Power to make further exemptions

Data Protection Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:15 am on 20th March 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Stuart McDonald Stuart McDonald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Immigration, Asylum and Border Control)

Clause 113 is one of the broad Henry VIII powers that we are consistently opposing and voting against and will continue to oppose and vote against. In chapter 6 of part 4 of the Bill are set out various exemptions that would disapply a number of aspects of data protection if that were required for national security. In schedule 11 are set out further exemptions, including for prevention and detection of crime, parliamentary privilege, legal professional privilege and so on. Huge swathes of data protection principles and subjects’ rights disappear in those circumstances.

We have already had a number of good debates on whether we have struck the right balance between the rights of data subjects and the national interest, national security interests and so on. In our view, it rather undermines our role in scrutinising Government legislation and finding the right balance if we then hand over what is pretty much a carte blanche to change the balance that we have decided on, with the minimum of scrutiny, through broad Henry VIII powers. We therefore continue to oppose broad Henry VIII powers in the Bill and encourage hon. Members to support taking this clause out of the Bill.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising this point. Clause 113 is analogous to clause 16, which we have already debated, and provides for the Secretary of State, by regulations subject to the affirmative procedure, to add further exemptions from the provisions of part 4 or to omit exemptions added by regulations. This clause reflects amendments made in the House of Lords in response to the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee’s concerns that the powers in the Bill as introduced, which provided for adding, varying or omitting further exemptions in relation to schedule 11, were inadequately justified and too widely drawn. However, maintaining the power to add further exemptions, or to omit exemptions that have been added, provides the flexibility required, if necessary, to extend exemptions in the light of changing public policy requirements.

Any regulations will be subject to the affirmative procedure, so they will have to be debated and approved by both Houses. I hope that gives the hon. Gentleman some comfort. In addition, clause 179 requires the Home Secretary to consult the Information Commissioner and other interested parties that they consider appropriate before bringing forward any regulations. Again, those are further procedural safeguards.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 113 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 114 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 12 agreed to.

Clauses 115 and 116 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 13