HC Deb 15 December 1989 vol 163 cc851-3W
Mr. Meacher

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will give gross spending for his Department(a) in cash terms and (b) in real terms using April 1979 as 100 both (i) as a percentage of gross domestic product and (ii) per 100,000 of the population for each year from 1978 to 1989, inclusive.

Mr. Scott

The information requested is set out in the table.

£ million Posts
1989–90 42 4,000
1990–91 80 7,500
1991–92 160 15,000
1992–93 195 18,000
1993–94 220 20,000
1994–95 220 20,000

Mr. Meacher

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security to what extent his Department's(a) budget and (b) staffing level has been cut for the year 1990–91 in the light of savings achieved through computerisation.

Mr. Scott

The Department's administration budget for 1990–91 was settled during the recent public expenditure survey. Details will be published early in the new year in the public expenditure White Paper.

The provision for 1990–91 reflects the wide range of the Department's activities, including our major computerisation programme.

Mr. Meacher

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what(a) manually held and (b) computer-held information on individual claimants his Department's officers and officials are (a) required and (b) permitted to pass to a third party; and to whom it is passed.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard

Information passed to third named in legislation is limited to that which is necessary for carrying out statutory functions such as the collection of contributions, payment of benefit, operation of the occupational pension scheme, registration and payment of, and awarding benefit in respect of, the community charge and operation of the housing benefit rebate scheme.

In other circumstances, where there is no statutory function, requests for information from social security records made by other Government Departments are considered only if the information would prevent the duplication of public funds, would help the prosecution of a serious crime, would meet the welfare needs of the individual concerned or would be in the public interest.

Information may be required under the terms of an order of a court of law and the information required under the terms of that order is provided to the court.

Information may also be disclosed in confidence to the police in cases which involve serious crime.

Where the individual concerned provides written consent to information being provided to a third party, the request will normally be met.