§ Mr. Chris Smith
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will set out the procedure within his Department for authorising transfers of personal data to other Government Departments; and at what level such decisions are authorised;
(2) on what grounds decisions are taken to transfer personal data held by his Department to other Government Departments;
(3) on what statutory basis transfers of personal data take place from his Department to other Government Departments; and how many such transfers take place each year;
(4) what internal guidelines covering the transfer of personal data to other Government Departments are available to staff in his Department; and whether he will place a copy of any such guidelines in the Library;
(5) what kind of personal data held by his Department, whether on computer or manually, are transferred to other Government Departments;
(6) what plans exist in his Department for the transfer of personal data via the Government data network; and what new procedures have been adopted within the Department to prevent unauthorised transfers of such data;
(7) what records are kept of transfers of personal data from his Department to other Government Departments; and whether the Data Protection Registrar has access to the relevant records;
(8) whether records will be kept of all personal data transferred to other Government Departments via the Government data network;
(9) whether the rules governing the transfer of personal data from his Department to other Government Departments are the same for data held manually as for data held on computer.
§ Mr. Peter Lloyd
Where information comprising personal data is computerised, disclosures are made only as permitted by the appropriate registration under the Data Protection Act 1984 or by one of the statutory exemptions embodied within the Act. The general guidance issued to staff is that dealing with the application of the Data Protection Act 1984, a copy of which has been 131W placed in the Library. This is the position whether or not there is any connection to the Government data network; and there are no plans at present to maintain records of, or issue central guidance dealing with, the transfer of personal data over the Government data network.
As regards non-computerised personal data, depending on the nature of the information held appropriate local procedures determine to whom the information may be disclosed, and who may authorise the disclosure. The Home Office holds many millions of records containing personal data, both manual and computerised, on a wide range of subjects: in consequence, the remaining detailed information sought in these questions is not readily available and could not be obtained save at disproportionate cost.