Mr Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (1) on how many occasions and for what periods the website of the Intellectual Property Office has been unresponsive as a result of denial of service attacks in the last three years; [18672]

(2) what reports he has received on the denial of service attacks on the Intellectual Property Office's website on 16 October 2010; and if he will make a statement; [18673]

(3) what reports he has received on denial of service attacks undertaken on websites carried out under the banner of Operation Payback; and if he will make a statement. [18674]

Mr Vaizey: This Department was approached by one private sector company that was suffering a denial of service attack attributed to Operation Payback. Officials advised that company where to seek advice and to report the attack to the police. In the past week this Department has been working with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) on the similar attack on their website. This is the first time in the last three years that the Intellectual Property Office website has been unresponsive as a result of denial of service attacks. The IPO have taken advice from experts within Government and their service has now been restored. The Government clearly abhor this sort of direct action and the impact it has on businesses consumers and citizens who rely on access to Government websites for the delivery of important services; and call on those taking part to behave responsibly. The question as to whether this can be regarded as a criminal act is a matter for the appropriate authorities.