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Baroness Gould of Potternewton: I thank my noble friend for his comments, which are welcome. When the discussions take place with the electoral registration office and the political parties, will there be discussion on compatibility because there are certain problems relating to the rolling register being compatible with the original register that is produced? I hope that that forms part of the discussion.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I am more than happy to give a clear assurance on that point.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: That was a satisfactory reply. No doubt these matters will be set out perfectly clearly in the regulations, including the subject of compatibility. I think that all of us who have spoken to the amendment are satisfied with the reply. I therefore beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Bach moved Amendments Nos. 87 to 89:

("( ) Provisions specifying, in relation to any description of persons prescribed by regulations made in pursuance of sub-paragraph (1)(a) above, the purposes for which copies supplied to such persons under such regulations, or information contained in them, may be used whether by such persons or by employees or other persons authorised by them in accordance with regulations to have access to such copies or information contained in them.").

    Page 11, leave out line 19 and insert ("any purposes specified in such regulations or (as the case may be) for which the copies have been supplied in accordance with any such provision.").

    Page 11, line 19, at end insert--

("( ) Provisions imposing, in relation to persons--
(a) to whom copies of the full register have been supplied, or information contained in such copies has been disclosed, in accordance with regulations made in pursuance of this paragraph, or

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(b) who otherwise have access to such copies or information,
prohibitions or restrictions corresponding to those which may be imposed by virtue of sub-paragraph (1) above.
( ) Provisions imposing, in relation to persons involved in the preparation of the full register, prohibitions with respect to supplying copies of the full register and disclosing information contained in it.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 90 not moved.]

Lord Bach moved Amendment No. 91:

    Page 11, line 27, at end insert ("or

(b) where such a contravention has occurred on the part of a person in the employment, or otherwise under the direction or control, of a company or other organisation, for--
(i) a director of the company, or
(ii) a person concerned with the management of the organisation,
to have failed to take such steps as it was reasonable for him to take to secure the operation of procedures designed to prevent, so far as reasonably practicable, the occurrence of such contraventions on the part of such persons."").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Borrie moved Amendment No. 92:

    Page 11, line 27, at end insert--

    ( ) After paragraph 13 (offences and supplemental matters) there shall be inserted--

"13A. Regulations making provisions under paragraphs 10, 11 and 13 above may not be made until six months after the date on which the Representation of the People Act 2000 receives Royal Assent."").

The noble Lord said: I need not detain the Committee long in dealing with this amendment. I gave a number of views during the debate on the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, and I was delighted to have the strong support of the noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth, in expressing my concern about the adverse effects of Clause 9 on legitimate businesses and their customers and the restriction on the availability of the full register for a number of purposes.

It must be recognised that the Government have made concessions. During the debate in the House of Commons the points which have been repeated here today were made in relation to credit reference agencies, banks and others who want to use the electoral register to check on people's credit-worthiness and it has been said that if that was not permitted, a great number of people would feel socially excluded and would be disadvantaged. I am glad that that concession has been made.

The amendment seeks to give the Government more time for consultation. They have not adequately dealt with all the various problems and possibilities, many of which have been adverted to in earlier parts of the debate today. Legal points were raised by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell, in relation to the European Convention on Human Rights and there are legal problems in relation to the EU directive on data protection. While I listened closely to the carefully drafted remarks of my noble friend Lord Bach on that

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matter--I shall read them even more closely--I have no doubt that it would repay the Government to inquire even further into whether they have the right balance in legal terms as to what can and cannot be permitted under those pieces of legislation. I ask the Government to use the period of time for consultation before making the regulations to look not only at the law but also at what is desirable.

The direct marketing industry and its customers will still be dissatisfied that the Government have not conceded that they will be allowed the use of the full register in order to check on the correctness of people's addresses against the names they hold. That is extremely useful for customers to ensure that they are not on lists they do not want to be on, and it saves a lot of money, time and trouble for the industry to strike people's names off if they do not match the addresses on the electoral register.

Verification and validation is an extremely useful exercise for many businesses engaged in mailshots, in selling goods off air or off screen and through e-mail and so on. I am sure that the Government will freely admit that these kinds of trading are increasing--the Government are introducing legislation to deal further with e-commerce--and are important and of significance to millions of customers in this country. It would be a pity if, as a kind of by-product of the Government's good intentions in Clause 9, a lot of people are deprived of the benefits of better devised marketing lists than would otherwise exist if full access to the electoral register is not permitted. In the light of those considerations, I beg to move.

Lord Goodhart: I shall be brief. No doubt access to the full electoral register is extremely valuable to direct marketing organisations. It seems unlikely that access to that list is likely to be detrimental to ordinary electors. Nevertheless, it seems that there is no overwhelming public interest in allowing direct marketing organisations to have access to an unedited full register. In those circumstances, the individual elector may say, "I do not wish this information--which I am required by law to provide--to be used for any purpose other than that for which it is collected". I do not see any overwhelming reason to justify going back from that basic principle.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I shall briefly intervene. The amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Borrie, has the good sense of giving the Government some time. As I suggested earlier, the debate on the Bill looks like not only the Government, but all of us, digging a hole, where we keep on digging instead of stopping to ask whether this is the right place to dig the hole, or indeed, as my noble friend Lord Norton suggested, whether we want the hole at all.

An enormous number of people have written to us on the subject across a wide range of groups which use the register: the Direct Marketing Association; the Association of British Insurers; British bankers; charities that write in disgust; the WWAV Rapp Collins Group; and the ICD group that I mentioned

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earlier. All those groups have written because they believe that they have a legitimate and arguable use of the full register. I am not going to come down on one side or the other of that argument, but it seems that when the Government start cherry picking and saying, "This use is okay; that use isn't", they will need time to think through clearly what they are doing.

If the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Borrie, is correct and many organisations use the full register to clean their existing lists obtained from other sources, we may in fact be increasing the amount of unwanted mail that people receive, especially for households which receive mail addressed to someone who is dead and off the register. I gather that one of the ways in which such lists are drawn up is via the answers to the questionnaires that one is occasionally asked to fill in in shopping malls and going in and out of the airport. Whether I decide to give some answers depends on the approach to me and whether I am in a hurry. Usually I am told that I shall win some great prize. My wife gives me a row three or four months later when I say, "Why are we getting this piece of mail?" I know now that I should not answer any questionnaires from anyone. That is bad news for the marketing industry, of which the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, was once a distinguished member, but I am afraid--

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