Digital Economy Bill (HL Bill 80)

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Part 5 Digital government

CHAPTER 1 Public service delivery

30 5Disclosure of information to improve public service delivery

(1) A specified person may disclose information held by the person in connection
with any of the person’s functions to another specified person for the purposes
of a specified objective.

(2) In this Chapter “specified person” means a person specified, or of a description
10specified, in regulations made by the appropriate national authority.

(3) A person specified in regulations under subsection (2) must be—

(a) a public authority, or

(b) a person providing services to a public authority.

(4) In the case of a person (“P”) who is a specified person merely because of
15providing services to a public authority, the reference in subsection (1) to the
functions of a specified person is limited to the functions P exercises for that
purpose.

(5) In determining whether to make regulations under subsection (2) in relation to
a person or description of person the appropriate national authority must have
20regard, in particular, to—

(a) the systems and procedures for the secure handling of information by
that person or persons of that description, and

(b) in the case of regulations which amend or revoke previous regulations
so that the person ceases to be a specified person, whether that person,
25or any person providing services to that person, has had regard to the
code of practice under section 36 as required by that section.

(6) In this section “specified objective” means an objective specified in regulations
made by the appropriate national authority.

(7) An objective may be specified by regulations under subsection (6) only if it
30complies with the following conditions.

(8) The first condition is that the objective has as its purpose—

(a) the improvement or targeting of a public service provided to
individuals or households, or

(b) the facilitation of the provision of a benefit (whether or not financial) to
35individuals or households.

(9) The second condition is that the objective has as its purpose the improvement
of the well-being of individuals or households.

(10) The reference in subsection (9) to the well-being of individuals or households
includes—

(a) 40their physical and mental health and emotional well-being,

(b) the contribution made by them to society, and

(c) their social and economic well-being.

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31 Disclosure of information to gas and electricity suppliers

(1) If the first and second conditions are met, a specified person may disclose
information held by the person in connection with any of the person’s
functions to—

(a) 5a licensed gas supplier, or

(b) a licensed electricity supplier.

(2) The first condition is that the disclosure is for the purpose of assisting people
living in fuel poverty by—

(a) reducing their energy costs,

(b) 10improving efficiency in their use of energy, or

(c) improving their health or financial well-being.

(3) The second condition is that the information is disclosed with the intention that
it will be used by the recipient of the information in connection with—

(a) a support scheme under Part 2 of the Energy Act 2010 (schemes for
15reducing fuel poverty),

(b) in the case of a disclosure to a licensed gas supplier, an obligation
imposed by an order under section 33BC or 33BD of the Gas Act 1986
(powers to impose obligations on gas suppliers etc),

(c) in the case of a disclosure to a licensed electricity supplier, an obligation
20imposed by an order under section 41A or 41B of the Electricity Act
1989 (powers to impose obligations on electricity suppliers etc), or

(d) the making of grants (by any person) under section 15 of the Social
Security Act 1990 in accordance with regulations under that section
made by the Scottish Ministers or the Welsh Ministers.

(4) 25The appropriate national authority may by regulations—

(a) amend subsection (1) so as to add or remove a person or description of
persons to whom information may be disclosed;

(b) amend subsection (3).

(5) In determining whether to make regulations under subsection (4)(a) in relation
30to a person or description of person the appropriate national authority must
have regard, in particular, to—

(a) the systems and procedures for the secure handling of information by
that person or persons of that description, and

(b) in the case of regulations which remove a person from subsection (1),
35whether that person, or any person providing services to that person,
has had regard to the code of practice under section 36 as required by
that section.

(6) In the case of a person (“P”) who is a specified person merely because of
providing services to a public authority, the reference in subsection (1) to the
40functions of a specified person is limited to the functions P exercises for that
purpose.

(7) For the purposes of this Chapter a person lives in fuel poverty if the person is
a member of a household living on a lower income in a home which cannot be
kept warm at a reasonable cost.

