HC Deb 06 April 1971 vol 815 cc228-9
10. Mr. Leslie Huckfield

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many computer databanks are operated by his Department; and who has access to their terminals.

Sir K. Joseph

My Department has only one computer system whose databank is accessible by computer terminals. This is the computer at Reading used for payment of short-term national insurance benefits; its terminals are installed in certain local offices of my Department and of the Department of Employment, mainly in the London area, and only designated staff of these offices dealing with payment of short-term benefits have access to them.

Mr. Huckfield

I again thank the Secretary of State for the information. I am particularly glad that he has given some assurance on the basis of what information will be sold. Does he accept that another of the jobs for which his Department's data bank facilities will he used is the 1971 Census? As it is well known in the computer industry that pretty well any safeguard or code can be broken in under two hours, how can he possibly maintain that information given at this Census will be private and confidential?

Sir K. Joseph

Given ill-will, malevolent intent and actual felony, any information can be got at. The hon. Gentleman is suggesting that all three will be involved in attacking any information.