Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Life Sentences: Tariffs

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): The present Home Secretary has personally set tariffs for three people who were convicted of murder after he took office. Two of these tariffs were above the judicial recommendations and have been challenged by way of judicial review. Those proceedings have not yet been finally completed.

Tariffs have been set afresh for 170 prisoners who made representations about their original tariffs which were retrospectively disclosed to them following the Doody judgment. The new tariffs remain above either judicial recommendation in 85 of these cases. Four of these have been judicially reviewed. In three cases the tariffs were quashed on procedural grounds and required to be considered afresh; the fourth is still before the courts.

Immigration: Application Forms

Viscount Montgomery of Alamein asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Blatch: The compulsory application forms system introduced on 3rd 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 25th 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 month pilot scheme which demonstrated a clear demand for application forms. During the pilot

15 Oct 1996 : Column WA202

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.

Casinos, Bingo Clubs and Advertising of Commercial Gambling: Report

Baroness Seccombe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the consultation on the deregulation of casinos, bingo clubs and advertising of commercial gambling.

Baroness Blatch: On 27th February this year 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.


The deregulation proposals received general support. On 14th October I laid a draft deregulation order:

    allowing casinos in England and Wales to sell alcohol up to 2 a.m. (3 a.m. in London);

    reducing the waiting period for casino membership from 48 to 24 hours.

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

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

    postal applications for membership;

    group membership;

    limited advertising;

    casino slot machines.

    Permitted areas for casinos

In February we proposed to allow casinos in 13 new locations. The new areas attracted support from their local councils, with the exception of Croydon and Peterborough. I intend to finalise that list in the light of the comments received.

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.

15 Oct 1996 : Column WA203


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 should also like to allow simplified charging in bingo clubs, subject to advice from the Gaming Board following discussions with the industry.


I also plan later in the year to bring forward a measure allowing non-broadcast advertising of betting shops.

Criminal Justice Delays: Review

Viscount St. Davids asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What work is in hand to reduce delay in the criminal justice process.

Baroness Blatch: Following the report of the Royal Commission on criminal justice and the efficiency scrutiny of administrative burdens on the police, efforts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice process have been taken forward by officials from my department, the Lord Chancellor's Department and the Crown Prosecution Service through the Trial Issues Group. Nevertheless, my right honourable friend the Lord Chancellor, my right honourable friend the Attorney-General and I believe that it is now appropriate to explore additional means of reducing the time that it takes to deal with cases. We have therefore set up a review urgently to identify means of expediting the progress of criminal cases from initation to resolution, consistently with the interests of justice. The review will examine the scope for improvements within current structures as well as those which might require new legislation. We expect a report next January.

"Offences of Dishonesty: Money Transfers" Law Commission Report

Lord Campbell of Alloway asked Her Majesty's Government:

    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.

Baroness Blatch: The Law Commission has today published a report, No. 243, Offences of Dishonesty: Money Transfers, in which they examine the implications of the House of Lords judgment in R. v.

15 Oct 1996 : Column WA204

Preddy, building on their earlier work on their report, No. 228, Conspiracy to Defraud. The Government accept the Law Commission's recommendations, and will introduce legislation to give effect to their proposals at the earliest possible opportunity.

UK Passports: Security

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to introduce procedures to enable the passports issued to United Kingdom citizens to be recalled for cancellation on the death of such citizens in order to prevent the improper transfer and use of passports of deceased persons.

Baroness Blatch: No. Security features are incorporated in United Kingdom passports to ensure that any attempts to facilitate their use by another person, through alteration of personal details or substitution of photographs, will be readily apparent on examination of the document.

Prisoners: Identification Numbers

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the computerised prison record system does not provide for externally generated unique identification numbers to be available for use at the point of first arrival of persons received into prison, whether it is planned to introduce such a capability and what is the maximum time under the present system for the local establishment number of a new entrant to a prison to be registered with the central computerised prison record system.

Baroness Blatch: Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Lord Marlesford from the Director General of the Prison Service, Mr. Richard Tilt, dated 1st August 1996.

    Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the use of externally generated unique identification numbers.

    The use of externally generated identification numbers is unlikely to be practicable for a number of reasons. It is unlikely that an externally generated identification number could be given immediately and accurately and we could not be certain that other criminal justice agencies would be willing to release information. Other agencies also may not be able to give a prisoner number if details other than name are not known.

    There are also certain categories of prisoner for whom no other identification number exists, for example foreign nationality prisoners.

    A further technical difficulty of using externally generated numbers is that extensive changes to Prison Service computer programs would be required.

15 Oct 1996 : Column WA205

    In view of these considerations, it is unlikely that the Prison Service would consider identifying prisoners by such a method.

    There is normally no delay in registering an allocated prisoner number onto the computerised prison record system.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page