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It is hard to argue now that there is any value in further negotiations or that serious options have yet to be fully explored. The failure to reach agreement is not because of lack of time, energy or imagination on the part of the international community. It is because the positions of the parties are irreconcilable. Kosovo insists on independence. Serbia insists on a settlement that locks the door on any prospect of independence. The UK shares the firm view of the EU representative
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on the troika, Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, that the parties would not be capable of reaching agreement on this issue if negotiations were to be continued, whether in the troika format, or in some other form.

The Kosovo status process has now reached a decisive moment, presenting the international community with difficult but important decisions.

One point on which almost all in the international community are agreed is that the status quo is unsustainable. This was stated in clear terms by the UN Secretary-General when he addressed the Contact Group Ministerial meeting in September in New York. The Contact Group, including Russia, subsequently expressed their agreement in a joint Ministerial statement.

The international community cannot therefore allow the status process to grind to a halt or to be shuffled off into a siding by convening further fruitless negotiations. We learned to our cost in the 1990s the heavy human and political price attached to an indecisive international response to looming problems in the Western Balkans. The stability and security of part of Europe is at stake. It is essential that we respond in a decisive and far-sighted manner.

The UK’s preference would be for a settlement to be supported by the passage of a resolution of the UN Security Council. We believe there should be further rapid consultations in New York to this end before the end of 2007. However in the absence of agreement between the parties, we need to be realistic about the slim prospects of securing the necessary level of consensus in the Security Council.

Against this background it is important that the EU demonstrates its readiness to meet its responsibilities and objectives in respect of stability and security in Europe. Securing a viable and sustainable future for Kosovo is a major responsibility for the EU. The effectiveness and cohesiveness of the EU’s common foreign and security policy will be judged against our ability to deliver on this responsibility. The EU must demonstrate firm resolve to bring the status process through to completion and play a leading role subsequently in implementing a settlement. I welcome the fact that the EU is already intensively engaged in the necessary preparations to meet these responsibilities.

In moving towards a Kosovo settlement, it will be necessary for the EU and others to take a strategic approach answering to a series of key challenges. There will be a need to ensure Kosovo’s security. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is already deployed in strength in Kosovo to maintain a safe and secure environment. The EU has indicated a readiness to provide a European Security and Defence Policy policing/rule of law mission. The EU should deliver on this commitment.

There will be a need to ensure good governance in Kosovo. The proposal of the UN Special Envoy provides a good basis for this. The provisions it set out for the internal governance of Kosovo, and the allocation of responsibilities it contains, must be the foundation for how we deliver security and help Kosovo improve its ability to meet European standards. The EU should be ready to play a major part in settlement implementation including through the appointment of an EU Special Representative and through contributing to an International Civilian Office in Kosovo.


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There will be a need to achieve certainty and permanence in respect of Kosovo’s future status. Again, the UK believes that the proposal of the UN Special Envoy for supervised independence provides a good basis.

There will be a need to look beyond the immediate challenge of resolving Kosovo’s future status. Following a settlement, Kosovo will face formidable economic and state-building challenges. The international community—with the EU to the fore—will need to be ready to meet this challenge, including through the swift convening of a donors’ conference.

Finally, there will be a need to address the regional dimension. The UK recognises that moving through this phase will be difficult for Serbia, as well as for other countries in the region. The EU must be clear and far-sighted in its commitment to helping them meet European standards and so move farther towards eventual accession. There is a compelling strategic case for enlargement to the Western Balkans so that this troubled region can share in the security, stability and prosperity that the EU offers. The EU needs to take forward this agenda vigorously in the months ahead.

Innovation, Universities and Skills

Research and Science Budget

The Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Mr. John Denham): Today I am publishing “The Research and Science Budget Allocations 2008-09 to 2010-11”. The publication outlines the allocations of the Research And Science Budget for this comprehensive spending review period, and provides further details on what this money will deliver. I have placed copies in the Library of the House.

The overall settlement was announced by the Chancellor in the comprehensive spending review. As a result the Department will spend almost £6 billion in total on the research base by 2010-11. This is made up of the Research and Science Budget and nearly £2 billion of funding to reach English universities through the Higher Education Funding Council’s (HEFCE) quality-related funding stream (the second leg of the dual support system).

The Research and Science Budget specifically will increase from £3.4 billion per year in 2007-08 to almost £4 billion per year by 2010-11—taking the Government’s support for the UK’s research base to its highest level ever.

Specifically the allocations will:


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Key Highlights of the Allocations

The UK continues to perform exceptionally well in research and, increasingly, its exploitation. We remain second only to the US in global scientific excellence (as measured by citations), while collaboration between the research base and business continues to grow ever stronger.

The allocations provide significant support for medical research. The Medical Research Council will receive almost £2 billion over the three years to help keep the UK at the forefront of medical advances. Joint investment with the Department of Health, joined up by OSCHR, will ensure that more fundamental research is translated into clinical practice. The funding will also enable the development of the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation (UKCMRI) on the British Library site, and the rebuilding of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge (subject to approval of individual business plans by Government).

