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Departmental Data Protection

Volume 472: debated on Wednesday 27 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what audits his Department and its agencies carried out in relation to personal data and IT equipment in each of the last 10 years. (176485)

The Department, as a major data custodian, takes the security of personal data extremely seriously. The Departmental Audit Committee—which is chaired by an independent non-executive director—supervises an annual programme of reviews by the Department's Internal Audit function. The precise scope of each review is set out in specific and detailed terms of reference.

The Department has conducted a very large number of such audit reviews over the past 10 years. Many of these audits have examined system performance in relation to the management and processing of information, including personal and other data. Details of each such review could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what investigation he undertook into the reasons that documents containing personal information relating to benefit claimants were left by the roadside near Exeter Airport on 17 January 2008; and if he will make a statement. (184631)

[holding answer 7 February 2008]: As soon as the incident was discovered, the Department’s permanent secretary launched an immediate investigation. All the documents involved have now been recovered and accounted for. The contracted courier company have undertaken an inquiry, and have assured the Department that they are further tightening their procedures as a result of this incident.