Mr. Douglas Hogg: The United Kingdom will sign the energy charter treaty when it is opened for signature in Lisbon on 17 December. The Under- Secretary of State for Industry and Energy will sign on behalf of the Government. We welcome this very important agreement, which represents the result of lengthy and complex negotiations between 50 countries, including the European Union, the G7, all the states of the former Soviet Union, Western, Eastern and Central Europe, and Australia. We believe that the treaty will make a valuable contribution to the economic reform processes in the economies in transition, as well as improve the conditions for foreign investors in those countries. Details of the treaty were communicated to both Houses in explanatory memoranda on 20 December 1993 and 6 October 1994.
The text of the treaty will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses 21 sitting days before the United Kingdom deposits an instrument of ratification with the depositary of the energy charter treaty, the Government of the Portuguese Republic.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in what circumstances the term wireless telegraphy in the Intelligence Services Act 1994 is taken to include telephone wire tapping.
Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Turkish Government against the prison sentences imposed on eight Kurdish Members of Parliament recently jailed by the Turkish authorities in Istanbul.
Mr. David Davis: Our views were reflected in a statement issued by the German presidency of the EU on 9 December, on behalf of all EU member countries, expressing concern at the harsh prison sentences imposed on these elected members of the Turkish Parliament, and seeking an explanation from the Turkish Government. We await the outcome of the appeal against the sentences we understand will be made.
Miss Lestor: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the role of the international community in strengthening democratic government in Burundi following the recent visit of the Minister for Overseas Development to Burundi.
Mr. Baldry: My noble Friend the Baroness Chalker of Wallasey visited Burundi in August. She made clear our strong support for the efforts of the UN, in particular the UN Secretary-General's special representative, as well as the Organisation for African Unity, in their attempts to promote national reconciliation and stabilise the situation. We continue to do so. We welcome the recent agreement on power sharing and urge all parties in Burundi to continue to look for a lasting solution to the country's problems.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Attorney-General how many parliamentary questions tabled in the last Session of Parliament were not answered on the grounds that the information sought was not held centrally by the Department.
Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Attorney-General if his office contacted officials in the Irish Attorney General's office about the then outstanding warrants for Father Brendan Smyth in September, October and November 1993.
The Attorney-General: I refer the hon. Member to my written replies to the hon. Member for Thurrock of 21 November 1994, Official Report , columns 37 38 , and 28 November 1994, Official Report , column 512 .
Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Attorney-General, pursuant to his answer of 5 December, Official Report , columns 17 18 , if he concurs with the statement contained in the Irish Attorney General's report of 1 December to the Taoiseach in respect of the Brendan Smyth extradition case on the timings of contacts between the United Kingdom authorities and the Irish Attorney General regarding the matter and the conclusions drawn on whether the matter was considered urgent; and if he will make a statement.
In cases such as this, documentation is supplied to the Irish authorities from which they are able to assess the urgency and importance of the case. In so far as the matter is the subject of specific time constraints, it is the practice to draw attention to them.
The Prime Minister: Nineteen per cent. of Members of this House are parliamentary private secretaries or hold ministerial office, which is broadly similar to 1978. The information is a matter of public record.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister (1) if he will list the number of Ministers in the Government by rank currently and in 1978; and if he will explain the reasons for the differences; (2) how many Ministers there are currently in the Cabinet; how many there were in 1978; and what are the reasons for the difference.
The Prime Minister: The information requested is a matter of public record. The reasons for any differences will depend on the reasons for allocations of ministerial portfolios in 1978 by the then Prime Minister, now Lord Callaghan of Cardiff.
Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Prime Minister on how many occasions in the past year his spouse has travelled abroad to accompany him at public expense on public duties; what has been the total cost of this to public funds; on how many occasions such travel has been undertaken at own cost; and what was the destination and the duration of these foreign trips.
Date |Visit --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 13-15 February 1994 |Russian Federation 18-22 September 1994 |Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, South Africa
On both occasions, costs attributed to my wife were minimal because she travelled on charter aircraft and stayed as "Guest of Government" or at residences.
There have been no occasions when such travel was undertaken at own cost.
The Prime Minister: This morning, I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet and had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in this House, I shall be having further meetings later today.
The Prime Minister: The investigation of clothing found in the wreckage of Pan Am flight 103 is the responsibility of my noble and learned Friend the Lord Advocate and Dumfries and Galloway constabulary, acting where necessary in co-operation with the authorities of other countries concerned, which have included Malta and Sweden.
The Prime Minister: As the hon. Member is aware, it would not be appropriate to reveal details of the evidence against the two persons accused of the Lockerbie bombing while criminal charges are pending.
The Prime Minister: As I announced to the House on 23 March, Official Report, columns 259 60, to ensure that security measures and procedures reflect current threats, the Government have recently completed a fundamental review of their arrangements for the management of protective security in Departments and agencies. In the area of personnel security, the review concluded that the vetting process served a worthwhile purpose, not only in disclosing circumstances which might lead to breaches of security but as a deterrent to those who might otherwise seek to undermine that security. The review recommended, however, that there should be a streamlining of the procedures that made up the vetting process. That work has now been completed.
The new framework should ensure that personnel security objectives are properly defined and that responsibility for achieving them is clearly established. There will be a greater emphasis on ensuring that personnel security resources are targeted on, and proportionate to, the threat and add necessarily and cost-effectively to the protection of government assests. Between 1 January and 31 March 1995, the existing arrangements will be replaced by a new personnel security regime which will consist of two levels of vetting, a security check and developed vetting. A security check will be similar to the current PV(S)--positive vetting (secret)-- clearance, but will in addition include a check on the financial status of the individual. Developed vetting will replace the present
PV(TS)--positive vetting (top secret)--and EPV--extended positive vetting-- levels of vetting. The current system of counter terrorist checks will remain unchanged, but will be subject to review.
Column 765As at present, all candidates for security vetting will be asked to complete a security questionnaire which will explain the purpose of the procedure and invite them to provide the personal details required for the necessary checks to be carried out. Vetting will then be carried out on the basis of the statement of policy set out below.
Statement of HM Government's vetting policy
In the interests of national security, safeguarding Parliamentary democracy and maintaining the proper security of the Government's essential activities, it is the policy of HMG that no one should be employed in connection with work the nature of which is vital to the interests of the state who:
is, or has been involved in, or associated with any of the following activities:
--actions intended to overthrow or undermine Parliamentary democracy by political, industrial or violent means; or
is, or has recently been:
--a member of any organisation which has advocated such activities; or
--associated with any organisation, or any of its members in such a way as to raise reasonable doubts about his or reliability; or is susceptible to pressure or improper influence, for example because of current or past conduct; or
has shown dishonesty or lack of integrity which throws doubt upon their reliability; or
has demonstrated behaviour, or is subject to circumstances which may otherwise indicate unreliability.
In accordance with the above policy, Government departments and agencies will carry out a Security Check (SC) on all individuals who require long term, frequent and uncontrolled access to SECRET information or assets. A Security Check may also be applied to staff who are in a position directly or indirectly to bring about the same degree of damage as such individuals or who need access to protectively marked material originating from other countries or international organisations. In some circumstances, where it would not be possible for an individual to make reasonable progress in their career without clearance to SECRET level, it may be applied to candidates for employment whose duties do not, initially, involve such regular access.
An SC clearance will normally consist of:
a check against the National Collection of Criminal Records and relevant departmental and police records;
in accordance with the Security Service Act 1989, where it is necessary to protect national security, or to safeguard the economic well-being of the United Kingdom from threats posed by persons outside the British Islands, a check against Security Service records; and
credit reference checks and where appropriate, a review of personal finances.
In some circumstances further enquiries, including an interview with the subject, may be carried out.
Individuals employed on government work who have long term, frequent and uncontrolled access to TOP SECRET information or assets, will be submitted to the level of vetting clearance known as Developed Vetting (DV). This level of clearance may also be applied to people who are in a position directly or indirectly to cause the same degree of damage as such individuals and in order to satisfy the requirements for access to protectively marked material originating from other countries and international organisations. In addition to a Security Check, a DV will involve:
an interview with the person being vetted; and
references from people who are familiar with the person's character in both the home and work environment. These may be followed up by interviews. Enquiries will not necessarily be confined to to past and present employers and nominated character referees.
Column 766It is also the Government's policy that departments and agencies will carry out Counter Terrorist Checks (CTC) in the interest of national security before anyone can be:
authorised to take up posts which involve proximity to public figures at particular risk of attack by terrorist organisations, or which give access to information or material assessed to be of value to terrorists:
granted unescorted access to certain military, civil and industrial establishments assessed to be at particular risk of attack by a terrorist organisation.
The purpose of such checks is to prevent those who may have connections with terrorist organisations, or who may be vulnerable to pressure from such organisations, from gaining access to certain posts, and in some circumstances, premises, where there is a risk that they could exploit that position to further the aims of a terrorist organisation. A CTC will include a check against Security Service records. Criminal record information may also be taken into account.
