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Gchq

Volume 87: debated on Monday 18 November 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the reasons for the rejection by Government: communications headquarters management of the attempts of the two recent trade union rejoiners to return the £1,000 payment made in lieu of statutory trade union rights.

Under the terms of General Notice GN 100/84 which explained the changes in terms and conditions of service at Government communications headquarters, staff there were asked to choose one of two options:

  • (a) to remain at GCHQ under the revised terms and conditions of service; or
  • (b) to transfer elsewhere in the Civil Service.
  • Option A involved giving an undertaking not to join a trade union other than a Departmental staff association approved by the director. In addition, my right hon. and learned Friend issued certifications under section 138(4) of the Employment Protection (Consolidation) Act 1978 and section 121(4) of the Employment Protection Act 1975 exempting GCHQ staff, on national security grounds, from the application of those acts. In recognition of the withdrawal from GCHQ staff of those statutory rights, a special ex gratia payment of £1,000 was made to those who elected to remain with the Department. We expect those staff who signed option A to honour their undertaking, and we do not accept that they can evade this responsibility by simply returning the ex gratia payment.

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will list the occasions when trade union membership and related action has led to breaches of security at Government communications headquarters; and if he will make a statement.

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he is satisfied with the current state of security at Government communications headquarters; and if he will make a statement.

    Although it is never possible to guarantee that security anywhere is entirely watertight, security at GCHQ is constantly under review; and we are satisfied that all practicable and desirable measures necessary to ensure security at GCHQ are either already in force. or are being introduced in the light of recommendations made by the Security Commission.

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he is satisfied with the effectiveness of Government communications headquarters' contributions to Western intelligence; and if he will make a statement.

    In a statement made to the House on 12 May 1983, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said that

    "the functions of GCHQ are to ensure the security of the United Kingdom's military and official communications and to provide signals intelligence in accordance with the requirements laid down by the Government in support of the Government's defence and foreign policies".
    We are satisfied that GCHQ carries out these functions in an effective and professional manner.