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Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendments Nos. 33 to 36:

Page 19, line 22, after ("Where") insert ("at any time ("the relevant time")").
Page 19, line 23, leave out from ("claims") to ("that") in line 24 and insert (", or it appears to the court,").
Page 19, leave out line 34.
Page 19, line 36, at end insert ("or
( ) in a case where the proceedings were stayed on the making of a claim, that the claim is withdrawn.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 32 [Research, history and statistics]:

Lord Teviot moved Amendment No. 37:

Page 20, line 7, at end insert ("and for these purposes a data controller may deposit records containing personal data in a record office open to the public which agrees to comply with a code of practice approved by the Secretary of State").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I shall also speak to Amendment No. 38. In Committee, I was happy to accept the Minister's assurance that many of the concerns of the archive profession would be addressed by a code of practice issued by the Secretary of State. This amendment attempts to encourage record creators to deposit the records which are to receive further processing, and in particular to make provision for the period between the coming into force of this Act and the issuing of a code of practice. They need a clear statement authorising them to do so in the Act and not merely in the obscurity of a statutory instrument, which may not even appear for some months.

However, I do not know whether I have been pre-emptive or precipitate. Looking at Amendment No. 58, I see that there is to be a new schedule, which the Minister will undoubtedly introduce with the next grouping, to deal with certain exemptions so far as I understand them. I accept that they may go some way towards reassuring the depositories I have in mind. However, I should like an assurance when the Minister replies.

I should point out that these records are not for the most part public records, and therefore do not have the protection that that definition provides. The type of records I have in mind are membership registers of trades unions or co-operative societies, lists of employees and their wages among business records, and records of the recipients of charities. All such records are now protected by long closure periods, which will doubtless be confirmed by a code of practice. But until that code is published there is a real risk that some organisations, realising that their records do not conform to the Act, will be deterred from depositing them, resulting in their eventual loss to posterity.

I turn to Amendment No. 38. Noble Lords will realise that I moved this precise amendment in Committee. The noble and learned Lord the Solicitor-General indicated that the Government were concerned over this particular

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point and would try to find a compromise within the European directive. Hence, I have been anxiously looking for such an amendment to appear--sadly, in vain. However, I appreciate the Government's difficulties, and perhaps one will see such an amendment next week. That is the reason why I am reintroducing this amendment.

Its purpose is to ensure that research by a third party in the interests of a particular data subject without his prior consent may be allowed to continue. Although Clause 32(5)(b) allows such research on a data subject by a person acting "on his behalf", I am concerned that that provision may be interpreted to mean acting "on his authority". This amendment would cover the relatively few cases where that condition cannot be met.

Furthermore, I have learnt today that the Law Society is eagerly awaiting the Minister's answer to this problem. Its particular concern is for solicitors to be able to continue to trace beneficiaries of wills--an example that I mentioned in Committee. I should be grateful to have an answer to that point today. If the phrase "vital interests", in paragraph 3(a) of Schedule 3 is thought to be too clinical, I should be happy to add "or in his best interests" to Clause 32(5)(b), which would thus allow data to be disclosed "to the data subject or a person acting on his behalf, or in his best interests". I beg to move.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, within this group we begin with Amendments Nos. 37 and 38, followed by Amendments Nos. 39, 40, 41, 42, 43 and 44. With his usual courtesy the noble Viscount has indicated that he will not move or speak to Amendments Nos. 45 and 46. That therefore leaves Amendment No. 74 as the final amendment in this group.

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, for explaining these amendments. Perhaps I may return to Amendment No. 58 in its due place since it deals with a very technical area which will require a rather tedious and lengthy explanation. As I understand the noble Lord's first amendment, he wants to bring about a situation whereby records obtained by one person for a particular person and then passed to a public records office may be made available to the public in accordance with a code of practice approved by the Secretary of State.

Public records offices and public registers do not need to rely on the research exemption in order to disclose material which is statutorily required to be made public. That can be done under Clause 33.

Lord Teviot: My Lords, with respect to the noble Lord, I believe the examples I mentioned were those records not covered by the Public Records Office. They may be covered by a records office, but not the Public Records Office.

