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Lord Haskel moved Amendments Nos. 222A and 222B:

Page 95, line 22, column 3, at end insert--
("In section 81(1), in the words before paragraph (a), from "and the Commission" to "of this Act)"; in paragraph (b), "or the Commission, as the case may be" and "or of the Commission"; in subsection (2), "or the Commission" and "or of the Commission" and in subsection (3), from "and, in the case," to "85 of this Act", and "or the Commission, as the case may be,".")

Page 95, line 22, column 3, at end insert--
("In section 135(1), in the words before paragraph (a) and in paragraph (b), "or the Commission", and paragraph (a)."")

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie moved Amendment No. 223:

Page 95, line 34, at end insert--
("1977 c. 37.The Patents Act 1977.Sections 44 and 45.")

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I believe that following the acceptance of Amendment No. 209, the amendment is accepted. I am prepared to stand corrected. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Haskel moved Amendments Nos. 223A to 223C:

Page 95, line 34, at end insert--
("1979 c. 38.The Estate Agents Act 1979.In section 10(3), "or the Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1976."")

Page 96, line 44, at end insert--
("1987 c. 43.The Consumer Protection Act 1987.In section 38(3), paragraphs (e) and (f).")

Page 98, line 20, at end insert--
("1994 c. 21.The Coal Industry Act 1994.In section 59(4), paragraphs (e) and (f).")

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 70 [Consequential and supplementary provision]:

[Amendment No. 224 not moved.]

Clause 71 [Short title, commencement and extent]:

[Amendment No. 225 not moved.]

23 Feb 1998 : Column CWH1

Official Report of the Grand Committee on the Data Protection Bill [H.L.]

Monday, 23rd February 1998.

The Committee met at half-past three of the clock.

[The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Ampthill) in the Chair.]

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Ampthill): Before I put the Question that the Title be postponed, it may be helpful to remind your Lordships of the procedure for today's Committee stage. Except in one important respect, our proceedings will be exactly as in a normal Committee of the Whole House. We shall go through the Bill clause by clause; noble Lords will speak standing; all Lords are free to attend and participate; and the proceedings will be recorded in Hansard. The one difference is that the House has agreed that there shall be no Divisions in a Grand Committee. Any issue on which agreement cannot be reached should be considered again at the Report stage when, if necessary, a Division may be called. Unless, therefore, an amendment is likely to be agreed to, it should be withdrawn.

I should explain what will happen if there is a Division in the Chamber while we are sitting. This Committee will adjourn as soon as the Division bells are rung and then resume after 10 minutes.

Title postponed.

Clause 1 [Basic interpretative provisions]:

Lord Craig of Radley moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 1, leave out lines 9 and 10 and insert--
("(a) is stored or being processed as text or image by equipment responding to instructions given to achieve those purposes,").

The noble and gallant Lord said: This is a probing amendment to see whether the basic interpretative provisions of the Bill will encompass closed circuit television and similar surveillance systems. The report of the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology on Digital Images as Evidence was published at the weekend. In Chapter 4 of our report we addressed the benefits and concerns we had about the use of closed circuit television and similar surveillance systems in public spaces, which may be defined as sites to which the public have free access.

As the report is only just released, it may be for the convenience of the Committee if I indicate briefly our conclusions and quote the recommendation that is particularly relevant to the amendment. We felt that these surveillance schemes are a very valuable tool for prevention of crime and civil disorder. They will in future be based on digital technology and, unless they are seen to be under adequate control, the broad public acceptance that these schemes now enjoy is likely to be diminished. The Select Committee concluded, on the

23 Feb 1998 : Column CWH2

evidence that it heard, particularly from the Association of Chief Police Officers, that improved controls were needed.

If these were not put in place, there was a danger that the actions of a few, by, for example, the release of video images for entertainment purposes, could undermine the public consent under which these schemes operate in public places. The controls that the Select Committee thought necessary relate in particular to the release of data and the use of data-matching techniques. In paragraph 5.15 of House of Lords Paper 64 we say:

    "We have not made a specific legislative proposal for improved control over public space CCTV systems, but the similarity of our objectives with the current Data Protection Act suggest that this, or its successor [i.e. the Bill before us] might be an appropriate vehicle".

It cannot be often that a Select Committee report and the passage of a piece of legislation relevant to a part of its recommendations coincide. What we are seeking by means of the amendment is to ensure that public space surveillance systems, in particular closed circuit television, are unambiguously within the scope of the proposed legislation before us. Later we shall have an amendment to address the issue of enforceable codes of practice. On that I was interested to hear the Home Office Minister from another place, Mr. Alun Michael, say on Radio 4 that the Government were prepared to approve enforceable codes.

But first, does this Bill cover closed circuit television and similar surveillance systems? We are aware, from evidence given to us by the Data Protection Registrar in the course of our inquiry, that a number of CCTV systems are outside the scope of the 1984 Act. Clause 1(1) of the Bill significantly expands the definition of personal data and the requirement of the earlier 1984 Act that processing should be undertaken solely by reference to the individual. We welcome that, but have three specific reasons for tabling the amendment, apart from seeking confirmation that it is intended to encompass closed circuit television and similar systems.

It is not clear whether "instructions given for that purpose" refer to the processing of information or the automatic features of the equipment involved. The apparent ambiguity needs to be considered.

Secondly, data can, of course, be stored or processed. The definition of processing, at the top of page 2, relates to personal data and includes a reference to the word "holding". Data, whether personal or otherwise can, of course, be stored. Is there a reason for not including in the definition of data the concept of storage? It would be helpful for the Committee to be clear about this aspect of the holding of information. I note that the Minister has down Amendments Nos. 5 to 11 which have a bearing on the definition of data.

I wonder also about the use of the word "automatically" in this clause. Again, it would be helpful to have a clear understanding of the meaning here of "automatically". In our proposed amendment we have not thought it necessary to include it.

In conclusion, we are proposing Amendment No. 1, with its reference to "text or image", to make explicit that closed circuit televisions and similar systems are

23 Feb 1998 : Column CWH3

within the scope of the Bill. It also allows the Government to consider whether there is any ambiguity in their present wording, to seek clarification of the concepts of storage and holding and to ensure that the intention of using the word "automatically" in this clause is explained. I beg to move.

Lord Flowers: Perhaps I may support the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig, as a fellow signatory of the proposed amendment. I support everything he said but have three brief points to make.

In the past, the word "data"--in the context of data processing--has usually been taken to apply only to textual information or perhaps in scientific terms also numerical information. It is an extension of that meaning if it is to apply to images as well. Yet this is not specified in the Bill. Perhaps it would be better if it did so. The proposed amendment remedies the situation explicitly.

The second point I wanted to make was that the noble and gallant Lord referred to information being stored as well as processed. One can argue that the act of storage is itself a process. Whereas that is undoubtedly true, the state of being stored is not. It would, therefore, again be better to be explicit about computers storing as well as processing information.

Thirdly, the word "automatically" suggests to most people that no human intervention is involved. In practice, however, there may be a great deal of human intervention in the processing of data, in the setting of options, the correction of errors, and so on. If the word "automatically" can be omitted, it will remove that confusion. If it cannot be omitted, then it should be explained precisely what it refers to.

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