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Defence Procurements

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

Earl Howe: The Government's policy is to be at the heart of European defence. They also recognise the increasing importance of European equipment collaboration and reciprocal purchasing to their aim of achieving the best value for money in procurement. Accordingly, there is extensive procurement collaboration with European partners--the 1995 Statement on the Defence Estimates lists 32 collaborative projects involving France and/or Germany. But it would not be in the best interests of the United Kingdom or Europe to reject procurement from the United States, which is a source of sometimes unique equipment and an important British defence export market, where, as in the cases cited, consideration of all relevant factors indicates that it provides the best value for money.

H. Silver and Associates (UK) Ltd

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

Earl Howe: The question of whether United Kingdom firms interested in dealing with the Ministry of Defence decide to employ advisers, American or otherwise, is a matter of commercial judgment for the company in question. The Ministry of Defence provides, free of charge, a range of information and advice on its procurement practices to companies who request it.

On the question of whether former United Kingdom officials are working with H. Silver and Associates (UK) Ltd, I can say that our records show that no

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Ministry of Defence official who has sought approval under the Business Appointment rules has indicated an interest in joining this company in the past three years.

EDS: Contracts

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What contracts have been placed with the company EDS since 1991 and what is their value.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): Full information on contracts placed with EDS since 1991 is not held centrally, and can only be provided at disproportionate cost. However, significant contracts placed with EDS, and approximate contract values are as follows:

Royal Air Force Logistic Support System to assist in the acquisition and service support of all new weapon systems. The contract was placed in 1993 with a value of £14 million over 3 years.

Royal Navy strategic Upkeep and Store Supply (UPKEEP) system. The contract was placed in 1994 with a value of £25 million over five to 10 years.

Department of Transport privatisation of DVOIT, the former IT arm of the Drivers and Vehicle Licensing Agency. The privatisation was completed in 1993 and at the same time, contracts with a value of £69 million over five years were let to EDS by the Department for the provision of IT services.

Department of Social Security Child Support Agency. Four projects with contracts placed between 1992 and 1995: Operational accounting system; maintenance assessment; support to the live running of the system; and a technical services agreement to provide resources to develop the system. The total value of these projects is £23 million.

Inland Revenue outsourcing of the majority of the Department's Information Technology systems and services. The contract was placed in 1994 with an estimated value of £1,000 million over 10 years. This contract involves taking over the delivery of the majority of Inland Revenue Information Technology Services, including responding to future needs over the 10-year period.

Department of Social Security ITSA (Information Technology Services Agency) outsourcing. This project is to outsource the department's data centre services. The contract came into effect in 1995 and is for a period of 10 years and is a volume/output based contract with a value depending on future levels of business. Current estimates are that charges will be in the region of

£600 million. These contracts involve taking over the complete data centre services provision for the DSS.

Category A Prisoners: Monitoring of Visits by non-English Speakers

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What considerations led the Prison Service to require Category A prisoners who wish to converse

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    with their visitors in a language other than English to have a simultaneous interpreter present instead of the conversation being recorded and monitored off line; in how many cases in 1994 and 1995 information passed between a visitor and a prisoner during such an interview was found to have been potentially detrimental to security when the tape had been translated; and in how many of those instances, if the conversation had been monitored at the time, the transmission of the information could have been prevented by terminating the interview before the relevant sentence had been completed.

Baroness Blatch: Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the temporary Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Lord Avebury from the temporary Director General of the Prison Service, Mr. Richard Tilt, dated 9/1/96:

The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question asking how conversations between category A prisoners and their visitors are monitored if they do not speak English.

Only high and exceptional risk category A prisoners have their non-legal visits monitored. These arrangements are specified in the Security Manual and are of long standing. The higher level of supervision than applies to other category A prisoners is based on our judgment of relative escape risk.

The arrangements are that at least one officer must supervise each visit. Where it is known that prisoners and their visitors can speak English, they must do so. If this is not possible, the governor may allow prisoners and visitors to speak in another language in the presence of an interpreter or, if this is impossible, the conversation should be recorded for translation within 24 hours.

No central records are kept about whether any information passing between prisoners and visitors has been found to be potentially detrimental to security either at the time of the visit or through a tape translation.

Special Security Unit Prisoners: Telephone Call Translation Costs

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Who pays for the "interpreters used where appropriate" in monitoring telephone calls made by prisoners from SSUs, as noted in the Review of the Implementation of the Recommendations contained in Sir John Woodcock's Report on the Escape from Whitemoor Prison on Friday, 9 September 1994 by General Sir John Learmont.

Baroness Blatch: Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the temporary Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

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Letter to Lord Avebury from the Director of Security and Programmes, the Prison Service, Mr. A. J. Pearson, dated 9/1/96:

The Home Secretary has asked me, in the absence of the Director General from the office, to reply to your recent Question about who pays for interpreters of telephone calls made in non English languages by prisoners from Special Security Units [SSUs].

The budget for translation of non English language calls has been devolved to area managers and through them to the governors of the prisons where these prisoners are held. It is for the governor to decide how many calls should be paid for by the Prison Service out of this budget. If a prisoner wants to make any calls in addition to the limit set by the governor and the governor allows these calls to be made, the prisoner must meet the cost of translation.

Translation costs are paid by the governor of Belmarsh for one telephone call a month, and in Whitemoor the governor pays for the translation costs of two telephone calls a month.

We are currently considering whether it would be right to establish consistency between SSUs.

Official Report: On-line Availability

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will make Hansard generally available to the public on line; and if not, why not.

Baroness Blatch: Since Hansard is subject to parliamentary copyright, that is not a decision for the Government but for the House authorities. I understand that parliamentary officials are currently considering this question and will make their conclusions known in due course.

Civil Service Code: Entry into Force

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Blatch on 30 October 1995 (WA 147), whether they still intend to bring the new Civil Service Code into operation from the start of 1996; and, if not, when they now propose to do so.

Baroness Blatch: The Civil Service Code came into force on 1 January this year.

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