Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister’s Question Time from 23rd July 1991.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Prime Minister if he will set out those areas for which ministers are referring parliamentary questions for reply to next steps executive agencies.
The Prime Minister : The Government’s policy for dealing with parliamentary questions on matters delegated to executive agencies was set out in their response to the Eighth Report of the Treasury and Civil Service Committee (October 1990, Cm 1263) as follows : “It is for Ministers responsible for particular Agencies to respond in the way they consider most helpful and appropriate to inquiries raised by Members In the case of Parliamentary Questions concerning day-to-day operational matters delegated to the Agency, Ministers will normally arrange for the Chief Executive to write to the Member (and will reply to this effect in Hansard )”.
All replies to hon. Members from agency chief executives, other than those concerning personal or confidential matters, are available in the Library.
The Government’s intention is that replies about the carrying out of Government business are full, prompt and as helpful as possible. The arrangements we have are intended to achieve this and they are kept under review.
Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 23 July.
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 the House, I shall be having further meetings later today.
Sir John Wheeler : To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement about the Government’s policy on the implications of homosexuality for security vetting.
The Prime Minister : All candidates for posts involving access to highly classified information are vetted in accordance with the procedures described in the statement of vetting policy announced by my predecessor on 24 July 1990 at columns 159-61.
Because homosexual acts, even between consenting adults, remain criminal offences in a number of overseas countries, evidence of homosexuality, even if acknowledged, has been treated under this policy as a bar to clearance at PV (TS)–positive vetting (top secret)–or enhanced positive vetting (EPV) level in overseas posts and therefore as a bar to recruitment to certain areas of employment, including the diplomatic service. In the light of changing social attitudes towards homosexuality in this country and abroad, and the correspondingly greater willingness on the part of homosexuals to be open about their sexuality, their lifestyle and their relationships, the Government have reviewed this policy and concluded that in future there should be no posts involving access to highly classified information for which homosexuality represents an automatic bar to security clearance, except in the special case of the armed forces where homosexual acts remain offences under the service disciplinary Acts.
The susceptibility of the subject to blackmail or pressure by a foreign intelligence service will continue to be a factor in the vetting of all candidates for posts involving access to highly classified information. An individual assessment is made in each case, taking account of the evidence which emerges in the course of the vetting process and the level of security clearance required.