Departments and agencies generally assure themselves, through the verification of identity, and written references from previous employers, that potential recruits are reliable and trustworthy. Such Basic Checks (BC) are already standard procedure for many departments and agencies. Where access needs to be granted to Government information or assets at CONFIDENTIAL level, departments, agencies and contractors engaged on government work are required to complete such checks. In some cases, at the CONFIDENTIAL level, where relevant, the Basic Check may be augmented with some of the checks normally carried out for security clearances.
Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister what representations he has had from President Clinton about the showing of the film "Maltese Double Cross" in the White house, Washington, on the morning of Sunday 4 December; and whether he has offered to the White house all evidence pertaining to the Pan Am 103 destruction over Lockerbie in the possession of Her Majesty's Government.
The Prime Minister [holding answer 14 December 1994]: I have received no such representations. The investigation into the Lockerbie bombing has been carried out in conjunction with the United States authorities, with whom all evidence has been shared.
Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how often his Department evaluates the performance of the United Kingdom's permanent representation on the International Civil Aviation Organisation in Montreal.
Mr. Norris: Evaluation is continuous, since the Department is in constant touch with the United Kingdom representative to the ICAO over the representation of the United Kingdom's interests on a variety of aviation subjects. The Department also formally evaluates the
Column 767performance of the United Kingdom representative to the ICAO council using standard annual reporting procedures.
Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what new steps his Department is planning to ensure the more effective representation of United Kingdom interests at the International Civil Aviation Organisation in Montreal.
Mr. Norris: The United Kingdom's permanent staff at ICAO have been successful in representing the United Kingdom's interests in the work of the ICAO council and the Air Navigation Commission, and their work is highly regarded among the international aviation community. In recent months, our United Kingdom representatives have played a major part in influencing ICAO action in the fields of future global air traffic management systems and the oversight of aviation safety.
Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how often senior staff in his Department meet colleagues in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to discuss the work of the Britain's representation at the International Civil Aviation Organisation in Montreal.
Mr. Norris: Staff at all levels meet whenever necessary to discuss aviation issues of common interest which might be, or are being, pursued at ICAO. In particular, the DOT is represented at meetings held twice yearly by the FCO to discuss the United Kingdom's policy interests in the UN specialised agencies, for which ICAO is one.
Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he next plans to visit the International Civil Aviation Organisation in Montreal to evaluate the effectiveness of Britain's presence there.
Mr. Norris: My right hon. Friend has no such plans. Senior officials from my Department are in close touch with our representation at ICAO, and have recently visited it; they report as necessary to me and my ministerial colleagues on issues that arise.
Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) United Kingdom and (b) Canadian staff are employed in the British office supporting United Kingdom membership of the International Civil Aviation Organisation in Montreal.
Mr. Norris: There are four staff in the British office at ICAO in Montreal. Two, the United Kingdom representative and his deputy, the air navigation commissioner, are outposted in Montreal from the Department of Transport in the United Kingdom. The remaining two are locally recruited support staff, one a United Kingdom and the other a Canadian national.
Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what is the annual cost to his Department of the United Kingdom's representation on the International Civil Aviation Organisation in Montreal;
(2) what is the annual cost to his Department of the United Kingdom's representatives' office to the International Civil Aviation Organisation in Montreal.
Mr. Norris: The outturn cost for 1993 94 of the United Kingdom office, including staff pay costs, was some £270,000. All these costs were borne by the United Kingdom Department of Transport; none accrued to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Mr. Watts: The information is not available in the form requested. However, Government support for Network SouthEast in 1993 94, the last year of its operation, amounted to some 36p for every pound the passenger paid.
Mr. Hicks: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what are the criteria used for the designation of trunk roads as A(M): if he will list all trunk roads currently classified as A(M); and what plans he has to upgrade the A38 Exeter-Plymouth trunk road as A38(M).
Mr. Watts: The decisions to build or improve sections of trunk road to motorway standards, thereby attracting motorway style signs and legal requirements, are taken in consideration of the traffic needs of the particular route and the increased safety which results from higher geometric standards. The way in which a motorway standard length would fit into the wider trunk road network is also relevant. Trunk roads currently classified as A(M) are:
A194(M)--near Newcastle upon Tyne
A study of the future needs of the A38 between Exeter and Plymouth is under way which includes consideration of motorway status, but serious problems could arise in upgrading the road to motorway.