Deputy Prime Minister launches free school meals

From today (2 September 2014), every single child in the first 3 years of school will be eligible for a free school lunch.

This follows an announcement made by the Deputy Prime Minister last year to help every child from every background get the best possible start in life.

The move means that 1.89 million children in reception, year 1 and year 2 at 16,500 schools will be able to eat a free, nutritious meal at lunchtime, saving families up to £400 per year and helping children to do better in the classroom and improve their daily diet.

Results from pilot studies showed that where children were given free school meals they were found to be up to 2 months ahead of their peers elsewhere in maths and English. They were also more likely to eat vegetables, rather than unhealthy snacks like crisps.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

I’ve made it a personal priority to give all infant children free school meals so I’m delighted that we are seeing this being rolled out across the country from the start of this school year.

All the evidence, including the pilots in Durham and Newham, shows that free school meals will not only help ease the pressure on household budgets and encourage positive eating, but will also help improve concentration and raise educational performance so that, regardless of their background, every child can have the best possible start in life.

This is one of most progressive changes to our school system for a long time so there’ll always be critics but that won’t cloud my goal to create a level playing field for all of our children so their success will be determined by their talents and efforts alone and not by their parents’ bank balance.

The government has provided over £1 billion to meet the costs of the meals over the next 2 years and has also made £150 million of capital available to schools and local authorities to help them build new kitchens or increase dining capacity where necessary. A further £22.5 million has been provided specifically to help smaller schools provide free school meals and a dedicated support service has also been set up to offer advice and help.

Schools Minister David Laws said:

Today, our goal to offer every infant child a healthy, tasty school meal has become a reality – a move that will put money back in parents’ pockets while ensuring all children get the best possible start in life.

The evidence is clear. Providing children with nutritious and delicious meals gives them the fuel they need to excel both inside and outside the classroom, while making them more likely to opt for fruit and vegetables at lunchtime rather than junk food such as crisps.

Schools across the country have done a truly fantastic job in preparing for this important milestone, supported by over £1 billion of government funding over the next 2 years. Together, we will make sure that this landmark achievement delivers for pupils’ health, their attainment, and for their hard-working families.

RAF pass on Baltic Air policing role

The handover marks the conclusion of a four-month NATO deployment to secure NATO’s airspace over Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania

Royal Air Force No 135 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) has formally handed over the role of supporting nation in the Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission to the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The handover ceremony marked the conclusion of the four month deployment of four RAF Typhoon fighter aircraft that have been providing reassurance to the UK’s allies in the region.

Over the past 10 years the BAP mission has seen NATO allies deploy air defence aircraft to secure NATO’s airspace over the Baltic nations of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.

Additionally, the role of lead nation was handed over from the Polish Air Force to the Portuguese Air Force.

The British Ambassador to Lithuania, His Excellency David Hunt said:

The deployment of the RAF Typhoons has been seen as an act of solidarity during a period of genuine insecurity in Lithuania’s Eastern neighbourhood. Our bilateral relationship is already close but the RAF’s augmentation of BAP has added another dimension to our growing defence cooperation.

The RAF has enhanced the UK’s reputation over the last four months and I am very grateful for everything they have done.

UK-Turkey Health Week to promote British expertise in £8 billion Turkish healthcare market announced

Business Ambassador to host a high level business delegation responsible for delivering the £8 billion Turkish Healthcare Campus projects.

  • the first ever UK-Turkey Health Week will see the UK Business Ambassador for Healthcare & Life Sciences, Lord Kakkar, host a delegation from the 1 to 3 September 2014
  • potential opportunities in the Turkish Healthcare Campus project are valued at £8 billion
  • this mission is a joint venture between the GREAT Britain campaign and Healthcare UK, the UK’s trade development agency for the healthcare sector

Business Ambassador Lord Kakkar will today (1 September 2014) host a high level business delegation comprising of board members and senior decision makers from the contractors responsible for delivering the £8 billion Turkish Healthcare Campus projects.

Throughout the week there will be numerous high level meetings, ranging from discussions about small and medium enterprise supply chain opportunities to major contractors discussing multi-disciplinary contracts and ministerial bi-lateral meetings.

