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Written Statements

Volume 404: debated on Monday 28 April 2003

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Written Ministerial Statements

Monday 28 April 2003


Defence Vetting Agency

The Defence Vetting Agency carries out national security checks on Government employees, employees of Government contractors and others, to allow them to be employed in jobs involving access to protectively marked information and materials, and to have access to sensitive facilities. The Agency has recently completed an ambitious collocation and modernisation programme designed to make it more responsive to its customers. It is now well placed to move towards carrying out security clearances more quickly, without any loss of quality. The Agency has been set the following Key Targets for Financial Year 2003–04.


Key Target 1: Through external validation, achieve at least a 95 per cent. success rating with specially selected cases, and achieve zero Serious Errors that should have been identified at the time of vetting.

Key Target 2: Address the diversity imbalance in the Agency and by 2004 achieve:

a.Women (Band D & above)28%
b.Women (FIOs)25%
c.Ethnic Minorities (FIOs)3.3%
d.Disabled (Band D and FIOs)3%
(FIOs = Field Investigation Officers)


Key Target 3: To complete routine cases:

  • a. 62% of Counter Terrorist Checks (CTC) within 30 days.
  • b. 62% of Security Checks (SCs) within 30 days.
  • c. 40% of Developed Vetting (DV) within 100 days
  • d. 90% of Developed Vetting within 182 days.
  • Key Target 4: To complete priority cases:

  • a. 40% of CTC and SC cases within 10 days.
  • b. 90% of priority DVs within 30 days.
  • (volume to be no more than 10 per cent. of total requests per month)

    Key Target 5: To achieve average completion times.

  • a. 30 days for CTCs
  • b. 30 days for SC
  • c. 100 days for DVs.
  • Efficiency

    Key Target 6: To reduce the FY 2002–03 Unit Cost of Output by 2 per cent.

    I have arranged for advance copies of the Corporate Plan to be placed in the Libraries of the Houses.

    Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

    Focus Programme

    My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Mr Rammell, in his reply of 12 December to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey (Mr. Wyatt), Official Report, column, 459W, concerning the FCO's IT systems, promised a further announcement on the FCO's Focus Programme.We reviewed all the FCO's Information and Communications Technology programmes earlier this year, in the light of the financial constraints we face. Given the relative low priority of the Focus Programme and a substantial increase in its estimated cost from £23.5 million to £42 million over six years (reflecting significant changes to the scope of the programme which involved a greater training requirement, enhanced security arrangements and, post 11 September, a considerable extra investment in Back-up and Disaster Recovery), we decided to negotiate the cancellation of the contract for the Focus Programme. Agreement was reached with Fujitsu and the cancellation took effect from 31 March 2003.At the point of cancellation, the FCO had spent in the region of £9.5 million on the Focus Programme. From this expenditure, we will retain a global electronic Directory and a facility allowing on-line discussion groups to help cross-departmental team working. The Directory will provide the FCO with savings estimated at £2.5 million over the next five years. We will also be using one of the software licences bought as part of the Focus Programme to develop a new FCO Intranet.

    Export Licence (Sfor)

    In September 2002 the Government issued a licence for the export of military listed components for use by the Canadian contingent of the Stabilisation Force (SFOR). The components are for logistical purposes. They will be used for the specific purpose of repairing palletised load handling system vehicles used for transporting containers.Bosnia and Herzegovina is subject to an EU arms embargo (imposed by Common Position 96/184/CFSP). The embargo was put in place mainly to ensure the safety of international troops and civilian personnel deployed in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This decision does not affect the Government's continued support for the EU Common Position on arms exports to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    The decision was made in accordance with our practice occasionally to make an exemption to our interpretation of the embargo by approving exports of non-lethal military goods to humanitarian, media or peacekeeping organisations where it is clear the embargo was not intended to prevent those exports and there is a strong humanitarian case for them.

    HMG fully supports the Canadian element of SFOR and recognises their legitimate need for the right tools arid reliable vehicles to carry out their job effectively. The decision underlines HMG's continued support for the work being done by SFOR in maintaining security and development in Bosnia and Herzegovina.