§ Mr. Meadowcroft
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what specific steps he has taken to ensure that computer records relating to his Department are not made subject to audit by United States inspectors in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Peter Walker
No such measures are necessary. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry made it clear in his reply of 19 February to the hon. Member for Leeds, West at columns751–752 that he will not normally allow audit visits except where he is satisfied that a company wishes to maintain approved foreign consignee status and does not therefore wish the Government to reject an application for a visit. The purpose of any visit, if allowed, would be to check the procedures which United Kingdom firms choosing to use the distribution licence system agree to operate. A visit would only be permitted on conditions which safeguarded national security and commercial confidentiality, so that any computer purchase records relating to this Department would, if they raised such issues, be protected.