All 1 Lord Gordon of Strathblane contributions to the Data Protection Act 2018

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Wed 22nd Nov 2017
Data Protection Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

Committee: 6th sitting (Hansard): House of Lords

Data Protection Bill [HL]

Lord Gordon of Strathblane Excerpts
Committee: 6th sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 22nd November 2017

(6 years, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Data Protection Act 2018 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 66-VI Sixth marshalled list for Committee (PDF, 286KB) - (20 Nov 2017)
The noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, also referred to the potential chilling effect of this clause. In doing so, he referred to certain legal advice he had received on a particular matter touching on these provisions. I cannot comment on the quality of the legal advice that the noble Viscount receives, but in the event that he receives the same advice in the same circumstances in future, I politely suggest that he seek a second opinion.
Lord Gordon of Strathblane Portrait Lord Gordon of Strathblane (Lab)
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Taking up the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Stowell, does the Minister agree that we are introducing, for the first time, vetting of material before it is broadcast, a power that even Ofcom, the regulator set up by government for broadcasting, does not have? Ofcom regulates only after the event. Surely this is a dramatic new intervention.

Lord Keen of Elie Portrait Lord Keen of Elie
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The noble Lord makes a perfectly good observation about this provision. It brings me to one of the questions posed independently and neutrally by the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, on whether the provisions of the Bill as drafted simply implement the provisions of the 1998 Act or extend its provisions. The answer is that they do not change the regime found in the 1998 Act except in respect of Clause 164(3)(c). I acknowledge the significance of that provision and I am happy to look again at that issue in light of the expressions of concern I have heard from around the Committee about it.

Some noble Lords also questioned the need for the provision of assistance in special purposes proceedings. Under Clause 165, individuals who are a party, or a prospective party, to special purposes proceedings may apply to the commissioner for assistance in those proceedings. For the application to be accepted, the commissioner must be convinced that the matter is of substantial public importance. There is, as I have implied, an equivalent provision in the 1998 Act. I understand that it has only ever been used once. In my respectful submission, that in itself indicates the effectiveness of the provision. It is not necessary because people know it is there and can be relied on, but only if that very high test of substantial public importance is met. Therefore, we consider it appropriate to retain this as a safeguard for data subjects. It is, I respectfully suggest, an important contributor to maintaining the balance between privacy and freedom of expression that has to underlie all these provisions.

Amendment 179A, spoken to by the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, would require the Government to establish an inquiry with terms of reference similar to those contained in part 2 of the Leveson inquiry, but in relation to data protection only. As I have mentioned, a consultation was launched to look at Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, which also asked whether proceeding with part 2 of the inquiry was still appropriate, proportionate and in the public interest. As I stated previously, it is the Government’s intention to publish a response to that consultation by Christmas; therefore, we do not believe that this amendment is appropriate, given the decisions that are currently being taken on that matter.