2012年3月23日 星期五

Budget 2012 A big splash with little cash

Budget 2012

A big splash with little cash

The chancellor made a little money go a long way in his annual budget

IT WAS the first time in several years that a chancellor of the exchequer did not have to reveal more bad news about Britain’s finances. On March 21st, when George Osborne delivered his third budget, the official forecasts for the economy and public borrowing were barely changed. And Mr Osborne offered little in the way of direct stimulus to the economy. His budget gave away a few billion but will eventually raise as much through other measures. Yet through a handful of astute tweaks to the tax system, coupled with an “unwavering” commitment to cutting the deficit, the chancellor tried to send a strong signal that Britain is a profitable place to invest.
The bravest measure was a cut in the top rate of income tax from 50% to 45% from next April; the costliest was a £1,100 ($1,745) increase in the personal tax-free allowance; and the signature measure was a further reduction in the main corporate-tax rate (see table). The other biggish cost to the exchequer was a partial U-turn on child benefit. This was to be taken away from families with a higher-rate tax payer, but will now be gradually withdrawn from those earning more than £50,000.
These giveaways were paid for by raising other, smaller taxes—including higher stamp duty on extremely expensive homes—and by closing loopholes. The most complained-about measure was a freezing of tax allowances for old people. Further money was found by diverting part of the spending reserve that had been set aside to fund fighting in Afghanistan.
Eye-catching as these changes are, they made little difference to the overall fiscal stance. The net cost of the budget changes in 2013-14 will be a modest £1.7 billion, barely more than 0.1% of GDP. The Treasury reckons there will be a slightly larger economic stimulus in 2012-13, as the well-paid find ways to defer their taxes until next year when the top income-tax rate comes down. But the modest upfront costs of the measures will be clawed back in subsequent years as a new cap on tax reliefs for the well-off comes into effect from April 2014. Over a five-year horizon, the budget is a neutral one.
The chancellor judged he had no room to depart more radically from his plan to cut the budget deficit if he is to preserve Britain’s AAA government-bond rating, which is under review by two of the three main credit-rating agencies. But at least the public finances look in no worse a shape than they did when Mr Osborne gave his autumn statement in November. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), the fiscal watchdog, now reckons that borrowing will be £126 billion (8.3% of GDP) in 2011, a billion less than it forecast four months ago. Hopes that it might be smaller still were dashed by high borrowing figures for February, released on the morning of the budget, which made the previous ten months’ returns look rather less healthy.
The OBR nudged up this year’s GDP growth figure from 0.7% to 0.8% and continued to forecast a slowly strengthening recovery. The path of deficit reduction is little different either. Public borrowing is expected to decline to just above 1% of GDP by 2016-17, just as it was in November. The one new kink is that the borrowing figures for 2012-13 will be flattered by the transfer of £28 billion of assets from the Royal Mail, as the state takes on the firm’s pension promises (estimated at £37.5 billion but not included in public-debt figures) to make it more appealing to potential investors.
The macroeconomic effects of this budget are fairly mild: over time it neither injects nor withdraws much demand from the economy. But what of the microeconomics, its impact on incentives? A mere £5 billion of tax cuts paid for by other savings can hardly transform the economy. Cynics will note that the OBR was not moved by the budget to upgrade its estimate of the economy’s growth potential.
Lawson with a tinge of Brown
But within the confines of coalition politics and rickety public finances, the chancellor tried hard to spur growth. That the budget’s costliest measure was aimed at reducing the tax burden on poor workers gave some political cover for unpopular tax cuts for companies and the rich. With confidence slowly returning to boardrooms, the twin signals of a cut in the top rate of personal tax and further progress in bringing down the corporate-tax rate might tip the scales towards business investment, where Britain lags other rich countries. It is big, global companies, not consumers and government, that have the spare cash to finance extra spending.
The drawback to the budget is that it took a lot of tinkering with small measures to pay for a few eye-catching ones. The principle of using taxes on wealth—in this case on high-end house sales—and reduced tax reliefs to pay for lower tax rates is a good one. But it was used on only a limited scale in this budget. That was in part because the full-year cost of reducing the top rate of tax to 45% was put at a paltry £100m (seearticle). A wholesale tax reform, including a merger of national-insurance and personal tax payments, which was again delayed by the chancellor, might have to wait until there is more money to lubricate the changes. Until then, Mr Osborne’s less-than-purist approach to taxation has its benefits.

