Digital Economy Bill (HC Bill 45)

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31 Disclosure of information by gas and electricity suppliers

(1) If the condition in subsection (2) is met, a person to whom information may be
disclosed under section 30 may disclose information held by that person to a
specified person.

(2) 5That condition is that the disclosure is for the purpose of assisting people living
in fuel poverty in England and Wales or Scotland by—

(a) reducing their energy costs,

(b) improving efficiency in their use of energy, or

(c) improving their health or financial well-being.

32 10Further provisions about disclosures under section 29, 30 or 31

(1) Personal information disclosed under section 29, 30 or 31 may only be used by
the person to whom it is disclosed for the purposes for which it was disclosed,
subject to subsection (2).

(2) Subsection (1) does not prevent the use of information by a person—

(a) 15if the information has already lawfully been made available to the
public,

(b) if the person to whom the information relates consents to its use for
another purpose,

(c) for the purposes of a criminal investigation (whether or not in the
20United Kingdom),

(d) for the purposes of legal proceedings (whether civil or criminal and
whether or not in the United Kingdom), or

(e) for the purposes of—

(i) preventing serious physical harm to a person,

(ii) 25preventing loss of human life,

(iii) safeguarding vulnerable adults or children,

(iv) responding to an emergency, or

(v) protecting national security.

(3) Subsection (2) does not apply to information disclosed to a person under
30section 29 or 30 by the Revenue and Customs; but such information may be
used by that person for purposes other than those for which it was disclosed
with the consent of the Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and
Customs (which may be general or specific).

(4) For the purposes of this Chapter information is “personal information” if—

(a) 35it relates to and identifies a particular person (including a body
corporate), but

(b) it is not information about the internal administrative arrangements of
a specified person or a person to whom information may be disclosed
under section 30.

(5) 40For the purposes of subsection (4) information identifies a particular person if
the identity of that person—

(a) is specified in the information,

(b) can be deduced from the information, or

(c) can be deduced from the information taken together with any other
45information.

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(6) A disclosure under section 29, 30 or 31 does not breach—

(a) any obligation of confidence owed by the person making the
disclosure, or

(b) any other restriction on the disclosure of information (however
5imposed).

(7) But nothing in section 29, 30 or 31 authorises the making of a disclosure
which—

(a) contravenes the Data Protection Act 1998, or

(b) is prohibited by Part 1 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act
102000.

(8) Section 29, 30 or 31 does not limit the circumstances in which information may
be disclosed apart from that section.

33 Confidentiality of personal information

(1) Personal information disclosed under section 29, 30 or 31 and received by a
15person (“P”) may not be disclosed—

(a) by P, or

(b) by any other person who has received it directly or indirectly from P.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a disclosure—

(a) which is required or permitted by any enactment (including section 29,
2030 or 31),

(b) which is required by an EU obligation,

(c) which is made in pursuance of an order of the court,

(d) of information which has already lawfully been made available to the
public,

(e) 25which is made for the purposes of a criminal investigation (whether or
not in the United Kingdom),

(f) which is made for the purposes of legal proceedings (whether civil or
criminal and whether or not in the United Kingdom),

(g) which is made with the consent of the person to whom it relates, or

(h) 30which is made for the purposes of—

(i) preventing serious physical harm to a person,

(ii) preventing loss of human life,

(iii) safeguarding vulnerable adults or children,

(iv) responding to an emergency, or

(v) 35protecting national security.

(3) A person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence.

(4) It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under subsection (3) to
prove that the person reasonably believed that the disclosure was lawful.

(5) A person who is guilty of an offence under subsection (3) is liable on conviction
40on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, to a fine or
to both.

(6) A person who is guilty of an offence under subsection (3) is liable on summary
conviction—

(a) in England and Wales, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12
45months, to a fine or to both;

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(b) in Scotland, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, to a
fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or to both;

(c) in Northern Ireland, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6
months, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or to both.