UK Business Ambassador, Lord Kakkar said:

It is a pleasure to welcome such an important healthcare delegation from Turkey. The recent announcement of the Turkey Healthcare Campuses project offers important opportunities for British companies to engage with the Turkish contractors and consortia who have been selected to deliver this exciting £8 billion programme.

UK-Turkey Health Week follows the highly successful GREAT festival of creativity held in Istanbul earlier this year where the UK’s healthcare expertise was a major component.

British companies have so much to offer in helping to realise the Turkish government’s vision for the future of their healthcare system.

UKTI has identified opportunities for British companies in the following key areas of the Turkey Healthcare Campuses project:

  • planning and master planning
  • project management and advisory services
  • laboratory design
  • hospital design and architecture
  • clinical support and cooperation
  • ICT / hospital information systems
  • niche construction skills
  • hospital operation and commissioning
  • facilities management
  • education and training
  • financial structuring and insurance
  • security

Koi herpesvirus disease outbreak confirmed in Essex

Koi herpesvirus (KHV) disease has been confirmed in carp (Cyprinus carpio) at Slough House Lake, Essex

An outbreak of KHV disease has been confirmed at Slough House Lake, China Lane, Bulphan, Upminster, Essex.

The site is now subject to statutory controls to prevent or limit the spread of the disease. The Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI) at Cefas, acting on behalf of Defra has issued a confirmed designation prohibiting the movement of fish to, from and within the fishery complex.

Fishery equipment disinfection and movement control measures are also now in place and anglers must ensure that they comply with all biosecurity measures within the designated area.

The fishery manager reported the problem to the Fish Health Inspectorate for further investigation and voluntarily closed the affected water in advance of official controls.

KHV has no implications for human health. It is nonetheless, a serious viral disease of fish, and is notifiable in the United Kingdom. KHV affects all varieties of common and ornamental carp (Cyprinus carpio) including carp hybrids and can result in high rates of fish mortalities.

Clinical signs of KHV disease may include white or necrotic patches on the gills, rough patches on the skin, sloughing mucous and sunken eyes. These signs usually appear when water temperatures are between 16 and 28 degrees centigrade. Anyone noting deaths in carp or carp hybrids, with signs of disease similar to those above, or have suspicion of notifiable disease in any aquatic animal, should immediately contact the FHI.

Anyone who imports, keeps, fishes for, or retails carp (common and ornamental) and carp hybrids should take precautions to prevent the spread of KHV.

Vital greening advice available for farmers at Tillage Live 2014

Expert Common Agricultural Policy advice for farmers attending the Tillage Live 2014 agricultural event in Gloucestershire next week, including new European ‘greening’ environmental measures.

Farmers attending the Tillage Live 2014 agricultural event in Gloucestershire next week can talk with Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) experts on how new European ‘greening’ environmental measures will affect them.

The latest Defra Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) leaflet is available at the event, held at the Down Ampney airfield near Cirencester on Wednesday 10 September.

The leaflet gives important information to allow farmers to prepare for next year’s crop, and the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) will have experts on hand at the show to help answer any questions.

In 2015 the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) will be replaced by the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS). As part of BPS, farmers must follow the new greening rules or risk losing about 30 per cent of their total EU payment.

Under the new CAP, farming, wildlife, rural businesses and the wider economy in England are set to receive £15 billion in funding from 2014 to 2020.

RPA External Relations Director Arik Dondi said:

“People are encouraged to come along to the stand, speak to our CAP experts and pick up a copy of the latest CAP leaflet, which is also available to everyone on

“It includes updates on what we know so far about the new schemes, what they may mean for farmers and of course more information on the greening rules.

“If farmers are going to claim BPS it’s important they start thinking about the greening rules now, in case they have to change anything on their holding.

“We have included as much information as we can in this leaflet. We don’t know all the details about greening yet, but the leaflet will be useful if you’re a farmer, an agent or an agronomist.”

Defra, working with the RPA, Natural England and the Forestry Commission, is determined to implement the CAP in a way that is as simple, affordable and effective as possible.

From next year the way farmers, land managers and agents will apply for schemes and claim CAP payment is changing. Paper applications will be replaced by the new online CAP Information Service.

Nearly 70 per cent of SPS 2014 applications were made online. From next year all applicants for the new CAP schemes will need to be registered on the CAP Information Service.

The RPA will keep up-to-date information available through the GOV.UK website at

UK deplores Israeli government decision to expropriate land in West Bank

UK deplores Israeli decision to expropriate land near Bethlehem and urges Israel to reverse the decision.

