HC Deb 18 March 1971 vol 813 cc1618-9
1. Mr. Leslie Huckfield

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department who will have access to the National Police computer; how many terminals there will be; and what arrangements will be made to guarantee the confidentiality of personal information stored in it.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Reginald Maudling)

Access will be limited to the police. About 200 terminals will be provided initially, probably increasing to about 800 over a period of years. Special attention is being paid to confidentiality. All the terminals will be located in police premises and the system will use a private line network; other safeguards will include the coding of messages and various computer checks.

Mr. Huckfield

I am grateful to the Home Secretary for his detailed answer, but this will be a very big data transmission system, and is he satisfied that adequate safeguards can be made, particularly in the transmission stages? What proposals does he intend to introduce to enable individuals to see certain parts of their files, and who will be the first British J. Edgar Hoover?

Mr. Maudling

I do not know the answer to the last question, save that it will not be me. I quite accept what the hon. Member, with his great knowledge of this subject, says about confidentiality, but the new system with the computer as it is being worked out will give greater safeguards than there are at the moment.

Mr. Rees-Davies

Has my right hon. Friend considered the training to be given in the use of this computer? I am advised that those concerned in its operation have not yet received any training. This is an urgent matter. Will my right hon. Friend report soon to the House that an adequate training programme is going on so that the operators will be ready to participate effectively as soon as the computer is ready?

Mr. Maudling

It is certainly of the highest importance to have adequately trained people available when the computer comes into operation. We are advised on this by a distinguished firm of computer consultants, but I will certainly look into the point raised by my hon. Friend.