§ Mr. Sheerman
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps his Department has taken to speed up the process of granting work permits to supply agencies and supply teachers. 
§ Beverley Hughes
The current work permit policy excludes issuing work permits to recruitment agencies, employment agencies and other similar businesses. However, as part of a review of this specific issue, Work Permits UK (WP(UK)) who administer the work permit arrangements, are currently undertaking a formal consultation, which began on 18 March 2002, with customers and stakeholders as to whether the scope of the work permit arrangements should be extended to agencies. The consultation ended on 14 June 2002.
In conjunction with the consultation, WP (UK) are currently piloting a scheme which allows agencies within the education sector, subject to certain criteri, to apply for work permits for teachers. The cases are processed within one day of being received. The results of this pilot will be fed into the formal agency review.
I can assure my hon. Friend that I will give swift consideration to the opinions expressed in the consultation and I am hoping to announce a decision on the outcome by September 2002.