Commenting on Israel’s decision on 31 August to expropriate almost 990 acres of privately owned Palestinian land near Bethlehem, the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said:

The UK deplores the Israeli government’s expropriation of 988 acres of land around the settlement of Etzion near Bethlehem. This is a particularly ill-judged decision that comes at a time when the priority must be to build on the ceasefire in Gaza. It will do serious damage to Israel’s standing in the international community.

Our position on settlements is clear: they are illegal under international law, present an obstacle to peace and take us further away from a two state solution at a time when negotiations to achieve this objective urgently need to be resumed.

All efforts should currently be focused on securing a durable ceasefire in Gaza and the lasting peace that the Palestinian and Israeli people deserve. We strongly urge the government of Israel to reverse this decision.

Intellectual property delegation visits China for first time

Intellectual Property Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe urged UK businesses to boost their trade links with key trading partner China.

Intellectual Property Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe has today (1 September) urged UK businesses to boost their trade links with key trading partner China by leading the first ever ministerial delegation to the country focussing on intellectual property (IP).

Joining the minister on the 5-day trip (1 September – 5 September 2014) will be some of the UK’s highest profile companies – including Unilever, Burberry and Penguin – and a number of representatives from IP-intensive industries.

The visit begins today with the 2nd UK-China IP Symposium being held in Beijing, hosted in partnership with Chinese State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO). The symposium provides an opportunity for over 100 British and Chinese businesses to network and build relationships with government officials, focussing on the challenges they face in managing and protecting their IP in China.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe will announce that the UK and China will do joint work focused on topics related to global patent reform and making IP systems more efficient for users.

The visit forms part of UK government’s ambitious target of doubling UK exports to £1 trillion by 2020, and within this to double UK exports to China from their 2010 level to $30 billion. UK exports to China were worth $24.5 billion (£15.7 billion) in 2013.

It is hoped the visit will mean UK business will feel more confident exporting their IP to China and better understand where they should turn to for help and advice, while the UK aims to continue building a close and productive relationship with the Chinese government on IP issues.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe said:

There is huge potential for British firms to do business with China, generating new jobs and economic growth in both countries. While many UK companies already have strong trading relationships with China, we must build on these links and work hard together to continue to reduce any barriers to doing business.

That is why I am determined we do all we can to make life as easy as possible for our businesses by improving our bilateral relationships with China on intellectual property matters, essentially the ownership of ideas and the reduction of counterfeits and design theft. This symposium is going to be an unrivalled chance for Chinese and British businesses to share their experiences, discuss business issues with government officials and learn about intellectual property in both of our countries.

China-Britain Business Council Chief Executive, Stephen Phillips said:

Protection of IP is important to every business that has invested time and effort in its development. CBBC’s member companies are keen to do more business with China, but they want to be sure that their world-class innovation and knowledge is properly protected. We are encouraged by the clear commitment of China to ensure better IP enforcement – something that is really important as China continues to move up the value curve.

This week of activities in Beijing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Chongqing and Hong Kong will build upon the productive policy dialogue and address the practical, on the gound implementation with companies and stakeholders throughout China.

Other issues that the visit will help to address include:

  • making sure UK companies are better prepared and informed about IP in China. This will be achieved through outreach events and support from UKTI and the China-Britain Business Council
  • working more closely with the Chinese authorities to tackle IP crime and reduce the amount of counterfeit goods exported from China. For example, 70% of counterfeit goods seized at EU borders currently originate from China
  • helping licensing societies collect fees on behalf of British creative industries in China who often struggle due to infringement and low valuation of copyright
  • offering practical support to help UK business avoid problems with bad-faith trademark applications. This is situation where someone else registers a trademark in the country, causing the country to have to buy this back at cost and thus harming investment opportunities

The delegation will be visiting Shanghai where the Minister will give a speech at an annual seminar hosted by the UK magazine Managing IP.

Quality of US diet shows modest improvement, but overall remains poor

Dietary quality in the US has improved steadily in recent years — spurred in large part by reduced trans fat intake — but overall dietary quality remains poor and disparities continue to widen among socioeconomic and racial/ethnic groups, according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health.

Source EurekAlert! Quality of US diet shows modest improvement, but overall remains poor

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