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Miss McIntosh: To ask the Minister for Women what recent bilateral discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Education and Skills on access to training for women returners to work. 
Ms Hewitt: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Skills and I are both committed to expanding opportunities for women returners. My officials from the Women and Equality Unit consulted with officials in the Department for Education and Skills on the unit's recent successful programme of work taster days for women returners. This programme was aimed at women over 40 who had been on extended career breaks or may have never worked and needed help acquiring skills and information to return to paid employment.
The Government, through their range of new deal programmes and employment service programmes, offer back to work help for women returners. Almost 2.4 million women aged 50 to state pension age are in work and 46 per cent. of women aged 50 and above are learners in formal, informal or workplace settings.
Vernon Coaker: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what guidelines he has sent to local authorities on the procedures for notifying those against whom complaints have been made about excessive noise prior to an investigation being made; and if he will make a statement. 
There is no formal procedure for notifying those against whom complaints have been made about excessive noise prior to an investigation being made. However, the types of noise complaints that local authorities are called upon to investigate vary considerably and not all will be considered by the investigating officer to constitute a statutory nuisance. It is common for complaints to receive at least some investigation before the person or business against whom the complaint is made is approached or advised of its receipt. In some instances this may be because the officer handling the complaint decides to try and witness the noise before determining whether or not it merits further investigation as a potential or actual statutory nuisance. In other circumstances it might actually frustrate the investigation of the noise if the person causing it is alerted in advance.
Some individuals take exception to being approached by a local authority without any effort having been made to establish the credibility of the complaint made against them, others may be upset that they have not been contacted immediately. It is not practicable to set out procedures that will satisfy all situations and it is often best that the most appropriate response to a particular complaint is judged by the case officer in the light of his or her knowledge and experience.
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An example of the procedures adopted by local authorities is contained within the "Nuisance Guidance Note" published by Ellesmere Port and Neston Borough Council on their web site at http:// www.ellesmereport-neston.gov.uk/. This sets out their particular procedures with regard to noise nuisance and envisages cases where the complainant may not wish monitoring visits to start until after a letter has been sent to the person complained about. Otherwise it seems monitoring is carried out before or at the same time as a letter is sent.
In 1997 the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) produced a noise management guide titled "Guidance on the Creation and Maintenance of Effective Noise Management Policies and Practice for Local Authorities and their Officers". This provides guidance to local authorities on best practice and procedures to be adopted when dealing with noise complaints. To reflect the changes in the noise environment within the UK and the availability of new techniques, CIEH and DEFRA have agreed to jointly revise the document over the next nine months. When this becomes available we will circulate it to all local authorities in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and place copies in the House Libraries.
The CIEH guidance is referred to in the Department of the Environment Circular 8/97 dealing with the Noise Act 1996. The Circular provides advice on the investigation of noise complaints but makes it clear that, in the context of that Act,
"the purpose of the initial investigation is to decide whether or not the noise complained of, exceeds, or might exceed, the permitted level . . .".
The Cabinet Office promotes the adoption and use of the Enforcement Concordat by central and local government organisations with an enforcement function (details are available on their web site). To date 96 per cent. of all such organisations have adopted the Enforcement Concordat. Under the heading "Principles of Good Enforcement: Procedures" is included the following:
Where immediate action is considered necessary, an explanation of why such action was required will be given at the time and confirmed in writing in most cases within five working days and, in all cases, within 10 working days."
Complaints about excessive noise in the workplace that might be harmful to the hearing of employees in premises that are regulated by local authorities normally would be taken up immediately with the employer.
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|Region||200102 Expenditure||200203 Budget|
|Yorkshire and Humberside||19,346||23,593|
Funding covers measures and interventions under a range of programmes: the Crime Reduction Programme, Safer Communities Initiative, Communities Against Drugs, Partnership Development Fund (interim allocation for 200203), Security for Small Retailers in Deprived Areas.
Crime Reduction Directors also work with their colleagues in the Government offices for the regions and the National Assembly for Wales to ensure that crime reduction is reflected in the delivery of other Departments' programmes. Total funds spent on combating crime in the regions go wider than those administered through Regional Crime Directors.
The following table sets out the amounts spent by regional crime reduction directors on specific business, (including retail) crime reduction initiatives in 200102 and shows these as a proportion of their total spending on crime reduction initiatives. These figures do not include funding spent on non-specific schemes, such as town centre closed circuit television, which will usually benefit
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businesses in the areas where they operate and which will often have been identified as a priority in consultation with the business community.
|Region||Spend on business crime, including retail crime, projects in 200102 (£)||Column 2 as a proportion of annual spending of regional crime reduction directors in 200102 (percentage)|
|Yorkshire and Humber||325,128||1.7|
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