§ (" .—(1) This section applies to any information which is (or, if it existed, would be) contained in a transferred public record, other than information which the responsible authority has designated as open information for the purposes of this section.
§ (2) Before determining whether—
- (a) information to which this section applies falls within any provision of Part II providing that the duty to confirm or deny does not arise, or
- (b) information to which this section applies is exempt information,
§ (3) Where, as respects any information to which this section applies, the duty to confirm or deny is excluded only by a provision of Part II not specified in subsection (3) ofsection (Effect 457 of exemptions), any question as to the application of subsection (1)(b) of that section is to be determined by the responsible authority instead of the appropriate records authority.
§ (4) Where any information to which this section applies is exempt information only by virtue of any provision of Part II not specified in subsection (3) of section (Effect of exemptions), any question as to the application of subsection (2)(b) of that section is to be determined by the responsible authority instead of the appropriate records authority.
§ (5) Before making by virtue of subsection (3) or (4) any determination that subsection (1)(b) or (2)(b) of section (Effect of exemptions) does not apply, the responsible authority shall consult—
- (a) where the transferred public record is a public record within the meaning of the Public Records Act 1958, the Lord Chancellor, and
- (b) where the transferred public record is a public record to which the Public Records Act (Northern Ireland) 1923 applies, the appropriate Northern Ireland Minister.
§ (6) Where the responsible authority in relation to information to which this section applies is not (apart from this subsection) a public authority, it shall be treated as being a public authority for the purposes of Parts III, IV and V of this Act so far as relating to—
- (a) the duty imposed by section (Special provisions relating to public records transferred to Public Record Office, etc)(3), and
- (b) the imposition of any requirement to furnish information relating to compliance with Part I in connection with the information to which this section applies.").
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 65 [Decisions as to discretionary disclosure of records in public records offices]:
§ On Question, Whether Clause 65 shall stand part of the Bill?
§ Lord Falconer of Thoroton
I have already indicated my intention to oppose the Question that Clause 65 stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 65 negatived.
§ Clause 66 agreed to.
§ Schedule 5 agreed to.
§ Clause 67 [Extension of meaning of "data"]:
The Earl of Northesk moved Amendment No. 334:
Page 35, line 3, after ("(d);",") insert—
( ) in the definition of "data subject", after the word "individual" there is inserted "or company",
( ) for the definition of "personal data" there is substituted—
"personal data" means data which relate to—
§ The noble Earl said: The Data Protection Act applies to individuals and, accordingly, affords no protection to companies in so far as any right to ensure that information held on them by a public authority is accurate. The enactment of this Bill will give the public right of access to information held on companies which work with public authorities. We believe that there is a lacuna here. The amendment would broaden the scope of the Data Protection Act to make sure that companies have the same right as individuals to ensure that information held on them is correct. This is important. If business organisations do not have that right there is a real risk that incorrect or inaccurate information will be released into the public domain under an FOI request, and in turn that can have grave commercial consequences for the companies concerned. I beg to move.
§ Lord Falconer of Thoroton
In effect this amendment proposes a change to the Data Protection Act 1998 to extend its protection to individuals also to companies. The 1998 Act gives effect to the EC Data Protection Directive of 1995. That directive, like the Act, is also about individuals, not companies. Like the Act, the directive was drawn up having regard to the particular needs of individuals. It is wholly unreasonable to suppose that the carefully devised rules in the 1998 Act to protect individuals' data are, without any refinement, applicable to information about companies.
If the noble Earl believes that there is a need for new legislation to protect information about companies, the right approach is to come forward with some carefully worked out, focused proposals rather than piggy-back on an existing piece of legislation. If the noble Earl's intention is to limit the scope for public authorities to disclose information about commercial undertakings under the FOI Bill, the amendment is unnecessary. There is already adequate provision in Clause 39 to protect information received in confidence. Under Clause 41, information that constitutes a trade secret is exempt, as is information the disclosure of which would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any person, including those of the public authority which holds the information. I do not believe that the new clause is either necessary or appropriate, and I invite the noble Earl to withdraw the amendment.
§ The Earl of Northesk
I thank the noble and learned Lord for his reply. Not surprisingly, I suspected that the arguments he adduced would provide the bar for acceptance of this amendment. I shall read carefully the words of the noble and learned Lord and may—one never knows—adopt his suggestion. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 67 agreed to.
§ Clause 68 agreed to.459
Baroness Masham of Ilton moved Amendment No. 335:
After Clause 68, insert the following new clause—