(7) 5In the application of subsection (6)(a) to an offence committed before the
coming into force of section 154(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 the
reference to 12 months is to be read as a reference to 6 months.

(8) This section does not apply to personal information disclosed under section 29
or 30 by the Revenue and Customs.

34 10Information disclosed by the Revenue and Customs

(1) Personal information disclosed by the Revenue and Customs under section 29
or 30 and received by a person (“P”) may not be disclosed—

(a) by P, or

(b) by any other person who has received it directly or indirectly from P.

(2) 15Subsection (1) does not apply to a disclosure which is made with the consent
of the Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (which may be
general or specific).

(3) A person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence.

(4) It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under subsection (3) to
20prove that the person reasonably believed—

(a) that the disclosure was lawful, or

(b) that the information had already and lawfully been made available to
the public.

(5) Subsections (4) to (7) of section 19 of the Commissioners for Revenue and
25Customs Act 2005 apply to an offence under subsection (3) as they apply to an
offence under that section.

35 Code of practice

(1) The relevant Minister must issue a code of practice about—

(a) the disclosure of information under section 29, 30 or 31, and

(b) 30the use of information disclosed under any of those sections.

(2) A person to whom the code applies must have regard to the code of practice—

(a) in disclosing information under section 29, 30 or 31, and

(b) in using information disclosed under any of those sections.

(3) The relevant Minister may from time to time revise and re-issue the code of
35practice.

(4) Before issuing or reissuing the code of practice the relevant Minister must
consult—

(a) the Information Commissioner,

(b) the Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs,

(c) 40the Scottish Ministers,

(d) the Welsh Ministers,

(e) the Department of Finance in Northern Ireland, and

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(f) such other persons as the relevant Minister thinks appropriate.

(5) The fact that this section was not in force when consultation of the kind
mentioned in subsection (4) took place is to be disregarded in determining
whether there has been compliance with that subsection.

(6) 5As soon as is reasonably practicable after issuing or reissuing the code of
practice the relevant Minister must lay, or arrange for the laying of, a copy of
it before—

(a) Parliament,

(b) the Scottish Parliament,

(c) 10the National Assembly for Wales, and

(d) the Northern Ireland Assembly.

36 Regulations under this Chapter

(1) Any power to make regulations under this Chapter is exercisable—

(a) in the case of regulations made by the relevant Minister or the Welsh
15Ministers, by statutory instrument, and

(b) in the case of regulations made by the Department of Finance in
Northern Ireland, by statutory rule for the purposes of the Statutory
Rules (Northern Ireland) Order 1979 (SI 1979/1573 (NI 12)SI 1979/1573 (NI 12)).

(2) Regulations under this Chapter—

(a) 20may make different provision for different purposes;

(b) may contain consequential, supplementary, transitional or transitory
provision or savings.

(3) The provision that may be made by virtue of subsection (2)(b) includes—

(a) provision amending this Chapter or repealing or revoking any
25provision of this Chapter;

(b) provision amending, repealing or revoking an enactment passed or
made before or in the same session as this Act.

(4) In the case of regulations under section 29(2) which specify a person or
description of person, this includes provision amending this Chapter so as to
30make provision in relation to information disclosed by that person or a person
of that description which is similar to that made by section 34 in relation to
information disclosed by the Revenue and Customs.

(5) Before making regulations under this Chapter the appropriate national
authority must consult—

(a) 35the Information Commissioner,

(b) the Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs,

(c) each other person who is the appropriate national authority in relation
to regulations under this Chapter,

(d) where the appropriate national authority is not the relevant Minister,
40the Minister for the Cabinet Office, and

(e) such other persons as the appropriate national authority thinks
appropriate.

(6) The fact that a power to make regulations under this Chapter was not in force
when consultation of the kind mentioned in subsection (5) took place is to be
45disregarded in determining whether there has been compliance with that
subsection.

