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3 Nov 2005 : Column 1253W—continued

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what training is obligatory for members of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children's Specialist Investigation Service; [19951]

(2) whether all members of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children's Specialist Investigation Service are trained in appropriate interviewing techniques. [19952]

Maria Eagle: I have been asked to reply.

This is essentially a matter for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). Training requirements for staff are subject to in house" arrangements at the NSPCC and would not fall under the jurisdiction of the DfES. However, there is an expectation that the NSPCC, along with other organisations involved in child protection would follow Government guidance such as Working Together To Safeguard Children" (1999) and Complex Child Abuse Investigations: Inter-Agency Issues" (2002). Local authorities purchasing work from the NSPCC would also need to quality assure that work.


Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, under the fitness for purpose review of police forces in England and Wales, the existing revenue and capital balances of each police authority will be ring-fenced to be spent in the current areas of operation in cases where police forces are amalgamated. [23934]

Hazel Blears: Forces and police authorities have been asked to respond to the challenges set out in Her Majesty's inspectorate of constabulary's review of force structures. Shortlists of options for restructuring were submitted at the end of October and are currently under consideration. Firm proposals for restructuring in each area will be submitted to the Home Secretary by the end
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of December 2005. We shall also consider what accountability mechanisms will need to be in place in a restructured service, including financial issues.

Adam Afriyie: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to increase the amount of time spent by police officers on the beat. [23125]

Hazel Blears: Assigning police officers to foot/car/beat patrol and the duties they undertake is ultimately a matter for chief constables. My Department does work with the police service to reduce the bureaucratic burden and we are making good progress by, for example, cutting nearly 9,000 unnecessary forms; civilianising posts; rolling out the penalty notice for disorder scheme; and ensuring forces have the best scientific and technological support—like video identity parades, electronic fingerprinting and the online Violent and Sex Offender's Register—so that our police spend more time actually in communities, tackling crime and antisocial behaviour and reassuring the public. The Frontline Policing Measure shows that in 2004–05 Thames Valley police officers spent an average of 69.3 per cent. of their time on frontline duties compared with the national average of 64.1 per cent.

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers are suspended for (a) less than three months, (b) more than six months, (c) more than 12 months and (d) more than 24 months, broken down by rank, in each police force in England and Wales; and if he will make a statement. [23702]

Hazel Blears: This information is not collected centrally.

Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what relative importance will be given to (a) respect for regional boundaries and (b) local identity in reaching decisions on re-organised police force areas. [22108]

Hazel Blears: We consider co-terminosity with regional boundaries and local identity as very important features. To support the development of proposals for restructuring, a toolkit and guidance has been sent to all police authorities and police forces to assist them with an evaluation of options. The guidance, which includes a weighting for each of the design criteria for force restructuring (including co-terminosity with regional boundaries and identity), is available on the police reform website at

Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what local consultations he plans to conduct in Worcestershire on the reorganisation of police forces. [22113]

Hazel Blears: I understand both West Mercia Police Authority and the West Mercia chief constable plan to conduct wide ranging consultations within the police force area prior to submitting their proposals for restructuring in December.

Recruitment Agencies

Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many licences were issued to recruitment agencies in the UK to employ immigrant workers in 2004–05. [19046]

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Mr. Sutcliffe: I have been asked to reply.

On 1 May 2004, the Government set up the Workers Registration Scheme (WRS) to regulate access of nationals of the new member states (except Cyprus and Malta) to the labour market and to restrict access to benefits.

The Government are committed to publish data from the Worker Registration Scheme (WRS) on a quarterly basis. The latest quarterly statistics for the period 1 May 2004 to 30 June 2005 were published on 23 August 2005. The next monitoring report will be published at the end of November 2005.

The report states that in total, there were 232,000 applicants to the WRS between 1 May 2004 and 30 June 2005 of whom up to 30 per cent. may have already been in the UK before 1 May 2004. 220,000 of these applicants were issued with Worker Registration certificates and cards.

A copy of the report is available on the IND website:

Most non-EEA nationals coming to the UK for skilled employment require a work permit. Work permits can be issued in any sector, as long as the relevant requirements are met. They are issued for the duration of the post on offer, up to a maximum of five years.

The employer applies to Work Permits (UK) for the work permit on behalf of the migrant. They must show that all the relevant criteria are met. This includes that a genuine vacancy exists which requires the relevant level of skills and that the employer cannot recruit an EEA worker for the role. Work permits can be issued for vacancies in any sector but are not issued to employment agencies.

Since 1995, employment agencies operating in Great Britain no longer require a licence in order to trade. The previous licensing arrangements required by the Employment Agencies Act 1973 were found not to provide an effective control and were repealed in 1995. Only a small percentage of new applicants or licence renewals were rejected and EAS inspectors found breaches of the legislation among those with licences. When the previous licensing arrangements were repealed they were replaced by new powers, which allow the DTI's Employment Agency Standards (EAS) Inspectorate to apply to an employment tribunal to prohibit unsuitable persons from running employment agencies and employment businesses, for periods of up to 10 years. In addition, the EAS Inspectorate can prosecute an agency in a magistrates court, where the court can impose a maximum fine of £5,000 for each offence.

Religious Hatred

Ms Butler: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what definition he uses of religious hatred. [21563]

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Paul Goggins: For the purposes of the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill currently before Parliament religious hatred" means hatred against a group of persons defined by religious belief or lack of religious belief.

This definition does not seek to define what amounts to a religion or religious belief. It will be for the courts to determine whether a religion or belief falls within this definition.



Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many aircraft of each type were (a) withdrawn from active service and (b) mothballed in each of the last three years. [17694]

Mr. Ingram: The numbers of aircraft withdrawn from active service, or placed in storage are listed in the following tables. The figures in the first table include aircraft lost as a result of accidents and operational incidents. The table also includes commercially owned military registered (COMR) aircraft.

'Mothballed" has been taken to mean aircraft placed in storage. As part of normal fleet management, aircraft will be rotated through storage to replace aircraft undergoing repair, maintenance or upgrade programmes.

In compiling the answer it has come to light that aircraft were unintentionally omitted from the table in the previous answer I gave on 21 July 2005, Official Report, column 2125W. These are the Harrier GR7 and Tornado GR4 both in 2004–05 and are now included in the following table.
Aircraft withdrawn from service

Aircraft type2002–032003–042004–05
Sea Harrier898
Harrier T81
Harrier GR71
Harrier T1011
Jaguar GR1 A23
Jaguar T2A13
Canberra T Mk42
Tornado GR118
Tornado GR421
Tornado F3228
Hercules C-130K1
BAe 1461
Jetstream Mkl11
Sea King HAS Mk621
Puma HC Mkl1
Gazelle AH Mkl485
Lynx HAS Mk311
Lynx HMA Mk81
Lynx AH Mk711
Merlin HMA Mkl1
Single Squirrel (COMR)1

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Aircraft placed in storage

Aircraft type2002–032003–042004–05
Harrier T101
Tornado GR48
Jetstream Mk31
Apache AH Mkl1611
Sea King HAS Mk626
Gazelle AH Mkl2811
Lynx HMA Mk811
Lynx AH Mk71
Lynx AH Mk 91
Merlin HMA Mkl4

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