HL Deb 29 June 1984 vol 453 cc1158-69

6 Clause 2, page 3, line 12, at end insert— ("(4A) An order under subsection (3) above modifying the third data protection principle may, to such extent as the Secretary of State thinks appropriate, exclude or modify in relation to that principle any exemption from the nondisclosure provisions which is contained in Part IV of this Act; and the exemptions from those provisions contained in that Part shall accordingly have effect subject to any order made by virtue of this subsection.").

Lord Elton

My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 6. This amendment was moved by the Government in another place—I hesitate for a moment: is this the amendment to which my noble friend has an amendment and will she be speaking after'? I have misunderstood the procedures. That curtails what I shall say now. If your Lordships find that I explain anything at too much length or detail I shall be happy in the later stages to curtail it, but I think that we should have on the record the basis in this House of what was done in the other place.

This amendment was moved by the Government in another place in response to representations from the health professions and others for special measures to regulate the disclosure of health data. Health data are specially sensitive. The Bill already recognises this by providing the power in Clause 2 for the Secretary of State to make an order modifying or supplementing these principles in order to provide additional safeguards in respect of such data. Health data are also different for another reason. They may often for perfectly legitimate reasons pass from the control of the health professional who originated them. Thus, within the National Health Service, it is technically the health authority which controls medical records. Also there are circumstances in which the employer may hold health data about his employees or in which an educational establishment may hold health data. Similarly health data may be disclosed and used for research purposes.

In all of these circumstances, although the subject is entitled to expect his data to be properly protected, he does not necessarily have the guarantee that any decision about their disclosure will be taken by a responsible health professional. This is a matter of some concern to the health professions who are anxious to ensure that the trust between a patient and his doctor or other professional is not undermined. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health and Social Services therefore has agreed to consider the issue of directions under the National Health Service Act requiring health authorities to comply with a code of guidance which will set out the circumstances in which health data may be disclosed and will make it clear that, generally speaking, the consent of the patient will be required before data are disclosed. In other limited circumstances the consent of the responsible professional may, instead, be required, including, for example, where the disclosure is to the police. Such a direction will of course apply only to the health authorities. It was in order to ensure that similar restrictions could be imposed on the disclosure of health data held outside the National Health Service that this amendment was brought forward.

As I have already said, Clause 2 allows the Secretary of State to make an order supplementing or modifying the principles as they apply, among other things, to health data but as Clause 2 originally stood any order which amended the third principle relating to the disclosure of data would still have been subject to the exemptions from the nondisclosure provisions; so that although the order might say that health data may not be disclosed without the consent of the patient or the responsible professional. Clause 28(2), for example, would have been capable of overriding this restriction.

The amendment therefore provides specific power for the Secretary of State to modify or override the exemptions from the nondisclosure provisions in any order modifying the third principle. The intention is to use this provision to make an order placing restrictions on the disclosure of health data similar to those contained in the code of guidance being prepared by the Department of Health and Social Security in consultation with the health professionals. This amendment meets the concern expressed in many quarters about the need to provide additional safeguards in relation to the disclosure of health data and I accordingly commend it to your Lordships.

Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said amendment.—(Lord Elton.)

Baroness Faithfull moved:

That this House do agree to the Commons Amendment 6 with the following amendment: Line 8, at end insert— ("; and any order made by virtue of this subsection may exclude or modify in relation to that principle exemptions from the non-disclosure provisions in respect of sensitive data consisting of information as to spiritual counselling, or social work or similar activities involving counselling as to personal welfare.")

11.58 a.m.

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving the amendment set down in my name on the Order Paper, may I say that I do agree with the amendment to which my noble friend the Minister has just spoken. But I wonder if it is fully appreciated that what my noble friend the Minister has just said is to safeguard confidential data of a medical nature. I wonder, again, if it is fully appreciated that this is not fully implemented. If I may, I will say why. My Motion before your Lordships House today seeks to do two things: first to safeguard the disclosure of confidential information given to social workers in the course of their duties by those seeking advice, support and help of a practical nature. Secondly, this amendment of mine seeks to implement fully the amendment to which my noble friend has spoken.

