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Work Permits: Doctors

Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many foreign national medical students have had (a) to apply for and (b) to renew their visas or work permits after the completion of their foundation course in order to complete their medical training since the implementation of the new immigration rules in July 2006; and how many such applications have been rejected. [122180]

John Reid: Since 1 July 2006 to date, 734 new work permit applications were received and three refused under the ‘Post-Graduate Doctors and Dentists’ and ‘Medical Training Initiatives’ categories of the work permit arrangements. 15 of these were work permit extension applications which were all approved.

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The figures provided are based upon provisional management information and may be subject to change.

Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the number of non-EEA foreign nationals who will be granted a work permit (a) to work as a doctor in the NHS and (b) to complete their training in each of the next five years. [122190]

John Reid: The work permit arrangements are demand-led and numbers are not determined by the Home Office. It is for NHS trusts to decide how many work permit applications for qualified or trainee doctors they wish to submit in future. All applications received by Work Permits (UK) will be fully assessed against the work permit criteria.

Written Questions

Mr. Benyon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to reply to Question 117755, on immigration, tabled by the hon. Member for Newbury for answer on 30 January. [124349]

Mr. Byrne: I replied to the hon. Member on 27 February 2007, Official Report, column 1224W.

Young Offenders: Foreign Nationals

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many foreign national prisoners aged under 18 were in prisons in England and Wales on 1 December 2006. [119292]

John Reid [holding answer 6 February 2007]: On 30 November 2006, there were 188 foreign national prisoners aged under 18 held in all prison establishments including young offender institutions and juvenile units in England and Wales.

These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems. Although care is taken when processing and analysing the returns, the detail collected is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large-scale recording system, and although shown to the last individual the figures may not be accurate to that level.

Communities and Local Government

Community Development: Children

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department is taking to ensure that consideration of child welfare issues is made when evaluating the benefits of policy proposals on social cohesion. [124190]

Mr. Woolas: In working to reinforce and strengthen community cohesion, the Government are considering the links between cohesion and the needs of a wide range of groups—including children and young people.
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Research has shown a link between deprivation and poor cohesion and has highlighted disparities in health, education and crime outcomes between young people from different communities. One pillar of the Government’s strategy on improving cohesion, “Improving Opportunity, Strengthening Society”, is therefore concerned with tackling disadvantage and inequality, including among children and young people.

Council Tax

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what media evaluation reports her Department has produced on council tax in the last 12 months. [124417]

Ruth Kelly: The Department has not produced any media evaluation reports on council tax during the last 12 months.

Council Tax: Personal Records

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance has been produced for local authorities on the use of personal information held for collecting and administering council tax for purposes other than council tax collection. [124424]

Ruth Kelly: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to her by the Minister for Local Government (Mr. Woolas) of 19 February 2007, Official Report, column 503W.

Housing: Air Pollution

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the merits of defining zero carbon housing as a lifetime carbon measurement. [123804]

Yvette Cooper: In the consultation paper “Building a Greener Future”, a zero carbon home is defined as having, over a year, zero net carbon emissions from all energy use in the home.

Over the lifetime of the home, the net carbon emissions from it will of course depend on the behaviour of the people living there. That is why the Government are also committed to providing people with information on how to reduce carbon emissions from their home through the Energy Saving Trust. The Government will also be launching a web-based CO2 calculator in the next few months which will also give people tailored recommendations on how to reduce emissions from their home.

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what discussions Ministers in her Department have had with colleagues in the (a) Department for Trade and Industry and (b) Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on planned low carbon grid electricity and planning for houses. [123805]

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Yvette Cooper: The proposals set out in the consultation document “Building a Future : Towards Zero Carbon Development”, published by my Department for consultation on 13 December, were worked up in close consultation with other departments, as well as with the house-building industry, local government and other stakeholders. This document seeks views on the Government’s proposals to reduce the carbon footprint of new housing development, as well as on the promotion of renewable energy and low carbon energy supply. Consultation closes on 8 March.

Local Government Executive

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many elected mayors there are in England; and where they are located. [123808]

Mr. Woolas: There are 12 local authority elected mayors in England as follows:

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment her Department has made of the impact of elected mayors. [123809]

Mr. Woolas: The study, “Evaluating Local Governance”, which the Department has commissioned from a team led by the University of Manchester, includes looking at the impact of directly elected mayors. The results, which can be found at:

include a report “Councillors, Officers and Stakeholders in the New Council Constitutions: Findings from the ELG 2005 Sample Survey” which show that mayoral authorities are perceived to be outperforming non-mayoral authorities as regards the effectiveness of local leadership.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether there are plans to increase the number of elected mayors in towns and cities. [123810]

Mr. Woolas: The Government believe that direct elections provide the strongest, most visible and accountable local leadership. We are providing in the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill that it is for a council, or local people through a referendum, to decide whether they want such leadership.

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Local Government Finance: Internet

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government why the Lyons Inquiry into Local Government Funding is included in the list of Government websites to be closed. [124426]

Ruth Kelly: The Lyons Inquiry will publish its final report around the time of the Budget 2007. The Lyons Inquiry website will be accessible until June 2007. After this date, the website will be held by the National Archive for historic and reference purposes and will be accessible at:

Key reports will also be available on both the Communities and Local Government and HM Treasury websites.

Local Government Services: Leisure

Mr. Andy Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she expects to publish the working paper on developing the local government leisure services market. [122976]

Mr. Woolas: We expect to publish the working paper by the end of March 2007.

This is a working paper which was developed in the context of the report published last November, ‘Developing the local government services market to support the long-term strategy for local government’. The overall conclusions from the working paper are already published in that report.

Race Relations Act 1976

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which groups are (a) defined and (b) awaiting determination as (i) racial and (ii) ethnic groups under the Race Relations Act 1976; when the definition of each such group was completed; and what (A) criteria and (B) process were used in determining such definitions. [123464]

Mr. Woolas: The determination of whether a particular group meets the definition of a “racial group” in the Race Relations Act 1976 is a matter for the courts, rather than the Government. We do not possess a comprehensive list of all court rulings relating to all groups, although the hon. Member may wish to refer to the website of the Commission for Racial Equality ( which provides examples of significant cases under the Race Relations Act.

Unitary Councils

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will encourage local authorities seeking unitary status to consult local people in a referendum. [119899]

Mr. Woolas: When preparing their bids, which they have now submitted, it was open to councils to seek the views of local people on their proposals by such means, as they saw fit.

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Those proposals which we believe meet the criteria specified in the Invitation will proceed to stakeholder consultation which we intend to be for a 12-week period from end March to end June 2007. Within this period it will be open to anyone to make representations to the Secretary of State on the proposals.

Trade and Industry

Low Carbon Building Programme

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make it the policy of the Government to promote the installation of low carbon flexible electric heating systems in (a) private homes and (b) public buildings. [119338]

Ian Pearson: I have been asked to reply.

The Government have a range of policies aimed at promoting low carbon products and technologies in both the household and public sectors and encouraging new innovations. These include the energy efficiency commitment, building regulations, the market transformation programme, targets and standards for the public sector and support for the work of the Energy Saving Trust and the Carbon Trust, as well as public engagement activity. Our policy tends to be technology neutral, leaving it to market players to develop the best approaches in a flexible manner. All the carbon abatement policies for these sectors are set out in the Government's Climate Change Programme 2006.

The Energy White Paper due to be published later this spring will provide updated information on the Government's proposals for meeting our future challenging carbon abatement commitments in these sectors.

Minister for Women

Prostitution: Drugs

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what steps she is taking with Ministers in the Department of Health and the Home Office to help prostitutes overcome drug addictions. [124500]

Meg Munn: As a member of the Inter-Ministerial Group on Sexual Offending, I have regular discussions on these issues with colleagues from the Home Office and Department of Health.

A 2004 Home Office study profiled 228 women involved in street-based prostitution and found that 87 per cent. used heroin and 64 per cent., crack cocaine. Anecdotal evidence from Government consultation on prostitution suggested that a high proportion of those involved in street-prostitution use class A drugs.

Drug services are now expected to focus on the client's needs, not just on the misuse of the drug. Treatment services are therefore adopting flexible treatment packages that reflect both the range of drugs used and the complex needs of the drug users, working in partnership with other local agencies to deliver a
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range of support. The Home Office published commissioning guidance for partnerships and providers tackling drug problems associated with prostitution in 2004. This guidance looks at how to reduce the impact problematic drug misuse has on those involved in street prostitution through primary prevention, harm reduction and drug treatment. The Government's coordinated strategy on prostitution builds on this, and also includes proposals for a new rehabilitative penalty for loitering or soliciting, to encourage those involved to tackle the issues that tie them to the streets, including drug addiction.

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