UK Liberty

Coroners and Justice Bill

Posted in database state, inquest without jury by ukliberty on January 16, 2009

I’ve written before about how the titles given to legislation often don’t reflect the actual effects in practice, for example the asset freezing powers in the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act being used against a financial institution.

But when there is something that has nothing to do with the title and context of the legislation whatsoever… that really takes the biscuit.  The latest examples of this are the data sharing provisions in the Coroners and Justice Bill.

Sweeping new powers allowing personal information about every citizen to be handed over to government agencies faced condemnation yesterday amid warnings that Britain is experiencing the greatest threats to civil rights for decades. …

Proposals in the Coroners and Justice Bill include measures to authorise ministers to move huge amounts of data between government departments and other agencies and public bodies. Bodies that hold personal information include local councils, the DVLA, benefits offices and HM Revenue and Customs.

The Bill will allow ministers to use data-sharing orders to overturn strict rules [e.g. the Data Protection Act 1998] that require information to be used only for the purpose it was taken. But it places no limit on the information that could eventually be shared between public bodies, potentially allowing vast amounts of personal data to be shared by officials across Whitehall, agencies or other public bodies. (The Independent)

Just why are data sharing provisions in a coroners and justice bill?

(By the way, they mainly apply to England and Wales.  I wonder how many Scottish and Northern Irish MPs will abstain from voting on them?)

And how greatly will they be scrutinised given the controversial clauses that actually relate to coroners (e.g. inquests without juries)?

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