Clause 62

Education and Skills Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:00 pm on 19th February 2008.

Alert me about debates like this

Information: supply by public bodies

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

I beg to move amendment No. 107, in clause 62, page 34, leave out lines 9 to 13.

Clause 62 replicates the data sharing provisions of clause 16 to facilitate local authority support services. I will not repeat all the concerns that were raised in relation to clause 16, except to say that it would have been better if the protections that the Minister outlined in his last contribution had been incorporated into these two clauses for the sake of certainty and clarification. I will not repeat all the arguments that have been made about the dangers and threats to privacy arising from such a vast power to share information.

The amendment seeks to remove from the list of bodies from which a local authority can request information all those organisations that do not relate directly to the education and training of the young person. It would remove the primary care trust, the strategic health authority, the chief officer of police, the local probation board and a youth offending team. It gives the Minister, should he need it, the opportunity  both to justify why the power is needed and to set out the protections that he will introduce to ensure that the information is protected in transfer, and will not result in the long term in people being reluctant to disclose information lest it be used for purposes other than those for which it was originally intended.

Photo of Jim Knight Jim Knight Minister of State (Schools and Learners), Department for Children, Schools and Families, Minister of State (Department for Children, Schools and Families) (Schools and Learners)

The debates we held at some considerable length on clause 16 could all be repeated in respect of this clause. I will not seek to fail to persuade the hon. Member for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton again using the same arguments, and will restrict my remarks to saying that the amendment would limit the supply of information to Connexions to information from local authorities and learning and skills councils. It would mean that the service would not have access to particular kinds of information that may be essential for it to determine the appropriate support for the young person.

We disagree about whether the Data Protection Act safeguards should be included in the Bill. I have said previously that it is not good for us to duplicate things in law. Overlapping measures can create confusion, which is why the provisions have been kept separate. That is perfectly normal, with the unfortunate side effect that it enables lawyers to make their money. We have that disagreement. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will not agree with me, but on the basis that we have had the argument, I simply urge him to withdraw his amendment.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

I am happy to withdraw the amendment on the grounds that we have had the debate, albeit we do not agree with the Minister about the practicalities of the powers in the two clauses. Given that we have had the debate, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 62 ordered to stand part of the Bill.