Cities For A Small Country 小國(英國)城市

Cities For A Small Country

By Richard Rogers and Anne Power, London: Faber & Faber. 2000. [pound]14.99

Cities For A Small Country 小國(英國)城市

Billingsgate Fish Market, in east London,

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The original open air Billingsgate Fish Market in the early 19th century. Boats delivered fish to this small inlet of the Thames and business was conducted on the quayside.
Billingsgate Fish Market, in east London, is the United Kingdom's largest inland fish market. It takes its name from Billingsgate, a ward in the south-east corner of the City of London, where the riverside market was originally established. In its original location in the 19th century, Billingsgate was the largest fish market in the world.[1]
Billingsgate Wharf, close to Lower Thames Street, became the centre of a fish market during the 16th and 17th centuries but did not become formally established until an Act of Parliament in 1699.[2] In 1849, the fish market was moved off the streets into its own riverside building, designed by J. B. Bunning and built by John Jay, which was demolished around 1873 and replaced by an arcaded market hall designed by City architect Horace Jones and built by John Mowlem & Co. in 1875.[3] This building, known as Old Billingsgate Market, is now used chiefly as an office and corporate events venue.
The writer George Orwell worked at Billingsgate in the 1930s, as did the Kray twins in the 1950s.
In 1982, the fish market was relocated to a new 13-acre (53,000  sq m) building complex on the Isle of Dogs, close to Canary Wharf. Most of the fish sold through the market now arrives there by road, from ports as far afield as Aberdeen and Cornwall.
The infamously coarse language of London fishmongers made "Billingsgate" a byword for crude or vulgar language.[4] One of its earliest uses can be seen in a 1577 chronicle by Raphael Holinshed, where the writer makes reference to the foul tongues of Billingsgate oyster-wives.
The market is depicted during Tudor times in Rosemary Sutcliff's 1951 children's historical novel The Armourer's House.
Billingsgate Market is open from Tuesday to Saturday. Trading commences at 5 a.m. and finishes at 8:30 a.m. Security for the market is provided by the private Market Constabulary.[5]

(BIL-ingz-gayt, -git)

noun: Vulgar, abusive language.

After Billingsgate fish market in London, once notorious for the foul language of its fishmongers. A related word is fishwife, a synonym for a vulgar-tongued woman.

"Kitty Warren is articulate when needed but when threatened or challenged, guttersnipe dialect and billingsgate dominate." — Ted Hadley; Shaw Play Masterfully Tackles Taboo Topics; Buffalo News (New York); Jul 25, 2008.

gut·ter·snipe (gŭt'ər-snīp') pronunciation

  1. A street urchin.
  2. A person of the lowest class.

silver-tongued (adjective) Having or exhibiting the power of fluent and persuasive speech.
Synonyms:eloquent, smooth-spoken, fluent, facile
Usage:The silver-tongued politician trounced his opponent in the debate and earned enthusiastic applause from his supporters.

