Attorney-General since the early departure of David Ballantyne in March 2003.
The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Ms Patricia Hewitt): I am happy to inform the House that I am today publishing the latest edition of the Forward Look of Government-funded science, engineering and technology (SET). The Forward Look is the Government's publication of Government-funded SET and R&D expenditure data compiled by the Office for National Statistics. Forward Look highlights the outcome of the latest spending review as well as historical trends in government expenditure.
The theme for Forward Look 2003 is "making a difference". Entries from departments, Research Councils, learned bodies and devolved administrations set out to explain, with examples of tangible outcomes, how SET is helping them deliver policy and public services in their priority areas.
Forward Look 2003 also aims to illustrate how the economy and society can benefit from science and technology, as we explore new areas of science and look for ways of exploiting technology. It helps Government in its efforts to engage the public in a meaningful way to learn about and express their views about the possible directions of science and its impacts on society. Forward Look 2003 will be of value to all of us interested in science, and government-funded research and science policy in particular. The accompanying tables provide an authoritative reference point to where government research spending has been going, what it is being used to achieve and where future spending is to be focused.
Forward Look 2003 shows that there has been a further substantial increase in the overall Science Budget as a result of the 2002 Spending Review, with the Research Councils receiving new funding to increase the volume of top quality research and to take forward specific new projects.
Forward Look 2003 sets out in detail how the Government's significant investment in science is being spent. Funding for science, engineering and technology is increasing from £8.46 billion in 200203 to £8.61 billion in 200405 in real terms. In particular we are focusing on investing in our excellent science base, because cutting edge science is at the heart of a successful economy.
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe): I am pleased to announce that we have today given the Low Pay Commission new terms of reference. The Government has asked the Commission to consider whether the October 2004 upratings of the minimum wage recommended in their fourth report remain appropriate in the light of economic circumstances, and to consider the possible advantages and disadvantages of a minimum wage rate for 16 to 17 year old workers. The Commission has been asked to report to the Government by the end of February 2004. Copies of the terms of reference have been placed in the Libraries of the House.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Nigel Griffiths): The overall payment performance of Government is 94.83 per cent. Figures for the financial year 200203 show that there has been a slight decrease in overall performance this year. However, there has been a continued improvement in the payment performance of a number of Departments and agencies, with 59 per cent., achieving the average and 19 per cent., paying 99 per cent. or more of their invoices on time.
Government Departments and their agencies are required to monitor their payment performance and to publish the results in their departmental or annual reports. The table lists, by Department, the proportion of bills paid within 30 days, or other agreed credit period, of receipt of a valid invoice.
The Government take this issue very seriously, and are committed to improving the payment culture in the UK, in order to create fair and stable business transactions. The Government's own payment performance is an important element in this policy.
|Main Departments||Paid on Time %|
|Ministry of Defence||100|
|Privy Council Office||100|
|Office of Water Services||99.72|
|Office of Telecommunications||99.21|
|Government Actuary's Department||99.17|
|Public Records Office||99.17|
|Department for Culture, Media and Sport||99.09|
|Health and Safety Executive||98.95|
|Export Credit Guarantee Department||98.76|
|HM Customs and Excise||98.13|
|Treasury Solicitors Department||98.13|
|Office for National Statistics||97.97|
|Department of Trade and Industry||97.2|
|Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and Health Service Commissioners||96.88|
|Office of the Deputy Prime Minister||96.72|
|Department for International Development||96.52|
|Office of Government Commerce HQ||96.28|
|NI Court Service||96.23|
|Cabinet Office (OPS)||96.21|
|Food Standards Agency||96.00|
|Office of the Rail Regulator||95.69|
|Lord Chancellor's Department||95.43|
|Office for Standards in Education||94.76|
|Department for Education and Skills||94.52|
|Department of Health||94.46|
|Department for National Savings and Investments||94.43|
|Office of Fair Trading||94.02|
|Serious Fraud Office||92.77|
|Foreign and Commonwealth Office||92.46|
|Department for Work and Pensions||92.03|
|Department for Transport||91.96|
|Crown Prosecution Service||90.42|
|Office of Gas and Electricity Markets||89.54|
|Northern Ireland Office||85.16|
|Government Communications HQ||83.98|
|Average percentage paid on time||94.83|
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