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17 May 2004 : Column 771W—continued

EU Accession States

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements he is making to   release, without prejudice to any outstanding application to be allowed to remain in the country, documents held by the UK authorities which are required by individuals from EU accession countries to facilitate their search for work in this country; what the timescale is for the release of such documents; whether such individuals will be able to register on the Workers Registration Scheme while they are seeking work; whether they can utilise the services of Jobcentres; what implications the arrangements for those from new EU member states seeking work in the UK have for (a) their right to remain in the UK and (b) National Asylum Support Service or local authority support, with particular reference to their accommodation and its cost; and if he will make a statement. [170049]

Mr. Browne: Documents held by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate will be returned to EU accession state nationals as soon as is practicable.

Individuals from the eight Accession States will only be able to register under the Worker Registration Scheme when they are in employment. They should apply to register as soon as they start work and within one month at the latest. They will be able to utilise Jobcentres to enable them to find employment.

Nationals of Cyprus and Malta will have a right of residence in the UK for up to six months on the basis that they are job seekers. Nationals of the remaining eight accession states will be able to remain in the UK while they seek work, provided that they are self-sufficient.

Nationals of the European Economic Area are not eligible for support from the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) or from local authorities under the Asylum Support (Interim Provisions) Regulations 2000. Those who were supported by NASS or their local authority can find work and register, seek support from friends or relatives or leave the UK. Individuals have had advance warning of the fact that they are no longer eligible for support but if they cannot avail themselves of these options without a violation of their Convention rights, they can approach NASS or their local authority to explain why. NASS will consider such representations from such individuals and will consider offering temporary support until that assessment is concluded. NASS have asked local authorities to consider matters relating to Interim Provisions cases in a similar manner
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and will consider reimbursing costs of continuing support for the short period of time it will take to make an assessment.

European Communities Association Agreement

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the statement by the Minister for Citizenship and Immigration of 8 March 2004, Official Report, columns 1245–52W, on the European Communities Association Agreement, if he will issue amended immigration statistics for the relevant period and categories. [161434]

Mr. Browne: Statistics on European Communities Association Agreement (ECAA) are management information collected by The Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND).

Statistics on the Control of Immigration produced by the Research and Statistics Directorate of the Home Office are part of the National Statistics, and are covered by the National Statistics Code of Practice. This means they are free from political interference and are produced to high professional principles and standards.

There are no plans to issue any corrections to these statistics arising from the statement on the European Communities Association Agreement, as management information on the ECAA are not included in the Control of Immigration Statistics.

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the   Home Department whether Ministers in his Department were informed of the letter from John Ramsden to Chris Mace, of 5 November 2002, regarding the operation of the European Communities Association Agreement scheme. [166559]

Mr. Browne: This matter is covered by the investigation which Mr. Ken Sutton is undertaking of the operation of the European Community Association Agreement scheme for Bulgaria and Romania. I do not wish to pre-empt the investigation by commenting on the issues before it is completed.

Female Prisons

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average female prison population was; and how many female prisons or prison units there were, in each of the last 10 years. [169086]

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Paul Goggins: The average female prison population and the number of prisons with female units in each of the last 10 years is given in the table.
Average female prison population and number of England and Wales

Average female prisonsPrisons with female units

Identity Cards

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home   Department what contribution identity cards are intended to make to combating terrorism. [169442]

Mr. Browne: We know that about 35 per cent. of terrorists use false or multiple identities. An identity cards scheme which made it far more difficult to establish multiple identities would help to disrupt terrorist support networks.

As the Home Secretary has always made clear—going back to 2001—an identity card scheme would not guarantee to protect the UK against a terrorist attack. However, the Government have a duty to take all reasonable measures which will contribute to preventing and disrupting terrorist activity.

