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7 Feb 2005 : Column 1267W—continued

Identity Cards/Passports

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what research he has initiated into the use of biometrics for individual identification. [208357]

Mr. Browne: A study was commissioned from the National Physical Laboratory. The results of this study along with other research on identity cards has been published on the website

The UK Passport Service is procuring a facial recognition system, which will provide a 'proof of concept' capability. This is expected to be operational by the end of 2005.

The Police Information Technology Organisation has published a roadmap on the subject of personal identification within the police service which considers the technologies likely to be most appropriate. It looks at how mature these technologies are and what research and development work will be needed before suitable applications can be developed and deployed to support policing.

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will place in the Library the information available to his Department on the accuracy of (a) biometric tests and (b) biometric card readers; if he will list the biometric card readers his Department has assessed; what assessment he has made of the accuracy of (i) fingerprint tests, (ii) iris tests and (iii) face recognition tests; and what assessment he has made of the (A) problems and (B) benefits associated with each technology. [206206]

Mr. Browne: Work was commissioned on biometrics from NPL (National Physical Laboratory) on the feasibility of the use of biometrics in an identity card scheme. I have placed copies in the Library, and it is also available on the identity cards publications web page ( Related work is available on the Communications and Electronic Security Group website ( in particular the Best Practice" standards for testing and reporting on biometric device performance and the Biometrics Testing Final Report", both of which deal with the testing of biometric devices.

The Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO) has conducted large scale tests on the operational accuracy of fingerprint based identification systems for policing purposes, namely on the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS), and more recently for its successor, IDENT1. PITO has produced an 'Identification Roadmap' which identifies issues on biometric identification as they relate to its use in policing, both now and in the future. I have placed copies in the Library.

A very basic benchmark exercise was carried out in 2000 on the Immigration and Asylum Fingerprint Identification system in order to assess the accuracy of the system. The only test carried out involved hard copies often-print fingerprint forms which were searched and stored on the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS).
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The Identity Cards Programme is actively investigating the performance of operational systems which enrol and match biometrics, including fingerprints, face and iris. Our conclusions are that the findings of the National Physical Laboratory reports are supported by the information gained from operational biometric systems.

Some biometric technology has been used in the UK Passport Service biometric enrolment trial, the results of which will be published in due course, although it is important to note that this was not a systematic test of equipment, nor was it a technology trial. Rather than evaluate equipment, much of which may be superseded by the time are first issued we are working with other Departments and with expert advice to set the requirements for performance. These requirements, and the requirements for evaluation to demonstrate performance, we shall take to the market when the Identity Cards programme enters its procurement stage which is subject to approval of the Identity Cards Bill currently before Parliament.

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what evaluation he has conducted of the security of the proposed national identity register; and what weaknesses have been identified. [210160]

Mr. Browne: The ID Cards Scheme has not yet reached the Gateway 1 stage of the Office of Government Commerce classification of major programmes which is the stage at which a formal security evaluation is required. However it is likely that the evaluation will conclude that the scheme will be part of the country's Critical National Infrastructure (CNI). As such it will be subject to Government security accreditation in accordance with the Manual of Protective Security and the relevant international standard (ISO/IEC 17799). A pan government security accreditor has been appointed from the Central Sponsor for Information Assurance (CSIA) and a team of specialist security consultants appointed to manage the accreditation and end to end resilience and security of the scheme.

A formal Threat Assessment has been commissioned and input received from the National Infrastructure Co-ordination Centre (NISCC) and the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS). These will form a key part of the security evaluation. The Communications Electronic Security Group (CESG) which is part of GCHQ and the National Technical Information Assurance Authority are fully engaged in the project. Finally both an Accreditation Panel and a Security Working Group, involving all security stakeholders, are already in place and meetings held on a regular basis.

Identity Cards Bill

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to his statement of 20 December 2004, Official Report, column 1950, on the Identity Cards Bill, how he intends that the Bill, if enacted, should apply to (a) Irish citizens commuting into the United Kingdom for employment or recreation and (b) Irish citizens who are resident within the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement. [214410]

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Mr. Browne [holding answer 4 February 2005]: ID cards will be issued to people resident in the United Kingdom, not to those who reside elsewhere and visit the UK, whether on a regular basis or not. The status of Irish citizens in the UK will not change should the Identity Cards Bill be enacted. They will be treated in accordance with the British Nationality Act 1948 and the Ireland Act 1949 and the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement. They may also, if they so wish, choose to be regarded as EU nationals.
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David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications for leave to remain were processed after (a) 20 days, (b) 40 days, (c) 60 days, (d) 80 days, (e) 100 days and (f) more than 100 days; and what percentage of the total number of applications each of these represented in each year since 1997; [203221]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The information requested is set out in the table.
Leave to remain applications processed during 2002–04

Total applications processed20 days
or less
21–40 days41–60 days61–80 days80–100 days101 plus days
Percentage of total4018127816
Percentage of total55269325
Percentage of total58267433

1.Comparable data is not available prior to 2002 due to changes in data recording between old and existing databases.
2.The information for 2004 is for the period between 1 January 2004 and 6 December 2004.
3.The processing time is taken from the date that the application was received until the dispatch date.
4.These figures are based on unvalidated information drawn from internal management systems, and there may be data quality variations.
5.Figures have been rounded to the nearest five.

Judicial System

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps the Department is taking to ensure all citizens have equal access to justice. [209488]

Paul Goggins: The Home Office is committed to ensuring that all citizens have equal access to justice. We recognise that public confidence in the Criminal Justice System is crucial to the delivery of fair and equitable justice. Ensuring that members of the public have confidence in the CJS will lead to more frequent reporting of crime and the greater likelihood of justice being done.

We are developing the infrastructure to ensure the effective delivery of new Public Sector Agreement (PSA) targets. The new PSA was developed to reflect the Criminal Justice System (CJS) vision for 2008 which aims to ensure that the public has confidence that the CJS is effective and serves all communities fairly.

The Home Office is working with Local Criminal Justice Boards to improve levels of community engagement, meet communities' needs and priorities and encourage the participation of local people in the delivery of justice. We are working to increase public understanding and awareness of the CJS using a variety of media including the CJS Online Website and virtual walkthroughs for victims, witnesses, jurors and defendants to demystify the experience in advance.

The Home Office has a strong commitment to ensure that those who have been the victim of a crime or were a witness to a crime receive the appropriate levels of care and support.

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