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Criminal Records Bureau: Charges to Voluntary Bodies

Lord Islwyn asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): Work is continuing to determine the bureau's costs. An announcement about the level of charges will be made as soon as possible. Waiving charges for voluntary organisations would mean imposing an additional burden on the taxpayer, or higher charges for other users of the bureau's services whose circumstances may be no less deserving. But we are determined to keep charges as low as possible.

Emergencies: Co-ordinated Response

Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: This country deals with major incidents by a local response, only resorting to mutual aid or national support in the most extreme situations.

1 Feb 2001 : Column WA78

The Home Office promotes the principles of Integrated Emergency Management, under which all organisations likely to be involved in the response, including the emergency services and local authorities, share their plans and participate in strategic meetings, joint exercises and training.

This approach cannot, in itself, ensure a co-ordinated approach but encourages organisations to work towards this goal.

Treaty on European Union, Treaty of Nice and Position of United Kingdom and Ireland Protocol

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any provisions of the Treaty of Nice add to or subtract from the provisions of the Protocol on the Position of the United Kingdom and Ireland annexed to the Treaty of Amsterdam.[HL331]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Treaty of Nice does not amend in any way the provisions of the Protocol on the Position of the United Kingdom and Ireland annexed to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community.

Data Protection Code of Practice:E-mail Monitoring

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the implications of the delays experienced in drafting the Data Protection Commission's code of practice on e-mail monitoring.[HL389]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Data Protection Commissioner was re-named the Information Commissioner on 30 January 2001.

The monitoring of e-mails is one of a number of matters covered by the commissioner's draft code of practice on the use of personal data in employer/employee relationships. The closing date for comments on the draft code was 5 January 2001. The commissioner tells me that she has received over a hundred responses. I understand that her office is now carefully considering these and may need to hold follow-up discussions in the light of some of them. I further understand that, although the commissioner had originally hoped to be in a position to finalise the code by the spring of 2001, the volume of responses received means that this may now take somewhat longer.

When the code has been finalised it will provide comprehensive guidance on the application of the Data Protection Act 1998 in the workplace context. I have drawn the Commissioner's attention to the noble Earl's interest in the code. She intends to write to him about her plans for publication and related matters.

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