6.30 p.m.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, that is so. We have made distinct provisions for public records which are not limited by the restrictions in Clause 32. I appreciate that there may be two further concerns. The

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first relates to contributors to registers. We believe that their position is covered by Clause 34(1). The second is the point on which the noble Lord was good enough to intervene: that records are not always the subject of statutory requirements to be provided.

We do not believe that the noble Lord's amendment is capable of being accepted within the terms of the directive. I think the noble Lord anticipated that that might be our response. It is not a response which is come to lightly; we wish to do our best to be co-operative. As I said in Grand Committee, I recognise these concerns. I am happy to say that officials are more than willing to meet the noble Lord--if he wishes, with colleagues of his or those who have interests in this field--to see whether we can make further progress towards a solution which might be helpful to the interests which he identified.

The amendment would bring about the disclosure of any records collected for any purpose. It would imply that the disclosure of any records collected for any purpose was fair and compatible with the original purpose. That might be the case in some circumstances, but we are unable to advise your Lordships that such disclosure would always meet the relevant tests. I hope that this can be the subject of further useful discussion.

If the record office keeps records for research purposes only, the contributor can himself claim the benefit of Clause 32(5) to protect an exemption on which he himself relies.

What I have said about Clause 33 also applies to Amendment No. 38. In so far as there are other research purposes which do not have the public character to which the noble Lord referred, the limitations in Clause 32(5) acknowledge the fact that we are allowed by the directive to make special exemptions for research purposes on two conditions only. The first is that data subjects are suitably safeguarded and the second that the processing in question is solely for research purposes and no other. Clause 32(5) is therefore for a particular function and no other. It provides that researchers can within those limits which I have identified give voluntary subject access without losing the right to say that they are processing solely for research purposes.

Clause 32(5)(b) provides that researchers can safely disclose to the data subject or a person acting on his behalf. Read with Clause 32(5)(d), we believe that that extends to persons whom the researcher had reasonable grounds for believing are acting on behalf of the data subject. We do not see any need to give that reference to a person acting on behalf of the data subject an artificially narrow construction. The noble Lord raised the question of an executor acting on behalf of a beneficiary. We believe that the executor acting on behalf of a beneficiary is lawfully entitled to continue the researches. That is the specific Law Society question which the noble Lord transmitted earlier. I hope that I have been able to reassure him and, through him, the Law Society.

Casting the net a little wider, it might well extend to a care agency, for instance, seeking to search out and support a missing person, though we should bear in mind that sometimes persons go missing for purposes

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which they regard as legitimate and reasonable. One again comes up against the difficult balancing which is sometimes easer to identify than to bring perfect harmony to.

I hope that I have been able to reassure the noble Lord that the reference to persons acting on behalf of the data subject can be given a practical interpretation, but I repeat that we are always willing to have discussions on an official or any other basis to see whether anything further ought properly to be done.

The next amendment in this grouping is Amendment No. 39, a government amendment. There is currently an omission in Clause 33. This clause relates to personal data made available to the public by or under enactment. An example might be the Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths. The clause provides an exemption for such data from the subject information provisions, from Clause 12, which gives data subjects the right to have inaccurate data rectified, and from the non-disclosure provisions.

The exemption from Clause 12 is included because, where the data are required to be maintained and made available to the public by statute, those statutes make detailed special provision as to accuracy and therefore as to amendments and corrections. Any amendments to the data to correct inaccuracies in that class of records should be made under those specific statutory provisions rather than under data protection legislation. But Clause 12 is only a part of the Bill's regime for correcting inaccuracy. It provides individuals with direct civil remedies in the courts. Its counterpart in the regulatory regime is the fourth data protection principle, which requires personal data to be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date. This principle can be enforced by the commissioner, and breach may give rise to a claim for damages under Clause 11. We do not want that to apply to public registers. They have their own systems for correcting inaccuracies. It would be a confusing duplication to overlay that with the requirements of the fourth data protection principle. That is the purpose of this amendment.

Amendments Nos. 40, 41, 42, 44 and 74 are government amendments. Amendment No. 43 is in the name of the noble Lords, Lord Campbell of Alloway and Lord Burnham. If I understand correctly from the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, our amendments meet his requirements.

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