Brown to scrap levy on college spin-out shares
Gordon Brown is to announce the immediate abolition of substantial tax liabilities on academics' shares in high-technology university spin-out companies in his pre-Budget report on December 2. The Chancellor's decision, disclosed in an Inland Revenue internal email, goes much further than expected towards resolving a row over tax rules introduced in the 2003 Finance Act that have caused a slump in the number of spin-outs. The email, sent to academic campaigners by Janice Cross, the Revenue official in charge of the issue, says that "in broad terms the measures will aim to put spin-outs back to where they thought they were".
University venture set to revolutionise oil industry
Scotland's biggest-ever university spin-off business could generate more than £500 million within 10 years with a technique that could revolutionise the North Sea oil industry. A team of researchers from Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences has raised more than £7.4 million in a funding round led by Scottish Equity Partners and the Norwegian investment funds Energy Ventures and HitecVision to form MTEM. The company was created to utilise new technology that could potentially save the oil industry billions of pounds a year, which are currently wasted on drilling dry wells.
Liberty threatened by animal rights thugs, says Patten
Animal rights extremists are threatening the foundations of Britain’s free and civilised society, Chris Patten said last night. In his first speech as Chancellor of Oxford University, Mr Patten said that the violent tactics of some anti-vivisectionists were undermining fundamental principles of liberal democracy. The right of university researchers to pursue open and independent inquiry without fear of intimidation was one of the bastions of free society, he said. This was now at risk from the campaign of harassment that has blocked a primate laboratory at the Cambridge University and interrupted work on a similar facility at Oxford. Mr Patten was speaking as it emerged that new measures to clamp down on animal rights extremists are to be a centrepiece of the Queen’s Speech on Tuesday.
Charles v Charles head to head
A heavyweight battle of two nations broke out yesterday as meritocracy took on aristocracy in rival visions of the purpose of education. In the blue (blood) corner, the Prince of Wales bemoaned the tendency of "child-centred learning" to turn out subjects who lacked any sense of personal limitation. In the red (flag) corner, Charles Clarke, the Education Secretary, came out swinging for the people’s right to improve themselves, however humble their origins. The eruption came after publication of a memo from the Prince at an employment tribunal involving Elaine Day, a former personal assistant in the Royal Household. Ms Day had written to the Prince suggesting that "bright" graduate PAs should be offered a career path within the Household. The dispute between the Prince of Wales and the Government over education later intensified when a second Cabinet minister, John Reid, the Health Secretary, rebuked the prince for claiming the current system fuelled unrealistic ambitions.
The Times, Daily Telegraph, Guardian, Independent, Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, Daily Star, Daily Express, The Sun
I'm as thick as two short Twiggs
Schools Minister Stephen Twigg came bottom of the class in a spelling test yesterday. The Labour frontbencher, who graduated from Oxford with a degree in politics, got only half the answers right. He scored the lowest mark when he was pitted against four others, including a German whose second language is English. During the quiz, Mr Twigg managed to voice a few "God Almightys" and "blimeys" and even branded the English language "stupid". At the end, he asked sadly: "Are there any people who've done worse than me?" The correct answer was No. Mr Twigg, 38, was up against an unnamed German, writer Alain de Botton, Jackie McLeod from the Association of British Scrabble Players and Mensa candidate Joyce Cansfield.
Ape discovery fills gap in evolutionary jigsaw
Scientists have found fossilised remains of what could be the last common ancestor to all the great apes living today. It will give scientists vital clues in charting the course of primate and, ultimately, human evolution. The fossil, called Pierolapithecus catalaunicus , was found by Dr Salvador Moyà-Solà of the Miguel Crusafort Institute of Palaeontology and colleagues in a village near Barcelona. The great apes, which include orang-utans, chimpanzees, gorillas and humans, are thought to have developed from the lesser apes, a group that contains modern gibbons and siamangs, about 11 million to 16 million years ago. The fossil evidence from this period, the middle Miocene epoch, is scanty.
The Guardian, Daily Telegraph