Mr. Allan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to complete the Gateway Review Stage for the National Identity Cards Programme; and if he will publish the outcome of that review. [169814]

Mr. Browne: Legislation on Identity Cards—A Consultation (CM 6178) explains that the Identity Cards Programme will be subject to continuing external review by the Office of Government Commerce Gateway process. A Gateway 0 review of the Programme took place in January 2004 which concluded that it was ready to proceed to the next stage. Subsequent Gateway reviews of the Programme will take place throughout its development and implementation. In line with the usual practice, the reports from these Gateway Reviews are not published.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on what occasion and how frequently identity cards under the Draft Identity Cards Bill would need to be renewed. [169913]

Mr. Browne: ID cards will have a limited validity, this power is provided for in the draft Identity Cards Bill. At present passports and driving licences are valid for 10 years and the cost estimates for the identity cards scheme are based on fees for cards covering a 10 year period.
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However, in advance of it being a requirement to register, there will be no compulsion to renew an identity card. Only when it is a requirement to register will there be a requirement on individuals, whose card will expire in a prescribed period or whose card is not valid, to apply for an ID card within a prescribed period. Different validity periods will apply in different cases, for example the validity of cards issued to foreign nationals will be linked to the length of their entitlement to stay in the country. Validity periods will require the approval of Parliament.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the draft regulations under the Draft Identity Cards Bill that will be published in time for pre-legislative scrutiny at the same time as the Bill. [169914]

Mr. Browne: The Legislation on Identity Cards Consultation paper (Cm 6178) makes clear that the draft Identity Cards Bill is an enabling measure and that detailed provisions will be set out later in regulations, relating for example to the level of fees or the application process. Regulations will not, therefore, be published during the consultation period on the draft Bill but will be determined as the identity cards programme proceeds.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home   Department if he will list the Government databases that will be linked to the National Identity Register under proposals in the Draft Identity Cards Bill. [169916]

Mr. Browne: There are no provisions in the draft   Identity Cards Bill, which establish a direct link between the National Identity Register and any other Government database.

However, applications for one of the family of identity cards will require checks to be made against other databases, including those of public sector bodies. The data-sharing gateways established for this purpose will be used only when processing applications for cards or related purposes to ensure that the person, who applies to register and to be issued with an identity card, is the person he or she claims to be. Under the draft Bill, Parliament would have to approve each such "gateway" via an affirmative order where no powers already exist for the sharing of data in this way.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidelines he will issue on police use of finger-print information held on the National Identity Register proposed in the draft Identity Card Bill. [170257]

Mr. Browne: Disclosure of information from the National Identity Register without the individual's consent may be made to the police only in the specified circumstances set out in Clause 20(3) of the draft Bill. This is subject to certain rules, including that information will only be disclosed if the Secretary of State is satisfied that it was not reasonably practicable for the police to have obtained the information by another means. For example, if fingerprint information
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is recorded on the register, the police would first have to search their own fingerprint records before resorting to the register. I will consider the need for further guidance on this subject nearer to the time of the introduction of the identity cards scheme.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for   the Home Department which bodies will have access to all the data stored on the National Identity Register. [170262]

Mr. Browne: Proposals to permit information held on the National Identity Register to be disclosed without an individual's consent are set out in "Legislation on Identity Cards: A Consultation" (CM6178) published on 26 April.

It is incorrect to say that any body or person will have "access" to the register, rather the legislation will permit the Secretary of Sate to disclose information where a person consents or, where a person does not consent, only for specified purposes to specified persons.

There will be an exception to the general bar on disclosing information without consent, but disclosure will only be allowed to specified persons for specified purposes approved by Parliament and will be subject to an internal authorisation and independent oversight procedure.

There will be a general power to disclose information to the security and intelligence agencies for their statutory purposes under clause 20.

In addition, law enforcement agencies will be able to seek disclosure of information from the National Identity Register for the prevention or investigation of crime under clause 20 (3). For these groups, disclosure of "audit trails" of card usage would be permitted only in cases of serious crime under clause 20 (8). The police in Scotland will have similar powers but will only be permitted to apply for disclosure in relation to matters that are reserved under clause 20 (7)(b) .

