HL Deb 09 May 1994 vol 554 cc77-8WA
Lord Marlesford

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the long-standing arrangements whereby those in custody for 21 days or longer are asked for national insurance information means that those concerned are legally obliged to provide such information and whether the information asked for includes the national insurance number and whether any subsequent check is made to discover whether the information given is correct.

Earl Ferrers

Responsibility for the subject of this Question has been delegated to the Prison Service and its Director General, Mr. Derek Lewis. The Director General has therefore arranged for a response to the Question and the letter is given below.

Letter to Lord Marlesford from the Director of Personnel, HM Prison Service, Mr. A. J. Butler, dated 9th May 1994

Lord Ferrers has asked me, in the absence of the Director General from the office, to reply to your recent Question regarding arrangements for asking prisoners for national insurance information.

There is no legal obligation for prisoners to provide the Prison Service with national insurance information. However, prison establishments are asked to ensure all prisoners in custody for more than 21 days are routinely asked for such information. The information requested includes national insurance numbers, where known. The information collected is passed to the Contributions Agency. I understand they use it to update their records and pass the information on to other relevant agencies. It is an offence under the Social Security Administration Act 1992 to give false information for the purpose of obtaining any benefit.

In addition to these long-standing arrangements, new controls were introduced in March. The Prison Service now provides the Benefits Agency and the Employment. Service with a weekly list of all newly convicted. prisoners in England and Wales. I understand this is used to ensure the position of all benefit recipients is reviewed on entry to prison.