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19 Nov 2002 : Column 95Wcontinued
(3) how many car parking spaces are available to (a) employees of his Department and (b) visitors to his Department within the proposed central London road user charging zone. 
Ruth Kelly: The Treasury has 46 car parking spaces, which are available for employees and visitors according to need. It reimburses staff for reasonable expenses legitimately incurred on official business. The scheme is not expected to make any detectable difference to the total amount paid. No numerical estimate of the cost has been made.
Mr. Lilley: To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer what impact he estimates the inflow of immigrants to this country will have on the levels of pay of (a) unskilled and (b) semi-skilled workers. 
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immigration did not change the skill composition of the labour force or productivity, it should have no lasting effect on either absolute or relative rates of pay.
Nevertheless research in the UK suggests that, if anything, migrants have had a positive impact on the wage levels of native workers among both groups. Migrants have contributed to economic growth, productivity and the public finances. Work-related immigration schemes in the UK are targeted to meet the needs of sectors where there are skills and labour shortages (for example the seasonal agricultural workers scheme), and are developed in conjunction with both sides of industry.
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many car parking spaces are available to (a) employees of his Department and (b) visitors to his Department within the proposed Central London Road User Charging Zone. 
Peter Hain: All civil servants are responsible for payment of their own every day home to office travel costs. The introduction of a Central London Road User charge will not affect this basic condition of service. However, staff on official business who are required to drive their own vehicles, or hire vehicles, within the charging zone will be reimbursed for any charge they incur.
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the estimated cost is to his Department of the Central London Road User Charging Scheme for (a) 17 February 2003 to 31 March 2003, and (b) 1 April 2003 to 31 March 2004. 
Peter Hain: Any additional costs to my Department as a result of the congestion charging scheme will be just one element within wider costs which have to be met from budgets for official travelling and other costs.
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what percentage of NHS funded abortions occurred within (a) 9 weeks, (b) 912 weeks and (c) 1319 weeks gestation of pregnancy in each of the last five years, broken down by authority of residence in England and Wales; 
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Information on how long a patient had to wait between referral and an abortion is not collected centrally. As part of the sexual health and HIV strategy implementation action plan, the Department will be developing an abortion waiting time performance indicator and undertaking an audit of abortion waiting times and commissioning policies. From 2003, primary care trusts (PCTs) will work towards the national standard that women who meet the legal requirements should have access to an abortion within three weeks of the first appointment with referring doctor. #1 million is being allocated to a number of PCTs this financial year to help improve access to abortion services and reduce waiting times.
Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the adoption of children by homosexual couples; what assessment he has made of research into whether it provides a stable foundation for the raising of children; and what assessment he has made of possible gender confusion in children that are adopted by homosexual couples. 
Jacqui Smith: The Adoption and Children Act 2002, which amends the Adoption Act 1976, provides that those who will be eligible to apply to adopt in the future are married couples, single people and two people (whether of different sexes or the same sex) living as partners in an enduring family relationship.
Under the existing Adoption Act 1976, single people adopt, regardless of sexual orientation, but only married couples may adopt jointly. It is open for one umarried partner to adopt a child and for the other to obtain parental responsibility by applying for a residence order in respect of the child. This denies the child the permanence and security of having two parents.
Enabling unmarried couples to apply to adopt jointly will widen the pool of potential adoptive parents, thereby ensuring that more vulnerable children will have the chance of the family life that adoption can bring. It will also allow the child to have a legal relationship with both parents, rather than just one, and therefore will increase the stability and security for the child.
In order to be approved as adoptive parents, any couple is required to undergo a stringent assessment process carried out by an adoption agency over a period of several months. The assessment process will include rigorous scrutiny of the stability of the relationship and their suitability to bring up children in that they can provide a loving family environment for a child. Ultimately the court will decide whether or not to make the adoption order.
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Recognising the strongly held views for and against same-sex parenting, the Government has sought to draw conclusions from the various studies, which have been conducted and published in academic journals.
A number of studies have examined gender-role behaviour among children of lesbian mothers. The studies did not find any differences between children of lesbian and heterosexual mothers in toy preferences, activities, interests or occupational choices relevant to sex-role conventions. Details of the studies cited may be found in the letter from my noble Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath) to Lord Brennan of 20 June 2002, copies of which are available in the House of Commons Library.
The Government's objective through changing the law to allow unmarried couples to adopt jointly is to increase the number of children who have the opportunity, through adoption, to grow up as part of a loving, stable and permanent family.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Health under what circumstances employers are required to obtain a licence to allow children to take part in a performance; and what the maximum length of time is that a child is allowed to take part in (a) rehearsals and (b) performances (i) per day and (ii) per year, where a licence is required for the child's performance; and what is the minimum number of hours education a child must undergo on school days when taking part in a performance. 
Jacqui Smith: The circumstances governing the issue of child performance licences are contained in the Children (Performances) Regulations 1968. In summary, an employer must obtain a licence for every performance in which a child is to take part unless the child will take part in no more than three performances and neither the child nor anyone on their behalf will receive payment in respect of the performance. The times allowed for a child to take part in a rehearsal or performance varies according to whether the performance is to be broadcast or recorded or not. If the performance is not to be broadcast or recorded, a child may not take part in a rehearsal or performance on more than six days in any period of seven days, nor may she or he take part in any rehearsal or performance if the entire production, including intervals, exceeds three and a half hours or of his or her part or appearances exceeds two and a half hours. She or he may not take part in more than one performance on any school day unless granted absence from school.
There is no limit to the number of days in a year on which a child may perform. This is decided on an individual basis for each child with account being taken of their health, welfare, general wellbeing and education.
|Age of child||Maximum number of hours permitted at the place of performance or rehearsal||Earliest and latest permitted times at that place||Maximum period of continuous performance or rehearsal||Maximum number of hours performance or rehearsal||Minimal intervals for meals and rest||Minimum number of hours education on school days if being privately taught(26)|
|9 or over||9.5||7.00 am to 7.00 pm||1 hour||4 hours||If present at the place of performance or rehearsal for more than four consecutive hours two, one of which must be at least an hour and the other at least 15 minutes. If at present at place of performance or rehearsal for more than eight consecutive hours three, two of which must each be at least an hour and the others at least 15 minutes||3|
|5 but under 9||7.5||9.00 am to 4.30 pm||45 minutes||3 hours||If present at the place of performance or rehearsal for more than three and a half consecutive hours two, one of which must be at least one hour and the other at least 15 minutes. If present at the place of performance or rehearsal for more than eight consecutive hours three, two of which must each be at least an hour and the others at least 15 minutes||3|
|Under 5||5||9.30 am to 4.30 pm||30 minutes||2 hours||Any time during which the child is not taking part in a performance or rehearsal must be used for meals, rest, and recreation|||
(26)The time required for tuition, three hours per normal school day, may be aggregated over a four week period, or if engaged for less than four weeks for that period, provided that a child receives at least six hours tuition per week and no more than five hours in any one day
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Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what (a) statutory regulations and (b) guidelines issued to local authorities cover the granting of licences to employers for child performances; and what the (i) recommended, (ii) average and (iii) range of response times are for local authorities in the granting of licences to employers for child performances were in the last year for which figures are available. 
Jacqui Smith: The Children (Performances) Regulations 1968, as amended govern the issue of child performance licences. Licences must be issued within 21 days of receipt of a complete application. Figures are not collected centrally on child employment licensing.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent research he has carried out into the current arrangements for licensing child performances; and if he will place copies in the Library. 
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