Memorandum submitted by Ministry of Justice
I refer to the Justice Select Committee report
on the Coroners and Justice Bill, specifically the reference at
paragraph 20 to provide further information on the additional
resources to be made available to the Information Commissioner
via graduated data protection notification fees.
As you know, the Information Commissioner's
data protection responsibilities are currently funded by notification
fees paid by data controllers. Sections 17 and 18 of the Data
Protection Act 1998 require every data controller processing personal
information to notify the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)
and pay the prescribed fee, unless they are exempt. It is an offence
to process personal data without notifying the ICC.
The proposal to change the notification fee
structure from a flat to a tiered one stemmed from the Data Sharing
Review, conducted by Mark Walport of the Welcome Trust and the
Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas.
The Ministry of Justice consulted on this and
other related matters in a consultation on the Information Commissioner's
inspection powers and funding arrangements in 2008. As a result,
the Government committed to adopt a tiered notification fee structure.
A tiered structure will more accurately reflect the actual costs
of regulating different sized data controllers, and provide an
opportunity to increase the annual revenue of the ICC to ensure
it has the appropriate resources to carry out its functions. The
proposed fee structure will see the fee payable by small and medium-sized
data controllers remain the same at £35 per annum, while
large data controllers will pay a higher fee.
The tier criteria for the proposed notification
fee structure will be based on the definition for the size of
organisations adopted by the UK Government and adapted from the
European Union definition found in Recommendation 2003/361/EC.
Indicators of size will include turnover and number of employees
of the data controller. Data controllers will undertake a self-assessment
on the basis of the criteria to determine which tier they fall
The two-tiered notification fee structure will
be taken forward in an amendment to the Data Protection (Notification
Fees) Regulation 2000. Work is still underway on the details of
these amendments. The Ministry of Justice is working closely with
the ICO to ensure that the proposed fee structure meets its stated
Total revenue from notification fees in 2006-07
was £10.2 million. The Information Commissioner estimates
that the cost of fulfilling his existing and new regulatory and
advisory responsibilities will be £16 million per year. We
intend that this amount is funded in full through the revised
notification fee structure, expected to be in place from 1 October
I will write to the Committee again once we
have further details of the new fee structure.
I am copying this letter to Dominic Grieve,
David Howarth, Lord Kingsland, LordThomas of Gresford and Baroness
D'Souza and placing a copy in the Library of the House.
Rt Hon Michael Wills MP
Minister of State
26 January 2009