§ Mr. Barry Field
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the minimum age requirements enforced by his Department. 
§ Mr. Howard
The Home Office is responsible for legislation which sets various minimum age requirements covering firearms, gambling, liquor, sexual consent, supply of videos, access to cinemas and other matters, marriage, elections, nationality and aspects of the criminal law relating to juveniles. Readily available information on existing statutory provisions is set out in the table.
In each case, criminal offences are not themselves enforced by the Home Office.
Subject Age Details of legal requirement Firearms 17 Minimum age under the Firearms Acts to purchase or hire a rifle, pistol, revolver, high-powered air gun, shotgun or airgun or ammunition for such a firearm; or to have an air weapon in a public place (with various exceptions). 15 Minimum age under the Firearms Acts to have an assembled shotgun (unless with an adult) or to be given or lent a shotgun or ammunition for it. 14 Minimum age under the Firearms Acts to possess or be given or lent a rifle, pistol, revolver or high-powered airgun (with various exceptions); to be granted a certificate by the police for such a firearm or to have (unless under the supervision of someone 21 or over), or be given, an air weapon or ammunition for it. Gambling 18 Minimum age for participating in betting under the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963; for participating in casino gambling under the Gaming Act 1968; for participating in bingo under the Gaming Act 1968; and for using amusement arcades with all cash amusement-with-prizes machines under the Gaming Act 1968. 16 Minimum age under the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963 for participating in football pools; and for participating in lotteries (excluding the National Lottery) under the Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976. Liquor 18 Minimum age under the Liquor Licensing Act 1964 to purchase alcohol in bars and off-licences; work in a licensed bar (soon to be 16 under current deregulation measure) or to sell alcohol unsupervised in an off-licence. 16 Minimum age under the Liquor Licensing Act 1964 to buy beer or cider with a meal. 14 Minimum age under the Liquor Licensing Act 1964 to be in the bar of licensed premises, unless a children's certificate is in force. Tobacco 16 Minimum age for buying tobacco or tobacco products under the Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act 1991. Intoxicating substances 18 Under the Intoxicating Substances (Supply) Act 1985, it is an offence to supply a substance to a person under 18 knowing or believing that the substance or its fumes are likely to be inhaled for the purposes of causing intoxication. Street trading 17 Minimum age under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 and London Local Authorities Act 1990 for holding a street trading licence or street trading consent.
Subject Age Details of legal requirement Pedlars 17 Minimum age for holding a pedlars certificate under the Pedlars Act 1871. Hypnotism 18 Minimum age to be hypnotised as part of a public performance of hypnotism under the Hypnotism Act 1952. Tattooing 18 Minimum age for having a tattoo under the Tattooing of Minors Act 1969. Sexual consent 18 Minimum age for consent to male homosexual acts under the Sexual Offences Act 1967. 16 Minimum age for consent to heterosexual acts under the Sexual Offences Act 1956 (and de facto to female homosexual acts). Supply of video recordings 18/15/12 Under the Video Recordings Act, videos classified by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) as '12', '15', or '18' may not be supplied to people under those ages. Access to cinema films 18/15/12 Under the Cinemas Act 1985, public cinemas must be under local authority licence which will require them to abide by age restrictions set in the classification certificates issued by the BBFC. Access to licensed sex establishments 18 Minimum age for access to, working in or being granted a licence to run, a sex shop or cinema in local authority areas which have adopted the relevant powers of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982. Indecent photographs 16 Minimum age to be the subject of an indecent photograph (connected offences contained in the Protection of Children Act 1978 and the Criminal Justice Act 1988). Marriage 18 Minimum age for marriage without the consent of a parent, parents or guardian under the Marriage Act 1949, as amended by the Family Law Act 1969. 16 Minimum age for marriage under the Marriage Act 1949, as amended by the Family Law Act 1969. Elections 21 Minimum age to stand for election at Parliamentary, European Parliamentary or local elections, under the Parliamentary Elections Act 1695, the European Parliamentary Elections Act 1978 and the Local Government Act. 18 Minimum age to vote in Parliamentary, European Parliamentary or local elections, under the Representation of the People Act 1983 and the European Parliamentary Elections Act 1978, amended by the Family Law Reform Act 1969. Criminal law and penalties 10 Age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales. (The jurisdiction of the youth court covers 10–17 year olds, though a juvenile may appear in the adult Magistrates' Court if charged with an adult, or in the Crown Court if the offence with which he is charged warrants it.) 10 Minimum age at which fines, compensation orders, bindovers, supervision orders, attendance centre orders and long term detention or detention during Her Majesty's pleasure become available, under the Children and Young Persons Acts 1933 and 1969, and the Criminal Justice Act 1991 (all as amended).
Subject Age Details of legal requirement 12 Minimum age at which secure training order becomes available under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (maximum age 14). [Provisions not yet implemented.] 15 Minimum age at which detention in a Young Offender's Institution becomes available under the Criminal Justice Act 1982, as amended. 16 Minimum age at which probation orders, community service orders, combination orders or curfew orders become available under the Powers of Criminal Courts Act 1973 and the Criminal Justice Act 1991. 18 Minimum age at which custody for life becomes available under the Criminal Justice Act 1982, as amended. Nationality 18 Minimum age for application for naturalisation as a British citizen and for renunciation of British citizenship by single person under the British Nationality Act 1981. 10 Minimum age for application for registration as a British citizen by certain persons born in the UK who did not acquire citizenship at birth and for application for registration as a British citizen by a person born stateless outside the UK but resident in the UK for the past 5 years under the British Nationality Act 1981.
In addition, services for which the Home Office or its Agencies have responsibility set the following minimum age requirements for recruitment:
18 years for appointment as a firefighter (under the Fire Services (Appointment and Promotion) Regulations 1978);
22 years for appointment as a probation officer (under the Probation Rules 1984);
18 years and six months for appointment to a police force (under the Police Regulations 1995);
18 years for appointment as an immigration officer;
16 years for appointment as an assistant immigration officer, and
20 years for appointment as a prison officer (this requirement is under review).