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Mr. Greenway: I am grateful to the Minister. Clearly, there is consensus across the Chamber that what can be done should be done. Given what the Minister has said, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 30

Health and social work

Mr. Hoon: I beg to move amendment No. 83, in page 18, line 47, at end insert--

'(1A) The Secretary of State may by order exempt from the subject information provisions, or modify those provisions in relation to--
(a) personal data in respect of which the data controller is the proprietor of, or a teacher at, a school, and which consist of information relating to persons who are or have been pupils at the school, or
(b) personal data in respect of which the data controller is an education authority in Scotland, and which consist of information relating to persons who are receiving, or have received, further education provided by the authority.'

Mr. Deputy Speaker: With this, it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments Nos. 84 to 91 and the Government new schedule.

Mr. Hoon: Amendments Nos. 83 to 91 and new schedule 1 complete an exercise that was begunin Standing Committee. The Government tabled amendments to bring within the scope of the Bill the records currently covered by the Access to Personal Files Act 1987 and the Access to Health Records Act 1990. The main purpose was to ensure that the arrangements

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made by the Bill to give effect to the European Court judgment in the case of Gaskin applied to the records covered by the 1987 and 1990 Acts.

The Gaskin judgment deals with subject access requests that are refused because giving the information would identify third parties who have not consented. The judgment says that there must be an independent mechanism for reviewing such refusals. The Bill provides that mechanism by allowing data subjects to go to the commissioner or the courts in such cases.

The purpose of the amendments is to ensure that the judgment is adhered to in the case of records under the Education (School Records) Regulations 1989 and the corresponding Scotland and Northern Ireland legislation. Such records are held by schools on pupils and former pupils. The new schedule gives rights of access to information held in certain unstructured manual records, to which the provisions of the Bill would not otherwise apply. The amendments will bring those records within the scope of the Bill, and thereby give effect to the Gaskin judgment. I hope that the House agrees that the amendments serve a useful and important purpose.

Mr. Greenway: The Gaskin judgment required the Government to introduce a range of amendments to the Bill, most of which were dealt with in Committee. As the Minister said, these are the outstanding amendments. I hope that, when the Bill returns to the other place, they will be accepted as speedily and as graciously as they have been by the Opposition parties tonight and in Committee.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made: No. 84, in page 19, line 16, at end insert--

'( ) In this section--
"education authority" and "further education" have the same meaning as in the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 ("the 1980 Act"), and
(a) in relation to a school in England or Wales, has the same meaning as in the Education Act 1996,
(b) in relation to a school in Scotland, means--
(i) in the case of a self-governing school, the board of management within the meaning of the Self-Governing Schools etc. (Scotland) Act 1989,
(ii) in the case of an independent school, the proprietor within the meaning of the 1980 Act,
(iii) in the case of a grant aided school, the managers within the meaning of the 1980 Act, and
(iv) in the case of a public school, the education authority within the meaning of the 1980 Act, and
(c) in relation to a school in Northern Ireland, has the same meaning as in the Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 1986 and includes, in the case of a controlled school, the Board of Governors of the school.'.--[Mr. Hoon.]

Clause 31

Regulatory activity

Amendment made: No. 31, in page 20, line 10, at end insert--
'( ) the Welsh Administration Ombudsman,'.--[Mr. Hoon.]

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Clause 32

Journalism, literature and art

Amendment made: No. 32, in page 21, line 10, leave out '14' and insert '14(1) to (3)'.--[Mr. Hoon.]

Clause 34

Information available to the public by or under enactment

Mr. Cohen: I beg to move amendment No. 4, in page 22, line 30, at end insert--

'(2) The Secretary of State may by order, where personal data are held on a public register, lay down conditions which shall be complied with by any person who has access to the register.
(3) An order under this section may make specific provisions with respect to a particular public register.'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: With this, it will be convenient to discuss amendment No. 5, in clause 67, page 41, line 3, at end insert 'section 34'.

Mr. Cohen: The purpose of the amendments is to enable the Secretary of State to impose statutory conditions to protect lists of shareholders, the electoral roll and other public registers. Publicly available registers are unprotected. They are wide open to abuse, and, in most cases, there is no control over who has access to them or how they are used. On 22 April 1997, The Times noted that the Mayfair rapist selected his rich victims from the electoral roll.

I note from my recent parliamentary questions to all Government Departments that several Ministries are not sure for what public records they are responsible. The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions said that information on what public records it was responsible for was not held centrally. That is astonishing. Several public registers are not actually publicly available. The Home Office keeps a register of forensic pathologists that is available to the public, which is useful information for criminals to access.

Public registers get scant protection under the Bill. The most familiar example of a public register is the electoral roll, copies of which can be obtained by any person for any purpose. Electoral registration officers have no discretion on whether to provide information, even to the most disreputable of characters. The position on data protection and the electoral roll is intolerable.

Mr. Allan: Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the recent confusion about whether electoral registration officers can give access to the register in computerised as opposed to paper form? It is a problem for political parties if they cannot obtain access to the computerised form. We are interested to know how that will be dealt with in the Bill. Both the paper and the computerised form will be covered by data protection principles.

Mr. Cohen: The hon. Gentleman makes a good point. The way things are going, I suspect that the computerised form and other forms will be available to whoever wants them.

Data subjects are obliged by law to provide names and addresses; failure to do so could result in a hefty £400 fine. Any person can obtain a copy of those details

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without the data subject being informed. Under clause 34, the electoral returning officer, as data controller, has no obligation to inform data subjects about who has accessed the register. A clear condition could be imposed that those who access the register should be required to identify themselves, and that list could be publicly available.

I am in favour of certain limits on public registers. For example, the electoral roll should be used only for electoral purposes, unless the elector consents to its use for other purposes. However, I recognise that many organisations have developed goods and services businesses on the basis of this publicly available information. My amendment would not stop any misuse directly: it would merely provide a mechanism to permit the Secretary of State to protect the public should the need arise, and to introduce new rules gradually, so that, if appropriate, such organisations could adjust their practice and be weaned off public sources of information over a period.

Paragraph 11(c) of schedule 8 delays the implementation of the eighth principle on the transfer of personal data abroad for personal data currently processed from the electoral register. As far as I can see, that provision negates any protection afforded by paragraph 14 of part II of schedule 1. If the eighth principle does not apply, it is difficult to see how the Secretary of State can define restrictions by order.

MPs usually live and vote in their constituency. Under the provision in schedule 8, there is nothing to prevent Saddam Hussein or any terrorist or malicious person from being able to purchase copies of the register, in computerised form, to find out where MPs or other well-known individuals live. Admittedly, it is a crude method. Because of his common surname, my right hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith) might evade detection. However, one wonders how many people appear on the electoral roll with the surname of my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Stinchcombe) or of the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Öpik). Someone might even look up the name Beckham for malicious purposes. Will the Minister explain why data protection legislation seems to expose MPs and others in the public eye to that risk?

After the passage of the Bill, the Minister should take a co-ordinated look at how public registers are kept, who has access to them and what uses are permissible.

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