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Work Permits

Volume 402: debated on Thursday 3 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which (a) organisations and (b) companies in the UK entertainment industry he consulted on the proposal to introduce charges for work permit applications; and how many of each (i) opposed and (ii) supported the introduction of a flat rate fee for work permits. [106112]

In order to ensure that the consultation was fair, transparent and equitable the organisations and companies consulted were randomly selected from the Work Permits (UK) database and the consultation was also placed on the Work Permits (UK) website as well as the UK Online website. As such, no record of the type of employer consulted was collected. The consultation was conducted according to the Code of Practice on written consultation issued by the Cabinet Office.However, out of the 135 replies in response to the consultation exercise in England, Scotland and Wales, 12 respondents identified themselves as being from the Entertainment and Leisure industry. While only four of those 12 stated the flat rate fee was more appropriate, overall 59 per cent. of the total respondents stated the flat rate fee was appropriate.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many new jobs will be created in the appropriate government department and in the fee handling agency to deal with the new charges for work permits. [106113]

As a direct result of the introduction of charging for work permit applications, I have created 10 full time administrative posts within Work Permits (UK). The duties of these staff include financial reconciliation, accounting, exception reporting and debt recovery, the authorisation of ex-gratia payments, checking deferred and exempt payment types, and preparing inter-departmental transfers of funds.The fee handling agency have created five posts to receive and process the fees, issue payment notices and business letters, and provide reporting information to WP(UK).The number of staff employed by WP(UK) is consonant with their duty to effectively manage and control the fee collection process. The payment handling company have also employed an appropriate level of staff to manage the duties required of them.