§ Mr. Hancock
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the cost of delays in the national firearms certificate holders register database has been; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Bob Ainsworth
The national firearms certificate holders register is being developed on the police national computer (PNC) by the police information technology organisation (PITO) using its own internal resources. An integral part of the project is to provide a link between the local systems used by forces and the national database on the PNC. The procurement exercise to engage contract support to develop and implement the necessary interfaces failed to provide a satisfactory solution. PITO estimate that the manpower costs associated with this part of the project totalled some £21,000. I understand that PITO have recently issued a non-binding expression of interest for a re-tender to provide a single firearms licensing management system and to build the interface to the PNC. It is unlikely that the register will now be operational before summer 2004 and work is already being developed to achieve that aim.