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1995 - PMQT Written Answers 28th June 1995

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 28th June 1995.


PRIME MINISTER:

Information Technology Security

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to paragraph 5 of the report by the National Audit Office into IT security in Government services if he will describe the liaison arrangements between the security services and GCHQ which ensure consistency of advice to Government Departments; who is the Minister responsible for such arrangements; what liaison arrangements with the CCTA relate to the implementation of IT security policy; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: Responsibility for co-ordinating policy and advice on IT security in government rests with an inter-departmental committee chaired by the Cabinet Office. The Foreign Secretary the Home Secretary and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster have responsibility for the work of GCHQ, the Security Service and CCTA respectively. Specialists in all three organisations work closely together.

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to paragraph 5 of the report by the National Audit Office into IT security in Government Departments, if he will authorise detailed responses to parliamentary questions concerning the resources, and deployment of resources expended by the security services and GCHQ, which relate to the provision of IT security advice to Government Departments; if such responses do not jeopardise national security.

The Prime Minister: It has been the policy of successive Governments not to provide information in response to parliamentary questions on the operation of the security and intelligence agencies.

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to paragraph 5 of the report by the National Audit Office into IT security in Government Departments, if he has taken legal advice as to whether the functions of the security services in GCHQ which relate to the provisions of IT security advice to Government Departments are consistent with the functions outlined in the Security Service Act 1989 and Intelligence Services Act 1994; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: Preventing the unauthorised disclosure of information held on Government computer systems is an important element in the protection of national security, and as such falls within the terms of the Security Service Act 1989 and the Intelligence Services Act 1994.