In order to explain this, may I for a moment outline the duties of a social services department? May I say that social work and medical work are inextricably interwoven and that one cannot operate without the other. The information of one cannot operate without the information of the other. For instance, the social services department is responsible for, let us say, the adoption categories. One cannot place a child for adoption without highly sensitive confirmation from a doctor of the health of the baby, of the health of the mother who is unable to have a child and of the health of the mother wanting to place the child. That information must be sought, and can only be sought, from a doctor. The report of the doctor is on the social work file and therefore the doctor's advice is taken but there are, of course, other factors.

There are social factors, as to whether the couple have the capacity to look after a child, whether they are capable of bringing up a child; but in the first instance it is upon the medical report that the social workers depend. Take, for instance, the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1969. The doctors make the medical recommendation as to what the patients require—alterations to their house, various implements which they need or perhaps admission to a home. That medical report must go on the social worker's file because the social worker would otherwise probably not know how to implement the doctors recommendations.

Then we have the Mental Health Act. The doctors and the social workers must work closely together. The social workers cannot arrange admission to a mental hospital without the recommendation of the doctor, and that must be on the file. Therefore, the social workers are implementing what is set out by the doctor. Then there are various court cases, of children who have been abused by their parents. If a case is taken to court it is necessary to have a medical report on the state of the child in order to present both the medical and the social background of the case: without a medical report one cannot possibly take a case to court, and probably the child will not be helped but possibly even further damaged.

Then, with the elderly, we have recommendations by the doctors as to what should happen to them, and some of the things that the doctors recommend are very serious. If there is a confused, incontinent, elderly person, the doctor has to state that on the file and on the medical report and must make a recommendation to the social services department on what is the best help to be given to that elderly person. I hope that, by briefly covering the role of the social services department, I have shown your Lordships that the medical and health departments are inextricably interwoven and one cannot do without the other.

I now turn to the whole question of administration. About half the local authorities in this country have data on computers from the social services departments. Those computers are not held in the social services departments. They are held possibly in the chief executive's department or in the treasurer's department, and the people servicing the computer may be asked for information. Information may be given from the computer quite without the knowledge of the social services department. They do not control what information is given from the computer.

Then, I come to the question of the position of social workers in a local authority. Social workers are the servants of the council for which they work; and in a notable case relating to Birmingham District Council—the Old case—it was ruled that, because workers were the servants of the council, the members of the council had the right to see the papers. If the members of the council have the right to go to the computer and ask the operator for information, the operator, who also is a servant of the council, will in all probability give that information. That will include not only social work information; it will also include medical information. Therefore, the doctors will not be safeguarded and the doctors' data will not be safeguarded as Amendment No. I sets out to do.

When I was president of the Association of Children's officers many years ago, there were at that time—I believe it was 1969—various difficulties as between the medical profession and the social work profession, As president of the association I went to see the BMA. The BMA at first said that there was no question of their divulging confidential information. However, a very good relationship was worked out as between the social work profession and the BMA, and I believe I can honestly say that over the years that relationship has been built up, and the doctors have been prepared to give the social work departments confidential information, for the sake of their patients if for nothing else. Therefore, I feel that the trouble about this amendment which the noble Lord has moved is that, while we thoroughly approve of it, it really does not go far enough.

Finally, from the point of view of social workers, a great deal of confidential information is given to them under the different Acts. My noble friend the Minister has talked about medical information being very sensitive. When one is dealing with, for instance, divorce or the custody of children or wardship cases, the information given is indeed extremely sensitive, and, if the social workers lose the confidence of their clients, then those clients will be the worse off and will not have the help that they should have. I very much hope that my noble friend the Minister will take this into account, realising that for the following three reasons this matter should be looked at again: first, this should be done for the sake of the doctors; secondly, for the sake of social workers; and thirdly and most important of all. for the sake of the clients. I beg to move the amendment to the Commons amendment.

Lord Kilmarnock

I hesitate to intervene in a debate on the Data Protection Bill, in which I took no part, but, as the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, has been kind enough to ask my support for her proposal, I thought I should go into the matter a little. It seems to me that, if the Government are intent on safeguarding the confidential information of the health professions, they will have to ask themselves whether this phrase "health professions" is really adequate to the realities of the contemporary scene. The noble Lord, Lord Elton, will of course be aware that health authorities and social services departments are now intimately linked in all kinds of ways, particularly under the joint financing arrangements for care in the community, which in some cases under the tapering arrangement will mean that they will, so to speak, be coupled together over a period of something like 10 years.

