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13 Feb 2003 : Column 910Wcontinued
Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to ban the import and sale of (a) replica, (b) blank-firing and (c) deactivated guns. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: We propose to introduce a new offence of possessing an imitation firearm in a public place without lawful authority or reasonable excuse. The police will be able to arrest anybody committing such an offence and to seize the articles involved. Any blank-firing or imitation pistol which can be readily converted to fire live ammunition is already regarded as a prohibited weapon. We have no plans to ban the sale or importation of guns which are not readily converted.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when his Department received notification from the Independent Appellate Tribunal of its decision to reject the Home Office's appeal to the Tribunal in the case of Mrs. T. B. (TH/22817/2001;
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B1010649); when he intends to notify Mrs. T. B.'s representatives of the arrangements for her to collect her visa; and if he will make a statement. 
Beverley Hughes: The Home Office received the Immigration Appellate Tribunal's decision to refuse to grant the Secretary of State's application for Leave to Appeal to the Tribunal on 29 November 2002. The Home Office has now notified the High Commission in Islamabad of the outcome of the appeal. It is now the responsibility of the Entry Clearance Officer to notify Mrs. Begum of any decision to grant in the spirit of the Adjudicator's determination.
I apologise for the delay in notifying the High Commission. This was caused by an administrative error.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish the report from Sussex police in 2002 on the problems with securing murder verdicts for parents or carers accused of murdering their children due to joint enterprise considerations. 
Hilary Benn: I believe the hon. Member is referring to the report produced by Sussex police for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) as part of their recent conference 'which of you did it?' I understand that copies of the Conference Report, including the paper from Sussex police will be available from the NSPCC in the next few weeks and I will arrange for a copy to be placed in the Library.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to change the law for consideration of joint enterprise when pursuing murder cases against parents or carers accused of murdering their own children. 
Hilary Benn: We accept that the law needs to be strengthened so that people jointly accused cannot evade justice by protecting each other. We are considering a number of possibilities in the light of recent work by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and the Law Commission. These possibilities include procedural measures at court but we are also considering whether changes are needed to the substantive law.
Mr. Hawkins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to extend the power to appeal against over-lenient sentences to sentences for burglary. 
Hilary Benn [holding answer 11 February 2003]: We are not looking to legislate for this since primary legislation would not be required, but we are willing to consider whether it would be desirable to add burglary to the Unduly Lenient Sentencing scheme by way of an Order. I have asked my officials to look further into the matter.
This issue has been raised as an amendment in the Courts Bill during Committee Stage, and was debated on 11 February 2003.
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Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many suicides have taken place in prisons in the Greater London area in each of the last three years. 
Hilary Benn: The following table covers the 31 apparently self-inflicted deaths in the last three years.
The general prison population contains a large number of prisoners with a combination of psychiatric disorders, alcohol and drug dependency, family background and relationship problems, histories of self-harm and previous abuse, all of which raise their risk of suicide and self-harm.Good care and support from staff saves many lives but such instances go largely unreported. The Prison Service's approach, in close partnership with other agencies such as the Youth Justice Board, and outside organisations such as Samaritans, is to better identify and support those who seem at greatest risk, with an approach that focuses on staff/prisoner relationships and the physical environment.
The Prison Service is currently developing a new suicide prevention and self-harm reduction policy through a programme of projects that aim to improve pre-reception, reception and induction arrangements; the exchange of information; the care of prisoners; detoxification; prisoners supporting each other, and learning from investigations into deaths in custody.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners are (a) female and (b) male of pensionable age; and what percentage of the total prison population each sex represents. 
Hilary Benn: On 31 December 2002, there were 26 females and 692 males of pensionable age (0.04 per cent. and 0.99 per cent. of the total male and female prison
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the total (a) operational capacity and (b) population of prisons in England and Wales was in each year since 1973. 
Hilary Benn: The information requested is in the following table. The table shows annual figures for population level and useable operational capacity at Prison Service establishments in England and Wales, from 1973 to 2002, where such figures are available.
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|Population||Useable operational capacity|
1. All figures rounded to the nearest hundred.
2. Population and useable operational capacity figures are annual averages. CNA figures are as at 30 June of each year. CNA figures pre-1980 are available only for the December of each year.
3. In-use CNA: the uncrowded capacity of the estate after adjusting for accommodation out of use.
4. Population figures exclude the numbers of prisoners held in police cells during that year. The averages are based on data for the last day of each month.
5. Useable operational capacity: the measure used for long-term estate planning purposes. The maximum number of prisoners the estate could normally hold is up to 2,000 less than the totals certified operational capacity.
Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) men and (b) women held in prisons in England and Wales are serving a life sentence for sexual offences. 
Hilary Benn: The number of male prisoners serving life sentences for sexual offences on 30 November 2002 was 550. There were no female prisoners serving life sentences for sexual offences on 30 November 2002.
Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if it is his policy to remove from the UK students who do not comply with the immigration rules for students visas, particularly with regard to attendance records; and how many students have been removed from the UK in the last 12 months for failing to comply with any requirements based on attendance records. 
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Beverley Hughes: Students are required, under paragraph 57(ii) of the Immigration Rules (HC395), to attend classes regularly for a minimum of 15 hours' organised daytime study per week, unless circumstances such as illness prevent them from doing so.Where a student comes to the attention of the immigration authorities for low or non-attendance, without good reason, their leave would be subject to curtailment and they would be subsequently removed.
A student is permitted to work for a maximum of 20 hours per week in term time, or full time vacation work. Where a student is found to be working but there are doubts about the quantity and quality of study, and it appears that his or her main purpose in being in the United Kingdom is to work rather than to study, administrative removal action may be taken on the grounds that they are not observing a condition attached to their leave.
If it can be established that a person entered the United Kingdom as a student but had no intention of studying, he or she can be treated as an illegal entrant, having gained leave to enter by deception.
Information on the number of student removals is not available.
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