§ Harry Cohen
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list all applications of Football League clubs for work permits for foreign players which have been refused in the last 18 months; what the grounds for issuing work permits to overseas footballers are; whether different criteria apply when considering applications from other professions; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Beverley Hughes
The tables provide detail of the numbers of applications received from Premier and Football League Clubs in England and Scotland for overseas players. The information is broken down by season and includes, where applicable, the outcomes of any review panels held. It is not possible to provide detail of the individual applications refused for reasons of confidentiality.
Work permits are issued to international footballers of the highest calibre who are able to make a significant contribution to the development of the UK game at the highest level. A player must have played for his country 813W in at least 75 per cent. of its competitive 'A' team matches for which he was available for selection during the two years preceding the date of the application. Additionally, the player's country must be at or above 70th place in the official FIFA world rankings when averaged over the preceding two years. Where an application does not meet these criteria, the club may seek a review of this decision by an independent review panel of football experts.
The criteria for work permit applications for sportspeople are agreed, sport by sport, in consultation with the respective governing bodies and are reviewed on an annual basis. The criteria which apply to any given sport reflect the stage of development of that sport in the UK and are made public via the Work Permits (UK) website.
Professional football applications for 2002–03 season—summary Number Applications received (England and Scotland) 61 Applications approved 35 Applications refused 25 Applications withdrawn 1 Reviews received 21 Successful reviews 13 Unsuccessful reviews 7 Reviews withdrawn 1 Total approvals 48 Total refusals 12 Total withdrawn 1
Professional football applications for 2003–04 season to 1 September 2003—summary Number Applications received (England and Scotland) 40 Applications approved 23 Applications refused 16 Applications withdrawn 1 Reviews received 14 Successful reviews 11 Unsuccessful reviews 3 Reviews withdrawn — Total approvals 34 Total refusals 5 Total withdrawn 1
No applications were received from League of Wales or Northern Ireland