2012年3月22日 星期四

UK corporate taxes 有竞争力的税收制度

台灣青年失業率12.7%「相對較好」 陳冲:英國接近50%

陳冲今天表示,保有年輕的心是非常重要的,因為唯有年輕的心,人才能保持活力、保持熱情,為理想而奮鬥,因此他特別強調「人可以老,但心不可以 老」。他指出,也許有些人會質疑年輕人是nothing to lose,才勇於嘗試任何事,但過去歷史不乏例證說明年輕人即便something to lose,也可以勇敢做很多事,例如林覺民,全是因為他有一顆年輕的心。
陳冲並舉了英國工黨領袖Ed Miliband一次對年輕人的演說為例,Miliband強調自己是人老心不老,並說明年輕就是「對過去感到謙卑、對於未來保持理想(Being humble about past,being idealistic about future)」,也希望在場的人現在年輕、未來10、20年,一直到100歲都保持年輕的心、保持理想性。
陳冲也提到,對全世界的年輕人而言,這是一個焦慮的世代。以台灣來說,全國失業率4.18%,20-24歲年齡層的失業率12.71%;以英國來 說,全國失業率11%,年輕人失業率接近50%。他說,失業率偏高,特別是年輕人失業率,是世界普遍的現象,台灣因為過去的努力,表現相對其他國家較好, 但是政府仍會繼續努力降低失業率。

Lex_UK corporate taxes


A competitive tax regime – frankly who wouldn’t want one? The UK government said two years ago that it wished to create the most competitive corporate tax regime among the Group of 20 largest economies. In yesterday’s Budget it took another step in that direction, announcing that the headline rate of corporation tax would fall to 22 per cent by 2014, from 24 per cent in April. So companies that pay their taxes in the UK have reason to cheer. But as with a lot of things fiscal, appearances can be deceptive.
有竞争力的税收制度?坦率地说,哪个国家不想实行。英国政府两年前表示,希望制定出在20国集 团(G20)中最有竞争力的企业所得税制度。英国如今朝着上述方向又迈出了一步。根据周三公布的预算案,到2014年,英国企业所得税的基本税率将从今年 4月份的24%降至22%。于是,在英国纳税的企业有理由欢呼了。但与许多财政事务一样,表象可能具有欺骗性。
True, the headline rate of tax is an important number – it is arguably the hinge around which companies consider tax minimisation measures. The UK’s headline rate is already lower than those of similar economies such as Germany and France, and is much lower than either the US or Japan, where the corporate tax rate is around 40 per cent. But three things need to be borne in mind.
First, the UK offers fewer allowances to companies than other G20 countries on investment in fixed assets such as plant and machinery and industrial buildings. This hits the manufacturing sector above all. If the government wants to rebalance the UK economy away from financial services, this needs to be addressed. Second, the lower headline rate of tax benefits a relatively narrow group of very large companies. According to the Centre for Business Taxation at Oxford university, 80 per cent of UK corporation tax is paid by 1 per cent of companies – very large companies and multinationals.
第一,在厂房、机器和工业建筑等固定资产的投资方面,英国给予企业的补贴比20国集团的其他国 家都要低。这首先就对制造业不利。如果英国政府打算降低金融服务业的比重、实现经济再平衡,就必须解决好这个问题。第二,降低企业基本税率只能惠及相对少 数的大企业。牛津大学(Oxford)企业税收研究中心的分析表明,英国80%的企业所得税来自1%的公司,包括非常大型的企业和跨国企业。
Third, and most important, is the context in which taxes are being cut for UK-based companies. Four years after the financial crisis, companies globally are awash with cash: $1.7tn among US companies, €2tn in the eurozone, and £750bn in the UK. A really competitive tax regime would encourage companies to invest their cash, not just to grow it.



2012年3月17日 星期六

Sunday trading law suspension bid during Olympics

London 2012: Sunday trading law suspension bid during Olympics

Olympic Stadium Ministers hope people visiting the UK for the Games will take advantage of a Sunday trading law hiatus

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Sunday trading laws are to be suspended on eight weekends from 22 July during the Olympics and Paralympics, the chancellor is expected to announce. 

In his Budget, George Osborne is likely to say large shops in England and Wales can trade for more than six hours. 

It would require emergency legislation which officials hope to pass by Easter.
Ministers hope the move would boost shopping, while Labour indicated it would consider the proposal before deciding whether or not to back it.

The Sunday Trading Act 1994 states that large shops over 280 square metres in England and Wales are restricted to six hours of continuous trading between 10:00 and 18:00 on Sundays.
And they cannot open at all on Easter Sunday.

