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Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 96:


Page 18, line 33, after first ("of") insert ("the public interest in").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 97 to 97B not moved.]

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendments Nos. 98 and 99:


Page 18, line 36, leave out ("the provision in question") and insert ("that provision").
Page 18, leave out line 38 and insert ("Subsection (1) relates to the provisions of").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

6.15 p.m.

Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne moved Amendment No. 100:


Page 18, line 40, at end insert ("and, in relation to data processed for the purposes of journalism, the fourth data protection principle").

The noble Baroness said: I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to this amendment, although I missed my place in the original grouping. This is a simple amendment which seeks to bring accuracy back into journalism in terms of the Bill. Perhaps I may point to the Press Complaints Commission code of practice because it is inherent in that code; indeed, it is its first principle, if I may so describe it. That is natural, it is the first principle in the BBC Charter. The agreement specifies "accuracy and impartiality". That is the BBC.

I have here the PCC code which says much the same thing. In Item 1, which is "accuracy"--the very first one--it talks about the need to apologise for publishing if data are inaccurate. I accept that that will be a great

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surprise to many people, but it is in the PCC code of practice, albeit many times more in the breach than in the observance.

I therefore ask why, for the purposes of journalism, people's data protection principle should be ignored. It seems to be in conflict with the PCC code of conduct on which the present Government are placing so much reliance in terms of self-regulation. Would it not be practical and apposite, therefore, to respect that duty of accuracy that journalism has given itself through the PCC code of practice and bring it back with regard only to the purpose of the Bill, which is to protect personal data? It is a narrow and small amendment which seems to be in line with the Minister's own arguments. I beg to move.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I believe that the noble Baroness was speaking to Amendments Nos. 100, 101, 102 and 103, and I shall respond, if I may.

The reason that we retained the media's exemption from the fourth data protection principle is quite plain. The media codes make it clear that material which is to be published must be accurate. The noble Baroness rightly pointed to the injunctions in the PCC code about accuracy. I am told by the noble Lord, Lord Wakeham, that a significant majority of complaints to the PCC is to do with accuracy. The virtue that the noble Lord sees in his procedure is that inaccuracies can be put right. It is true, contrary to ignoble popular belief, that many people want accurate accounts about themselves rather than attempting to win the bingo, or the lottery, by going to the libel courts. One understands that.

The reason for the exemption here is that the media codes are speaking of material when published, and of course following publication. But data protection principles apply well before the publication of the story or a programme for the broadcast media. When journalists are pursuing a story--which, I repeat, I believe is a notable public duty even if uncomfortable for those set in authority above us--and making their investigations, they simply cannot know in many instances whether or not the personal data are accurate. Application of the fourth principle (and this is very important) would prevent them collecting the data in the first place. It would prevent any journalist doing his or her job. It would prevent the collection of information with a view to publication because processing includes collection. It would stop them holding the data. It would stop them continuing the investigation of the story in order to find out, ironically, whether the original material collected was in fact accurate. Therefore, to go along the route which is so enticingly and attractively set out by the noble Baroness would have this consequence. It would make investigative journalism infinitely more difficult; and we set our face against that.

Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne: The Minister therefore puts forward a Morton's Fork approach. The duty of accuracy in the fourth data protection principle with regard to citizens and journalism cannot be applied. The PCC code of practice is a private matter in terms of the matter not being before Parliament. Therefore the citizen does not have the opportunity to have his

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legislators discuss it. It is a Morton's Fork principle. It impales the citizen in terms of accurate data protection. I remind the Minister that all too frequently press cuttings are merely recycled, and inaccuracies are extrapolated and continued almost ad infinitum. It is galling, as he has so properly said, for people to be inaccurately described, particularly on the most sensitive personal matters. We have already defined what sensitive data are--ethnic origin, and so on. These things matter deeply to people. There must be a way whereby the Minister can offer me some reassurance that accuracy on personal data can be taken into account with print journalism. I believe that it is already well established as a principle in the broadcast media. Indeed, they have few complaints on accuracy because of their high value legislation before the House.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I have to respond to that. I have said that there is a distinction between pre-publication activity and what happens when the inaccuracy is published to the world. If the amendment of the noble Baroness were accepted, investigative journalism would become if not impossibly impeded, seriously and significantly impeded. There is the mechanism at the moment in the scheme of the noble Lord, Lord Wakeham, whereby inaccuracies can be put right. Most people, I repeat respectfully, wish the inaccuracy to be put right, corrected appropriately, and not necessarily to have compensation.

I take the noble Baroness's point: the BBC has a code which requires inaccuracies to be put right, and she says that works. The press has a code which requires inaccuracies to be put right and, by and large, that works. It is wrong to suggest that the PCC code will not be capable of being discussed, scrutinised or debated in Parliament. One is simply coming back to the structural difference between the broadcast media and the print media, but that structural difference has no effect in practice in relation to inaccuracy and the need for investigative journalism. I am bound to say that there was no difference of approach between the broadcast media and the print media when they stressed, separately and together, to us in the Home Office their very real concerns which I believed to be properly justified concerns that investigative journalism would be hobbled if not wholly stifled.

Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne: I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 101 to 106C not moved.]

Clause 31, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 32 [Research, history and statistics]:

Lord Teviot moved Amendment No. 107:


Page 20, line 7, after ("behalf") insert--
("( ) to a person not the data subject where paragraph 3(a) of Schedule 3 applies,").

The noble Lord said: I am speaking from personal experience. I am concerned that the definition of research purposes in Clause 31(1) would not allow a searcher who is not the data subject to have access to

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records to support measures or decisions with respect to particular individuals. While most genealogical research relates to individuals who are no longer living and is thus outside the scope of this Bill, there are occasions when a third party is acting in the interests of a data subject but is unable to gain the prior consent of that subject--for example, a solicitor or his agent trying to trace the beneficiary of a will. To quote another example, the Salvation Army might be trying to contact missing persons. This amendment attempts to ensure that such research may continue. I hope I am worrying unnecessarily and that the Minister will immediately put me at ease. I beg to move.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: I hope I will put the noble Lord at ease, but not in the way he expects, I think! I have listened carefully to what he said and I have some sympathy for the case he makes. I am not in a position to reach a firm view this afternoon because we have to check whether the points he makes can be dealt with in a way which is consistent with the data protection directive to which we are trying to give effect. We do not necessarily see all of the examples he gave in his effective speech moving the amendment, but there may be cases where one would want to do something along the lines he suggested. I give him absolutely no assurances whatsoever, but there seems to be some validity in the points he makes. I hope we can return to this at a later stage. In the light of that assurance, I would ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Teviot: I am slightly reassured, and I hope I shall be reassured even further at the next stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 32 agreed to.

Clause 33 agreed to.

Clause 34 [Disclosures required by law or made in connection with legal proceedings etc.]:

6.30 p.m.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 108:


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