Coroners and Justice Bill

The Coroners and Justice Bill was introduced into the House of Commons on 14th January 2009 and will have its Second Reading on 26th January 2009.

The title sounds remote from information law; but Part 8 of the Bill contains some  important proposed amendments to the Data Protection Act 1998. 

In the first place, there are provisions giving the Information Commissioner new inspection and audit powers in relation to government departments and certain other public bodies, in order to assess their compliance with the Data Protection Act.  These appear to be a response to the well-publicised series of public sector data losses over the last year or so.

More controversially, the Bill makes provision for information-sharing orders, designed to facilitate the use of personal information for purposes other than those for which it was originally obtained.  Data sharing is a subject of long-standing debate (especially within the public sector);   it was recently considered in the Wolpert/Thomas data sharing review.  The Bill is intended to bring greater clarity to this area.   The proposals have however drawn a hostile response from some civil liberties groups concerned with personal privacy. 

For the full text of the Bill as introduced, see:

For a Ministry of Justice paper explaining the various powers to make delegated legislation that are contained in the Bill, see:

For the Wolpert/Thomas review, see:

For criticism of the proposals, see: