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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): All individuals detained in an immigration removal centre face administrative removal or deportation. The chief executive of the Border and Immigration Agency outlined in recent letters to the Home Affairs Committee this year the reasons for the time taken before removal and deportation take place. Copies of these letters are available in the Library of the House.
Whether they will continue to regulate international medical graduates entry to the United Kingdom on nationality and not merit, meaning that only those who hold a United Kingdom or European Union passport will be eligible for a work permit; and [HL475]
Whether they have any plans to change the situation whereby international medical graduates with medical degrees from Commonwealth medical schools, recognised by the General Medical Council, can be considered for employment in this country only if they hold a United Kingdom or European Union passport. [HL476]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): International medical graduates (IMGs) who are UK or EEA passport holders have free access to the UK labour market, apart from Romanians and Bulgarians, who still require a work permit.
IMGs not holding UK or EEA passports can currently gain entry to the UK as follows. Those who have taken the foundation course in the UK and need to continue with their postgraduate training can apply for jobs in UK hospitals. The NHS trust will need to apply for a work permit and undertake a recruitment search to ensure that the post could not be filled by a resident worker. This complies with the normal requirements of the work permit arrangements. IMGs may apply to enter the UK under the highly skilled migrant programme (HSMP), as long as they meet the points threshold. Successful HSMP applicants have free access to the UK labour market. The medical training initiative (MTI), which is part of the training and work experience scheme (TWES), offers an additional work permit route for IMGs who may need specific training in a particular area of medical procedures. As this is specific training for the individual doctor, advertising is not appropriate. The period of approval for the MTI is limited to 24 months and requires endorsement by the deanery.
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The UK Government have consistently voiced their opposition to Japanese scientific whaling. The UK's position is that we remain strongly opposed to all lethal whaling, except for some limited subsistence whaling. We do not believe that this lethal research is necessary and consider that a great deal of this information can be obtained by non-lethal means. It is difficult not to conclude that this research is driven primarily by commercial gain rather than science and we have serious reservations as to the scientific value of this research.
Japan plans to take 50 humpback and 50 fin whales this season. The humpback populations targeted by this research belong to small vulnerable
3 Dec 2007 : Column WA169
As in the past, we will consider high-level protest to the Japanese Government following consultation with like-minded anti-whaling countries. Whaling involves an unacceptable level of cruelty and we will remain in the forefront of maintaining the moratorium on commercial whaling and opposing efforts by Japan to undermine this moratorium by so-called scientific whaling.
Lord Davies of Oldham: Full details of the Bank of England loan to Northern Rock are set out in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's letter to the Treasury Select Committee and Public Accounts Committee of 11 October, copies of which are available in the Library, and his Statements of 11 October and 19 November. The loan is secured against high-quality assets, and the Treasury's indemnity to the Bank of England will be triggered only in the event that the Bank is unable to recover its full loan. There is therefore no direct impact on the public finances at this stage.
Whether, when negotiating the terms of the draft European Convention on Access to Official Documents, they will seek to ensure that persons requesting access to official documents are able to challenge violations of the convention in processing their requests, such as administrative silence, or a refusal to receive requests, or the imposition of excessive charges for copying documents; and [HL341]
Whether, when negotiating the terms of the draft European Convention on Access to Official Documents, they will seek to ensure that persons requesting access have a right of appeal to an independent and impartial tribunal or other public authority authorised to give a binding decision; and [HL342]
Whether, when negotiating the terms of the draft European Convention on Access to Official Documents, they will seek to ensure that it prescribes a maximum time limit for answering requests; and [HL343]
Whether, when negotiating the terms of the draft European Convention on Access to Official Documents, they will seek to ensure that exemptions from the right of access are appropriate, necessary and proportionate to the legitimate aims of such exceptions; and [HL344]
Whether, when negotiating the terms of the draft European Convention on Access to Official Documents, they will seek to ensure that it provides a right of access to official documents relating to functions of a public nature performed by private bodies. [HL378]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Government welcome the work that has been carried out by the group of specialists on access to official documents in drawing up a draft convention. The Government are keen that there should be a robust convention along the lines of the Freedom of Information Act, yet moderate enough to gain wide acceptance. Any exemptions from the right of access should be proportionate to the aim of protecting other legitimate rights and interests. The Government are working closely with civil society groups on proposals for an Explanatory Memorandum that will emphasise the principles contained in a convention. These proposals concern: the definition of a public authority; possible limitations to the right of access; the establishment of time limits, including the opportunity to challenge administrative silence; the denial, review and appeal of requests; and proactive disclosure of information. The Government will continue to work closely with these groups to determine how these proposals can be reflected in the Explanatory Memorandum.
Further to the publication of the annual report and accounts for 200607 for the Environment Agency, whether operator and pollution risk appraisals apply to (a) oil terminals; (b) oil distribution depots; (c) warehouses; (d) shopping centres; and (e) supermarkets; and, if not, what environmental risk assessments are made for them, by whom and at what intervals. [HL431]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The Environment Agency's operator and pollution risk appraisal methodology applies to those activities that are permitted under the Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations or licensed under the Waste Management Licensing Regulations.
The operator and pollution risk appraisal methodology does not consider oil terminals, oil distribution depots or warehouses unless these form part of a larger pollution prevention and control installation. It also does not apply to shopping centres or supermarkets, as these activities are not regulated under the Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations or Waste Management Licensing Regulations.
Oil terminals, oil distribution depots and certain warehouses are regulated under the Control of Major Accident Hazard Regulations, if sufficient quantities of hazardous materials are stored. Environment Agency officers assess the environmental risk of these facilities every five years.
The Environment Agency does not directly regulate supermarkets or shopping centres. The agency acts as an adviser and statutory consultee to local planning authorities on flood risks and environmental impacts as part of the planning application process for these facilities.
How many prisoners at HM Young Offender Institution Aylesbury are serving indeterminate public protection sentences; and whether enough places are being provided for these offenders on courses required to satisfy the parole authorities that it is safe to release them. [HL374]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): There are currently 119 IPP-sentenced young offenders held at HM Young Offender Institution Aylesbury. Course availability is prioritised and those with the shortest tariffs are placed first on suitable programmes. Funding is provided for 133 enhanced thinking skills (ETS) and controlling anger (CALM) places and for 16 sex offender treatment programme (SOTP) places per year.
Lord Rooker: The issue of C2K connectivity is being addressed as part of ongoing consultation between the Youth Justice Agency and the Department of Education in relation to the review of education services.
Lord Rooker: A recent independent review of education services within the juvenile justice centre in Bangor, commissioned by the Youth Justice Agency, has recommended that education provision for young people in custody should continue to be provided by the Youth Justice Agency but that closer links should be forged with the Department of Education to inform future provision.
As part of an ongoing programme, the juvenile justice centre is currently undergoing an inspection by the Northern Ireland criminal justice inspectorate. The inspection team includes an inspector from the Department of Education. It will review all aspects of children's rights compliance and Section 75 equality issues. The inspection report is expected to be published in due course.
What proportion of people under 18 who have received custodial sentences over the last five years have been assessed for mental health problems; and, of those, how many were deemed to have such problems. [HL462]
In a study commissioned by the Youth Justice Board (YJB) in 2005, Mental Health Needs and Effectiveness of Provision for Young Offenders in Custody and in the Community (Professor Richard Harrington and Professor Sue Bailey), 31 per cent of young offenders were estimated to have a mental health problem. A copy has been placed in the Library.
A comprehensive health assessment tool has been developed by the department in partnership with the YJB and Her Majesty's Prison Service. This provides a reception screen for first-night arrivals to custodial placements, which is followed by a comprehensive multidisciplinary assessment covering general health, mental health, physical health and substance misuse.
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