These probing amendments were tabled to enable us to understand the process. I suspect that the clause was drafted so as to maintain the existing arrangements but I want to understand why that is, given that the role of the National Statistician and the Registrar General are being prised apart by the Bill. I understand why the National Statistician needs to receive information from the Registrar General but why will the board pass the data to the Department of Health? Why cannot the Registrar General pass it directly to the Department? What is the reason for routing it through the board?
I shall answer the hon. Gentleman’s questions simply and specifically, as they refer to what appears to be the main concern about the clause. There will of course be circumstances in which the Registrar General, both now and when the role is separated from the office and function of the National Statistician, passes data directly to the health service. Information that could include name, date of birth, place of birth, usual address and other such data may go straight from the Registrar General to the health service. As the ONS is currently able to do, the statistics board can add to that data coding by post code, by ward and by administrative area. In other words, the statistics service may add further data that enrich what can then be passed to, and used by, the health service.
There are circumstances in which and data on which the ONS can add further analysis of a quality that is of value to the health service. The clause is designed to cover and make provision for circumstances in the future when the Registrar General and the National Statistician are no longer legally and operationally the same person.