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how individuals will gain access to relevant services if their identity card is lost or stolen. [170263]

Mr. Browne: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer my right hon. Friend the Member for Stretford and Urmston (Beverley Hughes) gave to the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (John Barrett) on 9 February 2004, Official Report, column 1261W. My right hon. Friend said that an identity card, although very helpful to public services as a reliable means of proving identity, would not become mandatory for free public services and benefits until a specific further parliamentary decision on a move to compulsion. Where the identity card is used to access public services we will want to ensure that procedures are in place to help those whose card has been lost or stolen, especially in cases of emergency.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what communication strategy has been developed to ensure engagement with the public on the subject of identity cards. [170264]

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Mr. Browne: The communication strategy on identity cards includes the following elements to ensure engagement with the public:

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to pilot data sharing powers in advance of the introduction of identity cards. [170324]

Mr. Browne: "Identity Cards: The Next Steps" (CM 6020) published in November 2003 made it clear that applications for one of the family of identity cards will require checks to be made against other databases, held by the public or private sector, in order to help establish that an application for a card is genuine. This followed recommendations on identity verification included in the Cabinet Office study on Identity Fraud, published in July 2002.

The data-sharing gateways which may be approved by Parliament in clause 11 of the draft Identity Cards Bill will only be used when processing applications for an identity card or for related purposes (for example, issuing a replacement) to ensure that the person who applies to register is the person he or she claims to be. These powers do not confer any general right to share data for wider purposes.

In order to allow for testing of the identity cards scheme in advance of the first cards being issued, these data sharing powers could be piloted but it is not possible to give further detail at this stage as detailed work on implementation of an identity cards scheme is not at the stage where we can be definitive about these timings. Use of the powers on a pilot basis would require Parliament's consent.

Mr. Alan Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to procure (a) ID cards and (b) ID card technology from firms within the UK. [170408]

Mr. Browne: Government policy requires that all procurement must be transparent and non-discriminatory, and that contracts must be awarded on a value-for-money
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basis. Any requirement for services or goods above certain value thresholds, which will include those in support of the identity cards programme, must be advertised across the European Union.

We have been discussing technical options with Intellect, the UK information technology, telecommunications and electronics industry trade body, for the past two years. We hope that UK industry will rise to the challenge and opportunity that the identity cards programme brings.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what biometric information he intends to store on (a) passports and (b) driving licences; and what databases will be established to store such information centrally. [170816]

Mr. Browne: The United Kingdom Passport Service is planning to implement the facial recognition image biometric in the British Passport book from 2005. This facial biometric will be stored on the passport database. There are as yet no firm plans for driving licences to include biometric information although the driving licence database already stores digital photographs.

The passport and driving licence may be designated as   ID cards under the draft Identity Cards Bill. In which case these documents may include additional biometrics, which would be stored on the new National Identity Register. However, no final decisions have yet been taken on which biometric or biometrics the identity cards scheme will use. The draft Identity Cards Bill allows for fingerprints and other forms of biometric information such as iris images to be recorded.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether an individual will have the right to see all the information contained on his or her entry in the National Identity Register under proposals in the draft Identity Cards Bill. [170817]

Mr. Browne: Clause 3 (1) of the draft Identity Cards Bill published on 26 April sets clear limits for the information that could be held on the National Identity Register. Schedule 1 lists the categories of information that may be held on the Register.

Individuals registered on the identity cards scheme would have subject access rights under the Data Protection Act 1998. In addition the Government will investigate whether it would be possible for a cardholder to use his card securely to access his own record to avoid the usual authorisation process and cost involved in applying for subject access. The Government will have to be satisfied that this could be achieved without compromising personal information, for example that another person could not use a stolen card to view another person's record on the National Identity Register.

Clause 14 (4) excludes information held in Schedule 1, paragraph 9 (records relating to disclosure of an entry) from being disclosed unless the Secretary of State deems it appropriate.

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