(8) 45In this section—

  • “licensed gas supplier” means the holder of a licence under section 7A(1)
    of the Gas Act 1986;

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  • “licensed electricity supplier” means the holder of a licence under section
    6(1)(d) of the Electricity Act 1989.

32 Disclosure of information by gas and electricity suppliers

(1) If the condition in subsection (2) is met, a person to whom information may be
5disclosed under section 31 may disclose information held by that person to a
specified person.

(2) That condition is that the disclosure is for the purpose of assisting people living
in fuel poverty in England and Wales or Scotland by—

(a) reducing their energy costs,

(b) 10improving efficiency in their use of energy, or

(c) improving their health or financial well-being.

33 Further provisions about disclosures under section 30, 31 or 32

(1) Personal information disclosed under section 30, 31 or 32 may only be used by
the person to whom it is disclosed for the purposes for which it was disclosed,
15subject to subsection (2).

(2) Subsection (1) does not prevent the use of information by a person—

(a) if the information has already lawfully been made available to the
public,

(b) if the person to whom the information relates consents to its use for
20another purpose,

(c) for the prevention or detection of crime or the prevention of anti-social
behaviour,

(d) for the purposes of a criminal investigation,

(e) for the purposes of legal proceedings (whether civil or criminal), or

(f) 25for the purposes of—

(i) preventing serious physical harm to a person,

(ii) preventing loss of human life,

(iii) safeguarding vulnerable adults or children,

(iv) responding to an emergency, or

(v) 30protecting national security.

(3) In subsection (2)(c) “anti-social behaviour” has the same meaning as in Part 1
of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (see section 2 of that
Act).

(4) Subsection (2) does not apply to information disclosed to a person under
35section 30 or 31 by the Revenue and Customs; but such information may be
used by that person for purposes other than those for which it was disclosed
with the consent of the Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and
Customs (which may be general or specific).

(5) For the purposes of this Chapter information is “personal information” if—

(a) 40it relates to and identifies a particular person (including a body
corporate), but

(b) it is not information about the internal administrative arrangements of
a specified person or a person to whom information may be disclosed
under section 31.

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(6) For the purposes of subsection (5) information identifies a particular person if
the identity of that person—

(a) is specified in the information,

(b) can be deduced from the information, or

(c) 5can be deduced from the information taken together with any other
information.

(7) A disclosure under section 30, 31 or 32 does not breach—

(a) any obligation of confidence owed by the person making the
disclosure, or

(b) 10any other restriction on the disclosure of information (however
imposed).

(8) But nothing in section 30, 31 or 32 authorises the making of a disclosure
which—

(a) contravenes the Data Protection Act 1998, or

(b) 15is prohibited by Part 1 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act
2000.

(9) Section 30, 31 or 32 does not limit the circumstances in which information may
be disclosed apart from that section.

34 Confidentiality of personal information

(1) 20Personal information disclosed under section 30, 31 or 32 and received by a
person (“P”) may not be disclosed—

(a) by P, or

(b) by any other person who has received it directly or indirectly from P.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a disclosure—

(a) 25which is required or permitted by any enactment (including section 30,
31 or 32),

(b) which is required by an EU obligation,

(c) which is made in pursuance of an order of the court,

(d) of information which has already lawfully been made available to the
30public,

(e) which is made for the prevention or detection of crime or the
prevention of anti-social behaviour,

(f) which is made for the purposes of a criminal investigation,

(g) which is made for the purposes of legal proceedings (whether civil or
35criminal),

(h) which is made with the consent of the person to whom it relates, or

(i) which is made for the purposes of—

(i) preventing serious physical harm to a person,

(ii) preventing loss of human life,

(iii) 40safeguarding vulnerable adults or children,

(iv) responding to an emergency, or

(v) protecting national security.

(3) In subsection (2)(e) “anti-social behaviour” has the same meaning as in Part 1
of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (see section 2 of that
45Act).

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(4) A person commits an offence if—

(a) the person discloses personal information in contravention of
subsection (1), and

(b) at the time that the person makes the disclosure, the person knows that
5the disclosure contravenes that subsection or is reckless as to whether
the disclosure does so.

