Data Protection Bill [HL] - Commons Amendments

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:30 pm on 14th May 2018.

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Photo of Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Opposition Whip (Lords) 3:30 pm, 14th May 2018

My Lords, I associate myself with what has just been said by the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, and I agree with the Minister that this is a welcome step forward. I have three minor points to put to him and I shall ask a question about the powers at the end. He said several times that he had had conversations with and was in agreement with the ICO about the powers that were taken. Following up on what the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, said, has the ICO agreed that these powers are what she asked for and will achieve what she aims to do in cases such as that of Cambridge Analytica?

Secondly, what are they modelled on? I have had the benefit of a conversation with the Bill team and the Minister on this and I think the answer to the question of whether they are modelled on the Competition and Markets Authority’s powers is that they are coming from slightly different directions. It is not necessary that the powers should be exactly the same, but I think the answer is that they were broadly what was envisaged for the CMA when it was set up and therefore appropriate for the powers required by the ICO. Can the Minister confirm that is the case?

My third question is one that we have explored at length in Committee and on Report. Given these new duties and responsibilities, which are substantial and will have to be exercised with great care but will add a burden to its existing work—as was laid out in the Bill when we saw it in this House some time ago—will the resources be available to the ICO to carry out that work? If not, what will the Government do about that? This bears particularly on the question of staff and staff capacity because, as the Minister says, we are talking about the cutting edge of technology.

My final point is that we are legislating in haste. There is no reason why we should be suspicious of that but it was done very quickly and there was not as much scrutiny as one would have wished, in either this House or the other place. I was not able to find this in the Bill itself, but can the Minister confirm whether, should it turn out that these powers are not as well drafted or well expressed as they could be, he has the powers to go back and amend them through the appropriate procedures in due course, should that be necessary?