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(7) The appropriate national authority may only make regulations under section
29(6) or 30(4)(b) with the consent of the Treasury in a case where the
regulations could affect the disclosure of information by the Revenue and
Customs.

(8) 5A statutory instrument containing regulations made under this Chapter by the
relevant Minister may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been
laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.

(9) Regulations made under this Chapter by the Scottish Ministers are subject to
the affirmative procedure.

(10) 10A statutory instrument containing regulations made under this Chapter by the
Welsh Ministers may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid
before, and approved by a resolution of, the National Assembly for Wales.

(11) Regulations under this Chapter may not be made by the Department of
Finance in Northern Ireland unless a draft of the regulations has been laid
15before, and approved by a resolution of, the Northern Ireland Assembly.

(12) If a draft of a statutory instrument containing regulations under section 29(2)
or 30(4)(a) would, apart from this subsection, be treated for the purposes of the
standing orders of either House of Parliament as a hybrid instrument, it is to
proceed in that House as if it were not such an instrument.

37 20Interpretation of this Chapter

(1) In this Chapter—

  • “the appropriate national authority” means the relevant Minister, subject
    to subsections (2) to (7);

  • “enactment” includes—

    (a)

    25an enactment contained in, or in an instrument made under, an
    Act of the Scottish Parliament;

    (b)

    an enactment contained in, or in an instrument made under, a
    Measure or Act of the National Assembly for Wales;

    (c)

    an enactment contained in, or in an instrument made under,
    30Northern Ireland legislation;

    (d)

    an enactment contained in subordinate legislation within the
    meaning of the Interpretation Act 1978;

  • “function” means function of a public nature;

  • “personal information” has the meaning given by section 32(4);

  • 35“public authority” means a person who exercises functions of a public
    nature, subject to subsection (8);

  • “relevant Minister” means the Secretary of State or the Minister for the
    Cabinet Office;

  • “the Revenue and Customs” has the meaning given by section 17(3) of the
    40Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005;

  • “specified person” has the meaning given by section 29(2).

(2) The Scottish Ministers are the appropriate national authority in relation to—

(a) regulations under section 29(2) which specify a person who is, or a
description of persons each of whom is, a Scottish body,

(b) 45regulations under section 30(4)(a) which add or remove a person who
is, or a description of persons each of whom is, a Scottish body, and

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(c) regulations under section 29(6) or 30(4)(b) which have the effect only of
enabling a Scottish body to disclose information for the purposes of an
objective which does not relate to a reserved matter (within the
meaning of the Scotland Act 1998).

(3) 5In subsection (2) “Scottish body” means—

(a) a person who is a part of the Scottish Administration,

(b) a Scottish public authority with mixed functions or no reserved
functions (within the meaning of the Scotland Act 1998), or

(c) a person providing services to a person within paragraph (a) or (b).

(4) 10The Welsh Ministers are the appropriate national authority in relation to—

(a) regulations under section 29(2) which specify a person who is, or a
description of persons each of whom is, a Welsh body,

(b) regulations under section 30(4)(a) which add or remove a person who
is, or a description of persons each of whom is, a Welsh body, and

(c) 15regulations under section 29(6) or 30(4)(b) which have the effect only of
enabling a Welsh body to disclose information for the purposes of an
objective which relates to a matter within the legislative competence of
the National Assembly for Wales.

(5) In subsection (4) “Welsh body” means—

(a) 20a person who wholly or mainly exercises functions which could be
conferred on the person by provision which falls within the legislative
competence of the National Assembly for Wales, or

(b) a person providing services to a person within paragraph (a).

(6) The Department of Finance in Northern Ireland is the appropriate national
25authority in relation to—

(a) regulations under section 29(2) which specify a person who is, or a
description of persons each of whom is, a Northern Ireland body, and

(b) regulations under section 29(6) which have the effect only of enabling a
Northern Ireland body to disclose information for the purposes of an
30objective which relates to a transferred matter (within the meaning of
the Northern Ireland Act 1998).

