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Is anyone seriously suggesting that that information and any resulting arrests that there may be are not of benefit to the public in this country? Research carried out in 2005 estimated that sampling persons who were arrested but not charged between April 2004 and December 2005 yielded a match with a crime scene in more than 3,000 offences, including 37 murders, 16 attempted murders and 90 rapes. These are serious crimes which have a major impact on victims and their families and friends and on local neighbourhoods and communities where the crimes occur. It impacts on the wider public confidence, too. It is the Government’s job to do what we can to ensure that those criminals are brought to book.

The National DNA Database continues to contribute to public protection.

Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, those figures are really quite astonishing. They are the argument used by those people outside this House who believe that there should be a national DNA database for all individuals within the United Kingdom.

Lord Bach: My Lords, I have heard the arguments myself, and I could not possibly comment on them this afternoon.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno: My Lords, how many crimes have been solved that were not on a database? How many murderers—not the 114 whom the Minister mentioned—have been found, arrested and prosecuted who were not originally on a DNA database?

Lord Bach: My Lords, the noble Lord always poses interesting questions. I do not know the answer to his question, but I shall make sure that I write to him with that information, if it is available.

My argument is in favour of DNA. Now I have to face the fact that the current policy for retaining DNA of persons arrested but not convicted needs to be changed—the noble Baroness is right that it does—to comply with the European Court of Human Rights judgment. We have made it clear that we will implement the judgment of the court. The court found that our blanket policy of retaining the fingerprints and DNA of people who had been arrested and not convicted, but against whom no further action was

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taken, was in breach of Article 8. However, the court did indicate—and it is important to point this out—that it agrees with us that the retention of fingerprint and DNA data,

That is a key point in the judgment and reflects the recognition by the court of the importance of DNA in fingerprints and in helping to detect offenders and bring them to justice. However, the judgment recognises that other jurisdictions do not apply a blanket destruction order to biometric data of those arrested and not convicted, and recognises the need for an approach which discriminates between different categories of offending and defined periods of storage. That is why my right honourable friend the Home Secretary on 16 December said that she would be examining ways in which the retention of samples and fingerprints will be considered, taking into account factors such as age, risk and the nature of the offences involved. Those will be set out in a forensics White Paper to be published this year.

In the brief time I have left I shall deal first with Rowntree and then with some of noble Lords’ questions.

As far as Rowntree is concerned, the Government believe that the Data Protection Act 1998 is an effective and proper implementation of the relevant directive. It does not seem as though Rowntree thought so. We take our obligations under the Data Protection Act and the Human Rights Act very seriously and we agree that collection, use and sharing of personal information must be lawful and proportionate, but we do not accept that the databases are illegal as the report suggests. With great respect to its authors, I must say that the report appears to confuse political and legal issues. Privacy is important, but there is also a public interest in maintaining databases. They ensure, as I said, better delivery of public services and can be vital in detecting and preventing crime. Interestingly enough, the DNA database is one of those that have a red traffic light against them in this report.

I hope that I am not being unfair to its authors when I say that the report appears to be very much headline without any argument or analysis in each of the 46 cases that it looks at. It is not clear how the authors have made their assessments. How, for example, is the Office for National Statistics, which the noble Earl mentioned in his opening remarks, rated as amber? This is a non-ministerial department, not a database. The inclusion seems to be based on the fact that the ONS will run the forthcoming census in 2011. How are Directgov and the Government Gateway assessed as amber? The authors readily state that these are portals rather than databases and the report notes that they do not hold personal data. Local government’s use of CCTV is rated as amber. Again, there is no database, but the amber light is based on the fact that CCTV is an overinvestment. I am not sure that that view will be held widely by the general public, who regard CCTV as a protection for them rather than, as the authors of this report seem to suggest, something against their interests.