(5) A person who is guilty of an offence under subsection (4) is liable on conviction
on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, to a fine or
to both.

(6) 10A person who is guilty of an offence under subsection (4) is liable on summary
conviction—

(a) in England and Wales, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12
months, to a fine or to both;

(b) in Scotland, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, to a
15fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or to both;

(c) in Northern Ireland, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6
months, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or to both.

(7) In the application of subsection (6)(a) to an offence committed before the
coming into force of section 154(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 the
20reference to 12 months is to be read as a reference to 6 months.

(8) This section does not apply to personal information disclosed under section 30
or 31 by the Revenue and Customs.

35 Information disclosed by the Revenue and Customs

(1) Personal information disclosed by the Revenue and Customs under section 30
25or 31 and received by a person (“P”) may not be disclosed—

(a) by P, or

(b) by any other person who has received it directly or indirectly from P.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a disclosure which is made with the consent
of the Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (which may be
30general or specific).

(3) A person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence.

(4) It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under subsection (3) to
prove that the person reasonably believed—

(a) that the disclosure was lawful, or

(b) 35that the information had already and lawfully been made available to
the public.

(5) Subsections (4) to (7) of section 19 of the Commissioners for Revenue and
Customs Act 2005 apply to an offence under subsection (3) as they apply to an
offence under that section.

36 40Code of practice

(1) The relevant Minister must issue a code of practice about—

(a) the disclosure of information under section 30, 31 or 32, and

(b) the use of information disclosed under any of those sections.

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(2) The code of practice must be consistent with the code of practice issued under
section 52B (data-sharing code) of the Data Protection Act 1998 (as altered or
replaced from time to time).

(3) A person to whom the code applies must have regard to the code of practice—

(a) 5in disclosing information under section 30, 31 or 32, and

(b) in using information disclosed under any of those sections.

(4) The relevant Minister may from time to time revise and re-issue the code of
practice.

(5) Before issuing or reissuing the code of practice the relevant Minister must
10consult—

(a) the Information Commissioner,

(b) the Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs,

(c) the Scottish Ministers,

(d) the Welsh Ministers,

(e) 15the Department of Finance in Northern Ireland, and

(f) such other persons as the relevant Minister thinks appropriate.

(6) The fact that this section was not in force when consultation of the kind
mentioned in subsection (5) took place is to be disregarded in determining
whether there has been compliance with that subsection.

(7) 20As soon as is reasonably practicable after issuing or reissuing the code of
practice the relevant Minister must lay, or arrange for the laying of, a copy of
it before—

(a) Parliament,

(b) the Scottish Parliament,

(c) 25the National Assembly for Wales, and

(d) the Northern Ireland Assembly.

37 Regulations under this Chapter

(1) Any power to make regulations under this Chapter is exercisable—

(a) in the case of regulations made by the relevant Minister or the Welsh
30Ministers, by statutory instrument, and

(b) in the case of regulations made by the Department of Finance in
Northern Ireland, by statutory rule for the purposes of the Statutory
Rules (Northern Ireland) Order 1979 (SI 1979/1573 (NI 12)(NI 12)).

(2) Regulations under this Chapter—

(a) 35may make different provision for different purposes;

(b) may contain consequential, supplementary, transitional or transitory
provision or savings.

(3) The provision that may be made by virtue of subsection (2)(b) includes—

(a) provision amending this Chapter or repealing or revoking any
40provision of this Chapter;

(b) provision amending, repealing or revoking an enactment passed or
made before or in the same session as this Act.

(4) In the case of regulations under section 30(2) which specify a person or
description of person, this includes provision amending this Chapter so as to
45make provision in relation to information disclosed by that person or a person

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of that description which is similar to that made by section 35 in relation to
information disclosed by the Revenue and Customs.

