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Identity Cards: Biometrics

Volume 486: debated on Tuesday 13 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how long the biometric information will be retained in respect of foreign nationals issued with a biometric identity card after the individual concerned has returned permanently to their home country. (244113)

The UK Borders Act 2007 provides for biometric information collected by the Secretary of State to be retained as long as retention of that data is necessary. The specified functions, for example, include functions under the Immigration Acts or for the prevention or detection of an offence. Where an individual leaves the UK permanently, his biometric data will only be retained in circumstances where they continue to be of use for the purposes prescribed in the regulations. Retention of biometric information will therefore enable the UK Border Agency to identify those who may seek to abuse immigration control by returning to the UK in a false identity, and help to assure the identity of those who are entitled to be here.

The biometric information 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) for example under the Identity Cards Act 2006.