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Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the likely costs to his Department in the first quarter of 2005 of compliance with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000; and if he will make a statement. 
Fiona Mactaggart [holding answer 30 November 2004]: The Home Office has made wide-ranging preparations for the full implementation of the Freedom of Information Act. There has been significant work undertaken both in preparation for implementation and also to ensure future resource inputs are reduced where possible. This has included improving Home Office record management systems, which could underpin the office's ability to comply promptly with the Act, and dummy requests to test processes.
After January implementation of the Act will principally involve staff who also have other duties. The effort which they devote to Freedom of Information issues in the first quarter of 2005 will depend on a range of factors, including the number of requests for information received in each area, the complexity of those requests, the ease with which it can be established whether relevant information is held, and the number of appeals lodged by dissatisfied requesters.
The cost of compliance is being met from existing resources, and there has been no requirement to identify anticipated costs or to collate them centrally. To collect the necessary information now would involve disproportionate cost, and the final part of Exemption 9 (voluminous or vexatious requests) of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information therefore applies.
Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the outcome was of the Justice and Home Affairs Council held on 23 December; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. 
Franco Frattini made his first appearance as the new JHA Commissioner, giving an overview of his priorities for the coming year. Immigration was at the forefront, with managed legal migration, integration, action to combat human trafficking and illegal immigration all emphasised as important work areas.
The Council took note of progress in negotiations on the draft Framework Decision on the European Evidence Warrant. The programme deadline set in the Hague Programme for completion by the end of 2005 was thought to be ambitious but not out of reach.
The Council reached a general approach on Articles 18 of the draft Council Decision on the exchange of information extracted from the criminal record and agreed that work should continue on the recitals, accompanying form and on the application of this measure to individuals to their records.
The Council debated the scope of application of the Framework Decision on the retention of communications data on the basis of two options. The first would allow individual service providers to define
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what they would keep; the second envisaged the creation of a common list of data to be retained by all. No conclusion was reached and the presidency therefore directed the working group to further examine the issues raised, including those relating to data protection and costs.
The presidency presented for discussion at a future date a proposal for a compromise package to break the deadlock on the Framework Decision on ship source pollution. This proposed the deletion of the second sentence of Article 4(7) dealing with the treatment of member states' flag ships as domestic vessels, with an amendment to Article 11 dealing with a future review of application of the instrument. The presidency package also proposed a Council Declaration and a Commission declaration concerning, respectively, engagement with the International Maritime Organisation on measures to combat pollution and the need for economic impact assessment of any future proposals.
Gijs de Vries, the EU Counter-Terrorism Co-ordinator, introduced documents presented to Ministers for agreement. They focused on the need for effective implementation of EU legislation and more effective co-operation between law enforcement services. The Commission underscored the importance of co-operation between member states on the terrorist threat, and focused on four areas of terrorism-related work, in particular: work on explosives; radicalisation and recruitment; dialogue with the private sector; and scientific and technological research.
I made an intervention focusing on the balance between action to tackle counter-terrorism and the need to protect the rights of the individual. I noted that this balance was at the centre of the debate around counter-terrorism both domestically and in the EU.
With regard to the Council decision on the exchange of information and co-operation concerning terrorist offences, discussion centred on the limitations of safeguards around the exchange of sensitive information. A general approach was reached on this Council Decision following some minor amendments to the recitals.
The presidency provided the Council with an information update on the Ministerial Integration Conference "Turning Principles into Actions" and the Ministerial Conference "Diversity and participationthe gender perspective", which I was grateful to receive.
Under any other business, the presidency noted the Council Decision on the application of parts of the provisions of the Schengen aquis to the UK would soon be ready for adoption. I strongly welcomed this.
The presidency provided further information on the draft decision of the Council providing for certain areas covered by title IV of Part Three of the Treaty Establishing the European Community to be governed by the procedure referred to in Article 251 of that treaty (i.e. the move to Qualified Majority Voting and co-decision for certain immigration measures), which it
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hoped to adopt before the end of the year. The presidency took note of the UK's parliamentary scrutiny reserve.
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the number of magic mushroom kits that have been imported into the United Kingdom in the past 12 months. 
Caroline Flint: We are currently examining the position and will take the necessary steps to ensure it is clear that it is unlawful to import, export, produce, supply or possess with intent to supply magic mushrooms.
Mr. Bill O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance the Home Office has received from the Cabinet Office on the timing of business case assessments in respect of major projects. 
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what action has been taken by Sussex police consequent on their meeting with Linda Henderson and Amanda Williams-Gater on Friday 24 January 2003; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) on what grounds the Chief Constable of Sussex rejected the complaint of Mrs. Linda Henderson and declined to record it under section 69(1) of the Police Act 1996; and if he will review this decision under his powers as Home Secretary; 
(5) whether the full report of the Metropolitan police investigation into the Sussex police investigation of the murder of Mr. Richard Watson has been published; and if he will place a copy in the Library; 
(6) whether disciplinary action against the senior investigating officer responsible for the investigation into the murder of Mr. Richard Watson was considered
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by Sussex police following the investigation by the Metropolitan police into Sussex police's handling of the case; and if he will make a statement. 
(9) on what date Sussex police received the report of the investigation by the Metropolitan police into the conduct of the investigation by the Sussex police into the murder of Mr. Richard Watson; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Blears: I wrote to my hon. Friend on 2 December 2004 providing answers to these nine questions. I regret that responses were not provided when these questions were originally tabled in October 2004. 1 will arrange for a copy of my letter to be placed in the House Library.
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