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 Ashton of Hyde Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 3:30 pm, 14th May 2018

I am grateful for the contributions made by noble Lords. The first thing to acknowledge is that these amendments were made at a reasonably late stage in the Bill but not a very late stage, in the sense that it was in the second House. We considered the Bill first and the second House amended the Information Commissioner’s powers, so we are now looking at them again. However, I can confirm to the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, that the Information Commissioner was involved in these powers. That is not to say that, in the course of those discussions, she did not put up some powers that she might like to have but, in discussion with the Government, we settled on some powers that she was content with. I can confirm that she is content with this suite of powers; in fact, she has written to the Minister for Digital confirming as such.

The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, mentioned a dawn raid and asked whether we can do that and, further, whether these powers are on all fours with the Competition and Markets Authority and Ofcom. By and large the powers are on all fours but, as the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, said, they are not exactly the same. They were modelled on them but they are slightly different, given the different roles and functions that regulators have. As for a dawn raid, the Information Commissioner has the power to ask for a warrant to be issued without notice if the judge is satisfied that giving the controller advance notice would not be appropriate. As I say, we looked closely at the powers of the CMA and Ofcom and modelled them as closely as possible.

The noble Lord, Lord Pannick, asked about protection for journalists’ sources. I can confirm that, yes, the new ICO powers continue to respect the need to protect journalistic sources and legal professional privilege.

The noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, also talked about the Information Commissioner’s resources. As he knows, we have increased the fees and made a commitment in the past that we will make sure that the Information Commissioner has the resources available to do her job properly. We understand the issues that that involves. We need the Information Commissioner to do a proper job and to be able to do so, not least because of the Brexit negotiations and the data adequacy requirements that we will want to continue for electronic commerce.

I think I have dealt with the points raised and, on that basis, I thank noble Lords for their support for these powers.

Motion on Amendments 51 and 52 agreed.