To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what is the expected date when figures will be available from the Child Support Agency for the period 1 April 1992 to 31 March 1993 on the number of DNA tests carried out in the pursuit of declarations of paternity in child maintenance cases in England and Wales;(2) what were the costs to the Child Support Agency of the DNA tests used to establish paternity during the pursuance of a maintenance claim for the year ending March 1992.
The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for Mrs. Ros Hepplewhite, the chief executive. She will write to the hon. Member and a copy will be placed in the Library.
Letter from Ros Hepplewhite to Mr. Gareth Wardell, dated 27 July 1993:
As Chief Executive of the Child Support Agency it is my responsibility to answer questions about relevant operational matters. I am therefore replying to your recent Parliamentary Questions to the Secretary of State for Social Security asking what were the costs to the Agency of the DNA tests used to establish paternity during the pursuance of a maintenance claim for the year ending March 1992, and the expected date when figures will be available for the period I April 1992 to 31 March 1993 on the number of DNA tests carried out in pursuit of applications to a Court for a maintenance order in England and Wales. Both periods relate to the time before the Agency was launched.
We estimate that during the period from I April 1992 to 31 March 1993, the Department made application to the courts for a declaration of paternity which involved DNA testing in less than 100 cases.
As regards the costs to the Department of DNA tests carried out in 1991–92, my previous letter explained that in the year ending March 1992 DNA testing was an issue in less than 1 per cent. of the 1,000 cases in which the Department made application to the courts for a declaration of paternity. Recovery of the costs for DNA testing were normally sought from the court in the costs they awarded. Before the Department then, or the Agency now, would consider pursuing such a case, the weight of other evidence of paternity would be substantial and the expectation was that most of the cases would be successfully proven and that the full costs would be recovered. In the light of this, and due to their limited nature, figures were not collected on the costs involved in individual DNA testing nor on the total court costs recovered.
I hope you will find this reply helpful. A copy will appear in the Official Report and a copy will also be placed in the Library.