As the noble Lord himself will also be well aware, there is the whole question of mental health care. He will recall from the many hours that we spent on the Mental Health Act in your Lordships' House that a new role emerged for social workers under that Act in that particular field of mental health. Then, as the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, has said, there are the medical reports on which social workers depend and which will be in their possession. As she also pointed out, many local authorities actually store their confidential social work data on a mainframe computer which is shared by other departments in the same authority.

The concept of the phrase "health data" is something which is constantly being expanded. I understand from the Royal College of General Practitioners—which is a body with very high standards for which I have the very greatest respect—that they have recently recommended that "health data" should be expanded to include such information as broken engagements, bankruptcy, broken marriages, loss of jobs and bereavements. These have all been added to the standard international classificaton of diseases by the Royal College of General Practitioners as part of a revised coding of diseases and treatment suitable for use on a computer. Therefore I would submit that the phrase "health data" covers an area which is constantly being updated and is on the move.

We all know the noble Baroness, Lady Faithful], well enough to know that she always makes practical suggestions out of her very extensive experience in social services departments. It seems to me that she has made a very good case on practical grounds because of the increased linkage, which I have also endeavoured to underline, between the health authorities and the social service departments. Under the Government's own plan for care in the community, the relationship between these two types of authority will, if anything, increase rather than the opposite. Therefore, for all those reasons I think that the Government really should listen very carefully to what the noble Baroness has said and see whether they cannot accommodate her suggestion.

12.12 p.m.

Lord Mottistone

My Lords, I should like to support my noble friend Lady Faithfull. All the arguments she advanced are of the kind which have been put to me by the Natonal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, on whose central committee I sit, as being their concern. They have exactly the same problem. I think, from the wording of my noble friend's amendment, that it covers that sort of nonprofitmaking body as well as social services of an official nature—I would hope it would—but the principle that she was on is exactly the same as for the NSPCC and I hope that the Government will be able to accept this amendment or, if not this, something very like it.

The Lord Bishop of Rochester

My Lords, I should like to follow the last speaker and support both the Minister's amendment and also the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull. She has spoken of the closely-integrated nature of the social and the medical work. There are others in the field, of which the noble Lord has just mentioned one, and there are other volunteer agencies such as the Marriage Guidance Council, conciliation services and the day-to-day counselling by ministers of all denominations. This is a constantly changing scene, but I think it is part of the picture which the Government ought to take into account in these revisions.

Noble Lords will notice that the amendment includes the words: non-disclosure provisions in respect of sensitive data consisting of information as to spiritual counselling. Clergy and ministers are beginning to hold sensitive information on computers. There is a Church computer users' group and their fear is that such information could be disclosed to the police, to Customs officials or others by, say, a parish secretary if he or she has access to the computer data; and that could be given without the knowledge or consent of the priest or pastor who had put that information on record. This I think shows that there are a great many people invoved in this work of what is called in the amendment "spiritual counselling". I therefore hope very much that the Minister will feel able to accept the noble Baroness's amendment, because I think it would be of help to a great many concerned.

Baroness Vickers

My Lords, I should also like to support this amendment. My reason is rather a different one. I am connected with a hospital in which some people have been staying for up to 30 years. Now it is found, with modern drugs and so on. that they can leave hospital and live in the community. We have over 300 people in the community at the present time and there may be even more, as far as I know. But it is essential that they should be given support, and of course the social workers are the people who can give them the best support. The other thing that is essential is that a lot of them have to take drugs at certain times on certain days. That must be safeguarded if we want to keep them in the community. So I do feel very strongly that we must have the help and support that can be given only by the social workers in this connection and therefore I wish to support the amendment.

Lord Mishcon

My Lords, the last thing in the world I want to do on a Friday morning is to repeat in other words the points so well made by other speakers. I therefore do not intend to do that; but I want to say from these Benches that we certainly support the principle and the spirit behind this amendment.