(7) In subsection (6) “Northern Ireland body” means—

(a) a Minister within the meaning of the Northern Ireland Act 1998,

(b) a Northern Ireland department,

(c) 35a Northern Ireland public authority within the meaning of the Statistics
and Registration Service Act 2007, or

(d) a person providing services to a person within paragraph (a), (b) or (c).

(8) A person is not a public authority for the purposes of this Chapter if, apart from
this subsection, the person would be a public authority for those purposes
40merely because the person exercises functions on behalf of another public
authority.

(9) References in this Chapter to people living in fuel poverty are to be construed
in accordance with section 30(7).

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CHAPTER 2 Civil registration

38 Disclosure of information by civil registration officials

(1) The Registration Service Act 1953 is amended as follows.

(2) After section 19A insert—

19AA 5 Disclosure of information

(1) A civil registration official may, subject to this section, disclose any
information held in connection with any of the official’s functions to—

(a) a specified public authority (see section 19AB), or

(b) any other civil registration official.

(2) 10A civil registration official may disclose information under this section
only if the official is satisfied that the authority or civil registration
official to whom it is disclosed (the “recipient”) requires the
information to enable the recipient to exercise one or more of the
recipient’s functions.

(3) 15A disclosure under this section does not breach any obligation of
confidence owed by the civil registration official making the disclosure.

(4) The power to disclose information under this section is subject to any
express restriction on disclosure imposed by another enactment
(ignoring any restriction which allows disclosure if authorised by an
20enactment).

(5) This section does not limit the circumstances in which information may
be disclosed apart from this section.

(6) “Civil registration official” means—

(a) the Registrar General;

(b) 25a superintendent registrar of births, deaths and marriages;

(c) a registrar of births and deaths;

(d) a registrar of marriages;

(e) each of the following in its capacity as a registration authority
within the meaning of Chapter 1 of Part 2 of the Civil
30Partnership Act 2004 (see section 28 of that Act)—

(i) a county council in England;

(ii) the council of any district in England comprised in an
area for which there is no county council;

(iii) a London borough council;

(iv) 35the Common Council of the City of London;

(v) the Council of the Isles of Scilly;

(vi) a county council in Wales;

(vii) a county borough council in Wales.

19AB Specified public authorities

(1) 40Each of the following public authorities is a “specified public authority”
for the purposes of section 19AA—

(a) a Minister of the Crown;

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(b) the Welsh Government;

(c) a department of the government of the United Kingdom;

(d) the Greater London Authority;

(e) a county council in England;

(f) 5a district council in England;

(g) a London borough council;

(h) the Common Council of the City of London in its capacity as a
local authority;

(i) the Council of the Isles of Scilly;

(j) 10a county council in Wales;

(k) a county borough council in Wales;

(l) an NHS body within the meaning of the National Health
Service Act 2006 (see section 275 of that Act).

(2) The Minister may by regulations amend subsection (1) so as to add,
15modify or remove a reference to a public authority or description of
public authority.

(3) Regulations under this section must be made by statutory instrument.

(4) Regulations under this section may—

(a) make different provision for different purposes;

(b) 20contain consequential, incidental, supplemental, transitional or
transitory provision or savings.

(5) The provision that may be made by virtue of subsection (4)(b) includes
provision amending, repealing or revoking any provision of any
enactment.

(6) 25A statutory instrument containing regulations under this section may
not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and
approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.

(7) In this section—

  • “enactment” includes an enactment contained in subordinate
    30legislation within the meaning of the Interpretation Act 1978;

  • “public authority” means a person who exercises functions of a
    public nature.

19AC Code of practice

(1) The Registrar General must issue a code of practice about the disclosure
35of information under section 19AA.

(2) A civil registration official must have regard to the code of practice in
disclosing information under section 19AA.

(3) The Registrar General may from time to time revise and re-issue the
code of practice.

(4) 40Before issuing or revising the code of practice the Registrar General
must consult—

(a) the Minister,

(b) the Information Commissioner, and

(c) such other persons as the Registrar General thinks fit.

