To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark) of 26 October 1992, Official Report, column 510, whether the review of the D notice system has been completed.
Responsibility for the management of the D notice system lies with the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Committee (DPBC), a joint forum of Government and media representatives chaired by the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence. The DPBC decided last year to expand its annual review of the D notices to consider the purpose, scope and operation of the system in the light of international changes and the increased emphasis of openness in Government.I understand that the DPBC has approved a number of significant changes to the D notice system as a result of the review. The number of notices has been reduced from eight to six and their content and style has been revised to make them more relevant and user-friendly. The notices will now be known as defence advisory notices, and the DPBC has become the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee, better to reflect the voluntary and advisory nature of the system.The new notices are published today for the first time, with their introduction and an explanation of how the system works, in an open government document. They will come into effect on 1 August. Their publication is intended to promote a better understanding of the system and to be a contribution to greater openness. I am placing a copy of the open government document in the Library of the House.