Confidential Information

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th November 1989.

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Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North 12:00 am, 28th November 1989

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he has taken to ensure that confidential information held on individuals by all those for whom his Department is responsible is not passed on to other individuals or organisations who may do harm to the person concerned.

Photo of Mr Martin Flannery Mr Martin Flannery , Sheffield, Hillsborough

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he has taken to ensure that confidential information held on individuals by all those for whom his Department is responsible is not passed on to other individuals or organisations who may do harm to the person concerned.

Photo of Sir Archie Hamilton Sir Archie Hamilton The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

There are strict regulations covering the security of all confidential papers and all information of a personal nature. Personal information held on computer is subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1984 and disclosure of such information is made only in accordance with the Department's relevant registration.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

The Minister must be aware that confidential information held by the armed services in Northern Ireland has been leaked and was published in the press. The Stevens inquiry is looking into the matter at the moment. Will the Minister assure us that the Stevens inquiry will not be a cover-up or a whitewash? Will he ensure that the Ministry of Defence evidence to the inquiry is published?

Photo of Sir Archie Hamilton Sir Archie Hamilton The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

I cannot guarantee that the Ministry of Defence evidence will be published, but we are giving all our help and co-operation to the Stevens inquiry. There is no question of its being a whitewash.

Photo of Mr Rupert Allason Mr Rupert Allason , Torbay

Is my hon. Friend aware that the Ministry of Defence retains a great deal of information which is not secret at all and which should be disclosed? In one recent case, a person claimed a commissioned rank which he did not hold, but the Ministry of Defence consistently declined to reveal that information although it would have prevented a criminal offence from being committed. Will my hon. Friend give an undertaking that all information, even from the private files of second world war personnel, will be disclosed if it is not actually secret?

Photo of Sir Archie Hamilton Sir Archie Hamilton The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

We shall disclose as much information as it is humanly possible to disclose. I cannot give my hon. Friend an open-ended guarantee because much of the information that we have is confidential.

Mr. John D. Taylor:

Will the Minister consider introducing in Northern Ireland the practice of displaying photographs of wanted persons at police stations, as happens in police stations elsewhere in the United Kingdom?

Photo of Sir Archie Hamilton Sir Archie Hamilton The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

I cannot guarantee that that will happen, but I will certainly look into the matter.

Photo of Mr James Cran Mr James Cran , Beverley

Will my hon. Friend confirm whether his Department uses electronic surveillance and listening devices to gather confidential information? If it does, what controls are exercised over the use of that equipment?

Photo of Sir Archie Hamilton Sir Archie Hamilton The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

Any information of that sort which is gathered is confidential and is treated as such.