§ Norman Baker
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the role of the Government Technical Assistance Centre; and what(a) its budget and (b) establishment are in the current financial year. 
§ Mr. Blunkett
The role of the Government Technical Assistance Centre, now known as the National Technical Assistance Centre (NTAC), is to provide assistance to the investigations of United Kingdom intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
It will do so by providing techniques for lawful interception of Modern multimedia communications and by processing those lawfully intercepted communications in order to provide intelligible material to the intercepting agencies. NTAC also provides techniques to derive intelligible evidence from lawfully seized computer data.
NTAC was established in response to the 1999 Cabinet Office Performance and Innovation Unit report "Encryption and Law Enforcement". It is a Unit within the Home Office and operates from the headquarters of the Security Services.
NTAC is not an investigative facility. Its function is to process lawfully acquired data on behalf of its customers so that such data may be made intelligible and then acted upon by investigators within the relevant customer agency.
Since the summer of 2001 NTAC has been operational in its role in respect of lawfully seized computer data. It plans to commence operational work in respect of lawfully intercepted communications in summer 2002.830W
The NTAC budget for 2001–02 is £16 million. Of this, £1 million is Running Cost provision and £15 million is capital provision from an overall three-year Capital Modernisation Fund (CMF) allocation of £25 million. The purpose of the CMF moneys is to establish the technical facilities necessary for NTAC to undertake its operational role.
The current (January 2002) operational establishment of NTAC is 16 and will rise to 18 by the end of the current financial year. This includes senior management, operational and support staff. The establishment will rise further as new operational capabilities come on stream.
NTAC also runs a technical programme which is developing its technical facilities. This currently comprises 14 staff and will disband when NTAC is fully operational.