HC Deb 04 April 1995 vol 257 cc1076-7W
Mr. Jamieson

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) if he will give details of instances, other than that of Marc Calder, where the personal details of a client of the Child Support Agency have been released publicly; [17093]

(2) what are his responsibilities to clients of the Child Support Agency in relation to the holding of personal details by the agency. [17095]

Mr. Burt

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for Miss Ann Chant, the chief executive. She will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Miss Ann Chant to Mr. David Jamieson, dated 4 April 1995: I am replying to your recent Parliamentary Questions to the Secretary of State for Social Security about the Child Support Agency's responsibility to maintain client confidentiality. The particular episode to which you refer is an isolated incident. Protecting clients' confidentiality is a cornerstone of the Agency's work, even when there is a great temptation to "put the record straight". Information obtained in the course of deciding an application for child support is kept in the strictest confidence. An officer acting on behalf of the Secretary of State may use such information for benefit purposes, but it may not be passed to someone outside the Department of Social Security unless required, for example, by a child support appeal tribunal, or an authority dealing with housing benefit or council tax. The disclosure of evidence is covered by child support legislation, and it is a criminal offence to disclose information without lawful authority. If any member of staff of the Agency is found to have disclosed personal details of a client without authorisatin, this will lead to disciplinary action. This may result in prosecution and/or dismissal.

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