Data Protection Bill [HL] - Commons Amendments

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:30 pm on 14th May 2018.

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Photo of Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood Chair, Sub-Committee on Lords' Conduct 5:30 pm, 14th May 2018

My Lords, I too respectfully resist this amendment. I will touch on one point: the suggestion that Leveson 2 was promised and the Government are now brazenly breaking that promise. I suggest that that is not so. Were the public inquiry required by this amendment to go ahead, it would be a very different inquiry from that which was originally contemplated and promised by way of a further stage of Leveson. Consider the differences between Amendment 142 that this House originally passed, confined as that was to news publishers, and extending as it did to regional and local newspapers. That is totally different from the amendment now suggested, which is almost the same as the one that was rejected by the other place last week.

Consider the differences in the legal landscape—IPSO, about which much has been said. I should perhaps declare that I was one of the body of five who appointed IPSO, but that is hardly the point. Lord Justice Moses was a colleague of mine, as was Lord Justice Leveson, and both are of equal seniority and equally high reputation.

Consider all that has been learned from the series of cases since Leveson 1. While certainly not agreeing to the abandonment of any further inquiry, Leveson himself recognised changes in the legal landscape in the letter that has been referred to, referring on page 5 to how,

“the guidance from the College of Policing regarding Media Relations represents significant change”,

and recognised the fact that work is currently under way on a digital charter. This inquiry would also require investigation into issues which, frankly, have nothing very obviously to do with this Bill on data protection. It would require an investigation into whether suspects should be named before charge or conviction. That is a difficult, important and interesting question, but it is not something that obviously arises now.

Inquiries are sometimes compellingly necessary, but it is no good pretending that they are invariably the panacea that they are cracked up to be. Note some of the difficulties in, for example, the historical sex abuse inquiry, the inquiry into undercover policing and so on. I respectfully suggest that a further inquiry is not required here.

My noble friend Lord Pannick is not always right. You have only to read his column in last week’s Times which extolled your Lordships decision to maintain the European Charter of Fundamental Rights despite Brexit to realise that he is not always right. But right he is on this issue, and I suggest that your Lordships do not pass this amendment.