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Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has for the public protection function of the probation service to be the subject of contestability under the National Offender Management Service structures. 
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether liaison arrangements with magistrates at a local level will continue to be based on the local criminal justice areas after the introduction of the National Offender Management Service. 
Paul Goggins: The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) places great importance on liaison arrangements with magistrates at local criminal justice area level and at individual courts within criminal justice areas. We are consulting on proposals for improved consultative arrangements between NOMS and sentencers at both magistrates' courts and criminal justice area level.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the business risk to the Home Office of the introduction of the National Offender Management Service; and if he will make a statement. 
Paul Goggins: A risk assessment has been carried out on the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) Change Programme. It considered a range of potential risks to the programme and considered the consequences should any such risks occur. The resulting risk register details the actions required to ensure that the consequences of any risk are minimised. These actions are being taken forward by the Directors of NOMS.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether provisions in the proposed Bill on the management of offenders which strengthen the powers of probation boards will be consistent with the latest National Offender Management Service structure blueprint. 
Paul Goggins: As I made clear in the statement I made on 20 July 2004, we are developing the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) within the framework of the existing probation board structure. The measures in the Bill will make small and sensible adjustments to existing legislation. These include setting out the aims of NOMS and establishing sentence planning and review as a core offender management function and a duty of local probation boards.
Although we have started to explore what longer term organisational change might be needed to deliver NOMS in its final state, detailed feasibility work and further consultation will be needed before decisions are made. Creating a 'central spine' of accountability from offender managers to the National Offender Manager is crucial to implementing the Carter reforms and we are now looking at organisational models which will deliver this. We are discussing with the Probation Boards
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Association the changes to the role of Boards which it is likely will be involved, and will continue to be open in planning the "end state" for NOMS.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the model for contestability for the National Offender Management Service will allow (a) the Probation Service, (b) the Prison Service and (c) the voluntary sector to work in (i) competition and (ii) co-operation with each other; and how this model will influence the aim of breaking down the separation of the services. 
Paul Goggins: Contestability within the National Offender Management Service includes both competition and co-operation between sectors. We are keen to encourage all sectors to compete for the delivery of the full range of services for offenders and to increase the number of private companies and voluntary and community bodies involved. The case for co-operation between sectors, for instance through a consortium rests on value for money. When the contestability model is in full operation, we expect to see probation services and prisons within a given region combining to procure services in a way that will improve value for money, drive up quality and achieve consistency of service for offenders in custody and the community.
Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many firearms seized by Nottinghamshire Constabulary during "Operation Stealth" were real firearms subject to Section 5 (1)(aba) of the Firearms Act 1968 (as amended); how many were imitation firearms capable of being readily converted to fire live ammunition as set out in the provisions of Section 1 (1)(a) of the Firearms Act 1982; how many were gas cartridge firearms subject to Section 5 (1)(af) of the Firearms Act 1968 (as amended); how many were imitation firearms; and how many were air weapons. 
Caroline Flint: The information is not available in the form requested. However, I understand from the Nottinghamshire police that since August 2002 a total of 317 guns have been seized during "Operation Stealth", as follows:
|Section 1 handguns||70|
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what (a) financial and (b) other assistance with passport applications will be given to
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people living in remote and peripheral areas when the right to apply by post is removed. 
Mr. Browne: I announced on 21 December 2004 that from late 2006 adults applying for their first passport would need to attend an interview as part of the process of confirming their identity. The initial application may still be made by post and other existing channels, and the right to apply by post will remain for all other passport application types.
The United Kingdom Passport Service is working on detailed proposals for implementing this requirement, including establishing a network of new offices where the interview will be held. While these proposals are not yet finalised, the aim, using a 7080 office model, would be that nearly 97 per cent. of applicants would have an interview office within 20 miles of their home, 2.4 per cent. would be in a 2040 mile radius with only 0.7 per cent. having to travel further than 40 miles. Wherever possible, applicants will be given the flexibility to choose when and where they are interviewed within the network, and we will, as far as practicable, manage office opening hours to suit applicant demand. For those in more remote areas of the UK, we are considering the practicality of mobile facilities or peripatetic staff. We have no plans at present to provide financial assistance.
The previous practice of accepting a short birth certificate as proof of nationality for people born in the United Kingdom on or after 1 January 1983 was vulnerable to false claims of nationality. This was primarily because the short forms of birth certificate do not show details of parentage.
A person born in the UK could enter fictitious details about his/her parents on the passport application form, or a person here unlawfully could attempt to obtain a British passport for a child born here by making a false statement about his/her self. Under the previous requirements these types of false representation were very unlikely to be detected, but could be prevented by the requirement for a full birth certificate to be submitted with the passport application.
David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the completion of questions relating to bank account details on application forms returned in relation to the UK Passport Service's Personal Identification Project affects the application for a passport. 
Bank account details have been collected as part of the pilot scheme identification matrix used to support the processing of passport applications within the Personal Identification Project. Following analysis of the pilot scheme outcomes and feedback, the decision has been made not to request this customer information when the system is deployed nationally in Q3 2005.
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David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the credit reference company Equifax retains the information it receives from passport applicants for use on its databases. 
Mr. Browne: Equifax are currently contracted to the UK Passport Service (UKPS) to provide database services to support the UKPS Personal Identification Project (PIP). During the life of this contract, Equifax retains the data on behalf of the UKPS, but it is contractually excluded from any use, including commercial use, of this information beyond the scope of the UKPS Personal Identity Project.
David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the credit reference company Equifax is allowed to use for commercial gain the information it receives from passport application forms. 
Mr. Browne: Equifax are currently contracted to the UK Passport Agency (UKPA) to provide database services to support the UKPA Personal Identification Project (PIP). Equifax are contractually excluded from using data, for any reason outside the scope of PIP, gathered from passport application forms.
Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the locations in Scotland where the UK Passport Service plans to set up passport offices to meet the new requirements on passport issue announced on 21 December 2004. 
Mr. Browne [holding answer 17 January 2005]: I announced on 21 December 2004 that from late 2006 adults applying for their first passport would need to attend an interview as part of the process of confirming their identity. Applications will continue to be sent in by post and other existing channels and will be processed initially in the present regional passport offices. First time adult applicants will then be invited to make an appointment for an interview. The UK Passport Service (UKPS) is seeking additional premises where interviews may be held. These will generally be small offices dedicated only to carrying out interviews and will not be passport offices offering the full range of UKPS services.
While UKPS proposals are not finalised, the aim, using 70 to 80 offices, is that nearly 97 per cent. of applicants would have an interview office within 20 miles of their home, 2.4 per cent. would be in a 2040 mile radius with only 0.7 per cent. having to travel further than 40 miles. In order to take account of public transport links, the UKPS will be consulting transport planning authorities, including the relevant officials in the Scottish Executive, on possible locations for offices. Initial planning on the 70 to 80 office model has indicated a need, subject to consultation, for 11 new offices in Scotland: three in the borders, two in the central area (in addition to the regional passport office in Glasgow) and six distributed on the east and west coasts. For those in more remote areas, we are considering the practicality of mobile facilities or peripatetic staff.
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