I want to try practically, only for a minute or two, to see whether there is any alternative that we ought to put before the Minister before he replies, because I am sure that the spirit of the amendment is one which coincides with his own views. Therefore, if there is any technical difficulty or any other difficulty in the way of accepting this amendment. I would, in line with the British Associaton of Social Workers (who are very worried about the position), like to put forward these proposals to the Minister before he replies. At least, if for any reason the Government cannot accept the amendment of the noble Baroness (although I hope they will) the suggestion is that the Government should state unequivocally that where there is any degree of overlap in respect of data relating to physical or mental health and to religious or other beliefs, with data that should not be regarded as falling under those headings. then the higher standards of protection to be offered under those headings should be in the proposed regulations.

Similarly, where a social services computer file includes any information regarding personal welfare or personal functioning which might be regarded as having a bearing on health, those data should also be protected. This would apply of course to psychological tests adminstered by qualified psychologists which rely on data supplied by the data subject. Quite obviously it would be the preference, certainly of that association and those who were like-minded, that the Government should acknowledge that they already have the power under Clause 2(4) of this Bill to modify the interpretation of the data protection principles, and that they would do so on the lines that I have indicated and which are embodied in the noble Baroness's amendment.

Lord Elton

My Lords, at the end of the last piece of business the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, said how difficult it was to find different words with which to thank my noble friend Lady Faithfull on different occasions. I must say that my chief difficulty, which I find myself reminded of on each occasion when she intervenes, is the fact that she makes me feel there should be some sort of driving mirror attached to the Dispatch Box—she addresses all her most difficult points to the nape of my neck!

I think that I can be of help in reassuring your Lordships, without necessarily following any of the paths which your Lordships have suggested the Government might follow. My noble friend's Motion is intended to extend the scope of the amendment which I have tabled so as to enable restrictions to be placed on the disclosure of social work data. I well understand the reasoning which has led her to table this Motion and the concern which has prompted it, and I think that has been made more clear in the course of this debate. That I appreciate, but I must make it clear to start with that the result which she desires cannot be achieved through an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 6 in any form.

The Bill recognises that there are certain categories of specially sensitive data which may require additional safeguards. These categories, which are the same as those recognised by the Council of Europe convention, are set out in subsection (3) of Clause 2 and are data relating to the racial origin of the data subject. his political opinions or religious beliefs, his physical or mental health or sexual life, or his criminal convictions. Social work data are not included in this list and cannot, therefore, be made the subject of an order under Clause 2. My noble friend's amendment does not, and cannot, succeed in bringing social work data within the scope of the order-making power, since that power resides in subsection (3) and not in the new subsection (4A) which is inserted by the Commons amendment.

At any other stage in our proceedings we would, of course, regard this as a purely technical argument and could nevertheless proceed with the debate on the merits, in the knowledge that any technical defects could be remedied later. That option is not open to us now. Our terms of reference are limited, and I could not therefore undertake to go away and produce something which would meet my noble friend's concerns or those of other noble Lords, as has been suggested, because although it is open to us to suggest different amendments to this amendment it is not open to us to amend another part of the Bill. That makes what follows in my speech the more important.

I must add, however, that while I understand the concern which underlies the Motion I believe that there is a difference between health data and social work data which justifies their different treatment. We are talking here about the disclosure of data by the data user to third parties. Where health data are concerned within the National Health Service, the data are technically held by the health authority rather than by the health professional. This has always been the case, and there are already existing arrangements which regulate the use and disclosure of such data by the health authority. It is these arrangements which may be given statutory backing by directions under the National Health Service Act.

Outside the National Health Service, health data may be held not only by individual professionals but by a wide range of other people for perfectly legitimate reasons; for example, by employers, insurance companies, pension funds, holiday and travel firms and many others. Clearly these people have good reasons for needing to hold health data, but may not be professionally qualified to decide whether such data should be disclosed to anyone else.

The same is not true of social work data. I accept that the local authority rather than the individual social worker holds social work data in the same way as the health authority holds health data. But arrangements for the use and disclosure of such data by the local authority are a matter for internal agreement. Indeed, I understand that the local authority associations are drawing up codes of practice for different categories of data, and I am sure that they would wish to discuss the handling of social work data with those concerned, including those who have addressed themselves to my noble friend's interest. But all that is an internal matter. Looking outside the local authority, there are simply not the same range of people who hold social work data. There is therefore not the same need for restrictions on disclosure of such data.

