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23 Feb 2004 : Column 239Wcontinued
Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether it is his policy to permit persons to marry in this country without both parties satisfying the authorities, prior to the marriage ceremony, as to their immigration status; and if he will make a statement. 
Beverley Hughes: In order to marry in the United Kingdom, a couple must demonstrate that they have the legal capacity to marry and are not of a blood relationship. The immigration status of a person is not a legal impediment to them marrying here.
The Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, places a statutory duty on registrars to report to the Home Office those marriages where they have reasonable grounds for suspecting that the marriage will be a sham.
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Last year there were around 2,700 reports of suspicious marriages from registrars. On receipt, the reports are examined to ensure that the suspicions warrant further investigation. If appropriate, the papers are passed to whichever office is in the best position to deal with it. This would normally be the local Immigration Service enforcement office.
Action has led to the successful apprehension of immigration offenders. Several "professional" spouses, and their prospective husbands and wives, have gone to prison for sentences ranging from three to nine months.
Ms Blears: The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis informs me that the number of trained firearms officers is constantly kept under review to ensure that sufficient officers are available to provide an appropriate response and to meet contingencies, perceived risk and anticipated threat levels.
Angela Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps his Department is taking to tackle illegal exploitation of migrant workers; and what steps his Department is taking to improve coordination with the Department of Work and Pensions on this issue. 
Beverley Hughes: We are pursuing our policy of managed migration so that those who want to apply to come and work in the United Kingdom lawfully to meet the country's economic needs can do so on the basis of informed choice and with access to the rights and freedoms available to other workers. In combination, we are strengthening action against illegal working. The Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants) Bill, currently before Parliament, will create a new offence of trafficking for exploitation, including forced labour, with a maximum penalty of 14 years. We intend to strengthen the document checks employers are required to carry out under section 8 of the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996. We have been active tackling issues related to gangmasters and support the objectives set out in the Gangmasters (Licensing) Bill introduced by the hon. Member for West Renfrewshire (Jim Sheridan). We are increasing the number of illegal working operations generally and are targeting organised traffickers under the auspices of the Reflex taskforce.
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Richard Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether it is his Department's policy to make notes of (a) meetings and (b) telephone conversations involving Ministers; and under what circumstances no notes would be made. 
Mr. Blunkett: My Department follows the central "Guidance on the Management of Private Office Papers" which makes clear that good record management procedures are necessary, not least to ensure accountability and provide an audit trail. Among the records covered by the guidance are Ministers' meetings and telephone conversations.
Kevin Brennan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many murder cases were brought to trial in each police force area in England and Wales between 1982 and 2003 which resulted in (a) conviction, (b) acquittal and (c) conviction later overturned on appeal. 
Paul Goggins: The latest figures for England and Wales are given in Home Office Statistical Bulletin number 01/04, "Crime in England and Wales 200203: Supplementary Volume 1: Homicide and Gun Crime", a copy of which is available from the House of Commons Library or internet site: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/hosbpubs1.html
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how he will ensure that links with criminal justice boards, crime reduction partnerships and multi-agency public protection panel arrangements are retained under the arrangements for the National Offender Management Service. 
The details of the National Offender Management Service and its links with Criminal Justice Boards, Crime Reduction Partnerships and Multi Agency Protection Panels will be developed as part of the implementation of the Reducing Crime-Changing Lives reforms.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what lines of accountability will lie between local offender managers and regional offender managers under the arrangements for the National Offender Management Service. 
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Paul Goggins [holding answer 4 February 2004]: The structure of the National Offender Management Service is yet to be finalised. As part of the implementation of the Reducing CrimeChanging Lives reforms the implementation team will consider the lines of accountability between local offender managers and regional offender managers which will be subject to full consultation with staff and unions.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether human resource and finance facilities for probation areas will be provided at regional level under the arrangements for the National Offender Management Service. 
Paul Goggins [holding answer 4 February 2004]: The structure of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), including the human resource and finance facilities, is not yet finalised. The implementation team will work closely with staff and unions to get the structure of NOMS right. No decisions have been made at this stage about changes to numbers terms of service or work locations and there will be full consultation on any proposed changes.
Beverley Hughes: Work permits are not issued to employment agencies and similar businesses for any employment because we wish to ensure that the employer is directly responsible for the duties of the post for which the work permit is issued. Work supplementary to that for which the permit is issued is also subject to this restriction. Overseas nurses are free to use the services of employment agencies and similar types of business to search for further employment opportunities, but it is for the employer, not the agency, that should apply for the work permit.
Mr. Hawkins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the (a) policing and (b) criminal justice implications of the collapse of the London City Bond and Operation Puma cases. 
Caroline Flint [holding answer 12 February 2004]: Her Majesty's Customs and Excise are implementing the recommendations of the report by Mr. Justice Butterfield which reviewed a number of cases including those two. The Government have been reviewing the process for securing prosecutions in organised crime cases generally, and proposals will appear in a consultation document on tackling organised crime which we intend to publish shortly.
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