§ 1 Clause 1, page 1, line 12, leave out 'or'.
§ Lord Williams of Mostyn
My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 1. In speaking to this amendment I shall speak to the numerous other amendments in this group. All deal with rights of access to information held in certain manual records.
The records in question are those to which the Access to Personal Files Act 1987, the Access to Health Records Act 1990 and the Education (School Records) Regulations 1989 and the corresponding legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland apply. These are local authority housing and social services records, health records, and records held by schools on pupils and former pupils.
The amendments are numerous. That is because the provision they make is technically complex and intricate. But the underlying purpose is perfectly straightforward. That is to consolidate in the Bill the access rights given in the other legislation to which I referred and thereby to give effect in respect of the relevant records to the ECHR judgment in the case of Gaskin.
Gaskin is to do with refusal of subject access. It says that where access is refused because of the risk of identifying third parties who have not consented there must be a mechanism for independent review of that refusal. The Bill deals with this in two ways. Where access has been refused data subjects may seek a court order requiring access to be given or they may request an assessment to be made by the data protection commissioner who has the power to take the necessary enforcement action.
The Bill, as it left this House, did give effect to the Gaskin judgment in relation to automated and structured manual records within the first three parts of the definition 1478 of "data" in Clause 1. So, to the extent that public bodies—for example, local authorities, NHS trusts and schools—hold records likely to be caught by the Gaskin judgment, the Bill, as it left this House, already did the job for those automated or manual records which came within its scope.
We did need, however, to make the necessary provision for the other unstructured manual records to which there is an existing right of access under the other legislation and which did not then come within the scope of the Bill. To deal with that problem—because we wish to meet the United Kingdom's ECHR obligation in this case in full—we decided to bring those additional records within the scope of the Bill. That is the purpose of these amendments.
§ Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 1.—(Lord Williams of Mostyn.)
§ Viscount Astor: My Lords, we welcome these amendments.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.