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The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): The 1999-2000 annual report and accounts for the Meat Hygiene Service have been laid before Parliament. Copies are available in the Library of the House.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Under the Statute of the European Investment Bank the president and vice-presidents of the Bank are appointed by the board of governors on a proposal from the board of directors. A nomination for a vice-president post is made by the governor for the relevant member state. The practice has been for the board of directors formally to propose the candidate nominated by that governor.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Excluding China, UK exports to South-East Asia fell in 1998. Detailed assessments were published in the economy annexes of the 1998 Budget and Pre-Budget Reports [HC620 and Cmnd 4076 respectively).
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government are meeting their promise to cancel 100 per cent of the debts of countries as they go through the heavily indebted poor countries initiative (HIPC). Once countries reach their decision point under the HIPC initiative they can immediately stop making payments on all their debts outstanding to the UK Government.
So far nine countries have reached their decision point, of which eight owed money to the UK. For these countries all payments to the UK Government have already ceased. In total the debt relief to these countries afforded by the HIPC initiative and the Government's 100 per cent debt relief policy will total £241 million.
At Okinawa the G7 expressed their hope that a further 100 countries would reach decision point by the end of 2000. If they did, the total amount that the UK Government would be writing off for these 20 countries would be £659 million. The key aim is to release resources for poverty reduction. The 100 per cent policy and the HIPC process are designed so that the links between debt reduction and how these resources can be used as part of a comprehensive, country owned poverty reduction strategy is clearly established.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): There are already specific categories in the Immigration Rules designed specially for entrepreneurs. These ensure that those who wish to make significant personal investments in creating employment can enter to engage in business. There are also clear routes for corporations wishing to establish branches and subsidiaries here. But the Government's competitiveness White Paper signalled the economic importance of a dynamic approach to building a knowledge-driven economy and the need to attract people with scarce skills and those willing to set up businesses which create jobs. That paper included a specific commitment to examine the scope for further encouraging certain entrepreneurs to consider migrating to the United Kingdom.
In the light of that commitment we have assessed the current Immigration Rules for business and entrepreneurs and have concluded they may not always fit well with a knowledge-driven economy since they require minimum levels of investment and do not focus on innovation. Moreover, the current routes for entrepreneurs do not enable us to focus on those applications with the greatest potential of economic benefit.
We have therefore decided to introduce a scheme (which will be piloted as a concessionary arrangement outside the Immigration Rules in the first instance) aimed at attracting entrepreneurial innovators to the United Kingdom. This pilot scheme will come into force on 4 September this year.
The key features of the innovators entry route are these: it is intended to attract and select outstanding entrepreneurs whose business proposals will result in exceptional economic benefits for the United Kingdom. Selection will take place on a rigorous and demanding basis but one that is designed to be flexible to accommodate a wide variety of applications with different strengths and weaknesses. No minimum investment is required. There is no requirement for personal funds to be invested but third party funding will be permitted. Applicants will need to submit a business plan and a curriculum vitae with supporting documents.
My honourable friend the Minister of State for the Home Office (Mrs Roche) is today placing copies of the draft guidance for applicants who wish to apply under this pilot scheme in the Library. Information about the scheme will also be placed on the Immigration and Nationality Directorate website.
The Forensic Science Service (FSS) met and exceeded its financial target to achieve a 3 per cent return on capital employed and maintained accreditation through external bodies. However, it did fail to achieve the stretching efficiency gain target and service delivery targets. This was a challenging year for the FSS--further expanding its workforce, absorbing the associated recruitment and training costs and devoting large human resources to the DNA expansion project. It was also the organisation's first year as a trading fund. The targets and plans agreed for 1999-2000 were ambitious, and while the FSS failed to achieve targets in two key areas it demonstrated a significant improvement in both turnaround times and delivery dates met.
|FSS Agency Targets||1999-2000||2000-01|
|Return on capital employed||Min 3%||10%|
|Efficiency gain (three year ruling)||Min 10%||Min 10%|
|Quality of Service Indicators|
|Turnaround time||24 days||24 days|
|Exceed 99% of urgent and critical classified cases||n/a||Pilot|
|Achieve 90% agreed delivery dates|
|Put in place service level agreements with police forces (BVAs)|
|Put in place routine and robust customer satisfaction measurement processes (milestone 1999-2000 only)||n/a|
|Demonstrate year on year improvements in police (customer) satisfaction||--|
|Achieve external quality accreditation to ISO9000 and NAMAS standards|
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