(5) Before making regulations under this Chapter the appropriate national
authority must consult—

(a) 5the Information Commissioner,

(b) the Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs,

(c) each other person who is the appropriate national authority in relation
to regulations under this Chapter,

(d) where the appropriate national authority is not the relevant Minister,
10the Minister for the Cabinet Office, and

(e) such other persons as the appropriate national authority thinks
appropriate.

(6) The fact that a power to make regulations under this Chapter was not in force
when consultation of the kind mentioned in subsection (5) took place is to be
15disregarded in determining whether there has been compliance with that
subsection.

(7) The appropriate national authority may only make regulations under section
30(6) or 31(4)(b) with the consent of the Treasury in a case where the
regulations could affect the disclosure of information by the Revenue and
20Customs.

(8) A statutory instrument containing regulations made under this Chapter by the
relevant Minister may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been
laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.

(9) Regulations made under this Chapter by the Scottish Ministers are subject to
25the affirmative procedure.

(10) A statutory instrument containing regulations made under this Chapter by the
Welsh Ministers may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid
before, and approved by a resolution of, the National Assembly for Wales.

(11) Regulations under this Chapter may not be made by the Department of
30Finance in Northern Ireland unless a draft of the regulations has been laid
before, and approved by a resolution of, the Northern Ireland Assembly.

(12) If a draft of a statutory instrument containing regulations under section 30(2)
or 31(4)(a) would, apart from this subsection, be treated for the purposes of the
standing orders of either House of Parliament as a hybrid instrument, it is to
35proceed in that House as if it were not such an instrument.

38 Interpretation of this Chapter

(1) In this Chapter—

  • “the appropriate national authority” means the relevant Minister, subject
    to subsections (2) to (7);

  • 40“enactment” includes—

    (a)

    an enactment contained in, or in an instrument made under, an
    Act of the Scottish Parliament;

    (b)

    an enactment contained in, or in an instrument made under, a
    Measure or Act of the National Assembly for Wales;

    (c)

    45an enactment contained in, or in an instrument made under,
    Northern Ireland legislation;

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    (d)

    an enactment contained in subordinate legislation within the
    meaning of the Interpretation Act 1978;

  • “function” means function of a public nature;

  • “personal information” has the meaning given by section 33(5);

  • 5“public authority” means a person who exercises functions of a public
    nature, subject to subsection (8);

  • “relevant Minister” means the Secretary of State or the Minister for the
    Cabinet Office;

  • “the Revenue and Customs” has the meaning given by section 17(3) of the
    10Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005;

  • “specified person” has the meaning given by section 30(2).

(2) The Scottish Ministers are the appropriate national authority in relation to—

(a) regulations under section 30(2) which specify a person who is, or a
description of persons each of whom is, a Scottish body,

(b) 15regulations under section 31(4)(a) which add or remove a person who
is, or a description of persons each of whom is, a Scottish body, and

(c) regulations under section 30(6) or 31(4)(b) which have the effect only of
enabling a Scottish body to disclose information for the purposes of an
objective which does not relate to a reserved matter (within the
20meaning of the Scotland Act 1998).

(3) In subsection (2) “Scottish body” means—

(a) a person who is a part of the Scottish Administration,

(b) a Scottish public authority with mixed functions or no reserved
functions (within the meaning of the Scotland Act 1998), or

(c) 25a person providing services to a person within paragraph (a) or (b).

(4) The Welsh Ministers are the appropriate national authority in relation to—

(a) regulations under section 30(2) which specify a person who is, or a
description of persons each of whom is, a Welsh body,

(b) regulations under section 31(4)(a) which add or remove a person who
30is, or a description of persons each of whom is, a Welsh body, and

(c) regulations under section 30(6) or 31(4)(b) which have the effect only of
enabling a Welsh body to disclose information for the purposes of an
objective which relates to a matter within the legislative competence of
the National Assembly for Wales.

(5) 35In subsection (4) “Welsh body” means—

(a) a person who wholly or mainly exercises functions which could be
conferred on the person by provision which falls within the legislative
competence of the National Assembly for Wales, or

(b) a person providing services to a person within paragraph (a).

