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1995 - PMQT Written Answers 4th May 1995

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 4th May 1995.


PRIME MINISTER:

Ministerial Documents

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make it his policy to ensure that documents originated or acquired by Ministers in the course of their official duties are not sold by them or their heirs and assigns.

The Prime Minister: By convention, Prime Ministers, on leaving office, have taken with them copies of certain documents which they dealt with personally while in office. These include some documents originated or acquired by them in the course of their official duties. This convention has not applied to Ministers other than former Prime Ministers. The extent to which former Prime Ministers or their heirs and assigns may dispose of such papers, and how, depends on the circumstances of each case.

It is my policy that in future material removed from official custody at the end of an Administration should contain no official material other than that which is already in the public domain.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister in what circumstances a document subject when originated to the provisions of the Official Secrets Acts may be classified other than a state paper.

The Prime Minister: Documents originating from other than official sources, and which contain official information that should not be disclosed, come within the provisions of the Official Secrets Acts but are not state papers.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister (1) if retired Ministers are required to submit their memoirs for approval under the Official Secrets Acts before publication;

(2) if the right hon. Nigel Lawson submitted his memoirs for approval under the official Secrets Acts before publication, with particular reference to mention of the Governor of the Bank of England.

The Prime Minister: There is no requirement for former Ministers to submit their memoirs under the Official Secrets Acts before publication. The report of the Committee of Privy Counsellors on Ministerial Memoirs, Cmnd. 7386, recommended that former Ministers who wished to make public an account bearing on their ministerial life should let the Secretary of the Cabinet see in advance the full text of what they propose to say. The Cabinet Secretary offers advice to the author of the text, including on whether it contains material contravening the requirements of national security.

My right hon. and noble Friend Lord Lawson submitted his memoirs to the Cabinet Secretary in the normal way, without any particular reference.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will refer to the Nolan committee the propriety of Ministers or their heirs retaining and using for private gain information or documents acquired in the course of their official duties.

The Prime Minister: I have no plans to do so.


Engagements

Sir Peter Tapsell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Thursday 4 May.

Mr. Harry Greenway: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Thursday 4 May.

The Prime Minister: This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet and had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in this House, I shall be having further meetings later today.


Central Computer Database

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Prime Minister what plans there are to create a central computerised database on individuals using the database of the national insurance recording system 2--to be available to other Government Departments; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: The recently announced replacement of the national insurance recording system--NIRS2--does not include any plans to create a separate computer database on individuals, nor does it involve extending access arrangements to the NIRS2 database to other than existing users of the current NIRS system.


Churchill Papers

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his oral answer of 27 April to the right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown), Official Report, column 978, what steps he has taken to establish whether the papers sold by the Churchill family to the national heritage memorial fund were at any time covered by the provisions of the Official Secrets Acts.

The Prime Minister: Churchill College has been advised on which papers in the Churchill archive can be released to researchers and which need to be withheld.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister what steps the Government took to purchase the annotated eight-page typescript of Sir Winston Churchill's El Alamein speech sold by Sotheby's in December 1994; and whether this is included in the Churchill documents purchased by the national heritage memorial fund.

The Prime Minister: The manuscript to which the hon. Member refers was sold by a private owner and was one of many which Sir Winston Churchill gave away during his lifetime. At no time did it form part of the Churchill archive and it does not do so now. It is for the national institutions which maintain archives to decide whether to commit funds to the purchase of papers which appear on the open market.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister how many of the papers sold by the Churchill family to the national heritage memorial fund are to be found in the Public Record Office in their original or a duplicate form; and what copyright fees have to be paid to the Churchill family when such documents in either location are reproduced.

The Prime Minister: The papers purchased by the national heritage memorial fund are the non-state papers. They are not normally to be found in the Public Record Office in either original or duplicate form. Copyright in the papers purchased by the national heritage memorial fund is a matter for the copyright owners.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister whether he will request the trustees of the national lottery fund to hand back the Churchill papers to the family in return for the money they have received.

The Prime Minister: No. The integrity of the Churchill archive has now been secured for the nation by the purchase of the non-state papers from the Churchill family and by the transfer of the state papers similarly to Churchill College.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make it his policy to reduce the fees charged for access to and reproduction of the Churchill papers; and if he will publish the proposed scale of charges.

The Prime Minister: No fees are levied on access to the Churchill papers at Churchill College. Reproduction is a matter for the copyright owners as is the question of charges. A licence has been granted which waives the copyright fee in respect of the reproduction of Crown copyright material for the purposes of research and private study. Other charges, for example the commercial use of the papers, will be levied in accordance with normal practice.


Civil Servants

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister whether civil servants who have been allowed to publish material which relies in any particular on what they have learnt or done in the course of their employment by the Crown are expected to hand to the Crown any profit derived by the author from the publication.

The Prime Minister: The extent to which a civil servant may be required to account to the Crown for any profit made from such publication will depend on whether the author produced all or part of the work during official time and whether the work is based on or otherwise used Crown copyright material.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Prime Minister in what circumstances civil servants may publish without prior approval any material based directly or indirectly on what they have learnt or done in the course of their employment by the Crown.

The Prime Minister: Civil servants must clear in advance material for publication which draws on official material or experience.

Mr. Milburn: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the individual value of each (a) compulsory early retirement and (b) flexible early retirement package received by civil servants leaving his Department on grounds of limited efficiency in each of the last five years.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 2 May 1995]: For these purposes my office is part of the Cabinet Office--Office of Public Service and Science. I refer the hon. Member to the reply given today by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.


Hospitality

Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Prime Minister how much was spent on official hospitality in his official capacities in the financial year 1994 95.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 1 May 1995]: The provisional total is £30,000


Rules of Succession

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Prime Minister (1) in which country of which Her Majesty is Head of State the inheritance of the Crown is prohibited to adherents of certain religions;

(2) in which countries of which Her Majesty the Queen is Head of State (a) the oldest child and (b) the oldest male child of the monarch succeed to the throne.

The Prime Minister [holding answer 25 April 1995]: I am not aware that any other Commonwealth realm has rules relating to the succession to the throne.