§ 7.20 p.m.
§ Baroness Hooper rose to move, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 17th June be approved [23rd Report from the Joint Committee].
§ The noble Baroness said: These amendments are minor and technical. They are required to take account of the establishment of National Health Service trusts. I hope, therefore, that your Lordships will readily agree to them. It may help if I explain a little of the background to the regulations. The Access to Personal Files (Social Services) Regulations 1989 are made under the Access to Personal Files Act 1987. They deal with an individual's right of access to personal information held on local authority social services department files. Incidentally, they do not deal with computerised information, because that falls under the Data Protection Act.
§ At the moment the regulations refer only to health authorities as the employing bodies of the health professionals providing the information, but with the establishment of NHS trusts—which also employ health professionals—the legislation needs to be amended to extend the same provisions to circumstances in which an NHS trust provided or now holds the medical records concerned. It is a technical amendment. It will not add to the workload of the local authority. It merely means that local authority requests for guidance on disclosure in some cases will be differently addressed.
§ Before laying the regulations we consulted bodies representing local authorities as required by the Access to Personal Files Act. I ask the House to agree to these minor technical amendments. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 17th June be approved [23rd Report from the Joint Committee].—(Baroness Hooper.)
§ Lord Ennals
My Lords, again I thank the Minister for her explanation. From my standpoint there is no need to delay the House on what, as she said, are quite technical amendments. She will know that I have shown no great enthusiasm for NHS trusts and nothing that I have seen lately is likely to change my mind, although I am ever open to new inspiration.
This regulation is a formality made necessary by the creation of NHS trusts. If there are NHS trusts, we have to make certain that this is taken into consideration. This regulation was approved in another place without debate. I do not intend to detain the House any longer.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.