§ Mr. Simon Hughes
To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many GPs completed training and commenced practice in each of the last five years; how many he expects to commence practice in each of the next two years; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Milburn
The available information is shown in the table.
(i) New Joiners in England 1991–1996 Stock New joiners 1991 25,690 1,250 1992 25,970 1,130 1993 26,290 1,130 1994 26,570 1,190 1995 26,700 1,060 1996 26,860 1,2—
GMS database October 1991–1996.
cStock refers to number of GPs (unrestricted principals) at I October. An unrestricted principal is a practitioner who provides the full range of general medical services and whose list is not limited to any particular group of persons.
2The New-Joiners figures are derived from the annual GMS Census and show the number of principals who have started practising as fully qualified GPs in the 12 months between each census.
(ii) Numbers of new joiners in England in 1997 and 1998
No estimates are available on the number of GPs expecting to commence practice in the next two years. Although there were 1,305 trainees in England in General Practice on I October 1996, not all of these will take up immediate appointment as a qualified GP, and some may not take up appointment at all.
§ Mr. Hughes
To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many GPs took maternity leave in each of the last three years; what percentage of them have not yet returned to work afterwards; and if he will make a statement.