Wednesday, July 29, 1998 Published at 15:47 GMT 16:47 UK
MI5 holds nearly half a million files
Home to MI5 agents - and nearly 500,000 files
The home secretary has revealed that MI5 holds files on nearly half a million people - but that only 20,000 are still active.
Mr Straw said in a Commons written reply that of the 20,000 active files, 13,000 related to UK citizens. The rest mainly concerned members of foreign intelligence services or terrorst groups.
He said that only a "tiny proportion" of those files held on British citizens were likely to be under close investigation at any one time.
More than half of these were because of suspected terrorist-related activities.
Files facts and figures
Website and booklet
The Website contains details of employment opportunities and how to contact MI5, as well as information about the service as published in the booklet.
In both, MI5 says it does not carry out assassinations or "routinely" monitor the private lives of members of the royal family or other public figures.
It also states for the first time that it never investigates people simply because they are members of unions or campaigning groups.
It does admit, however, that some people have been investigated because in the past "subversive groups" had sought to "infiltrate and manipulate such organisations as a way of exerting political influence".
MI5 also discloses that its budget is £140m out of a total for the secret services of £700m.
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