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Mr. Corbett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many temporary firearms certificates have been issued by Cheshire Police in each of the past six months to holders of firearms certificates who are awaiting renewals. 
Mr. Corbett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many times in each of the past six months, and for what reason, North Wales police has issued written permission for a named person to possess firearms and ammunition in the name of the authority of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation dealer's certificate No. 116 for the purposes of section 8 of the Firearms Act 1968. 
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Mr. Charles Clarke: Section 8 of the Firearms Act provides that a person carrying on the business of a registered firearms dealer or a servant of any such person may, without holding a certificate, have in his possession, or purchase or acquire, a firearm or ammunition in the ordinary course of that business. The police have no authority to issue 'written permission' for a person to act as a dealer's servant: this is a matter of fact.
We understand that last month North Wales police issued a firearm certificate permitting a new employee of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) to possess firearms and ammunition held by the dealership as a temporary measure while BASC's approval as a target shooting club was being renewed. This is a purely administrative matter, and BASC, North Wales police and the Home Office are not aware of any problems arising from this.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what residency qualificants are operated by the Metropolitan police when considering for recruitment applications; what plans he has to review the qualifications; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Charles Clarke: The nationality requirements for applicants to the police service in England and Wales, including the Metropolitan police, were set out in my reply to my hon. Friend on 14 December 2000, Official Report, column 258W.
Cabinet Office guidance, on which police forces base their policy for carrying out security clearances of applicants, recommends that the normal residency requirement for security clearance is that the applicant has been resident in the United Kingdom for the previous three years. However, if the applicant has spent the previous three years in another country, discretion may be given to undertake overseas security checks where this is possible.
I understand that within the Metropolitan police, following the introduction of the Metropolitan Police Recruitment Taskforce, short periods abroad (i.e. of less than six months), are disregarded. Longer periods are still a matter of concern as counter terrorism checks can be carried out in a meaningful way only where the residency of the person can be confirmed.
To ensure that those candidates who have been broadening their horizons by visiting foreign countries and gaining experience of other cultures are not disadvantaged, a new protocol has been agreed with Special Branch. This protocol states that where a candidate appears suitable in every other respect, but residency is in question, Special Branch will carry out an individual risk assessment which may include a personal interview with the candidate. In appropriate cases, Special Branch will offer clearance for the recruiting process to continue.
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Mr. Charles Clarke: We are currently refining our estimates of the likely cost of operating the Criminal Records Bureau, and thus the cost of carrying out checks. Information as to charges will be announced as soon as possible.
Mr. Charles Clarke: Existing national policy, agreed with the Association of Chief Police Officers, on the conduct of police checks relates to both England and Wales. Similarly, the Criminal Records Bureau, through which such checks will be possible from next summer, will provide a service in both England and Wales.
Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the titles of projects (a) undertaken and (b) completed by the Home Affairs Research and Statistics Directorate in the past six months, indicating which of these have been published; and how their findings have been made available. 
Mr. Straw: The available information taken from the Home Office Research Development and Statistics (RDS) business plan has been included in a table that has been placed in the Library. The RDS Business plan is also published on the Home Office website (www.homeoffice.gov.uk).
In addition to publication, Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate findings are available on the Home Office website and the research is regularly referred to at seminars and conferences.
Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list, for each year since 1995, the number of flights, including helicopter flights, taken by Ministers within his Department for UK and overseas visits; on how many occasions (a) charter flights were used and (b) first and club class tickets obtained; and who accompanied the Ministers on each trip. 
Mr. Straw: Ministers are under a duty to make efficient and cost-effective travel arrangements. This Government have given a commitment to publish an annual list of visits overseas by Cabinet Ministers costing more than £500, as well as an annual figure on spend by all Ministers on overseas visits. The list for 1999-2000 was published on 28 July 2000.
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8. Mr. Bradshaw: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to increase the proportion of common agricultural policy expenditure by him devoted to rural development. 
Mr. Nick Brown: The Government are committed to further enhancing rural development measures: the "second pillar" of the CAP. We announced this commitment on 7 December 1999 with the seven-year, £1.6 billion, England rural development programme. We estimate that, by 2005-06, spending on rural development will have risen to 15 per cent. of total CAP expenditure in the UK. At Community level, we will continue to press for a greater share of EU funding from the second pillar.
Mr. Nick Brown: I intend to publish at the end of January the Government's interim response to the report. Lord Phillips' findings go to the heart of what is good governance, including properly informed policy-making; joined-up Government; best use of advisory committees and expert advice; timely decision-taking; a consistent and proportionate approach to risk management and precaution--especially when dealing with uncertainty; and effective implementation of policy decisions. The report's conclusions also emphasise the need for openness and better communication with the public about scientific knowledge and risk to inform consumer choice.
The interim response will focus on actions already taken on these key themes, as well as addressing how we will deal with the 160 plus detailed lessons that the report identifies. It will form the basis of consultations and discussions, enabling all those interested to contribute to the final response that the Government will make later next year.
In my statement on 26 October, I said that I and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health would commission an independent assessment of current scientific understanding, including emerging findings, of the origins of the BSE epidemic. We have now asked Professor Gabriel Horn to chair this review.
Mr. Worthington: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many cattle, slaughtered as a consequence of the anti-BSE measures, are held in cold stores in the United Kingdom; and at what cost. 
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Ms Quin [holding answer 20 December 2000]: MAFF is funding two research projects which are looking into alternatives to the incineration of cattle slaughtered as a control measure for BSE. These projects are in their early stages and results are not yet available. The first project is looking at the effectiveness of high temperature, pressure and alkali in inactivating the TSE agent; the second is looking at the effect of high pressure steam. Both these projects are using pilot scale apparatus, but could be scaled up for industrial use.
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