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Ms Blears: I understand that the G8 Summit in 2005 will be held in Scotland. Police costs will be a matter for the Scottish Executive although I understand that the Treasury have agreed that extra funds will be made available by the UK Government to help meet the agreed additional policing costs.
Mr. Browne: Official estimates of the number of illegal immigrants in the United Kingdom do not exist. The Government have commissioned research into the methods used in other countries to estimate the size of their illegal populations in order to define methods appropriate for the UK.
The work required is challenging because, by definition, illegal migrants fall outside of official statistics and are therefore difficult to measure. People illegally present in the UK are also motivated to ensure they remain hidden, which is a challenge to conducting research.
Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on progress with the overhaul of the immigration service recently announced by the Prime Minister. 
Mr. Browne [holding answer 18 June 2004]: To support the "top to bottom" review of the immigration system called for by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary set up managed migration taskforces.
The taskforces work across the whole of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) and with other departments and stakeholders to identify and
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address any areas of abuse of managed migration routes, drawing on intelligence, the experience of front line staff and management information from across the system. In this way, the Department is building on what worked to reduce abuse of the asylum system, in a comprehensive monitoring and reporting framework. This will allow resources to be properly directed to target potential abuse even before problems arise.
To date the student taskforce has visited 401 colleges about which we had suspicions and applications to those institutions clearly found to be bogus are now being refused. A registration scheme is being established for genuine colleges and will be operational by the turn of the year. Once this has been done, student visas will not be issued in respect of colleges not on the register. We are discussing with the education sector how best to implement arrangements for notifying us of overseas students who fail to turn up for, or drop out of, a course.
To tackle the increasing problem of sham marriages being used to circumvent immigration controls, the Government are bringing forward legislation to establish powers to restrict the authorisation of marriages involving foreign nationals from outside the EEA to designated register offices and to introduce a pre-marriage eligibility requirement for such cases. IND officials have already formed a cross governmental joint working group made up of officials from the Offices of the Registrars General for England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the Department of Constitutional Affairs, the Church of England, LACORS, and registrars from across the UK. The Group is working on identifying strengths and weaknesses of current systems and will facilitate the introduction of the aforementioned designated centres.
Based on the analysis and recommendations of the employment and business taskforce, the Sectors Based Scheme quota has been cut for the year beginning 1 June 2004. The Scheme has been reduced from a total of 20,000 to 6,000 in food processing and 9,000 in hospitality. The Government have also announced that the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme quota will be reduced in 2005 by 35 per cent. These cuts reflect the proportion of the previous year's quotas taken up by workers from the accession countries, who are now entitled to come and work in the United Kingdom under the worker's registration scheme. The taskforce is currently consulting on introducing country-specific quotas which will be dependent on countries having satisfactory returns agreements with the UK.
The Government supports these local schemes in various ways: supplying free publications, sponsoring national conferences in 2002 and 2003 and significant amounts of Police and local authority staff time.
The Home Office nevertheless provided the National Neighbourhood Watch Association with exceptional grants totalling £350,000 during 2003. Following an audit of the National Neighbourhood Watch Association's finances, and taking account of Government accounting rules, the Home Secretary declined to grant further funds.
Ms Blears [holding answer 9 June 2004]: The Home Office's discussions with the National Neighbourhood Watch Association have focused on the funding for that organisation rather than for the local schemes. We are not aware of any specific proposals from the National Neighbourhood Watch Association in relation to funding for individual Neighbourhood Watch Schemes.
However, the Government support Neighbourhood Watch schemes as a partnership between communities, the police and local authorities in various ways. This includes supplying free publications and training materials, sponsoring national conferences in 2002 and 2003, and significant amounts of Police and local authority staff time.
Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average time taken to process applications was for leave to remain for doctors from overseas on work permits wishing to work in the NHS in the most recent period for which figures are available. 
Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average time taken to process an application was for permit-free postgraduate training status for overseas doctors in training wishing to work and train in the NHS in the most recent period for which figures are available. 
Dr. Evan Harris:
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to reduce the (a) cost to and (b) administrative burden on overseas
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doctors in training of renewing their permit-free postgraduate training status to enable them to work in the NHS. 
Mr. Browne: Overseas doctors here for postgraduate training do not require work permits but must meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules for leave to remain in this capacity. Charging for general leave to remain applications was introduced on 1 August 2003 and individual applicants must pay the requisite fee. The fee is £155 for a postal application and £250 for personal callers who wish to apply at one of the four Public Enquiry Offices.
Fees are set by Treasury rules to recover the full administrative cost entailed in considering applications and no more. We will be reviewing the fee annually and as such consideration will be given to improving the way the charging system is operated and the feasibility of differential charges. We have announced that there would be consultation before any more changes to the fee are made, and the consultation is planned for this autumn.
Since the introduction of charges on 1 August 2003, we have been completing 70 per cent. of postal applications within three weeks of receiving them in the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) and are continuing to do this. We may not be able to complete applications within three weeks of receipt if they need further documents, inquiries or an interview, or if they are complex. We should deal with these within 13 weeks at most. If applicants use the right form, pay the correct fee, provide all the required documents and photographs, and sign and date the form, it will help the chances of their application being completed quickly.
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