I speak in my capacity as convener of the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee, so I will not make any comment on the policy implications of section 7A or the cabinet secretary’s amendment 61, which seeks to remove it from the bill.
At its meeting this morning, the DPLR Committee scrutinised the recently lodged supplementary delegated powers memorandum. Unfortunately, the lodging of the supplementary DPM breached the timeframe that is required by standing orders, which meant that this morning’s meeting was our only chance to consider it. The committee was disappointed about the lack of time that it had to scrutinise effectively the changes that stem from stage 2, as a result of which we were clearly limited in what we were able to recommend to Parliament. The committee acknowledges that the past few months have been a busy legislative period for all of us, and we appreciate that oversights happen, but that should not have happened.
However, our report has now been published. In it, we make a number of recommendations on the supplementary delegated powers, one of which relates to section 7A. The committee agreed that I should highlight those concerns now, given that members will not have had a chance to read the report.
The committee noted that the delegated power in section 7A
“is particularly wide in its scope” and that, in that respect, it contrasts with powers in other sections of the bill. The committee also observed that the obligation to request information that is relevant to monitoring a prisoner
“is potentially very wide ranging” and that
“There will be data protection implications involved in sharing such information about the prisoner.”
Therefore, the committee considers that affirmative, rather than negative, procedure would have been more appropriate for a power of such a nature. That might, of course, be a moot point if section 7A is removed from the bill.
I commend the DPLR Committee’s report to Parliament.