(6) 40The Department of Finance in Northern Ireland is the appropriate national
authority in relation to—

(a) regulations under section 30(2) which specify a person who is, or a
description of persons each of whom is, a Northern Ireland body, and

(b) regulations under section 30(6) which have the effect only of enabling a
45Northern Ireland body to disclose information for the purposes of an
objective which relates to a transferred matter (within the meaning of
the Northern Ireland Act 1998).

(7) In subsection (6) “Northern Ireland body” means—

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(a) a Minister within the meaning of the Northern Ireland Act 1998,

(b) a Northern Ireland department,

(c) a Northern Ireland public authority within the meaning of the Statistics
and Registration Service Act 2007, or

(d) 5a person providing services to a person within paragraph (a), (b) or (c).

(8) A person is not a public authority for the purposes of this Chapter if, apart from
this subsection, the person would be a public authority for those purposes
merely because the person exercises functions on behalf of another public
authority.

(9) 10References in this Chapter to people living in fuel poverty are to be construed
in accordance with section 31(7).

CHAPTER 2 Civil registration

39 Disclosure of information by civil registration officials

(1) 15The Registration Service Act 1953 is amended as follows.

(2) After section 19A insert—

19AA Disclosure of information

(1) A civil registration official may, subject to this section, disclose any
information held in connection with any of the official’s functions to—

(a) 20a specified public authority (see section 19AB), or

(b) any other civil registration official.

(2) A civil registration official may disclose information under this section
only if the official is satisfied that the authority or civil registration
official to whom it is disclosed (the “recipient”) requires the
25information to enable the recipient to exercise one or more of the
recipient’s functions.

(3) A disclosure under this section does not breach any obligation of
confidence owed by the civil registration official making the disclosure.

(4) The power to disclose information under this section is subject to any
30express restriction on disclosure imposed by another enactment
(ignoring any restriction which allows disclosure if authorised by an
enactment).

(5) This section does not limit the circumstances in which information may
be disclosed apart from this section.

(6) 35“Civil registration official” means—

(a) the Registrar General;

(b) a superintendent registrar of births, deaths and marriages;

(c) a registrar of births and deaths;

(d) a registrar of marriages;

(e) 40each of the following in its capacity as a registration authority
within the meaning of Chapter 1 of Part 2 of the Civil
Partnership Act 2004 (see section 28 of that Act)—

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(i) a county council in England;

(ii) the council of any district in England comprised in an
area for which there is no county council;

(iii) a London borough council;

(iv) 5the Common Council of the City of London;

(v) the Council of the Isles of Scilly;

(vi) a county council in Wales;

(vii) a county borough council in Wales.

19AB Specified public authorities

(1) 10Each of the following public authorities is a “specified public authority”
for the purposes of section 19AA—

(a) a Minister of the Crown;

(b) the Welsh Government;

(c) a department of the government of the United Kingdom;

(d) 15the Greater London Authority;

(e) a county council in England;

(f) a district council in England;

(g) a London borough council;

(h) the Common Council of the City of London in its capacity as a
20local authority;

(i) the Council of the Isles of Scilly;

(j) a county council in Wales;

(k) a county borough council in Wales;

(l) an NHS body within the meaning of the National Health
25Service Act 2006 (see section 275 of that Act).

(2) The Minister may by regulations amend subsection (1) so as to add,
modify or remove a reference to a public authority or description of
public authority.

(3) Regulations under this section must be made by statutory instrument.

(4) 30Regulations under this section may—

(a) make different provision for different purposes;

(b) contain consequential, incidental, supplemental, transitional or
transitory provision or savings.

(5) The provision that may be made by virtue of subsection (4)(b) includes
35provision amending, repealing or revoking any provision of any
enactment.

(6) A statutory instrument containing regulations under this section may
not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and
approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.

(7) 40In this section—

  • “enactment” includes an enactment contained in subordinate
    legislation within the meaning of the Interpretation Act 1978;

  • “public authority” means a person who exercises functions of a
    public nature.