§ Mr. Barnes
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what use his Department and its agencies make of postcode areas for the collection of data and in formulae for the distribution of grants and awards; and when such usages were last reviewed. 
§ Sir John Wheeler
In Northern Ireland, the Department of Health and Social Services collects data broken down by postcode area in relation to patient treatment and the processing of benefit claims. This provides the basis of aggregation for research and issues which have a geographic dimension. Postcodes are used by the Social Security Agency in delineating which areas qualify for special cold weather payments to the elderly. The delineation of areas is reviewed each year.
The Training and Employment Agency collects most of its programme monitoring data on the basis of postcodes. This process has recently been introduced and therefore has not yet been reviewed.
The Department of the Environment uses postcode areas for the selection of sampling points for the measurement of drinking water quality and radon levels, and for the collection of data on retail outlet usage, urban 302W development grant and the "Making Belfast Work" initiative. The use of postcode areas for these purposes has not been reviewed.