Clause 40

Part of Statistics and Registration Service Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:30 am on 25th January 2007.

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Photo of John Healey John Healey The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 9:30 am, 25th January 2007

Clauses 40 and 41 provide for the Secretary of State for Health, public authoritiesor Welsh Ministers to share patient registration information with the board for the production of population statistics. To be clear, clause 40(4) makes it explicit that patient registration information does not include any information about the health, care or treatment of individuals.

Patient registration information is information about persons who are or who have been registered in any place in England or Wales as persons to whom primary medical services are provided. That may include, but is not limited to, information such as a person’s address, their date of birth, their gender or their NHS number. The provisions replicate the current data sharing arrangements within the Office for National Statistics.

It may be helpful to the Committee if I explain exactly what happens to such information. Patient registration information is collated and held in the national health service central register, which is currently maintained at the Office for National Statistics and is used primarily to manage the transfer of medical records between GP practices and between the NHS and the armed forces’ medical services. Statisticians in the ONS have access to that information, and that access enables the ONS to derive and estimate migration within England and Wales and between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The data covered by the clause will therefore allow greater monitoring and analysis of migration and population movements—something in which the Committee has taken an interest, as the hon. Member for Fareham said. I think that all Committee members want there to be better quality, more up-to-date data to assist in some important areas of policy-making.

Amendment No. 166 would prevent the Secretary of State or another public authority from disclosing tothe board any information that would allow the identification of an individual. That would mean that all information would have to be in an anonymised,  non-identifying format. I hope that the hon. Member for Braintree will understand that the distinction he tried to draw between statistics on general trends and data on registration represents a conceptual difference, but in practice it is important to bring them together.