§ Mr. Chris Smith
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what arrangements are made by local authorities in Northern Ireland to allow individuals to have access to social services records about themselves; what guidance he has issued on this matter; whether he proposes to take any steps to encourage them to allow greater access to information held on automated and non-automated records; and whether he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Chris Patten
I understand that it is not the practice of health and social services boards to give members of the public access to social services records about themselves. No guidance has been issued to the boards but the matter is currently being considered by the Department of Health and Social Services.
The Data Protection Bill, when it comes into operation, will create a general right of access by individuals to automated personal records relating to them, subject to modification by order in cases where its application could prejudice the carrying out of social work.