By temporarily suspending these rules, the government hopes hundreds of thousands of visitors who head to London for the sporting spectacle will take advantage of late-night shopping in the West End, boosting flagging retail figures.

There is also optimism that people throughout England and Wales will visit supermarkets, garden centres and DIY stores on the lighter summer evenings.

London view
  • Sport, news and more 2012 information
Although the relaxation would be temporary, the Treasury is expected to closely monitor its effects and a permanent move has not been ruled out if it proves a success.
Tory MP Nadine Dorries predicted that Mr Osborne would "face a barrage of criticism" as a result of the move.

She posted on Twitter: "Arrogant to impose without debate and vote of whole house.
"Is the coalition government secretly implementing an anti-Christian agenda. And if so, who is driving it, Cameron and Osborne or the LDs?"
Last year, Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey warned that a temporary lifting for the Games was likely to lead to a permanent change and could stop staff enjoying the "once-in-a-lifetime" chance to enjoy the sporting spectacle.
She had been responding to a bid by party colleague Mark Menzies to make the change with his own Bill.
Mr Menzies said he was "absolutely delighted" that the plan was now being taken up by the Mr Osborne, adding that it would "send out a very powerful message that Britain is open for business".
The MP for Fylde, whose professional background is in retail, said he had been told an estimated 1,700 extra part-time jobs could possibly be created as a result at the new shopping centre near the Olympic park.
And he said he had "no desire at this stage" to see the looser rules applied beyond August.

2012年3月16日 星期五

Chancellor George Osborne to 'scrap public sector national pay rates'

George Osborne George Osborne is set to outline his plans on Wednesday in the Budget
Chancellor George Osborne is expected to reveal plans to scrap public sector national pay rates in the Budget.
He is thought to have backed the plan after Treasury research found people in public sector roles earn, on average, 8% more than their private sector counterparts across England and Wales.
Local factors, such as the cost of living and private sector pay rates, are now set to be taken into account.
The Public and Commercial Services union said it opposed the plans.
The move, expected to be announced in the Budget on Wednesday, would mean a teacher working in Sunderland would have a different pay packet to a colleague in Surrey.
Local pay rates for teaching and hospital staff could begin next year.
A Treasury source told the BBC's Chris Mason the move is not about saving money but about ensuring the UK has "a responsive, modern labour force".
The source told our correspondent the move is seen as "pro-growth" because it would help make the private sector to become more competitive.
A PCS spokesman told the BBC it is "opposed" to the plans because such a move "will drive down pay in the regions".
He added that the public sector could find it harder to "recruit and retain staff".
Other trade unions have previously raised concerns about the difficulty of attracting public sector staff to work in relatively poorer areas where they may have to take a pay cut to take the role.
Mr Osborne initially set out the idea in the Autumn Statement.
At the time, he announced a review of national pay rates for public servants and asked the independent pay review bodies to report back in July.

2012年3月15日 星期四

I designed a garden in the Olympic Park

I designed a garden in the Olympic Park

Even though I had always thought I’d be an artist, when I graduated in fine art from Nottingham Trent University, I was very disillusioned with the idea of working within the confines of a gallery space. I realised I was more excited by walking and landscape and thought I could connect the two. I also needed money, so I applied for a job at Hampton Court gardens as an under-gardener.

虽然我一直认为自己会当艺术家,但刚从诺丁汉特伦特大学(Nottingham Trent University)美术专业毕业时,我对憋在画廊里的室内工作完全丧失了憧憬。我意识到,自己更喜欢到处走动、喜欢户外的景色。我觉得自己可以找到一 份同时满足这两点的工作。我当时也缺钱,因此申请了汉普顿宫(Hampton Court)园艺师的工作。

I spent a year there and enjoyed being outside but the work was amenity horticulture – I was learning to mow diamonds into lawns. I needed to be more creative so I enrolled in a garden design course. But that felt even more uncreative and almost put me off garden design altogether. Much of what we learnt was how to manage client/designer relations, focusing on certain types of clients with a certain amount of money. It wasn’t my scene at all, so I decided to go back to painting.

