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Immigration and Nationality Directorate

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the average time taken by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate to process to completion applications for British citizenship; and if he will make a statement. [23917]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: At 31 December 1997, the Nationality Directorate was taking on average 15.8 months from receipt to completion for Nationality applications.

Working practices and organisation in the Nationality Directorate are currently being looked at internally in order to improve the service to applicants. Next year, the introduction of the Caseworking Programme in the Immigration and Nationality Directorate will produce efficiency savings which will speed up the processing of these applications.

Court Welfare Service

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to review the operation of the Court Welfare Service. [24116]

Ms Quin: Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Production carried out a thematic inspection of the operation of the court welfare service last year, concluding that overall the work was being carried out to a good standard. A copy of the report, which was published in November, is in the Library. I have no present plans to ask the Inspectorate to carry out a further inspection of this aspect of the probation service's work, although we are currently considering it, along with the service's other responsibilities, as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review.

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British Citizenship Applications

Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps the Government is taking to reduce the length of time applicants for British citizenship wait before receiving decisions on their cases. [24291]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Northavon (Mr. Webb) on 17 December 1997, Official Report, column 172.

Performing Animals (Licences)

Mr. Caplin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many licences issued under the Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925 have been cancelled in the last 10 years; [24065]

Mr. George Howarth: Regulation of the use of animals under the Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925 is undertaken by a system of registration, and not by a system of licensing. A person training or exhibiting animals must register with the relevant local authority.

Section 1(2) of the 1925 Act provides that every local authority should keep a register of persons who exhibit or train animals.

Under section 4(2) of the 1925 Act, where a person is convicted of an offence under the Act, or the Protection of Animals Act 1911, the court can order the name of the person to be removed from the register. Information on the number of such removals is not held centrally.

The number of animals listed in the registration documents held by the Home Office, in each of the last 10 years, is as follows:






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Probation Service

Mr. Stringer: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will place in the Library the reports of studies commissioned on the effectiveness of the probation service. [24243]

Ms Quin [holding answer 20 January 1998]: It is our standard practice to place in the Library copies of reports by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation of thematic inspections and inspections of the quality and effectiveness of area probation services. We also place in the Library reports prepared as part of the Home Office Research Programme, an important part of which involves evaluating both the effectiveness of work carried out by probation services, with a view to developing good policy and practice, and the implementation of new policy initiatives involving the probation service, with a view to establishing the extent to which the intended aims are being achieved.

Counterfeit Goods

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many convictions there have been in each year since 1987 for (a) manufacturing and (b) trading in counterfeit goods. [23996]

Mr. Michael: The information held centrally by my office on the number of convictions under the appropriate legislation is given in the table. It does not distinguish offences involving manufacture or trade nor the type of item involved.

It should also be noted that the information is based on returns made by the police to the Home Office and although these include offences where there has been no police involvement, such as those prosecutions instigated by Government Departments (in this case local authority trading standards offices) and private organisations and individuals, the reporting of these types of offence is known to be incomplete.

Information is given for the years 1986, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994 and 1996. To supply further data would be at disproportionate cost.

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Number of offenders convicted for offences associated with counterfeit offences by type of offence, 1986 to 1996
England and Wales

Legislation198619881990199219941996
Indictable offences
Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 which revoked (as from 1 August 1989) the Copyright Act 19562022377747100
Trade Descriptions Act 19881,1331,1711,0821,2261,247852
Trade Marks Act 1994 which repealed (as from 1 October 1994) the Trade Marks Act 1938------2482334
Summary offences
Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 which revoked (as from 1 August 1989) the Copyright Act 19565657n/an/an/a35
Trade Descriptions Act 198865412109
Trade Marks Act 1994 which repealed (as from 1 October 1994) the Trade Marks Act 1938----n/an/an/a8

n/a = Not available.

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Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the value of counterfeit (a) clothing, (b) perfumes and (c) jewellery seized by the police in each year since 1987. [23998]

Mr. Michael: Information relating to the seizure by the police of counterfeit goods is not collated centrally. Neither do the police record information in a form which would enable the information requested to be collated.

Game Licences

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to abolish or modify the current licences to take game. [23857]

Mr. George Howarth [holding answer 20 Janaury 1998]: The purposes of the game laws are to regulate the close seasons and assist in the prevention of poaching. The Government are planning to consult about the effectiveness of the present system of licensing.

Firearms Compensation

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many staff have been deployed to the Firearms Compensation Section; and if he will increase the number in order to accelerate payments under the compensation scheme. [24137]

Mr. Michael: The full staff complement for the Firearms Compensation Section had been set at 52 persons. It was not possible to maintain the initial full complement of 52 staff because of normal staff turnover. Whenever staff of

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the Firearms Compensation Unit leave or move on, it is our policy to replace them as quickly as possible. At present, efforts at recruiting additional staff are in hand as part of a range of measures to deal with the outstanding payments as quickly as possible. Data processing staff are being introduced to help with the initial registration of claims, allowing the existing staff to concentrate more on processing and authorising payments. Overtime is also worked on a regular basis.

Prisoners (Drugs)

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are the total numbers of prisoners who have been found in random tests to have taken (a) cannabis, (b) heroin and (c) other illegal drugs since the tests were first introduced; what percentage of prisoners had taken the drugs in each case; and what changes have taken place in the proportions of the three categories of drugs. [24045]

Mr. George Howarth: Table A shows the total number of random tests and the numbers of prisoners who tested positive for cannabis, the opiates and other drugs in each quarter since the first in which all prisons undertook mandatory drug testing. Laboratory screening does not differentiate between heroin and other opiates, so it is not possible to provide figures for heroin alone. Table B shows the percentage of random tests positive for cannabis, the opiates and other drugs in each quarter. It indicates the changes there have been in positive random test results over time. Figures for October to December 1997 are not yet finalised.

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Table A: Positive random mandatory drug tests, first quarter 1996-97 to second quarter 1997-98

Drug typeApril-June 1996July-September 1996October-December 1996January-March 1997April-June 1997July-September 1997Totals
Cannabis2,7232,7462,9473,0462,9962,49016,948
Opiates6808408387346156184,325
Others(21)3482892743303182591,818
Total tested13,59413,85814,24414,94614,94614,91586,503

(21) The other drugs tested for are; cocaine, methadone, amphetamines, benzodiazepines, barbiturates and, optionally, LSD.


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Table B: Random mandatory drug tests, percentages positive for cannabis, opiates and other drugs
First quarter 1996-97 to second quarter 1997-98

Drug typeApril-June 1996July-September 1996October-December 1996January-March 1997April-June 1997July-September 1997Overall
Cannabis20.019.820.720.420.016.719.6
Opiates5.06.15.94.94.14.15.0
Others(22)2.62.11.92.22.11.72.1

(22) The other drugs tested for are; cocaine, methadone, amphetamines, benzodiazepines, barbiturates and, optionally, LSD.


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Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his estimate of the proportion of illegal drugs discovered in random tests in prisons for which the source was (a) relatives of inmates visiting the prison, (b) others visiting the prison, (c) prison staff and (d) other sources, in the past three years. [24047]

Mr. George Howarth: There are no centrally compiled figures from which such an estimate could be drawn, and obtaining such an estimate could be undertaken only at disproportionate cost.

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