§ Mr. Cohen
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she has taken to resolve the difference in the legal opinions obtained by her Department and the Data Protection Registrar as to whether the national health service number is protected by Crown copyright; if she will summarise her understanding of the registrar's position; if under current proposals other Government Departments will be able to use the national health service number for internal administration purposes not associated with health care; and if she will make a statement.
§ Mr. Sackville
The Data Protection Registrar's position is that statutory control of access to and use of the new national health service number is appropriate. The Department remains of the view that unauthorised use can be pursued without resort to legislation: a view that would be tested in a case where evidence of actual abuse arose. There is no intention that the NHS number should be used by any Government Department for purposes not associated with health care.