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10 Oct 2005 : Column 165W—continued

Royal Prerogative

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list each occasion when he has exercised the Royal Prerogative since 1997. [16357]

The Prime Minister: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Alistair Carmichael) on 25 June 2002, Official Report, column 802W.

State-owned Ministerial Quarters

Mike Penning: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list alterations made to state-owned ministerial quarters funded from public funds since 1 May 1997. [16057]

The Prime Minister: Information relating to alterations made to Ministers official residences is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Telephone Inquiries

Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Prime Minister what facilities his Office has to deal with telephone inquiries in (a) Welsh, (b) Scots Gaelic and (c) Irish Gaelic. [14731]

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The Prime Minister: My office has no specific facilities, but would enlist the help of other Government Departments where possible.


Identity Cards

15. Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the estimated cost of identity cards. [16791]

Andy Burnham: The unit cost of issuing together a combined passport and identity card package, valid for 10 years, is estimated as £93. This includes the cost of issuing biometric passports which amounts to around 70 per cent. of the total and which we will have to do to keep our passports secure.

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 28 June 2005, Official Report, column 1242W, to the hon. Member for Nottingham, South (Alan Simpson) on identity cards, whether the radio frequency identification technologies undergoing feasibility studies for biometric passports and identity cards include (a) read only tags, (b) read write tags and (c) both. [9551]

Andy Burnham [holding answer 5 July 2005]: The identity cards programme is not investigating the use of radio frequency identification for tagging. We are considering the use of 'contactless chips', which contain radio frequency chips. We will ensure that sensitive data on the chip is encrypted and are aiming to do this through adoption of emerging International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards. These provide significantly more security of data than exists today.

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of privacy-enhancing technologies in the context of the UK identity cards system. [10988]

Mr. Charles Clarke: As part of specifying technical requirements for the identity card scheme, research into methods and technologies that seek to protect the privacy of citizen's data has been conducted and will be used to evaluate proposals received once procurement commences.

In general, we have examined the use of strong encryption technologies and digital signatures to protect the privacy of any sensitive information held on the card and to authenticate the information.

In addition, the National Identity Register (NIR) will be held in secure facilities within an appropriate security infrastructure to protect the information held. All communication links with the NIR will be encrypted.

Working processes within such facilities will need to comply with industry best practices, including segregation of operator role, robust accounting and audit processes.

In line with Office of Government Commerce guidelines, due to commercial sensitivity, it would not be appropriate to release further information in advance of procurement as it may prejudice these negotiations.
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Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what alternative technical architectures his Department has considered for the identity cards scheme. [10989]

Mr. Charles Clarke: As part of setting technical requirements for the Identity Cards Scheme, we have undertaken research into potential architectures and this work will be used to inform our evaluation of proposals received once procurement commences.

However, ultimately, potential bidders will propose alternative solutions for the technical architecture of the National Identity Register (NIR), based on the technical requirements outlined by the Scheme. Hence, the detailed technical architecture of the NIR will not be finalised until the final stages of procurement negotiations.

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what advice his Department has received from chief information officers of other Government Departments and agencies on the identity cards scheme, with particular reference (a) to (i) NHS Connecting for Health, (ii) the Department for Work and Pensions, (iii) HM Revenue and Customs, (iv) the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and (v) the UK Passports Agency and (b) to the (A) costs and (B)feasibility of the project. [10998]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Identity Cards Programme Team has regular and wide ranging discussions across Government in relation to different aspects of the scheme, including the organisations listed in the question. These discussions have informed the contents of the Regulatory Impact Assessment, which was published on 25 May 2005, and the Identity Cards Scheme Benefits Overview, which was published on 28 June 2005.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how he expects the identity card system to help to reduce the number of illegal immigrants residing in the UK. [12562]

Andy Burnham: Once individuals routinely present their ID cards in order to receive education, benefits and non-emergency health care or to gain legal employment then it will be more difficult for those here illegally to access these services or to find work. This is likely in turn to reduce the pull factors that encourage individuals to illegally enter or remain in the UK.

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the number of times the identity card database would be used in order to secure the effective and efficient delivery of public services; and whether the consent of the individual cardholder would be required. [14547]

Andy Burnham: Currently, the identity cards programme is continuing to work with public service providers to gather their requirements as potential user organisations of the identity cards scheme. However, the number of occasions that a person will be asked to verify their identity against the National Identity Register will be a decision for the user organisation themselves. This is likely to be dependent on a number of factors, including the nature of their relationship with
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the individual (e.g. first time interaction, maintenance of details, transactional relationship) and their own business processes.

As such, it is not possible to provide a final estimate for the number of times the Register will be used to verify the identity of an individual in order to secure the effective and efficient provision of public services until further work is completed.

However, in such circumstances, the consent of the individual would always be necessary unless verification was undertaken either under the powers set out in Clauses 15–18 of the Identity Cards Bill (required identity checks for public services) where the individual would be aware of the check, or where verification was undertaken without consent in the very specific, limited, purposes laid out in Clauses 19–23 of the Identity Cards Bill.

Police Force Structures

16. Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the recent HM inspectorate of constabulary report on police structures. [16792]

Mr. Charles Clarke: In September we published the findings of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary's review of the capacity of police forces to provide the necessary level of protective services to safeguard the public from the threats posed by terrorism, organised crime and civil emergencies. The inspectorate found that the 43 force structure is no longer fit for purpose.

In the light of the inspectorate's clear professional advice, I have asked chief officers and police authorities to submit proposals for restructuring to me by the end of the year. I have made it clear that I fully endorse the inspectorate's conclusion that the creation of strategic forces offers the best long term business solution.

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