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Volume 301: debated on Wednesday 19 November 1997

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what instructions he has issued to MI5 in respect of the retention or otherwise of files originally collated in pursuit of counter-subversion activities; [15723](2) if he will undertake a review to establish what further information concerning, or held by, MI5 could be released for public scrutiny without damaging national security or prejudicing current criminal investigations. [15688]

[holding answer 17 November 1997]: The Security Service keeps under review the records which it holds with a view to identifying information which might be released for public scrutiny, and destroying records which it no longer needs to retain in order to fulfil its statutory responsibilities. For some time, the Service has been taking steps to place more information in the public domain and to select for destruction records which are no longer required. I have emphasised to the Director General the importance I place on both aspects.On 17 November, records relating to the activities of the Service up to 1918 were released to the Public Records Office, and there are plans for further releases to follow. The Service has also released current information about itself in the form of two editions of a booklet published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office.