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National Identity Service Public Panels

Volume 498: debated on Monday 26 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what estimate he has made of the cost of (a) establishing and (b) running the National Identity Service public panels; (294421)

(2) how much was spent on (a) job advertisements and (b) publicity for the recruitment campaign to the National Identity Service public panels;

(3) how many applications for membership of the National Identity Service public panels have been received;

(4) what procedures will be used to select members of the National Identity Service public panels.

[holding answer 20 October 2009]: We are introducing a public panel, made up of people from different regions, to ensure that the views of the public are properly reflected in the way the National Identity Service (NIS) is introduced, and to help us develop an identity rights charter.

Members are unpaid volunteers, who may be reimbursed for reasonable out of pocket expenses.

The public panel will meet in six groups across the UK. The first two groups for the north and south of England have just been set up, following a campaign seeking people to join the panel.

For these two groups we received 113 applications. Applicants were asked their background: 12 categories were used such as employed, unemployed, in training, education, carer, and applicants were also asked about their knowledge or views of the NIS (making clear no view or knowledge was necessary for the role). The background categories were then used to randomly select members to proceed to an informal discussion with Identity and Passport Service (IPS) officials. Candidates for Chair had a short interview with an IPS official and an independent assessor.

Information for applicants was approved by Plain English and is available in Braille, large print format, Easyread format, and audio. This information will be used for all six groups and cost £6,600. Advertisement costs in local and regional newspapers for the north and south groups cost £8,800.

The estimated cost of information and publicity to set up all six regional groups is £60,000. Administrative support for the panel will be provided by IPS; the estimated cost of running the public panel in the current financial year is £16,000, which allows for reimbursement of expenses to panel members.