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However, her official statement responding to the campaign, in which over 800  ATG subscribers and their friends sent personal messages appealing for the threshold to be raised from €1000 to €3000, appeared to leave room for hope.

"This is not the first time the suggestion has been made, but this response will explain why the Government does not believe the case has yet been made for an adjustment to the threshold," Baroness Wilcox, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, writes.

The statement cites "safeguards" built into the legislation to limit the effect on small businesses. These include the cap of €12,500 on royalties paid, mandatory collective managment of the royalty "greatly reducing the administrative burden of the royalty" and a "bought for stock" exemption.

Despite the refusal to budge in the face of the dealer-led campaign and other evidence put forward over the past few years, the minister has agreed to meet Mr Fairhead to discuss the matter further.

Mr Fairhead, a North London-based dealer in modern art, told ATG that he was disappointed that the hundreds of people who had supported the postcard campaign, which was launched in May 12, would not receive indvidual replies.

They deserved proper individual replies, he said, because "doubtless they approached the problem from a differemt angle and might have made separate comments which required separate answers. My view of the generic response by the government was that it was inadequate to meet this protest by 800 and more angry art dealers".