Week In Westminster – Week ending Friday 3 December 2010

DOWNLOADOn this page you will find the current news from Westminster. These weekly reports are archived every Friday. Week in Westminster can be e-mailed to you on a regular basis if you register for News Alerts.For further information e-mail us at [email protected] Chancellor delivers Autumn Statement2. Government launches growth review3. ‘Low carbon jobs plus skills will result in economic boost’ – Engineering UK1. Chancellor delivers Autumn StatementChancellor of the exchequer George Osborne has delivered government’s Autumn Statement to the House of Commons, outlining the Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) economic and fiscal outlook. The coalition government announced in September that it would replace the Pre-Budget Report with an Autumn Statement. The chancellor spoke of government’s mandate to eliminate the fiscal deficit and reducing government debt as a key focus of its economic strategy. He said government had ‘taken Britain out of the financial danger-zone and on the road to recovery’. The chancellor also made a number of policy announcements including new proposals on corporate tax reform, changes to Intellectual Property rules and a cross-government review, led by BIS and HM Treasury reporting for the next Budget (23 March 2011).Source: ParliamentClick here for more information2. Government launches growth reviewChancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne and business secretary, Vince Cable have announced a review of what all parts of government are doing to create the best conditions for private sector growth. Building on the action already taken by government and outlined in the paper, ‘The path to strong, sustainable and balanced growth’, business is being invited to take part in this work which will challenge every government department on the measures being taken to tackle barriers to growth. The growth review will start with an intensive programme of work, based on the evidence provided by business, to report by Budget 2011. Departments will be required to present Action Plans to a Ministerial Ad-Hoc Group chaired by the chancellor and business secretary, on what contribution they will make. Specific sectors and structural areas have been identified as a priority for the Government; over the course of the review, including advanced manufacturing plus highlighting low carbon vehicles. The work will continue for the lifetime of this Parliament, ensuring all government departments think first and foremost about the impact of their policies on growth. George Osborne, said: “We have been clear that growth will be driven by the private sector. By working closely with business and industry in this intensive programme of work, Government can make sure that Britain is open for business.”Source: HM TreasuryClick here for more information3. ‘Low carbon jobs plus skills will result in economic boost’ – Engineering UKEngineering UK has warned in its annual report that engineering skills shortages threaten to leave the UK behind its international counterparts in the race to secure energy markets. The report launch brought together leaders from industry, education and government, including minister for business, Mark Prisk, to deliver a new partnership to address these challenges. Engineering UK 2011: The state of Engineering confirms that the engineering sector is at the forefront of rebalancing the UK economy and meeting climate change and renewable energy targets. Success is dependent upon both investment and on boosting the skill levels of UK workers. The report highlights discrepancies between the demand and supply of appropriately skilled technicians. At least 10% of technicians currently working within science, engineering and technology fields are under-qualified – at level two (equivalent to e.g. GCSE grades A* – C, NVQ or BTEC Level 2) or below, where at least a level three (A Levels, NVQ or BTEC level 3) is needed. Business minister, Mark Prisk, said: “We need a new approach where industry, education and government works collaboratively to achieve this common ambition so I welcome this partnership to address these challenges. Government is committed to increasing the number of highly skilled workers. One of our first announcements was a commitment to create an additional 50,000 new adult apprenticeships by redirecting £150m from Train to Gain.”Source: Engineering UKClick here for more informationClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) read more

Gum trees set to aid gold exploration in Australia

first_imgUsing CSIRO’s Maia detector for x-ray elemental imaging at the Australian Synchrotron, the research team was able to locate and see the gold in the leaves. The Synchrotron produced images depicting the gold, which would otherwise have been untraceable.“Our advanced X-ray imaging enabled the researchers to examine the leaves and produce clear images of the traces of gold and other metals, nestled within their structure,” Principal Scientist at the Australian Synchrotron Dr David Paterson said.“Before enthusiasts rush to prospect this gold from the trees or even the leaf litter, you need to know that these are tiny nuggets, which are about one-fifth the diameter of a human hair and generally invisible by other techniques and equipment.”CSIRO research using natural materials, such as calcrete and laterite in soils, for mineral exploration has led to many successful ore deposit discoveries in regional Australia. The outcomes of the research provide a direct boost to the national economy. Eucalyptus trees in the Kalgoorlie region of Western Australia are drawing up gold particles from the earth via their root system and depositing it their leaves and branches. Scientists from CSIRO made the discovery and have published their findings in the journal Nature Communications. “The eucalypt acts as a hydraulic pump – its roots extend tens of metres into the ground and draw up water containing the gold. “As the gold is likely to be toxic to the plant, it’s moved to the leaves and branches where it can be released or shed to the ground,” CSIRO geochemist Dr Mel Lintern said.The discovery is unlikely to start an old-time gold rush – the nuggets are about one-fifth the diameter of a human hair. However, it could provide a golden opportunity for mineral exploration, as the leaves or soil underneath the trees could indicate gold ore deposits buried up to tens of metres underground and under sediments that are up to 60 million years old.“The leaves could be used in combination with other tools as a more cost effective and environmentally friendly exploration technique,” Lintern said.  “By sampling and analysing vegetation for traces of minerals, we may get an idea of what’s happening below the surface without the need to drill. It’s a more targeted way of searching for minerals that reduces costs and impact on the environment.“Eucalyptus trees are so common that this technique could be widely applied across Australia. It could also be used to find other metals such as zinc and copper.”last_img read more