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Of course reports like this make a useful contribution to the debate and scrutiny of the matter, and we are still looking carefully at it and will have something to say in due course. However, I ask noble Lords, if they have not already done so, to read the article by David Aaronovitch in the Times the day after the report came out. He made a very good point. He said that it was a pity that among the authors of the report there were no people who disagreed with the basic principle that databases were a bad thing. I have had my say on that now; I have been given the opportunity to do so twice. If the noble Baroness and others will pray this in aid every time we have a debate of this kind, I recommend that they consider whether it is really such a great work of academic brilliance that they can rely on its judgments in the arguments that they bring to the general public.

I have a host of questions to answer. I will have to adopt the advice given freely as always by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, which is that I will have to write to noble Lords with answers to their questions as best I can. I do not promise to be able to answer every one of them.

With the greatest respect, I have to say to the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, that her analysis of the situation is completely over the top and does not represent the truth in any way. I wrote to her after her helpful question when I was answering an Oral Question last week. I wrote to her as quickly as I possibly could, as I did to the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, who I see is in her place, on the matters that appeared in the Telegraph article to which she referred. I do not think that she acknowledged my letter in what she had to say today. If the noble Lady did, I apologise.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: My Lords, I did acknowledge the Minister’s letter. I also acknowledged the fact that the Telegraph got it a little wrong. People were not going to have to produce the information themselves; booking agents were going to have to produce it.

Lord Bach: My Lords, I am sorry but, with the greatest respect to the noble Lady, that is not a little wrong. The newspaper made a fundamental error on that occasion. There is no question of passengers having to apply for permission to travel, nor will they be required to submit an itinerary. If they had to do that, it would be a serious restriction on their freedom and liberty. I would then agree with the noble Lady, but that is not what they have to do even though that is what the newspaper suggested. I do not think that that is a little wrong; it is a fundamental point.

I make this point, too: e-Borders enables the UK Border Agency to check people before they reach the UK. Since the pilot started, e-Borders has screened over 82 million passenger movements in and out of the UK against immigration, customs and police watch lists. That has led to over 3,000 arrests for crimes, including serious offences such as murder, rape and assault. It has led to significant counterterrorist interventions as well, which we obviously cannot hear more about, and has resulted in fraudulently used British passports being impounded and the confiscation of drugs and tobacco. A considerable

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number of passengers have been identified and refused leave to enter. Is it seriously being suggested that, in the world in which we live, we should just forget all that and use the easy phrase “surveillance state”? I do not think so.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: My Lords, I agreed that it was perfectly reasonable to refuse people leave to enter the country. I questioned whether it was not particularly necessary in a great many cases to refuse them leave to leave the country—they were probably as well got rid of.

Lord Bach: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lady for reminding me of that.

The right reverend Prelate made a point about affirming our commitment to the Data Protection Act. I do that happily today. It also shows itself in the Cabinet Office review and our response to the Walport/Thomas review. He also asked whether we would implement the recommendation of the Data Sharing Review Report for a code of practice on data sharing. Yes, I can tell him that it is set out in Clause 157 of the Coroners and Justice Bill, which the House will enjoy debating, starting with Second Reading on 27 April. I look forward to his support in those debates.

The noble Lord, Lord Maclennan, as always, put some interesting questions about primary legislation, as did the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Jones, who asked whether primary legislation should be used for data-sharing gateways in preference to secondary legislation. Already, a large number of data-sharing gateways are enacted in primary legislation. It is our policy that, for significant data-sharing powers, primary legislation remains appropriate. The noble Lord acknowledged that data-sharing powers cover a diverse spectrum. It is appropriate, provided that they are used properly, that a variety of legislative measures should be used to enact them. Not everything should be done by primary legislation.

The noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Jones, and the noble Lord, Lord Maclennan, asked about government databases removing personal data from their archives when the information is not necessary any more. I have been advised that the third data protection principle of the Data Protection Act 1998 already provides that data can be legitimately processed only where they are not excessive. Thus, there is an existing obligation on all data controllers, including the Government, not to process information that is unnecessary.

A number of noble Lords were interested in the important topic of why central databases are used instead of local ones. Neither the Data Protection Act nor the data protection directive before it explicitly makes any requirement in relation to local or central databases. The legislation requires that data processed must not be excessive. It is therefore the obligation on each data controller to consider what scale of data is necessary for the purposes of the database. National systems sometimes offer greater benefits in this age of greater mobility where citizens can access services across many boundaries and borders. Maybe there is not just one answer to that question.

The noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Jones, was concerned that I answer in particular her question whether there is a prototype for the central database.

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There has been, we believe, widespread misrepresentation of our plans for future communications data retention. We will set out the future plans in a consultation document to be published shortly. Since those plans have not been finalised, I cannot say that there will be a prototype, as plans will be confirmed only after the consultation. We have not commented on reports of a central database for communications data and, I repeat, our plans will be outlined shortly in the consultation.

I have spoken for half an hour now, as noble Lords were generous in not speaking for the fully allotted time. I thank noble Lords very much for what they said in this important debate. It is important that we should exchange these ideas across the Floor of the House, even if sometimes in quite a robust way.

The Government’s ability to deliver and improve the public service changes that we want—to fight crime and to protect citizens—relies on strong public confidence in the ability of public and private organisations to handle personal information securely and effectively. That point has been made by Members from around the House and it is obviously true. We have implemented a range a different measures to improve trust in the arrangements to protect personal data. I hope that I have begun to show, if not completely to the satisfaction of all Members, that both in our legislation and in our reviews of working practices we are committed to a legal framework and culture that instil confidence in every citizen in the protection of their personal data, a confidence to which they are entitled. I am grateful to the noble Earl for introducing this debate.

1.52 pm

The Earl of Northesk: My Lords, this has been an excellent debate and I thank all noble Lords who participated. I genuinely enjoyed all the contributions, including that of the Minister, although I am perhaps a little disappointed that, in relation to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation report, he may have resorted to shooting the messenger because of dissatisfaction with the message.

As the debate has progressed, two specific themes seem to have emerged. First, the debate has articulated the deep anxiety and uncertainty that inform the perceptions of so many of your Lordships—and of the wider public—about the Government’s data management agenda. Secondly, other than with the Minister, it appears to have engendered a broad consensus on the proposition that, in this field, less is more. As the right reverend Prelate observed, there are good reasons why the Government may be well advised to be a little less ambitious and a little less grandiose with this database agenda.

For myself, I am none the wiser as to why the Government continue to favour the most invasive and expensive technological solutions when less invasive and less costly alternatives are readily available. I have no doubt that we will return to these matters in innumerable debates in the future and, no doubt to the Minister’s disappointment, the JRF report and, I suspect, other like-minded texts will be prayed in aid in those debates. In the mean time I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion withdrawn.

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Internet: Online Piracy


1.54 pm

Moved By Lord Lloyd-Webber

Lord Lloyd-Webber: My Lords, I have tabled this Motion because I truly believe that this is a crucial moment in the history of Britain’s creative heritage. Areas of our cultural industries are under threat. It is imperative that we address these threats and bring all the creative industries’ future viability to the forefront of political debate.

You may be wondering why I, someone who makes a living from live theatre, would initiate such a debate. While I am incredibly lucky that my life, my passion and my main source of income—musical theatre—is not affected by the problems afflicting other creative businesses, I see those problems damaging the cultural and economic fabric of the nation, and it worries me.

I was further moved to initiate this debate after a conversation I had a few weeks ago with one of Britain’s leading orchestral players. He was agonising about whether to deter one of his children from following in his footsteps. His reason was that the backbone of the livelihood of many professional instrumentalists is film score work. He could foresee a situation in a decade’s time when there would be virtually no orchestral film work. Illegal downloading would so decimate the film industry that orchestral recording sessions would be a thing of the past. In this connection I was reminded that three of London’s main orchestral recording studios have closed since 2000.

I hope, therefore, that I am speaking here on behalf of my many colleagues whose livelihoods and their children’s future livelihoods are being compromised by inaction. I do not come equipped with the answers; frankly, they are way beyond my world of musical theatre. My sole objective is to draw noble Lords’ attention to the cataclysmic consequences for all the creative industries if this area remains unregulated.

