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Written Answers

Volume 691: debated on Monday 23 April 2007

Written Answers

Monday 23 April 2007

Children: Custody

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many children under the age of 18 have been held overnight in police cells in the last 12 months; for how long; and, of these, how many were aged (a) 13; (b) 14; (c) 15; (d) 16; and (e) 17. [HL2539]

Crime: Guns and Knives

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What urgent action they propose to take to tackle the causes of gun and knife crimes; and when they intend to take such action. [HL2830]

We have been undertaking a programme of work on gun and knife crime and gangs issues for some time. On 12 February this year we doubled the maximum sentence for possession of a knife in a public place or school without good reason from two to four years; from 6 April we are implementing a new offence of using someone to mind a weapon; and in May we are giving school staff powers to search pupils for weapons. We will be raising the age at which someone can purchase a knife from 16 to 18 and banning the sale, manufacture and importation of realistic imitation firearms later this year. And we are also clarifying the law to ensure that the minimum sentence for unlawful possession of a prohibited firearm of five years' imprisonment applies to 18 to 20 year-olds as well as to people aged 21 or over.

In March this year we also began a consultation on banning samurai swords and other weapons due to their use in violent crime. Last year, we held a five-week national knife amnesty which resulted in around 90,000 knives and other items being handed in. Alongside the amnesty, police forces undertook robust enforcement action together with educating young people to challenge the knife-carrying mindset.

We are also supporting community work on gun and knife crime. Since May 2004, the Connected Fund has provided grants for small community groups. So far, the fund has supported 300 local groups working on gun crime, knife crime and gangs issues, and allocated about £1.25 million. A further round of funding focusing specifically on gangs issues is under way.

As announced at the Prime Minister's summit on 22 February, our ongoing work will focus on three areas:

Policing—ensuring the police are equipped to tackle gun crime and gangs;

Powers—giving the police and courts the powers to deal with offenders; and

Prevention—empowering communities to take action themselves to prevent gun crime and gang culture, and offering support to parents to challenge their children's behaviour.

The plan includes a review of the relevant legislation on guns, gangs and knives, which will include looking at the sentencing of juveniles.

All our work in this area is being driven forward by the Home Secretary's round table group on guns, gangs and knives which draws its membership from the police, government departments and community organisations.

EU: UK Net Contributions

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answers by Lord Davies of Oldham on 20 March (WA 183), whether the net imbalance of United Kingdom official transactions with the European Union, taking the average over the calendar years 2003, 2004 and 2005, was in excess of £3 billion per year. [HL3271]

Home Office: Response to Select Committee

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why the Home Office has not replied to Lord Grenfell's letter of 18 October 2006, written as chairman of the Select Committee on the European Union, on behalf of Sub-Committee F (Home Affairs). [HL3073]

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Nationality, Citizenship and Immigration replied to Lord Grenfell's letter on 5 April 2007.

National Insurance

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord McKenzie of Luton on 29 March (HL2934), why they do not keep a record of the nationality of those issued with a national insurance number; and whether they plan to do so in future. [HL3130]

Information on the nationality of those issued with a national insurance number is recorded on the NIRS2 system which is run by HMRC. The facility to capture and record nationality on the customer information system came in on 26 March 2007 and will be used in all national insurance numbers allocated from that date.

National Savings and Investments

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How much money is held with National Savings and Investments in accounts which are now dormant; and [HL2816]

What is the value of products sold by National Savings and Investments which are now unclaimed. [HL2817]

National Savings and Investments estimates that there is £993 million of unclaimed money held across all of their products, of which £435.7 million is held in dormant accounts. These figures have been calculated using definitions for unclaimed assets and dormant accounts that were agreed by the Government and the financial services industry and published in the 2005 Pre-Budget Report.


asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will ensure that in future the database of the Identity and Passport Service records whether a person has been issued with a replacement passport and that the circumstances of the first loss will be taken into account in deciding whether to issue a replacement passport in the event of a subsequent application for a replacement passport. [HL2418]

The Identity and Passport Service database is already noted with this information. The circumstances in which passports are refused to British citizens have been announced in Parliament from time to time and do not include refusal on the basis of having previously lost a passport in any circumstances.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What will be the address of the personal passport interview office to be opened in Derby; and [HL3134]

What will be the address of the personal passport interview office to be opened in Aberystwyth; and [HL3135]

What will be the address of the personal passport interview office to be opened in Oxford; and [HL3136]

What will be the address of the personal passport interview office to be opened in Barnstable; and [HL3137]

What will be the address of the personal passport interview office to be opened in Dundee; and [HL3138]

What will be the address of the personal passport interview office to be opened in Maidstone. [HL3139]

IPS has not yet secured premises for passport interview offices in Maidstone, Dundee, Derby, Oxford or Barnstable. In the case of Barnstable, IPS has extended its search to neighbouring towns.

The address of the Aberystwyth passport interview office is: Ground Floor, Northgate House, Northgate Street, Aberystwyth, SY23 2JS.

People Trafficking

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What legislative changes will be needed before ratification of the European convention against trafficking can take place. [HL2376]

Following the signature of the Council of Europe convention on 23 March, we are now beginning to develop details on how implementation will be taken forward.

It will inevitably take some time to move from signature to ratification of the convention. Unlike some of our Council of Europe colleagues the UK will not ratify the convention until all changes to domestic legislation, processes and guidance are in place to ensure that we fully comply with its terms. Officials are currently investigating what changes will be required particularly in relation to Articles 4, 10, 12, 13 and 14 of the convention.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What are the human and financial resources available to the human trafficking unit. [HL2809]

The United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC) currently has 17 full-time staff including staff from the police, Immigration and Nationality Directorate, Crown Prosecution Service and the Serious Organised Crime Agency. The staffing level will rise to 17.5 posts later this month with the arrival of a senior social worker.

In addition to the full-time UKHTC staff, partner organisations such as the Child Exploitation Online Protection Agency and the Revenue and Customs department (HMRC) are embedding relevant key work into their work streams. A member of HMRC now sits on the UKHTC senior management team.

ACPO will be responsible for a budget of over £5 million, used to fund the organisation and its planned growth, and pump-priming anti trafficking activity among local forces.

Young Offender Institutions: Huntercombe

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many young people have arrived at Huntercombe Young Offender Institution in the last six months too late to be seen by a medical professional and to undergo a full first-night interview. [HL2543]

All arrivals are able to see a medical professional regardless of the time they arrive, as 24-hour medical cover has been in place at the establishment since 22 September 2002. The following table shows the number of young people received at Huntercombe in the past six months after 2100 hours, who were too late to undergo a full first-night interview only.


Number of young people arriving after 2100 hrs

October 2006


November 2006


December 2006


January 2007


February 2007


March 2007