我在那里呆了一年。在户外工作让我觉得享受,但那份工作的性质是休闲园艺——我当时学习的是, 如何在草坪上修剪出菱形的图案。我必须做点更有创意的事情,于是报了一个园艺课程。但那个课程更是毫无创意,几乎让我彻底放弃了园艺。那个课程教给我们 的,主要是如何管理客户与园艺师之间的关系,根据客户的富裕程度对他们区别对待。这完全不是我的菜,因此我决定重返绘画界。

In the end, I took a job in an art shop and gallery and did odd jobs for garden designers. During this time, I entered a Royal Horticultural Society competition for a conceptual design for the Hampton Court Flower Show. My idea was a pattern of different widths of water rills – like streams – running in repeats with naturalistic planting and overlapping stones. It was intended for awkward, in-between spaces in cities, and I won the competition with it. Not long after, I was approached to design an exhibit at Chelsea Flower Show. And through that, I was approached to be part of a team bid for the Olympic Parklands. My career seemed to take off very quickly.

最后,我在一个艺术品商店兼画廊里找到了一份奇怪的工作,为园艺师服务。那段时间里,我参加了 英国皇家园艺学会(Royal Horticultural Society)举办的汉普顿宫花展概念设计大赛。我的想法是,挖一些不同宽度的水渠(像小溪那样),在水渠两岸营造自然植被,或堆一些石块。这个设计的 目的,是把城市中一些不规整的多余空间利用起来。凭借这个设计,我赢得了比赛。不久,有人来找我为切尔西花展(Chelsea Flower Show)上的一个展览做设计。通过那件事,又有人来找我参加奥林匹克公园(Olympic Parklands)的设计征集会。我的事业似乎很快就起飞了。

I was invited into meetings to discuss how the Olympic Parklands might look but I didn’t hold out much hope for having my own ideas included. Then someone turned to me and said they wanted to make sure there’d be a garden at the main stadium I could use my ideas in. I was surprised but in the end that’s what happened. I was the youngest designer responsible for a major project at the Olympics. As soon as the design work started, so did the pressure. It was very fast-paced and I had to provide drawings very quickly – even on the same day that the ideas had been proposed.

我受邀参加了一些讨论奥林匹克公园景观设计的会议,但我并没怎么指望自己的意见能被采纳。这 时,有人对我说,他们想跟我确认一下,我是不是愿意设计主场馆的一座花园。我觉得很意外,但事情就这么发生了。在所有负责奥林匹克公园主项目的设计师中, 我是最年轻的一个。设计工作一开始,压力随之而来。工作节奏很快,我必须很快交出图纸——有时候想法出来的当天就得出图纸。

I thought less literally than many traditional planting designers; I collaged different images together and included drawings and sketches. I was nervous and conscious of my lack of formal training but actually George Hargreaves, the design leader, seemed to appreciate my unconventional approach.

跟许多传统的园艺设计师比起来,我没有那么多条条框框。我会把不同的图像拼到一起,并附上图纸和素描。我知道自己缺乏正规训练,因此有些紧张,但没想到设计负责人乔治•哈格里夫斯(George Hargreaves)似乎很欣赏我这种非常规的方式。

We came up with the idea of having four different zones. The visitor would travel through a garden inspired by European hay meadows, then another by north American prairies, another by southern African grasslands and an Asian zone lush with coarse textured plants. I decided to divide each zone up into interweaving strips and fields. I tried to achieve something that looked painterly. It was a complex tapestry of plants and I had to produce many drawings to give the design team a visual of how the planting would look.

我们拿出的方案是把花园划分为四个区域。参观者将首先经过一座欧洲田园式公园,进入另一座北美 大草原式公园,然后来到一座非洲南部大草原式公园,最后进入长满各式纹理粗糙植物的亚洲式公园。我决定把每个区域划分成棋盘状的许多小区域,尝试营造一种 像图画一样的效果。我要通过不同植物的复杂组合来实现这种效果,要出很多图纸,以便让设计团队直观地看到。

The design was completed five years ago and the garden was planted last summer. It is by the main entrance as you come from Stratford across a bridge that spans a tributary of the River Lea. It’s a long, narrow garden: 800m long and 30m wide. It unfolds as you walk through it. You can’t ever see all the garden at any one point. The paths cross at different levels. It’s experiential. There will be waves of one colour then another, then back to a similar colour so that there is continuity and flow through each zone.

