§ Mr. Meacher
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 22 February,Official Report, column 96, if he will provide whatever information is 223W available of those occasions on which he, or other Ministers in his Department, have signed public interest immunity certificates, and for what reasons.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
I have not signed any public interest immunity certificates as Chancellor of the Exchequer and no other serving Treasury Minister has ever signed such a certificate.
So far as I am aware, the only public interest immunity certificate signed by a Treasury Minister since 1979 was signed in January 1988 by my right hon. Friend the Member for St. Albans (Mr. Lilley) in his then capacity as the Economic Secretary to the Treasury. That certificate was issued in connection with civil proceedings in which the Bank of England was concerned, and related to Treasury and bank documents. Public interest immunity was claimed on the grounds that it was necessary that the documents in question be withheld from production, in the case of some, for the proper functioning of the public service, and in the case of others, for the proper exercise by the bank of its functions and responsibilities as a central bank and banking supervisor. The claim was considered by the court and upheld.