Data Protection Bill [Lords]: 9th May 2018

Anna Soubry (Broxtowe) (Con)
I am grateful to the Secretary of State for giving way; it is very generous of him. Some years ago, I put forward a private Member’s Bill calling for anyone who was accused to keep their anonymity until they were charged. It is all there—it is effectively good to go. I too would very much like to meet the Secretary of State, because this is the right thing to do. People should not be named before they are even charged, unless a judge orders otherwise.

Matt Hancock
I am aware of my right hon. Friend’s proposals, and I look forward to meeting her. Getting the details of this right is incredibly important, and I am happy to take that forward.

Anna Soubry
The right hon. Gentleman is making a powerful case, and he is right about morality and the promises made, most importantly, to victims. I am struggling to support him, however, because while those are powerful arguments, I am actually more interested in the outcome. Is there a genuine purpose that can be achieved other than—and it is a strong argument—keeping a promise to victims? It will be a hollow promise if it is nothing more than a talking shop.

Edward Miliband
Other people have asked, “Why can’t the police just do it?” That suggests that whenever there is a police inquiry there cannot be a public inquiry. My answer is this: there is no substitute for the breadth of a public inquiry and its ability to see what happened. A lot has emerged even since Leveson 1. At that time, people said the hacking and improper behaviour were just at the News of the World. There have now been revelations at The Sun, allegations about The Sunday Times and a decade of blagging by John Ford—a whole range of allegations that we need to get to the bottom of. Crucially, we need to learn lessons for the future. The useful thing that can come out of this is to prevent there being future victims like the McCanns and the Dowlers. That is why so many victims have written to the Prime Minister, saying it is important to get to the truth—not just for them but to prevent it from ever happening again.

Margot James
I will come back to my right hon. Friend in a moment, but I did say that I would give way to my right hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry).

Anna Soubry
I thank my hon. Friend for that information, but it was mainly complete news to me, as I suspect it was to my right hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead too. We have a really serious problem here. I just cannot underestimate the amount of concern among small businesses. Medium-sized businesses with more than 250 employees have the benefit of a team of people, but this is a real crisis for small businesses and I am afraid that the lack of information is truly troubling. There are solutions, and perhaps we should discuss them in a different debate, but as a Government we have an absolute duty to get this right. There are devices available—HMRC sends out tax returns, for example—and there are many opportunities to get this information out there. At the moment, however, there is a lot of disinformation, and as my right hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead says, these businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. They do not know what is happening, and they are worried.
Margot James
I sympathise with the points that my right hon. Friend has raised. In fact, we have secured almost £500,000 to launch an information campaign to bolster what the Information Commissioner’s Office is already doing for small businesses. I also draw her attention to the need for this legislation, and to the need for businesses and all of us in public life to respect people’s data rights. The landscape has changed. We now live in a digital world, and there is so much abuse of people’s privacy and data that I must bring her attention back to the need for the Bill. Of course she is right, however, to say that people need to be properly informed, and that is what the ICO is doing and what the Government campaign that we are about to launch will also do.