设计工作已于5年前完成,公园也已于去年夏天完工。我设计的公园在奥林匹克公园主入口旁边。从 斯特拉福(Stratford)穿过横跨利河(River Lea)支流的小桥,就能到达奥林匹克公园主入口。我设计的花园形状狭长,有800米长,30米宽。景色随参观者脚步所至而一点点呈现。在花园里任何一点 都无法尽览其全貌。园中不同道路不时交汇,错落有致。这是一种体验。在颜色的过渡方面,后一种颜色紧跟前一种颜色出现之后,与前一种颜色类似的另一种颜色 会接着出现,从而在每个区域内营造一种连贯而流动的效果。

I enjoy walking through the garden but ultimately plants will always surprise you. It’s those surprises that help to keep my natural designer’s self-criticism in check. A garden is never finished and it will always take on a life of its own. Most of all I’m pleased to have helped create an urban garden that I hope will last for generations to come.



2012年3月14日 星期三

Chelmsford, Perth and St Asaph win city status for Diamond Jubilee

Three towns win city status for Diamond Jubilee

St Asaph Cathedral St Asaph's Cathedral building dates to the 13th Century

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Chelmsford, Perth and St Asaph are to gain 'city status' to mark this year's Diamond Jubilee.

The towns beat off competition from 22 others across the UK to win the "civic honours" accolade.

The awards were granted by The Queen under the royal prerogative, following advice from ministers.

Events to mark The Queen's 60 years on the throne began last month and come to a head with four days of celebration in the first weekend of June.

The grant of city status is purely honorific and confers no additional powers, functions or funding.

Local authorities were invited last year to submit bids for their towns to take on city status in a process overseen by the deputy prime minister's office.

The winners are Chelmsford in Essex, Perth in Perthshire and St Asaph in Denbighshire.

'High quality'

Only one title was expected to be awarded but the government said the awards to towns in England, Scotland and Wales were made "in recognition of the significance of every part of the UK" in Jubilee year, as well as the "high quality" of the bids submitted.

Chelmsford, home to Essex County cricket team and Anglia Ruskin University, is one of the fast-growing towns in the south-east of England.

The leader of Chelmsford Council, Roy Whitehead, said he was delighted with the announcement, which he called a "tremendous honour".

Start Quote

I hope the competition has given the residents of all the places which applied a sense of civic pride”

Nick Clegg Deputy Prime Minister

Perth, on the banks of the River Tay, is the largest town in Scotland and its residents include Harry Potter author JK Rowling. It will become Scotland's seventh city.

Pete Wishart, the SNP MP for Perth and North Perthshire, said the award was "fantastic news".

St Asaph, which has a population of about 3,500, will become one of the smallest cities in the UK.

It is one of the few towns in the UK with a cathedral never to have had city status and it also played an important role in the history of the Welsh language. The priest who translated the bible into Welsh, William Morgan, later became the bishop of St Asaph.

In recent times, it is more popularly known as the birthplace of Liverpool striker Ian Rush.

The current Bishop of St Asaph, Rt Rev Dr Gregory Cameron, said he was pleased "these decisions are made not on the size of the population but on the quality of community life".

St Asaph was chosen ahead of Wrexham, a much larger town in north Wales.

The other unsuccessful towns which entered the 2012 contest were: Bolton, Bournemouth, Colchester, Coleraine, Corby, Craigavon, Croydon, Doncaster, Dorchester, Dudley, Gateshead, Goole, Luton, Medway, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Reading, Southend, St Austell, Stockport and Tower Hamlets.

'Civic pride'

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the three towns had won out from an "exceptional" field of entrants.