May I now come to what I think, with respect, may be a misconception which I readily understand and frequently find myself influenced by when I return to this Bill after a period away from it, but which I think may underlie the concern of noble Lords. We must not be misled into thinking of health data as the data which doctors hold, and social work data as the data held by social workers, as if the two were mutually exclusive. My noble friend has ably shown how they are interwoven. The Bill operates not on the basis of files of data, but on individual items of data.

Just because a file has my name on it, it does not mean that all the data contained in it are personal data to which I am entitled to have access. One has to look at the information contained in the file and identify that which is personal to me, including opinions and excluding intentions. Similarly, just because my name appears on the outside of a social work file, it does not mean that all the data in that file are exclusively social work data.

The file may contain information that my doctor says I have been under great pressure, having handled far too many Bills lately, and that this has affected my health and explains my eccentric behaviour. I cannot think why that should be in my briefl That is information obtained during the course of social work and is therefore social work data; but it is also information about my physical or mental health and, accordingly, is also health data. The definition of "health professional" will be a matter for the order itself. In determining the contents of the order we will, of course, bear in mind what your Lordships have said.

But to return to the health data, which is what I was talking about, the Bill allows the order to cover data as to one individual's physical or mental health. This may need further specification in the order itself, but would clearly seem to go sufficiently wide to allow us to cover in the order all that is required in the health field. I hope that your Lordships begin to see how the protection of the Bill extends to these items of health information, although they are held by social workers.

The data do not stop being health data just because they are contained in a social work file, and they will be subject to the same restrictions on disclosure as may be imposed on health data generally by an order under Clause 2. There is no danger, therefore, of health professionals refusing to pass on health data to social workers because of the risk of further disclosures—

Lord Mishcon

My Lords, it looks as though the noble Lord is now going on to a separate point. Before he leaves this one, could he give the House an undertaking, which is the one that I really asked for, that if there is an overlap such as he suggested the higher principles of protection will apply in regard to that overlap in any regulations that are made?

Lord Elton

My Lords, I think that the answer may be qualified and therefore will not come as readily to my lips as the noble Lord or I would wish. My noble friend gave specific examples of health data. I understand that no such qualification is required, but I want to be quite sure of that so I am going on with what I am saying now. The noble Lord seeks to draw into the record that which is visible but not audible, but that is not the function of the record. It is my privilege, however, to be able to convert the visible into the audible, and I am happy to give the undertaking which the noble Lord sought.

Lord Mishcon

And I, my Lords, in turn, have the pleasure of thanking the noble Lord for it.

Lord Elton

My Lords, I wonder, therefore, whether I should continue much further, because I think this will assist my noble friend. One of her concerns was where an adoption was being considered. I think that I can put her mind at rest in that connection. Wherever health data are held in these circumstances, the order that can be made under Clause 2 can apply to those health data. As I said a moment ago, health data remain health data whether held by a doctor, a social worker or anyone else. My noble friend will no doubt tell me in a moment whether she has followed what I have said and whether it has sufficed to reassure her.

12.30 p.m.

Baroness Faithfull

My Lords, I am sorry, but I am afraid that I am not reassured, because I do not think that it is fully appreciated how a social service department works. You cannot separate medical data from social work data when each is dependent on the other. Unless I do not understand computers, I do not see how, when you are making a recommendation that a child should be adopted or not adopted, because the medical record says that the child will not live for very long and therefore the case should not be recommended for adoption, you can separate out that tiny, middle sentence upon which the social work decision is going to be taken by the adoption committee.

Lord Elton

My Lords, I can reassure my noble friend that this is precisely what I mean. Perhaps your Lordships recall the endless discussions on the definition of "data", the central feature of which was the very, very small units into which they are broken down. Any units which are units specifically of medical information, as defined, are covered by the provisions of the Bill which relate to that kind of data, regardless of whether or not they are intermingled with other data. My noble friend will rightly say that it may be an awful job to unscramble the data and decide what one can and cannot legitimately say, but this is something which one does in one's own head with every piece of confidential information that one receives. I am sure that on many occasions my noble friend, who has discussed correspondence with me, has not revealed to me the whole of it, or the whole of any one paragraph. I also have to learn to respect the confidentiality of separate pieces of information, some of which are confidential and some of which are not, which together comprise an item on the file. The only way I can reassure my noble friend is to say that with a computer it is much easier to separate these bits out than it is to do it manually.

