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Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will enable the formation of panels of local people to help to decide what form unpaid community work should take in their areas. 
Paul Goggins: Local probation areas have always liaised with local communities in order to identify work which can usefully be undertaken by offenders. All areas survey those who benefit work undertaken by offenders to ensure that the nature and quality of the work help develop has met their needs; and they use this feedback to inform future work plans.
With the introduction of the new community order and the unpaid work requirement throughout the Criminal Justice Act 2003, the probation service is moving towards a much more structured approach to eliciting the views of local communities. In the course of February 2005, as part of a nationally co-ordinated Clean-Up" campaign, residents in ten probation areas will be asked to vote on a number of possible projects to be undertaken in their locality. The work will then be undertaken in the order of priority identified by residents.
This desire to take greater account of the views of local people is reflected in the civil renewal strategy currently being developed by the National Offender Management Service. This explores ways in which the confidence of the public in community sentences can be increased. It is crucial that offenders make a visible contribution that can be identified by those in the community who benefit from it. Reparation marques, which indicate that pieces of work have been carried out by offenders, have been distributed across probation areas.
Mr. Browne: Since the introduction of charges on 1 August 2003, we have for the most part been completing 70 per cent. of postal applications within three weeks of receiving them in the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND).
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 normally deal with these within 13 weeks at most. A very small minority which are particularly complex or sensitive may take a little longer.
Those international students who use the Student Batch Scheme through their student advisers have their applications decided within three weeks or earlier. The percentage of Batch Scheme cases decided at the Initial Consideration Stage is much higher than averageapproximately 90 per cent.
Jeff Ennis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prosecutions there have been in (a) South Yorkshire and (b) England of retailers for selling tobacco to under-age children in each of the last five years. 
|Offence description||Statute||Year||England||South Yorkshire PFA|
|Sale of tobacco etc. to persons under 16||Children and Young Persons Act 1933, Sec. 7 as amended by Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act 1991, Sec. 1||1999||112||11|
|Sale of unpackaged cigarettes||Childrens and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act 1991, Sec. 1||1999||3|||
The first formal appraisals were carried out in April 2004. The chief constable of West Mercia took up post in August 2003 and since then he has been subject to the normal cycle of appraisal by Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary for the South of England Region, with review meetings being held periodically throughout the year.
Mr. Browne [holding answer 4 February 2005]: 181,432 work permits were issued in 2004 for single and group applications (this number includes all group members individually). If an application for a group is counted as one application, the number of permits issued in 2004 was 160,279.
Keith Hill: A number of homes created under the Design for Manufacture" (£60,000 home scheme") will be available under the First Time Buyers Initiative (FTBi). The FTBi will release land held in the public sector for the construction of new homes, removing the cost of land purchase and enabling us to offer homes to first time buyers at less than the market price. English Partnerships will lead on the delivery of 15,000 homes to 2010.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister offers a range of other low cost home ownership options, including shared ownership and Homebuy, which we are looking to
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simplify and make fairer. In addition, affordable housing for eligible key workers in London, the South East and Eastern regions is available through the Key Worker Living programme. This £690 million programme provides equity loans, shared ownership, intermediate rented and short term rented accommodation, and will help up to 16,000 people in the three years until March 2007.
Sustainable CommunitiesHomes for All", published on 24 January sets out a wide range of measures to extend home ownership. This includes how the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will help 80,000 people into home ownership by 2010, including through the FTBi and our traditional programmes. It also announces a new Homebuy scheme that will allow tenants of local authorities and housing associations to buy a stake in their home, which can increase over time. Finally, it also proposes changes to the planning system to ensure more affordable housing for key workers and young families in rural areas.
Also, in the longer term, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is considering our response to the Barker Review of Housing Supply in England, which has reinforced the case for housing growth in areas of high demand. Wide-ranging research is currently being carried out into the implications of her recommendations and we plan to consult on proposals for a national market affordability goal in autumn 2005.
Keith Hill: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is currently consulting on national policy for the provision of affordable housing in mixed communities. Planning for Mixed Communities" was launched on 24 January and the consultation period ends on 15 April.
The Government office, with its regional partners, is considering the provision of affordable housing, as part of the reviews of the regional housing and regional spatial strategies for the north-west. The strategies are expected to be with Ministers in May and September respectively this year.
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