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The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern): The will of Lord Nelson, made before the battle of Trafalgar, is kept among the public records. It can be examined, and copies can be supplied, at the Public Record Office, Kew. The will is normally made available on microfilm on grounds of preservation, security and ease of access. The original is made available only with the permission of authorised staff of the Public Record Office.
These records are normally made available on microfilm on grounds of preservation, security and ease of access. The originals are, and will continue to be, stored at Kew or at the Office's repository at Hayes, Middlesex.
What licences, permits or passports are issued to members of the public by government departments or agencies and which incorporate a personal identification number.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): There is no generally recognised "personal identification number" used by government departments or agencies, although reference numbers unique to the individual are used in many instances for record keeping purposes. The most widely held existing reference numbers include the National Insurance number, the National Health Service number and the driver number (shown on the driving licence). Passports include a document serial number only.
We have not ruled out the possibility of introducing a securely allocated personal identification number in connection with our plans for a voluntary identity card. In addition, the Green Paper on the electronic delivery of Government services Government Direct (Cm 3438) seeks views on the possibility of individuals using a specific type of Personal Identification Number (PIN) as part of an "electronic signature".
Lady Blatch has asked me to reply to your recent question asking what is the estimated prison population, including persons remanded in custody or held in police cells, at the years ending 31 December 1996 and 31 December 1997.
The prison population as at 29 November 1996 was 58,415. The latest projection, produced in September, indicated that the population might rise to an average of 60,400 in 1997, with seasonal variations throughout the year. The population on 31 December each year is depressed by the Christmas/New Year holidays.
On 31 December 1996 the population is projected to be around 56,000 and on 31 December 1997 the projection is 59,900. The projections are based on current trends but circumstances can change and past experience suggests that it would be unwise to rely too heavily upon the projection.
The Home Secretary has asked me, in the absence of the Director General from the office, to reply to your recent Question about the policy of precluding the release of names and offences of prisoners who have escaped.
The names of prisoners who have escaped from prison in England and Wales are omitted from published details--which also includes the offence and other details about the sentence to avoid prejudicing any subsequent trial.
Baroness Blatch: My right honourable and learned friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department and the United States Ambassador, His Excellency Admiral William J. Crowe Jnr., signed the Protocols of Exchange when they exchanged Instruments of Ratification of the Treaty at a ceremony in London yesterday. The United States Attorney General, Ms Janet Reno, also attended. The Treaty, which entered into force upon the exchange of Instruments of Ratification, continues in force the Drugs Agreement entered into by the United Kingdom with the United States of America in 1988 and provides a binding framework within which the United Kingdom and the United States of America may provide a full range of mutual legal assistance covering all crimes. The United States of America is one of the United Kingdom's largest and most important mutual legal assistance partners and in the past three years the United Kingdom and the United States of America have jointly handled about four hundred requests for mutual legal assistance. The Treaty is a major step forward in the continuing process of collaboration between our two countries in the fight against serious and international crime.
Baroness Blatch: The Asylum and Immigration Act 1996 (Commencement No. 3 and Transitional Provisions) Order 1996 brings Section 8 of the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996 into force on 27th January 1997. The order makes clear that Section 8 will not apply to any employment which began before that date.
A further order will be laid shortly which will specify the documents which will provide an employer with a defence; state how copies or other records of such documents are to be made; and specify other conditions which may be satisfied if an employee is to be employed without the commission of an offence.
Written guidance about Section 8 will be sent direct to over 1.1 million employers during December. The first copies are being sent out today; all employers should expect to have received a copy before Christmas. The guidance will also be available on the Internet World Wide Web at address http://www.open.gov.uk/home-off/ind.htm. Copies of the guidance have been placed in the Library.
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