Lord Mottistone

My Lords, I still do not understand why my noble friend's amendment is not acceptable.

Lord Elton

My Lords, I thought that I had already read that out. My noble friend's amendment relates to a function which is not covered by the Commons amendment. The procedures of Parliament steadily narrow the area upon which we can have an influence. If they did not do that, the vanishing point would never be reached and we should still be discussing the Criminal Evidence Bill 1982. Because the area of my noble friend's concern lies outside the amendment, it is not possible for any amendment to this amendment to achieve what she wants. That is why I have tried to take considerable care in giving what I hope will be, at least in print, a lucid explanation of the way in which what my noble friend wants is, in fact, achieved by the Bill. I understand how my noble friend has lost sight of that, because so had I until I started to re-read my brief.

Lord Mishcon

My Lords, the noble Lord the Minister has helpfully given an undertaking. Personally I felt that there was some technical difficulty, not because of any wisdom of mine or any knowledge of the legislation, but because rumour had reached me that there was a technical difficulty. Therefore I thought the practical way to deal with it was to see that advantage was obtained from the noble Baroness's contribution to this debate, and her amendment, by getting the undertaking as to overlap and the higher protection that will be given under any regulations which are going to be made. The noble Lord the Minister has very courteously conceded that point and has said that such an undertaking can be given and that the regulations will be so worded.

Baroness Faithfull

My Lords, I recognise that there is a technical difficulty. The problem is that it has arisen towards the end of the Bill. If it had arisen a little earlier, things might have been easier. Up to the moment we have been talking about the medical data which must be safeguarded, but there are other data which have to be safeguarded by social workers. As I said in my speech, the information on the computer of the social services department includes, besides sensitive medical information, information which is also very sensitive from the point of view of personal relationships, from the point of view of the courts, and from the point of view of confidentiality as between clients. Am Ito understand from the Minister that that information is safeguarded and, if that is so, how is it safeguarded?

Lord Elton

My Lords, the difficulty is that we cannot have again all the debates which we had on this subject when the Bill was orginally in this House. I am tempted to refer my noble friend to the debates that we had at that stage and to remind her that the whole purpose of the Data Protection Bill is to provide safeguards for the data subject. That is what it is here for. It is not exposing data subjects to greater risk of injury from misinformation, or fright at true information. It is intended to ensure that the evils which might spring from a misuse of the computer and computerised records shall be, as far as is possible in law, minimised, avoided, muffled or stopped. At what point in that scale of effects the information which my noble friend wishes to introduce by means of this amendment strikes I could not precisely say, but the fact is that all personal data is protected by the Bill. That is its function. If my noble friend had wanted to change the function of the Bill, may I say, with the greatest respect and courtesy and without wishing to give any offence whatsoever, that she should have said so when the Bill was in this House. But that is no longer possible.

Baroness Faithfull

My Lords, I fully accept the delightful chiding of my noble friend the Minister. This should have been said at an earlier stage. Nevertheless, it was not possible for me to take part in the Data Protection Bill when it was before your Lordships' House. But that is no excuse. I have to say frankly that I am not entirely happy about the present position. I should very much regret it if the relationship between the social services and the medical profession were jeopardised. I should regret it bitterly if the relationship between social workers and their clients were jeopardised, because the clients are the most vulnerable in our society.

I appreciate that this is a faulty amendment. All I would say is that I hope that my noble friend the Minister and the civil servants in both the Department of Health and Social Security and the Home Office will appreciate very deeply what the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, has said and will appreciate, too, the very real difficulties that the departments run into. With that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Elton

My Lords, before my noble friend does so, may I point out that she inferred that the amendment failed because of a technicality. I hope I made it clear that no amendment could achieve what she wants. It is not a question of my noble friend having wrongly drafted the amendment. It is simply that a vacancy does not exist for an amendment to do what she wants it to do. That is the hard fact of the matter. Secondly, we are deeply sensitive to the delicate and important nature of the relationships to which my noble friend has referred. I should not wish anything I have said to obscure that fact. My last point is that it really is the case that a social worker who wants to protect, or keep confidential, data, will find it easier to do so effectively after the Bill is on the statute book than was the case previously.

Amendment to the Commons amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Motion agreed to.