Skip to main content

Identity Cards: Foreigners

Volume 481: debated on Tuesday 21 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether biometric information collected from foreign nationals in receipt of identity cards will be destroyed when the individual permanently leaves the UK; (226396)

(2) under what circumstances biometric information collected from foreign nationals applying for identity cards can be removed from Government records.

Biometric data collected by the Secretary of State will be retained as long as retention of that data is necessary for the specified functions, for example functions under the Immigration Acts or for the prevention or detection of an offence. This applies even if the individual leaves the UK permanently, as it is difficult to anticipate whether a person may return to the UK on another occasion. It is essential to retain this information, for example, to identify those who may seek to abuse immigration control by seeking to return to the UK in a false identity and identify those who are entitled to be here.

The biometric data collected will be destroyed if it is no longer of use for those specified purposes. It will also be destroyed if the person proves that they are a British citizen or a Commonwealth citizen with a right of abode.

The exception to this is where the information is retained in accordance with, and for the purposes of, another enactment (that is, where Parliament has already approved retention of information for a particular purpose).

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department why the age of six years has been stipulated as the age at which foreign national children must supply fingerprints when obtaining an identity card. (226407)

[holding answer 13 October 2008]: The requirement for fingerprints to be taken from the age of six comes from EU Regulation 380/2008. The EU Commission agreed to set the minimum age at six years as this is the age at which fingerprints stabilise.