Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister’s Question Time from 13th January 1994.
Mr. Allen : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the outcome of his meeting with trade union leaders on 20 December 1993 regarding trade union recognition of GCHQ.
The Prime Minister : I met representatives of the civil service unions to discuss trade union membership at GCHQ at their request, following a series of discussions they had held with officials. I explained that the Government’s overriding objective remained to ensure the maintenance of continuous operations at GCHQ necessary for the protection of national security. In that context it was necessary also to ensure that the staff were not subject to potential conflicts of loyalty.
Against that background, however, I indicated that the Government were prepared to enable the Government Communications Staff Federation, the registered trade union for GCHQ staff, to affiliate to the Council of Civil Service Unions, subject to conditions to guarantee its continuing independence. This would have allowed the staff of GCHQ to be represented in discussions between the Government and the unions on matters affecting the civil service generally in a way in which they are not at present. The national trade unions have indicated that they do not regard this as acceptable. There are no plans for further meetings, but the Government remain willing to discuss any further proposals that the unions may wish to put forward.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Prime Minister what were his official engagements for Wednesday 12 January.
The Prime Minister : I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others, in addition to my duties in this House.
Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Thursday 13 January.
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.
Mr. Spearing : To ask the Prime Minister what is the policy of Her Majesty’s Government in respect of responses to parliamentary petitions ; and if he will review current practice.
The Prime Minister : Individual Departments respond as they see fit to parliamentary petitions. I have no plans to review current practice.