HC Deb 18 February 1997 vol 290 c517W
Mr. Alton

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications for warrants for the interception of telephone calls have been(a) submitted, (b) approved by officials in the Home Office, (c) signed by the Secretary of State and (d) cancelled or revoked after issue for each year since the introduction of the Interception of Communications Act 1985; and what other information he collects to assess (i) the extent and need for warrants and (ii) the time taken by officials and the Secretary of State to carry out these functions. [15436]

Mr. Howard

I refer the hon. Member to the annexes to the reports of the interception of communications commissioner for 1989 and 1995 Cm 1063 and 3254, copies of which are in the Library. Together, these provide figures for the number of warrants issued by the Secretary of State during each of the years from 1985 to 1995 and the number in force at the end of each year. Warrants are cancelled when they are no longer considered necessary. None have been quashed under section 7(5) of the Act. The information requested at(a) and (b) is not available.

The extent and need for warrants is manifest in the detailed cases which are presented in support of the applications. One grade 7, one higher executive officer, two executive officers, one administrative officer and one typist are engaged on case work under the 1985 Act. Member of the senior civil service are also involved in the consideration of applications and I, or in my absence another Secretary of State, personally consider and decide upon applications submitted to my office.