HL Deb 22 July 2004 vol 664 cc87-8WA
Lord Marlesford

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they expect the contract awarded on 24 October 2003 to Anite public sector for the provision of a National Firearms Register to be completed on time; whether, as indicated in the Written Answer by the Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 26 January (WA 8–9), the project is still expected to be operational by 31 August 2004; if not, what are the reasons for such a delay; and what is the cost; and when the project will be operational; and [HL3917]

Which division in the Home Office is responsible for the supervision of the provision of a National Firearms Register as required by Section 39 of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997; and whether the six-year delay in providing this register since the requirement was enacted is satisfactory; and [HL3918]

Which police forces in the United Kingdom have converted their records of licensing of firearms to a form compatible with the National Firearms Register, required by Section 39 of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997; and which police forces have not done so; and [HL3919]

Why they issued the Home Office consultation paper on further controls on firearms before they implemented the requirement of Section 39 of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 to set up a central register of all persons who have applied for and been granted or refused a firearm or shotgun certificate. [HL3920]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal

As the noble Lord is aware, the requirement under Section 39 of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 for a central register of certificate holders is being met through the provision of a National Firearms Licensing Management System (NFLMS). The contract awarded to Anite was for the development of this system with an interface to a national register of certificate holders situated on the police national computer (PNC). I understand from the Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO), which is taking the project forward, that it is expected to be ready for service at the end of August 2004 and to be fully operational by February 2005. The final cost of the project will not be available until then.

Unplanned but essential changes to the user requirements were required to prevent any degradation in the service currently employed by forces. In addition to the additional time needed to test these changes, it was also necessary to extend the rollout schedule to prevent any adverse impact on the "live" PNC service.

Local force records have not yet been converted to form a compatible service with NFLMS. This will be done in accordance with a back records conversion schedule and rollout plan which has been agreed with all forces and will start in September.

The consultation paper issued in May is the first step in our comprehensive review of firearms control and gun laws and will not affect the setting up of a central register of certificate holders.