Data Protection Bill [HL] - Commons Amendments

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:45 pm on 14th May 2018.

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Photo of Lord Clement-Jones Lord Clement-Jones Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Digital) 3:45 pm, 14th May 2018

My Lords, on these Benches, we are very sympathetic to Amendments 53A and 53B. Like the noble Lord, Lord Mitchell, we find it difficult to understand why it has been impossible to come to some sort of agreement. I hear what the Minister said: that he is sympathetic, but not so sympathetic that he agrees with the amendments. This disagreement about whether a statutory code, guidance or whatever is the right way forward seems to be dancing on the head of a pin.

I pray in aid the intervening report of the AI Select Committee on precisely this matter, which supports the contentions of the noble Lord, Lord Mitchell. In our report, we stated:

“Increasingly, public sector data has value. It is important that public organisations are aware of the commercial potential of such data. We recommend that the Information Commissioner’s Office work closely with the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation in the establishment of data trusts, and help to prepare advice and guidance for data controllers in the public sector to enable them to estimate the value of the data they hold, in order to make best use of it and negotiate fair and evidence-based agreements with private-sector partners”.

That seems fair and square along the lines proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Mitchell.

In the course of our inquiry, we also looked carefully at the sorts of arrangements made by DeepMind—not only the benefits, which he very fairly outlined, but the issues with how sharing that data was organised, which of course led to an investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office. Of course, NHS data is particularly important in this context. In our report, we stated:

“The data held by the NHS could be considered a unique source of value for the nation. It should not be shared lightly, but when it is, it should be done in a manner which allows for that value to be recouped”.

So, fair and square, we are with the noble Lord, Lord Mitchell.

It would be somewhat ironic if the Secretary of State, in his response to our Select Committee in three or four weeks, said, “Yes, we agree: there should be something along these lines”, but we had missed the opportunity in this Bill.