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Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne: I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord for his exposition of the reasons for his rejection of my amendments in this clause. I make two points before withdrawing my amendments. I remind him--if he needs it, and I am sure he does not--that recent legislation such as the Police Act 1997 has distinguished between serious and other crime. I refer to Amendment No. 76. When the noble and learned Lord considers again the amendments that have been rejected, possibly that point could be taken into account. In other words, there is already a distinction in modern legislation. Perhaps it is worth looking at the issue again.

With regard to Amendment No. 78, I accept his reasoning that requesting information and obtaining it where there was criminal intent circumvents the objective of the work of the Inland Revenue. Nonetheless I remind him that by making that assumption across the board it tars everybody with the same brush. All requests for access to Inland Revenue subject data would therefore be deemed to be of criminal intent, which does not seem to me to be the attitude that the Solicitor-General would wish that

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department to adopt. With those points upon which I am sure he will reflect, I seek leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.15 p.m.

Baroness Turner of Camden moved Amendment No. 77:

Page 16, line 39, at end insert--
("( ) the prevention of anti-social behaviour or crime and disorder for the purposes of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998;").

The noble Baroness said: I beg to move the amendment standing in my name on the Marshalled List. I would say at the outset that I was approached by the Local Government Association in connection with the amendment which is before us this afternoon. The purpose of the amendment is to clarify that the definition of,

    "the prevention or detection of crime",

for the purposes of exemptions under the Bill will include information relating to the community safety work done by local authorities.

The Local Government Association is concerned about restrictions on data exchange between local authorities and the police for the purposes of preventing crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour. The Crime and Disorder Bill currently before Parliament imposes a new duty on authorities to work with the police to develop local crime and disorder reduction strategies. The Bill also confers a new power to apply to a magistrates' court for an anti-social behaviour order.

The exchange of relevant information between local authorities and the police is essential to the carrying out of these functions. I believe it is true that the Government are willing to introduce a new clause to the Crime and Disorder Bill to ensure that information exchange by local authorities and the police is not ruled out of order, but the exercise of that power in specific cases will depend on a relevant exemption existing in the Data Protection Act.

Clause 28 of the Data Protection Bill, as we know, allows for an exemption for,

    "personal data processed for ... the prevention or detection of crime".

However, I understand that the Data Protection Registrar has made it clear that she interprets this as referring only to information that relates to specific criminal proceedings or police detection of criminal offences. Her interpretation of Clause 28 does not include information relating to "crime and disorder", "anti-social behaviour" or civil proceedings (for example, the anti-social behaviour order procedure in Clause 1 of the Crime and Disorder Bill).

I understand that local government feels strongly that this formulation does not provide sufficient statutory support for the exchange of information relating to crime and disorder audits or the casework necessary for serving an anti-social behaviour order. Furthermore, there is great concern that the Bill will make matters worse because it will extend this restrictive regime to information held in card files.

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I would be grateful to have the response of the Government to these representations which have been made, which seem to me to be quite legitimate in the context of the crime and disorder legislation.

Viscount Chelmsford: In rising to support the noble Baroness I would like to make one or two points. I would also like to bring in my own amendment which is grouped with this, Amendment No. 80.

I had not heard, until the noble Baroness mentioned it just now, about the Data Protection Registrar's interpretation. I would have thought that that interpretation is much less wide than we have heard from the noble and learned Lord both on Monday and this afternoon. It was my intention before he spoke, and it still is my intention, to say that everything that he has told us seems to me to give great comfort to those who are involved in the prevention and detection of crime.

I would like to go beyond that. I am afraid I do not agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson, in her views on this clause. I would like to find out how the Government intend to treat those who are involved in collecting information for purposes other than criminal ones, particularly for civil purposes. I am not sure how one should go about this, but it seems that one possible way to draw a response would be to put down, as I have done, "evidence required by solicitor". That at least brings it into an expected court proceeding. Obviously, those who are involved, for example, in divorce proceedings, need to be able to collect information. It will clearly be prejudicial to their client's case if such information must be given to the data subject who is on the other side of the case.

My amendment is a probing amendment. I shall be interested to hear how the Government intend to handle this side of the Data Protection Bill.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: There are three amendments in this group: Amendment No. 77, which is the amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Turner; Amendment No. 80, put down by the noble Viscount, Lord Chelmsford; and a third one--not even mentioned by anybody!--which would have been moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Young. I shall deal with all three, although the third one has not been moved.

The first one, moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Turner, wishes, in effect, to extend the exemption to not merely the prevention and detection of crime but also,

    "the prevention of anti-social behaviour or crime and disorder for the purposes of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998".

The second one wishes, in effect, to extend the exemption to,

    "the preparation of evidence required by a solicitor in respect of expected civil proceedings".

The third one wishes to extend Clause 28(2) to cover not just personal data processed for the purpose of discharging statutory functions but also personal data processed,

    "to assist statutory authorities in the discharge of their legal duties".

As these changes would all extend the exemption, it is important to give careful consideration to the justification for them. The provisions to which the

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exemptions relate are key elements of the data protection regime. Subject access is arguably the most important right for individuals created by the Bill; and the restrictions on disclosure are essential to the safeguarding of information. If we are to remove either of these two key safeguards, we need to be absolutely sure that we have sound reasons for doing so and that the exemptions are strictly necessary. We must also not forget that our Bill is implementing an EC directive which lays down restrictions on the scope of exemptions. We must be sure, therefore, that the exemptions are permitted by the directive.

I must admit that I have reservations about all three of the new proposed exemptions. Having had a part to play in taking the Crime and Disorder Bill through this House, I certainly wish to ensure that its objectives are not undermined by the Data Protection Bill. I have listened carefully to what the noble Baroness, Lady Turner, said in moving her amendment. I agree that partnership and inter-agency co-operation are crucial to the success of measures in the Crime and Disorder Bill. The Government are keen to ensure that measures in the Crime and Disorder Bill which require inter-agency co-operation are effective and workable.

However, with my data protection hat on I am not convinced that the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Turner, is strictly necessary. Other things apart, to the extent that the amendment applies to crime, the exemption provided by Clause 28 is already available. To the extent that the intention is to make the exemption for activities which are not criminal, we would need to look carefully at what the directive permits. Having said that, I fully understand the point that she is making on behalf of the Local Government Association. The proper action is to take her point and investigate whether there is a gap which needs to be filled, because I quite understand the basic point being made.

I should like to make clear that I am aware of the concerns that have been expressed by the Local Government Association about its ability--quite apart from the data protection law--to exchange personal data relating to behaviour which is not criminal but is anti-social. Examples are information relating to crime and disorder audits or the case work necessary for serving an anti-social behaviour order.

This is something we are looking at closely in the context of the Crime and Disorder Bill. That, rather than this, is, I suggest, the right context for determining what information should be exchanged. Equally, there is still a potential gap that we need to consider in the Data Protection Bill before we finally respond to the amendment that the noble Baroness has proposed.

The second amendment relates to civil proceedings. The point was raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Chelmsford. I listened carefully to his comments. The Bill already makes provision in paragraph 9 of Schedule 7 for a subject information exemption for legal professional privilege. Thus if a solicitor is preparing a case and getting information which would itself attract legal professional privilege, that would be exempt. It is not clear to me why this exemption does not meet the noble Viscount's concerns.

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The third amendment, which has neither been moved nor spoken to, takes a different tack. It not having been moved or spoken to, all I shall say at this stage is that I am not persuaded of the need for it.

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