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Returning to Work

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. [63081]

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. [70008]

Mr. Meacher: I have been asked to reply.

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:// 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:

In certain circumstances an investigation might necessitate the use of covert surveillance methods, as defined in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). The Home Office Code of Practice on Covert Surveillance provides guidance to public authorities in such cases.

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.

Crime Reduction Directors

Bob Spink: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much has been allocated to each of the 10 regional crime reduction directors. [69816]

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Mr. Denham: I have been asked to reply.

The information is as follows:


Region2001–02 Expenditure2002–03 Budget
East Midlands15,93813,277
North East11,06310,081
North West24,49627,729
South East18,40921,487
South West12,82617,102
West Midlands18,29718,504
Yorkshire and Humberside19,34623,593

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 2002–03), 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.

Retail Crime

Bob Spink: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what proportion of each Government office in the regions' annual spending for 2001–02 was allocated to combating retail crime. [69810]

Bob Spink: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much was spent on retail crime partnerships in each statutory crime and disorder partnership in the financial year 2001–02. [69811]

Mr. Denham: I have been asked to reply.

The following table sets out the amounts spent by regional crime reduction directors on specific business, (including retail) crime reduction initiatives in 2001–02 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.

The Home Office does not record the amounts spent on retail crime partnerships in each of the 376 statutory crime and disorder partnerships.

RegionSpend on business crime, including retail crime, projects in 2001–02 (£)Column 2 as a proportion of annual spending of regional crime reduction directors in 2001–02 (percentage)
East Midlands221,0641.4
North East262,7182.4
North West952,1623.9
South East251,5001.4
South West94,5490.7
West Midlands469,1992.6
Yorkshire and Humber325,1281.7



Keith Vaz: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many magistrates have resigned from the bench since 1 May 1997 other than for reasons of age. [66338]

Yvette Cooper: Between 1 January 1997 and 30 June 2002 6,659 magistrates resigned for reasons other than age.

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