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Interception of Communications

Miss Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many complaints have been investigated

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by the Interception of Communications Tribunal; how many of these investigations detected a breach of the Interception of Communications Act 1985; how much compensation has been paid; and how many staff are employed by the Interception of Communications Tribunal. [12021]

Mr. Howard: The tribunal has investigated 486 complaints since the Interception of Communications Act 1985 came into force on 10 April 1986. On no occasion has the tribunal concluded that there has been a contravention of the Act; the question of compensation has not therefore arisen. The Interception of Communications Tribunal is supported by one member of staff on a part-time basis.

Police Numbers

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his estimate of the increase in police numbers in England and Wales in 1996-97; and if he will make a statement. [12540]

Mr. Maclean: It is for chief constables to decide on the allocation of their resources and the recruitment of officers. On the basis of estimates, chief constables have said that they expect police numbers to increase by around 1,000 in England and Wales in the 12 months ending March 1997. This would deliver a total of about 128,000 officers.

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Mr. Merchant: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his estimate of the numbers of police officers released for operational duties in England and Wales in 1996-97 following civilianisation. [12585]

Mr. Maclean: Chief constables have estimated that between 1 April 1996 and 31 March 1997 an additional 1,151 police officer posts will have been civilianised, enabling those officers to be released for operational duties.


Business Licences

Mrs. Roche: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many different types of business licence currently exist; and if he will list them. [11809]

Mr. Freeman: A total of 365 types of business licences, licensing regimes and registrations are being looked at as part of the Government's review of business licensing. I have placed in the Library of the House a full list of these licences.

Child Care Facilities

Mr. Allen: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what child care facilities are supported by his Department; and who is entitled to use them. [11589]

The Deputy Prime Minister: The child care facilities available within the Departments and agencies, and those entitled to use them, are as follows:

Cabinet Office (OPS)The Westminster holiday play schemeAll staff
Civil Service CollegeWorkplace nurseryPermanent staff, students and private customers
Central Computer and Telecommunication AgencyNone--
Central Office of InformationThe Westminster holiday play schemeAll staff
Property Advisors to the Civil EstateNursery placementAll staff
Security Facilities ExecutiveNone--
The Buying AgencyNone--

Departmental Public Relations Budgets

Mr. Alton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what are the public relations budgets for each Government Department for 1996-97; and what were the equivalent figures in 1993 and 1988. [11502]

Mr. Freeman: The information requested is not held centrally.

Public Appointments

Mr. Alton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many salaried positions are currently within the gift of the Prime Minister and Ministers of the Crown. [11503]

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The Deputy Prime Minister: Information is not held centrally in the form requested. However, "Public Bodies 1996", published by the Cabinet Office, Office of Public Service, shows that as at 1 September 1996, out of a total of 40,056 public appointments, 34,864 were made by HM the Queen or her Ministers. Entries for individual sponsor Departments show which public appointments are remunerated.

Scott Inquiry

Mr. Sykes: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on progress on the Government's response to the recommendations made by Sir Richard Scott following his inquiry into the export of arms and arms-related goods to Iraq. [12443]

Mr. Freeman: Consideration of the Government's response to all recommendations in Sir Richard Scott's report is virtually complete. A summary of the responses is set out in the table.

IssueScott Report sectionAction
(a) Inquiry ProceduresK1Completed--The Government referred Sir Richard Scott's recommendations on public inquiries to the independent Council on Tribunals, following a period of public consultation. The Lord Chancellor, in a statement to the House on 21 November [WA 149] accepted the Council's advice and said that it will be of considerable value when setting up inquiries. Copies of the advice were placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
(b) Export Controls and Licensing ProceduresK2 and K3Continuing--The President of the Board of Trade issued a public consultation document on the power of Government to control strategic exports and licensing procedures on 24 July. It was announced by way of a written Parliamentary answer [WA 481], and copies of the consultation document were placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The closing date for receipt of comments was the end of October. The responses are currently being considered and will form part of the wider consideration by the Government of the way ahead on strategic export controls. The Foreign Secretary announced to the House on 21 January [WA 536-537] the conclusions and recommendations of the Inter-departmental review into the supply of arms of Rwanda. This work will also be taken into account in the further consideration being given to strategic exports controls. The Government is likely to need to undertake further more detailed consultation with directly interested parties as detailed proposals are developed.
(c) Role of Customs and Exercise in Export ControlK4Completed--The Government agreed to increased supervision by the Attorney General of certain Customs and Excise export prosecutions. Details were announced in a written Parliamentary Answer on 17 June [WA 337] and a paper placed in the Libraries of both Houses. On recommendations relating to Customs and Excise legislation and procedures, the Government has accepted these as they stand, or in a few cases, will meet the concerns reflected in an alternative manner. This was announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a written Parliamentary Answer on 4 July, [WA 490] and a paper providing fuller details was placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
(d) Prosecution ProducersK5Completed with the exception of one small aspect--The Government announced by the way of a written Parliamentary Answer on 6 June [WA 554-555] that the concerns raised by Sir Richard Scott would be addressed by the provisions of the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act and the code of practice to be promulgated under the Act. A paper giving fuller details was placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Booklets giving guidance to civil servants and other Crown servants on the procedure to be followed in relation to the disclosure of information relevant to an investigation or prosecution of a criminal offence will be published shortly.
(e) Public Interest ImmunityK6Completed--Following public consultation, the Government announced in the House on 18 December that the division into class and contents claims would no longer be applied by the Government and that public interest immunity would be claimed only when it was believed that disclosure would cause real damage or harm to the public interest [cols. 949-958]. A paper setting out the Government's approach was placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
(f) Use of Intelligence by Government DepartmentsK7Completed--A paper setting out the improvements Government departments have made, or are in the process of making, on the handling of intelligence was sent to the Intelligence and Security Committee on 14 May. The Government awaits the Report of the Committee which is expected to be published early in 1997.
(g) Informing Parliament about Arms SalesK8Completed--Following consultation the Government announced to Parliament on 23 July [WA 212-213] that in future it would answer questions about defence exports as fully as possible. Any exceptions will meet the test in the "Code of Practice on Access to Government Information" that the harm or prejudice which might arise from disclosure outweighs the public interest in making such information available. A paper providing fuller details was placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
(h) Ministerial AccountabilityK8The Government provided a Memorandum to the Public Service Committee on 29 March [HC 313-III], setting out the Government's understanding of the requirements of Ministerial Accountability and the provision of information to Parliament, as part of the Committee's consideration of Ministerial Accountability and Responsibility. Following receipt of the Committee's report, the Government published its response on 7 November [WA 594] reaffirming its commitments to arrangements under which it will remain open and fully accountable. Annexed to the response [HC 67] was "New Guidance to Officials on Drafting Answers to Parliamentary Questions" which makes clear that when information is refused in response to Parliamentary Questions reasons should be given relating to the exemptions laid down in the "Code of Practice on Access to Government Information".

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