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(5) As soon as reasonably practicable after issuing or reissuing the code of
practice the Registrar General must arrange for a copy of it to be laid
before Parliament.”

(3) In section 19B (fees in respect of provision of copies of records etc)—

(a) 5after subsection (1) insert—

(1A) The Minister may by regulations provide for fees to be payable
to a civil registration official in respect of the disclosure by the
official of information under section 19AA.”,

(b) in subsections (2) and (3), for “The regulations” substitute “Regulations
10under this section”, and

(c) in the heading, omit “in respect of provision of copies of records etc”.

(4) In section 21(1) (interpretation), after “respectively—” insert—

  • ““civil registration official” has the meaning given by section
    19AA;”.

39 15Consequential provision

(1) The Secretary of State may by regulations make the provision in subsection (2)
in consequence of any provision made by section 38.

(2) The provision mentioned in subsection (1) is provision amending, repealing or
revoking any provision of any enactment passed or made before or in the same
20Session as this Act.

(3) Regulations under this section must be made by statutory instrument.

(4) Regulations under this section may—

(a) make different provision for different purposes;

(b) contain transitional or transitory provision or savings.

(5) 25A statutory instrument containing regulations under this section which amend
or repeal an Act may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid
before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.

(6) A statutory instrument containing any other regulations under this section is
subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of
30Parliament.

(7) In this section “enactment” includes an enactment contained in subordinate
legislation within the meaning of the Interpretation Act 1978.

CHAPTER 3 Debt owed to the public sector

40 Disclosure of information to reduce debt owed to the public sector

(1) 35A specified person may disclose information held by the person in connection
with any of the person’s functions to another specified person for the purposes
of the taking of action in connection with debt owed to a specified person or to
the Crown.

(2) For the purposes of this section debt is owed to a specified person or to the
40Crown if—

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(a) a person is required to pay a sum of money to a specified person or to
the Crown, and

(b) all or part of that sum remains unpaid after the date on which, or after
the end of the period within which, it is required to be paid.

(3) 5The reference in subsection (1) to taking action in connection with debt owed
to a specified person or to the Crown includes—

(a) identifying debt of that kind;

(b) collecting debt of that kind;

(c) bringing civil proceedings as a result of debt of that kind;

(d) 10taking administrative action as a result of debt of that kind.

(4) In this Chapter “specified person” means a person specified, or of a description
specified, in regulations made by the appropriate national authority.

(5) A person specified in regulations under subsection (4) must be—

(a) a public authority, or

(b) 15a person providing services to a public authority.

(6) In the case of a person (“P”) who is a specified person merely because of
providing services to a public authority, the reference in subsection (1) to the
functions of a specified person is limited to the functions P exercises for that
purpose.

(7) 20In determining whether to make regulations under subsection (4) in relation to
a person or description of person the appropriate national authority must have
regard, in particular, to—

(a) the systems and procedures for the secure handling of information by
that person or persons of that description, and

(b) 25in the case of regulations which amend or revoke previous regulations
so that the person ceases to be a specified person, whether that person,
or any person providing services to that person, has had regard to the
code of practice under section 44 as required by that section.

(8) Before making regulations under subsection (4) the appropriate national
30authority must consult—

(a) the Information Commissioner,

(b) the Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs,

(c) each other person who is the appropriate national authority in relation
to regulations under subsection (4),

(d) 35where the appropriate national authority is not the relevant Minister,
the Minister for the Cabinet Office, and

(e) such other persons as the appropriate national authority thinks
appropriate.

(9) The fact that this section was not in force when consultation of the kind
40mentioned in subsection (8) took place is to be disregarded in determining
whether there has been compliance with that subsection.

41 Further provisions about power in section 40

(1) Personal information disclosed under section 40 may only be used by the
person to whom it is disclosed for the purposes for which it was disclosed,
45subject to subsection (2).