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9 Jun 2003 : Column 670W—continued

Prison Drug Strategy

Ms Bridget Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners have had access to treatment and support services on release in the last 12 months; and with what delay on average. [115745]

Paul Goggins: There are currently no comprehensive tracking systems in place to monitor access to community drug treatment and support services for prisoners on release. As part of the Criminal Justice Intervention Programme additional funding is being made available to boost throughcare and aftercare

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services. The Prison Service is working with the Home Office, National Treatment Agency and National Probation Directorate to develop tracking mechanisms.

Sutton Volunteer Bureau

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when Barbara Payton will receive clearance to act as a counter signatory for the Sutton Volunteer Bureau under the provisions of the Police Act 1997. [115833]

Paul Goggins: The Criminal Records Bureau wrote to Mrs Payton on 19 May 2003 and advised her she had now been approved as a Countersignatory for Sutton Borough Volunteer Bureau. A confirmation letter quoting the required Countersignatory reference number was then issued on 22 May 2003.

TETRA

Mr. Tyler: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what representations he has received on behalf of police officers relating to possible health hazards caused by the TETRA mobile phone communication system; [117594]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: We have received several letters from chief police officers and from the Police Federation on health concerns relating to the new TETRA mobile radio system for the police service. We have also received helpful feedback directly from police officers through a series of seminars on TETRA health issues held across the country over the last 10 months.

The Home Office has taken advice from independent experts. The experts concluded that TETRA technology was unlikely to pose a risk to health and recommended further research to address remaining areas of uncertainty. Results from the extensive programme of work we set up in response to those recommendations are now becoming available. No effects of TETRA technology on health have been found so far.

Updates on our TETRA health programme are regularly published on the Home Office web site http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/docs/tetra.html, where interim reports can be found. Full results will be published in due course in scientific journals. The same publication strategy will be adopted for the national health monitoring study of police TETRA users we have recently announced.

Work Permits

Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many in-country work permits were granted in each of the last six months for which figures are available; how many of these were allocated each month to (a) students and (b) people who had recently completed educational courses in the UK; how many were allocated each month to visa nationals; and how many were granted exceptionally to visa nationals. [116057]

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Beverley Hughes [holding answer 3 June 2003]: Work permits are applied for by, and issued to, employers, not individuals. Work permit approvals issued in the last two quarters to employers in respect of visa nationals who were already present in the United Kingdom are as follows:

In-country work permits issued

Number
October 20024,050
November 20023,575
December 20023,086
January 20034,163
February 20033,516
March 20034,140

Work Permits (UK) are unable to provide statistics which would indicate how many of these permits were issued in respect of overseas nationals who were previously present in the United Kingdom for the purposes of study; or for a purpose for which there is no provision under the Immigration Rules to switch into work permit employment and where, consequently, any decision to allow switching to take place would be considered on a discretionary basis outside the Rules.

Youth Offending Teams

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many full-time equivalent inspectors of youth offending teams there are; and what the professional background of each is. [115097]

Paul Goggins: The inspectors of youth offending teams (Yots) comprise, in terms of full-time equivalents, two inspectors from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation, two from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, one from theCommission for Health Improvement, one from the Office for Standards in Education and Employment and two from the Social Services' Inspectorate. These will be complemented by some part-time support from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons, Her Majesty's Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales and the Social Services' Inspectorate for Wales and, for developing the methodology, an independent chartered forensic psychologist.

The inspectors of Yots all hold appropriate qualifications for their professions and they have been selected on the basis of their experience and knowledge of working with Yots. They include three former Yot managers.

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Elections

Mr. Walter: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans he has to grant voting rights to citizens of EEA countries resident in the United Kingdom at local and European elections. [116925]

Yvette Cooper: Under Council Directives 93/109/EC and 94/80/EC, citizens of member states of the European Union (EU) resident in the United Kingdom

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are already able to vote in European parliamentary and local elections in the United Kingdom. All EU member states are also members of the EEA. There are no plans to extend these voting rights to citizens of the member states of the EEA that are not also members of the EU.

Agency Workers

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many agency workers have been employed by the Department in each of the last two years; and at what cost to public funds. [115200]

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Ms Rosie Winterton: My Department has a national contract for the provision of agency workers. Information regarding the number of agency workers provided to my Department under this contract and the associated expenditure is provided in the table.

Information relating to workers employed through other agencies is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

My Department uses agency workers to meet short-term requirements and in areas where it is difficult to recruit and retain staff.

Use of LCD national contract for provision of agency workers

Financial yearEstimated average headcountExpenditure £
2001–02
Lord Chancellor's Department and Associated OfficesNot applicable—did not begin usingcontract until following yearNot applicable—did not begin usingcontract until following year
Court Service—including the Immigration Appellate Authority1702,360,000
2002–03
Lord Chancellor's Department and Associated Offices14276,000
Court Service—including the Immigration Appellate Authority2454,692,000

Census

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans the Department has to review the 100 year closure clause on individual census forms; and if he will make a statement. [115469]

Ms Rosie Winterton: It is Government policy that census returns are closed to public inspection for 100 years. This was restated in the White Paper "The 2001 Census of Population 2001" (Cm 4253) para. 121, March 1999.


Criminal Cases (Payments)

Mr. Gale: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what recent assessment she has made of the effect of payments to those involved in criminal cases by journalists upon the judicial processes; and if she will make a statement. [117814]

Ms Rosie Winterton: In 2002, the Lord Chancellor published a consultation paper proposing to ban payments to witnesses by journalists during criminal proceedings because of the risk they pose to the administration of justice. This followed recommendations by the then National Heritage Select Committee and an inter-departmental working group.

Following the consultation and further discussions, the Press Complaints Commission and other media organisations agreed to change their own codes to achieve this ban. They also agreed to regulate, for the first time, payments to potential witnesses made before criminal proceedings begin but when they are 'likely and foreseeable'. These can only be made when they are demonstrably necessary and in the public interest, for example to expose a crime.

The amended Press Code took effect on 18 March 2003. The Government have said that they will legislate to ban payments should self-regulation prove ineffective.


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