The economic sustainability of Britain’s creative industries is hugely important to this country, culturally and commercially. It is estimated that our creative industries—film, music, literature, games, TV, software, books and printed media—have an economic output of at least £60 billion, equivalent to over 7 per cent of UK GDP.

It is also important—in terms of employment and the hope they give to aspiring, usually young, men and women—that there are businesses in this country that can employ artists and invest in developing their talents.

It is estimated that creative industries directly account for 1 million jobs, with a further 800,000 in related sectors. The interim Digital Britain report notes that,

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The question that occurs to me is whether, in 10 years’ time, Britain will be a place from which, say, the Beatles could have emerged. Will Britain be a fertile environment for all creative talent? Will Britain be a place where music, TV, film, games and publishing companies are sufficiently healthy to invest in British creative talent and take it to the rest of the world? No, not when there are no longer shops selling the physical products and when the internet has become a sort of Somalia of unregulated theft and piracy.

This is as much a battle against mindsets as against anything else. There are many people who like taking things for free from the internet, even though it is not legal. The fact that something is easy, and many people do it, has confused commentators and politicians alike. Content on the internet is a problematic issue for regulators because the matters are technologically and legally extremely complex, and also, in a period running up to an election, politically problematic. But, as we have seen throughout history, and recently in the financial markets, there are dire consequences when people drift down the path of unregulated behaviour.

With the exception of live entertainment, all our creative industries are suffering, but none more so than the music business. It is in the forefront of the battle and the first example of what can happen to an industry whose survival relies on the protection of its intellectual property rights.

The UK recorded music business is a major contributor to Britain’s creative economy. I would like to share with noble Lords some astonishing figures to illustrate this. In 2008 the UK recorded music market was valued at £900 million in trade terms. The UK music business punches well above its weight globally. It is a major exporter—four out of the top 10 global selling albums in 2008 were British. It is a major employer creating more than 100,000 jobs, but the market is being decimated by the impact of online copyright infringement. Recorded music revenue in the UK has fallen every year since 2003. In Europe as a whole the recorded music business is 60 per cent the size it was in 2001.

It is estimated that 7.3 million people in the United Kingdom—28 per cent of the online population—are now engaged in illegal peer-to-peer file-sharing, a figure which is projected to rise to 8.7 million by 2012 if action is not taken. This activity erodes the commercial value of the UK’s world-renowned music sector. It is calculated that £180 million of losses were directly attributable to online copyright infringement in 2008 alone. The losses for the six-year period from 2007 to 2012 are projected to exceed £1.2 billion. As I am sure noble Lords will appreciate, such levels of loss are unsustainable. It is estimated that online film and music piracy could cost 30,000 UK jobs, and that does not take into account the performers and composers who will lose their livelihood and stop creating as a result. The biggest single cause of the music business’s demise, and indeed that of all creative industries, is the carriage of file-sharing services by internet service providers.

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Globally only one in 20 tracks which are downloaded from the internet are paid for—that is, a 95 per cent online piracy rate. Innovative business models, of which there are numerous examples which enable consumers to access legally any music they want, have to compete with the free providers, an unfair battle and an unwinnable one. The music business—because of the universal popularity of music, its ease of access and its relatively low bandwidth requirements—will be the first to fall, but other cultural industries will surely follow. Will it be film next?

No one questions that improving the capability and quality of the UK's digital networks is an essential task. The improvement of fixed, cable, mobile and broadcast transmission mechanisms is crucial if the provision of digital services is to keep pace with what users, be they individual consumers or businesses, expect and demand. Our broadband industry is hugely important to Britain and will be the backbone to society as well as to commerce, but what will it deliver?

Given that consumer demand for faster digital networks is largely driven by demand for quality content, in particular creative content—music, films, games, television, journalism, books—I believe that it would be a serious mistake to invest billions of pounds in faster networks without ensuring that there is a sustainable commercial arrangement for those creative works on which these new networks depend. At the moment, no such sustainable commercial arrangements exist. As their businesses increasingly move to digital consumption, the ability of UK creative businesses to continue to invest billions of pounds every year in creating and marketing new high quality content is constantly being eroded.

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