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Viscount Astor: I am extremely grateful to the Minister for what he said with regard to my amendments. I am grateful that he is prepared to look again to see whether there is a possibility of dealing with the points concerning negotiations under Amendments Nos. 112 and 113.

I move on to the last amendment that the Minister mentioned, Amendment No. 119, about which there is concern in the industry. I understand his point about the directive. The answer is that we must have discussions with industry in the light of the directive and see whether there is some way in which we can jointly come up with a solution that might deal with the problem. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 110:


Page 49, line 24, leave out ("in which") and insert ("to the extent to which").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 110A to 110C not moved.]

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 111:


Page 49, line 36, leave out ("in which") and insert ("to the extent to which").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 112 and 113 not moved.]

25 Feb 1998 : Column CWH110

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 114:


Page 49, line 42, leave out ("in which") and insert ("to the extent to which").

The noble Lord said: I have already spoken to this amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 115:


Page 50, line 27, at end insert--
(""the prescribed period" means forty days or such other period as is for the time being prescribed under section 7 in relation to the personal data in question;").

The noble and learned Lord said: With the Committee's leave, I shall speak not only to Amendment No. 115 but also to Amendment No. 116. This is a highly technical amendment, the principal effect of which is to remove any doubt there may be about the meaning of the words "prescribed period" in paragraph 6 of Schedule 7. This paragraph provides for an extension of the time within which a data controller is obliged to comply with a subject access request where the data in question consists of examination marks. The purpose of this extension is to avoid the obvious mischief of people using their subject access rights to obtain exam results before those results have been published.

The computation of the time limits involved relies on the concept of the "prescribed period". This concept is first encountered in Clause 7 where it is defined as meaning 40 days, or such other period as may be prescribed by the Secretary of State in regulations. The intention is that the "prescribed period" in Schedule 7 should be a period of the same length as that in Clause 7--that is to say 40 days, or whatever is currently prescribed for the purposes of Clause 7 in the regulations. It is not intended that there should be any scope for a different period to be separately prescribed for the purposes of Schedule 7. That would amount to the taking of a separate power. That is not what is intended. These amendments remove any doubt about the matter. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 116:


Page 50, line 28, leave out ("and "prescribed period" have") and insert ("has").

The noble and learned Lord said: I have just spoken to the amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 117 to 119 not moved.]

Schedule 7, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 37 [Powers to make further exemptions by order]:

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 120:


Page 20, line 37, after ("if") insert ("and to the extent that").

The noble Lord said: I have already spoken to this amendment. I beg to move.

25 Feb 1998 : Column CWH111

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 37, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 38 [Enforcement notices]:

Viscount Astor moved Amendment No. 120A:


Page 21, line 20, at end insert ("or, in Scotland, personal injury").

The noble Viscount said: This is a simple drafting amendment. I am more than nervous about saying to two such distinguished practitioners of the craft that this is better legal wording. However, the reason I put this amendment before the Committee is that I am advised by the Scottish Law Society that it is better wording. I beg to move.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: These are not dissimilar amendments to those which were moved by the noble Viscount, Lord Astor--Amendments Nos. 51 and 55--on Monday. I had to plead guilty to ignorance of the law of Scotland, but that was Monday and this is Wednesday.

Our officials have been in touch with their opposite numbers in Scotland and are informed that, as to Amendment No. 128, the word "damage" covers personal injury and therefore, that research having been done and that assurance having been given, I ask the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, to withdraw his amendment.

Viscount Astor: I am grateful to the Minister for his explanation and I am sure that the Scottish Law Society will read his words carefully. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 121:


Page 21, line 34, at beginning insert ("Where--
(a)")

The noble Lord said: I have already spoken to this amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 122:


Page 21, line 35, leave out ("which").

The noble and learned Lord said: This was spoken to on the previous Committee day. I formally beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 123:


Page 21, line 36, leave out ("(3)") and insert ("(3)(a)").

The noble and learned Lord said: This amendment was spoken to previously, but not moved.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: It was grouped but it was not spoken to. I can say that this is a purely technical amendment. The reference at present in the Bill is wrong. It should be to subsection (3)(a), not to subsection (3), and the amendment makes the necessary correction. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

25 Feb 1998 : Column CWH112

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 124:


Page 21, line 36, leave out ("may also") and insert ("or
(b) the Commissioner is satisfied that personal data which have been rectified, blocked, erased or destroyed were inaccurate,
an enforcement notice may").

The noble Lord said: This has already been spoken to. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 38, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 39 agreed to.

Clause 40 [Request for assessment]:

Viscount Astor moved Amendment No. 124A:


Page 23, line 4, at beginning insert ("if not, of his reasons, and if so,").

The noble Viscount said: This is a simple amendment on request for assessment in Clause 40. The amendment simply seeks to encourage openness in decision making. The effect of the amendment will require the commissioner to explain to an applicant for an assessment the reasons for refusal where an assessment is refused. I beg to move.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I understand the effect of the amendment but we do not believe that it is necessary. The effect of Clause 40(4)(b) requires the commissioner to tell a person who has made a request for an assessment of "any view formed or action taken as a result of the request". We believe that means that the commissioner must tell the person concerned of any view formed on the merits of the request in respect of which the commissioner has decided not to make an assessment.

I accept that the requirement applies only to the extent that the commissioner considers appropriate, but we believe that one needs flexibility here to allow the commissioner to manage her business efficiently. It will not always be appropriate to explain her views and actions, particularly when issues of confidentiality may be involved. If it is appropriate the duty is there.

I hope that that explanation finds approval with the noble Viscount.

Viscount Astor: I am grateful to the Minister for his explanation. I am not 100 per cent. convinced. I am a little concerned that there is an element of doubt. Because the commissioner has the flexibility, she cannot accede to the request. However, I shall read closely what the Minister said. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 40 agreed to.

Clause 41 [Information notices]:

7 p.m.

Viscount Astor moved Amendment No. 125:


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