|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether it is the policy of the Department to retain for the benefit of future (a) historians and (b) applicants under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 the same (i) complete categories of files, (ii) numbers of files and (iii) representative examples of files from categories of files destroyed as had been preserved prior to the passage of that Act. 
Fiona Mactaggart: In accordance with the Public Records Act 1958 S.3, the selection of records of enduring historical value for permanent preservation at The National Archives (TNA) will continue to take place in the Home Office under the guidance and supervision of TNA staff. The Department will also comply with the Code of Practice on Records Management, issued by the Lord Chancellor under S.46of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, which underlines the importance of having clear selection policies and disposal schedules in place.
|2004 (To date)||130,576|
The quantity of files destroyed increases because the department continues to create large volumes of paper records, notably in case files, which once they reach the end of their business life are automatically destroyed. The use of disposal schedules setting out when files can be destroyed will continue to be applied to ensure the department only keeps those records that it needs, or that it has agreed with The National Archives should be held for permanent preservation.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what changes have been promulgated in each of the past five years to the guidelines or other criteria for the retention or destruction of departmental files. 
Fiona Mactaggart: The Home Office has maintained a consistent approach to the retention and destruction of files. The requirements to keep records of Government business are set out in the Public Record Act. The National Archive (TNA) produces guidance that further details the requirement so that only material of historical significance is held and transferred to it for permanent preservation. That guidance sets out how long different types of record should be held for and a process for scheduling disposal. The Department has consistently followed this guidance to ensure that records are held for as long as required to meet business needs, that ephemeral material is then destroyed and that only material of long term historic value is transferred to TNA.
Since 1999, the Home Office has produced 86 schedules for the disposal of records which are specific to its administrative activities. It also disposes of its records in accordance with over twenty guidance notes produced by The National Archives (TNA) over the last five years, covering disposal schedules, managing records in the electronic environment, as well as overarching record management guidance. Further details of this guidance can be found on TNA's website at:
Fiona Mactaggart: In 2002 the Department undertook equal pay reviews of its pay systems and provided reports to the Cabinet Office by April 2003. A copy of the non-Agency Home Office 2002 Equal Pay Review Action Plan has been placed in the Library.
Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many properties are held by the Department; what total floor space these properties provide; how many properties are vacant; and how much floor space vacant properties comprise. 
Fiona Mactaggart: The Home Office and its agencies hold 2,103 properties which have a combined floor area of 4,380,305 sq m. These comprise offices, residential accommodation, prisons and other specialised buildings.
The figures exclude premises that are held under service agreements and those where costs are shared with other Government Departments where the other Department pays the rent. The total number of properties include both leased and owned residential properties but as the floor areas of this type of property are not known residential floor area figures have been excluded.
Within these figures the Department currently has 109 vacant freehold and leasehold properties which have a total floor area of 31,002 sq m. These comprise surplus sites, former probation offices, former prison officer housing and a former prison.
Fiona Mactaggart: The Cabinet Office collects and publishes annually statistical information on the civil service by Department. These include data on the number of staff who have a declared disability. The latest information at April 2004 is available in the Library and on the civil service website and the following address:
Fiona Mactaggart: The Cabinet Office collects and publishes annually statistical information on the civil service by Department. These include data on the number of women in senior positions in Departments and on the number of staff who have a declare disability.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the
1 Feb 2005 : Column 829W
(a) transfer to qualified majority voting and (b) UK participation in the items listed in Council Decision 2004/927/EC, OJ L396 of 31 December 2004; and by what mechanism Parliament is notified of such changes in legislative mechanism. 
(a) The Council Decision provides 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 the treaty. That procedure provides for qualified majority voting in the Council and the application of the co-decision procedure in the European Parliament. The move to QMV and co- decision is not new. The treaty of Amsterdam, in force since 1999, provided that five years after its entry into force, member states would take a unanimous decision to move some or all immigration and asylum measures to QMV and co-decision. Within the Nice treaty, in force since 2003, member states adopted a declaration slightly amending the Amsterdam arrangements. The move to QMV and co-decision for asylum measures became automatic, once common rules and basic principles had been agreed. Member states reaffirmed that they would endeavour to move remaining immigration measures, or parts of them, to QMV and co-decision from 1 May 2004 or as soon as possible thereafter.
(b) The Government supported the move to qualified majority voting because EU co-operation on asylum and immigration issues over the last five years has been valuable to the UK and we are keen to see measures in this area adopted without the delays experienced under unanimous voting in a Council of 25 member states. The Council decision has no effect on the UK's Title IV protocol, negotiated at Amsterdam. We will continue to be able to opt-in to immigration and asylum measures which are in the UK's interest. The decision also does not affect the UK's frontiers protocol, which allows us to maintain our own border controls.
(c) Parliament is notified of developments in EU legislation via correspondence between the lead Government Department and the European Scrutiny Committees in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The draft Council Decision, along with an explanatory memorandum, was deposited in Parliament on 15 November 2004. A subsequent addendum to the draft Council Decision was submitted on 25 November. The Council Decision was debated in European Standing Committee B on 13 December. Both Committees cleared the document from scrutiny during December. The decision took effect on 1 January 2005 having been adopted on 22 December 2004.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on Council Decision 2004/926/EC of 22 December 2004; and when this proposed change to UK treaty obligations was reported to Parliament. 
Following Council Decision 2004/926/EC, the UK has now commenced the judicial co-
1 Feb 2005 : Column 830W
operation, drugs co-operation, obligations on carriers, measures to combat trafficking of human beings and police co-operation parts of the Schengen acquis. The UK will now formally be able to benefit from enhanced police and judicial co-operation powers with Schengen partners.
The UK's application to participate (8562/99) was deposited in Parliament as was the draft Council Decision on the UK's participation. The legislative basisfor participation in these provisions was included in the Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003. Following a successful evaluation, the Council Decision on the partial participation in Schengen was adopted on 22 December 2004 and came into force on 1 January 2005. I informed the House following the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting on 2 December 2004 that the Council Decision on the application of parts of the provisions of the Schengen acquis to the UK would soon be ready for adoption, by way of a written answer on 15 December 2004.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|