In response to the “Grand Challenges” outlined by the Chancellor at the announcement of the comprehensive spending review, the Research Councils are embarking on an exciting range of thematic research programmes. These programmes bring together partners from inside and outside the research community in an unprecedented effort to tackle these issues. Programmes include: “Living with Environmental Change”, “Ageing”, “Global Threats to Security” and “Energy”.

This allocation makes resources available to drive forward the economic impact agenda in the face of global challenges. The Research Councils have each set out explicit strategies for delivering a step change in their economic impact. The strategies form a solid foundation from which Research Councils can further raise their emphasis on economic impact during this CSR spending period.

In addition, the Higher Education Innovation Fund will rise to £150 million per annum by 2010-11, providing more resources than ever before to support knowledge transfer between universities and business. The Public Sector Research Exploitation Fund will in future attract co-funding from other sources so that even more support can be made available to public sector laboratories as they commercialise their research.

We have increased the budget for the successful “Science Bridges” scheme to £12 million to foster stronger links with international researchers, alongside supporting international fellowships run by the National Academies. This will help forge stronger links with the US, China, and India in particular.

A new Capital Investment Fund is being created for universities carrying out Research Council-funded projects. This permanent funding stream replaces the temporary Science Research Investment Fund (SRIF) programme, which has helped make good the backlog in investment in research infrastructure. The new fund will help universities to sustain this research infrastructure in the future.

Health of Disciplines

The Science and Innovation Investment Framework 2004-14 sets out the Government’s commitment to nurturing key disciplines. The Research Councils, Funding Councils, and National Academies have made significant progress. It is important that all key disciplines remain strong and vibrant. Research priorities will change over time but it
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is important that Government is confident that the combined decisions of the research councils properly underpin the health of key disciplines. This is important both for the future of research and, more widely, to ensure a flow of talented individuals into STEM subjects at University.

As a next step, I have asked Ian Diamond, as Chair of RCUK, to organise a series of reviews on the health of key research disciplines in the UK. The first of these reviews will be on physics, and will span at least three Research Councils (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Natural Environment Research Council and Science and Technology Facilities Council). It will be led by Professor Bill Wakeham, Vice-Chancellor, University of Southampton.

Large Experimental Facilities

Investment in advanced experimental facilities is of critical importance to the long-term success of the research base. STFC invests significantly in national facilities (such as Diamond and Isis) and international subscriptions (for example the European research centre at CERN). The allocation to STFC supports the Government’s vision for Harwell and Daresbury to be developed as Science and Innovation Campuses.

The Daresbury campus will be developed as a partnership between the STFC, the NWDA, the private sector and universities. I have asked Sir Tom McKillop to look specifically at the development of the Daresbury site as part of his wider independent review into the future of the Manchester City region and wider north-west economy.

Similarly, the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus is being developed as a scientific and high technology cluster in Oxfordshire.

Conclusion

World-class research in the UK is crucial to maintaining economic prosperity and responding to the challenges and opportunities of globalisation. Research plays a vital part in addressing key global and domestic challenges, such as climate change, energy, ageing, technological change and security. The research base also delivers improvements in public service delivery and contributes to improvements in education, health and culture.

The allocation of the science budget will continue to support the full spectrum of academic endeavour. It will ensure all benefits from the excellent research base are maximised by encouraging the full exploitation of fundamental research. It will support the long-term sustainability of research in the UK, whilst encouraging further international collaboration.

This report can be viewed at: http://www.dius.gov.uk/publications/URN07114.pdf

Justice

Amalgamation of Divisions of General Commissioners

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice): I have made an order under Section 2(6) of the Taxes Management Act 1970 amalgamating
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a number of divisions in Leicestershire, Devon, Dorset, North Yorkshire, West Midlands, Warwickshire and London as follows:

With effect from 1 January 2008:

And with effect from 8 February 2008:

All the amalgamations were made at the request of the divisions with the aim of improving the organisational efficiency of the General Commissioners in all the divisions concerned. Copies of the Amalgamation of Divisions of General Commissioners have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.

Review of Voting Systems

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Mr. Michael Wills): In the “Governance of Britain” Green Paper released in July this year the Government reiterated their commitment to review the experience of the new voting systems introduced in the United Kingdom since 1997, by the end of this year. The Government have completed this review and will make it ready for publication in January 2008 when Parliament reconvenes.

Transport

Autumn Performance Report 2007

The Secretary of State for Transport (Ruth Kelly): I have today published my Department’s Autumn Performance Report for 2007 (CM 7266). Copies have been laid before Parliament and placed in the House Libraries.

The Autumn Performance Report provides Parliament with a progress report on performance against the Department’s Public Service Agreement (PSA) targets using data available up to November 2007.


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