§ Mr. Leslie Huckfield
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wish to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter which I think should have urgent consideration, namely,the threat of the invasion of our individual privacy posed by the use of computers in the 1971 Census".I stress that my objection to some of the factors which are emerging about the 1971 Census are rather more specific and technical than those of the right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe), who earlier asked a Private Notice Question. I am more specifically concerned about the threat posed to our individual privacy by the use of computers in analysing the disaggregated data which will emerge from the Census.
Despite the reassurances which we have been given by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House this afternoon, we still have not heard any specific denial of the belief that information in 50-household lots will be available. Despite some of the reassurances, I am not satisfied that individual household tapes are needed to prise out personal information by using computers. In fact, if I may be so bold as to say so, when he made his statement trying to reassure me the Leader of the House rather missed the point. It is precisely because in using computers one does not need to have individual household data that I am still concerned. I will willingly send the right hon. Gentleman details of how it is possible to extract a personal dossier from a statistical data bank. There is a wide 828 range of knowledge on this subject, and I feel that the right hon. Gentleman, his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and the Registrar General ought to have studied it in more detail.
The fact is that so far we have heard nothing at all about the limits of the scale of the information which will be available. So far we have heard nothing at all about the limits which will be placed on the gathering of information from individuals, and so far we have heard nothing of the kinds of safeguards which will be applied to the types of companies and individuals to whom this information may be sold.
I repeat that many of the kinds of agencies and bureaux and systems which may be seeking this information are not the kinds of systems and agencies the bona fides of which I would personally respect.
In that context and in the absence of a specific reasssurance on these technical points from the right hon. Gentleman, I should like to move the Adjournment so that the House may discuss the matter at the earliest possible moment.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter which he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely,the threat of the invasion of our individual privacy posed by the use of computers in the 1971 Census.The House is familiar with the terms of Standing Order No. 9. I have considered the matter very carefully and I understand the hon. Member's interest in it, but I have decided that I cannot submit his application to the House.