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Lord Bach: Whether disclosed information may be published on the Internet or not depends on whether the information is subject to copyright under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Anyone wishing to publish disclosed information which is copyright must first seek and obtain the permission of the copyright holder. The provisions in the Freedom of Information Bill will not disturb this.
Some information held by public authorities will be Crown copyright. This is defined as those works made by Her Majesty or by an officer or servant of the Crown in the course of his duties. The Government's White Paper on The Future Management of Crown Copyright, published on 26 March 1999, stated that:
Some information held by public authorities may be subject to the copyright of a third party. For example, government departments and agencies commission a wide range of works by non-Crown individuals and organisations. Unless specific provision is made in the commissioning contract for the copyright in such commissioned works to be assigned or transferred to the Crown, the copyright will continue to rest with the Author.
Lord Bach: Clause 19 of the Freedom of Information Bill exempts information which is reasonably accessible to the applicant by other means. When assessing whether the information is "reasonably accessible" to the applicant, the Information Commissioner will of course take into account the form in which it is available.
Where information is judged to be reasonably accessible by other means, the applicant will not have a right to require the information to be communicated to him in a different form other than the form in which it is already available. Therefore, if the information is reasonably accessible to the applicant in manual form, the applicant will not have the right to require it to be communicated to him electronically. However, an authority may always convert the information into the form requested by the applicant at its discretion.
If the information is not reasonably accessible to the applicant, then Clause 19 will not apply, in which case the applicant is entitled to express a preference for the form in which the information is to be communicated to him, and, under Clause 10 of the Bill, the authority shall so far as is practicable give effect to that preference.
Lord Bach: The following countries have identity cards, although they do not all use the same system for them: Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, Greece, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Austria, Finland and the Netherlands. To the best of our knowledge identity cards are compulsory in the first six of these countries; and must be carried in the first five. The valid identity card of any European Union or European Economic Area country may be accepted as a travel document for entry into the United Kingdom.
Where an applicant refuses to disclose his nationality, this will be taken into consideration when the claim is considered. However, failure to disclose his nationality may affect the assessment of the applicant's credibility and ultimately the overall decision whether or not to grant asylum.
Under the Immigration Act 1971, an illegal entrant may be removed to the country of which he is a citizen or national or to any country or territory to which there is reason to believe he will be admitted. Provided the latter condition is satisfied, it is still possible to remove someone who is unwilling to disclose his country of origin.
Lord Bach: This case was the subject of a serious incident report by Essex Probation Service in line with the requirements of Probation Circular 71/1998. The Home Office has asked Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation to investigate, and my right honourable friend the Home Secretary will be receiving an urgent report on this incident, which will recommend any action that should be taken.
Lord Bach: Yes. A mandatory instruction was issued to prisons in August 1997 requiring them to inform the relevant police force when sex offenders who are subject to the Sex Offenders Act 1997 are released. There is also a statutory requirement on those sex offenders themselves to notify the police of their address and other details on release from prison.
Lord Bach: Clear guidance is available on the use of protective markings for the administrative classification of official documents. However, such classifications are not a factor which will be taken into account when considering disclosure of information under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Bill.
Lord Bach: Forty-four recommendations have now been fully implemented, and work is in progress to implement the remaining 26 in line with my right honourable friend the Home Secretary's Action Plan. Further information is available in Stephen Lawrence Inquiry--Home Secretary's Action Plan: First Annual Report on Progress, published in March 2000, a copy of which is in the Library.
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