"I have been moved by the pride and passion which people have shown in putting their nominations forward," he said.

"The standard of application was very high and those who missed out should not be downhearted. I hope the competition has given the residents of all the places which applied a sense of civic pride, of collective ownership and community spirit."

There are currently 66 cities in the UK. City status is rarely granted, with only 14 new cities created during the 20th century.

In the last contest - held in 2002 for the Queen's Golden Jubilee - Preston, Newry, Lisburn and Newport were among the winners. In 2000, Brighton and Hove, Inverness and Wolverhampton were given the status to mark the new millennium.

The government also announced on Wednesday that the right to use the title of Lord Mayor will be bestowed on the city of Armagh in Northern Ireland. It was chosen ahead of 11 other cities.

Activists' pressure 'slowing animal imports'

Activists' pressure 'slowing animal imports'

Mouse on a microscope Every year some 15,000 animals - mostly mice - are shipped into the UK for research

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Some leading scientists are warning pressure from animal rights activists is reducing the number of animals being brought into Britain for research.

All ferry companies and all but two airlines have stopped importing animals destined for research laboratories.

Former science minister Lord Drayson said that without such research "it is not possible to develop new medicines".

But animal rights group Peta said 90% of drugs that passed animal trials failed when given to people.

Every year some 15,000 animals - mostly mice - are shipped in from abroad - usually because they have particular traits that make them useful for the study of certain conditions. They account for 1% of the animals used in UK laboratories.

Lord Drayson, who was a minister under the last Labour government, said animal research was "regrettably" necessary and that people would "suffer and die" without it.

"If we do want to have access to medicines, and I believe that we do - more than 87% of the general public consistently over the last 10 years in polling have said that they support animal research for medical uses. And so unfortunately we do have to do this."

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Our problem is they can't be put in a suitable transport and just driven from country to country because we have the Channel in the way”

Dominic Wells Royal Veterinary College

However, Alistair Currie from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) said researchers should work harder to come up with alternatives to animal testing.

"More than 90% of drugs that pass trials in animals fail when they're given to people," he said.

"They either prove to be unsafe or simply ineffective.

"And what we're actually seeing at the moment is over the last 15 years or so the number of animals tested is going up but the number of drugs coming out at the other end are actually going down."

The BBC's Tom Fielden says animal rights campaigners have been jailed for taking direct action against laboratories in the past and more recently have focused on creating bad PR.

He says this has included letter-writing and web-based campaigns against transport companies, which appear to have had an effect.

'Collaborative research'

BBC science editor David Shukman says the move by transport companies is a potentially serious blow to Britain's standing as a major centre of research into serious diseases.

Our correspondent says the two airlines still carrying live animals use circuitous routes that make the journeys longer.

He says until now this has all been kept secret.

But the scientists who depend on the animals for their work have now decided to speak out, to try to persuade the government and the transport companies to stand up to the campaigners.

Rhesus macaques Macaques are among the primates most often used in medical research, such as on HIV vaccines

Professor Robin Lovell-Badge, a geneticist at the National Institute for Medical Research, told the BBC it was vital scientists were able to import animals, so they could collaborate with colleagues abroad.

"That's very important - that you work with the same, try to understand, the same animal. This can be for assay development, where you need to have the same animal to test drugs and to compare drugs with other people working in other countries.

"And there are also cases where it's not cost effective for there to be lots of little animal breeding companies - so you'll have one big, very well maintained animal breeding company outside of the UK."

Dominic Wells of the Royal Veterinary College agreed.

"It's now getting to the point where enough companies have been intimidated and have refused to transport animals that we can see a potential worldwide impact of having problems of transporting animals between labs that will massively impact on the collaborative nature of research and will slow research progress," he said.

"Our problem is they can't be put in a suitable transport and just driven from country to country because we have the Channel in the way.

"And so with the blockade that is rapidly developing we're essentially going to be isolated from the rest of Europe and that's will have a huge impact on UK competitiveness and the very good work that is done in an awful lot of UK labs."