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Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many new gun licences have been issued in England and Wales since 1 January. [40113]

Miss Widdecombe: Statistics on firearm and shotgun licences are collected centrally only on an annual basis. Statistics for 1996 will be published in the spring of 1997.

Sir Michael Sheresby: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many deaths occurred as the result of shooting in which unregistered and illegally held firearms was used during each of the past 10 years; [40322]

Miss Widdecombe: Information as to whether firearms used in offences of homicide are legally held is not at present routinely collected centrally.

However, a special exercise has been recently carried out to find out whether the guns used in homicide were licensed or not.

This covered the years 1992 to 1994, and out of a total of 196 homicides, information was available in 152 cases to show that 22 cases--14 per cent.--involved the use of a legally held firearm. In 5 per cent. of homicides in which the weapons were not legally held by a suspect, the weapons were believed to have been stolen--seven out of 130. For 88 of these offences, however, the police reported that they did not know whether the firearm had been stolen or not.

During the period of the survey, one police officer and one special constable were shot and killed, the firearms being illegally held.

Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many notifiable offences were recorded by the police in which firearms were reported to have been used in Wales in 1995. [40052]

Miss Widdecombe: The information requested is not yet available for 1995, but is due for publication in "Criminal Statistics, England and Wales 1995" on 7 November.


Mr. Spearing: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which bodies have statutory duties for and what statutory bodies have responsibilities for providing emergency assistance to (a) those trapped in vehicles after road accidents, (b) householders or owners of commercial or industrial premises who have been

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subject to unexpected flooding and (c) persons trapped in lifts, when no local assistance is able to release them, giving in each case how the bodies are funded for such activities. [40362]

Mr. Sackville: Under section 1 of the Fire Services Act 1947, a fire authority has a duty to make provision for firefighting purposes, and in particular to secure the services of a fire brigade and equipment in order to meet efficiently all normal requirements. Section 3(1)(e) of the 1947 Act gives a fire authority supplementary powers to employ its brigade for purposes other than firefighting, such as those referred to in the question. The police service has no statutory responsibility or duty as such to provide assistance in respect of such incidents, although it may well do so in practice. The role of the ambulance service is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health. Fire authorities are financed from council tax, national non-domestic rates and revenue support grant.

Ethnic Minorities

Mr. Blunkett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he proposes to make an announcement regarding the future of section 11 funding; which and what percentage of projects currently in operation will be guaranteed funding until March 1998; and if he will make a statement. [40582]

Mr. Kirkhope: We have under active consideration the position regarding further section 11 funding from next April onwards. Although we are not yet in a position to make an announcement, I expect to be able to do so shortly.


Mr. Galbraith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to change the law in relation to betting on the national lottery; and if he will make a statement. [40771]

Mr. Kirkhope: There are no plans at present to change the law in relation to betting on the national lottery.

Mr. Congdon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the outcome of the consultation on the deregulation of casinos, bingo clubs and advertising of commercial gambling. [41077]

Mr. Kirkhope: On 27 February, we went out to consultation on a package of measures to relax certain controls on casinos, bingo clubs and advertising of commercial gambling. This is a general report on the outcome of that consultation and our plans for taking the changes forward. Casinos The deregulation proposals received general support. I have laid a draft deregulation order today for Parliamentary scrutiny;

I also plan to lay a draft order later this year allowing payment by debit cards in casinos and bingo clubs.

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I hope in the next few weeks to publish a consultation document about the precise form of the deregulation orders allowing:

We have also received representations from other areas. I do not think it appropriate to add an unmanageable number or to depart radically from the original proposals, but I am considering the case for some additions. New permitted areas can be implemented by secondary legislation, but I will need to address the resource, timing and other practical implications before any are introduced. I will make my intentions clear in the next few weeks. Bingo There has been a mixed response from inside and outside the industry to the proposals to abolish the demand criterion for bingo licence applications, the requirement to operate as clubs and the 24 hour waiting period for membership. In the light of the representations received I do not propose to proceed with those measures.

I am still assessing the detailed responses to the other proposals affecting bingo clubs. I will give priority to a measure abolishing advertising restrictions and will then examine further the move to three yearly licences. I would also like to allow simplified charging in bingo clubs, subject to advice from the Gaming Board following discussions with the industry. Advertising betting shops I also plan later in the year to bring forward a measure allowing non-broadcast advertising of betting shops.

R v. Preddy

Mr. Congdon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action the Government intend to take to deal with the effect of the judgment of the House of Lords in the case of R v. Preddy. [41078]

Mr. Howard: The Law Commission has today published report No. 243, "Offences of Dishonesty: Money Transfers", in which it examines the implications of the House of Lords judgment in R v. Preddy, building on its earlier work on its report No. 228, "Conspiracy to Defraud". The Government accept the law Commission's recommendations, and will introduce legislation to give effect to its proposals at the earliest possible opportunity.


Mr. Congdon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are his plans for the reintroduction of compulsory application forms for foreign nationals wishing to apply for leave to remain in the United Kingdom following the suspension of the scheme on 6 June. [41079]

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Mr. Kirkhope: The compulsory application forms system introduced on 3 June was suspended after three days following legal challenge. Having heard the arguments, we were persuaded that it was right to make changes and the forms have therefore been revised to take account of the issues raised. Copies of the newly prescribed versions have been placed in the Library. The new forms will be compulsory for applications made on or after 25 November. As before, the scheme does not cover applications under European Community law or applications for asylum.

Application forms are designed to help applicants and to improve efficiency. They set out the basic information that an applicant must provide. The compulsory forms scheme is being introduced following a successful 12 months pilot scheme which demonstrated a clear demand for application forms. During the pilot scheme applicants showed themselves willing and able to use the forms and where forms were used applications were resolved more quickly and the need to make further inquiries was greatly reduced. Application forms benefit the applicant, the immigration system and the taxpayer. They are being introduced in order to demonstrate the high priority the Government attach to a fair and efficient manner of immigration control.

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