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16 Oct 2002 : Column 901W—continued

National Insurance Numbers

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what the rules are regarding obtaining work without the possession of a national insurance number. [72126]

Malcolm Wicks: I have been asked to reply. Employers can offer employment to a person who has not yet registered for National Insurance purposes. A

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person without a National Insurance number is not precluded from starting work and then obtaining a National Insurance number later.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many employers were prosecuted for employing people without national insurance numbers in (a) 1998, (b) 1999, (c) 2000 and (d) 2001; and what penalties were imposed. [72125]

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Malcolm Wicks: I have been asked to reply. There is no requirement in law to have a National Insurance number before starting work. Therefore no employers have been prosecuted for employing people without National Insurance numbers.

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many National Insurance number applicants have waited four months or more for an interview in each of the last 24 months; and what has been the average time between a person's original application for a number and a number being issued in each year since 1992. [74708]

Malcolm Wicks: I have been asked to reply. The information is not available in the format requested.

Earlier this year, applicants were experiencing delays in some parts of the country for up to 6 months. That figure has reduced considerably, and indications are that no one currently has to wait more than 4 weeks for an initial National Insurance number allocation interview.

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SOLICITOR-GENERAL

Recruitment

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Solicitor General how many net additional staff her Department has recruited in each month since June 2001 at (a) executive officer level and (b) administrative level. [52427]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 29 April 2002]: The figures for the Departments for which the Attorney General is responsible are as follows: