§ Mr. Milburn
General guidance on the use of person-specific information held by National Health Service bodies was issued in 1996 and the general principles were reinforced in the report of the Caldicott Committee in 1997. These principles apply equally to the use of NHS records in connection with anti-fraud work in the NHS. We will shortly be reviewing this guidance in the light of the Data Protection Bill and will clarify the circumstances in which information held by NHS bodies may be shared with non-NHS agencies.
§ Mr. Cohen
To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects the Audit Commission to commence data-matching exercises using their powers under the Audit Commission Bill 1998; and if such matching will involve records held by local authorities. 
§ Mr. Boateng
The Audit Commission Act 1998 consolidates existing legislation and does not introduce new powers. Auditors appointed by the Audit Commission have used data-matching techniques in local authorities for four to five years. They have recently extended this to a number of National Health Service pilot sites. The Audit Commission has no current plans to extend this to cross matching local authority and NHS records.