HC Deb 19 January 2004 vol 416 c1021W
Annabelle Ewing

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) on what dates he has met Scottish Ministers to discuss the Citizen Information Project and its implications for Scotland; [147920]

(2) how many members of staff have been seconded from the Register Office for Scotland to work on the Office of National Statistics' Citizen Information Project; [147921]

(3) whether the Office for National Statistics' Citizen Information Project will cover information held by offices and agencies responsible to the Scottish Executive; [147922]

(4) which parts of the Citizen Information Project's current work programme includes matters of responsibility for the Scottish Executive; and what reporting procedures have been put in place for this work. [147923]

Ruth Kelly

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from John Pullinger to Ms Annabelle Ewing, dated 19 January 2004.

The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Questions on the Citizen Information Project. I am replying in his absence. (147920, 147921, 147922, 147923).

The work announced by the Chief Secretary on 6 January is about the development of a UK population register. The aim is to cover the UK because a number of the public sector organisations (such as UK Passport Service, Inland Revenue) that might supply basic data to construct the register, and that are among the potential users of the register, cover the whole of the UK. The current work is on project definition, to explore more fully the potential scope of a register and to develop a more detailed proposal.

The Chancellor has not met Scottish Ministers to discuss this work, but the project team has been in close touch with the Registrar General for Scotland and Scottish Executive officials, who have kept Scottish Executive Ministers informed of developments. The Chief Secretary has corresponded with his Cabinet colleagues, including the Secretary of State for Scotland, on several occasions. The issue of how the register might be used and taken forward in Scotland will be considered during this next stage of the project. Should legislation be required, it would be for the Scottish Parliament to decide whether any register should be used to support the administration of devolved services.

The project team will continue to work closely with the devolved administrations, other government departments, agencies and local authorities. The Scottish Executive was represented, by the Head of its 21 s' Century Government Unit, on the Steering Group for the project's feasibility study. The Scottish Executive and the General Register Office for Scotland will be similarly involved in the governance of the current stage of the project.

No secondments of staff to the CEP team from any organisation have yet been arranged for the current stage of the project.

I am copying this letter to the Registrar General for Scotland.