The Human Tissue Act 2004 and the Children Act 2004 now both have Royal Assent and are law.
The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, I have to notify the House, in accordance with the Royal Assent Act 1967, that the Queen has signified her Royal Assent to the following Acts:
Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004,
Highways (Obstruction by Body Corporate) Act 2004,
Human Tissue Act 2004,
Children Act 2004."
The controversial "Schedule 5 Part 2 Use for an Excepted purpose" of the Human Tissue Act introduces huge exemptions to the penalaties under "Section 46 Offences relating to non-consensual analysis of DNA", whilst at the same time fails to regulate all the other genetic database analysis techniques such as RNA analysis, chromosome analysis, protein sequencing etc. which can already now, and which will increasingly in the future, provide similar "genetic fingerprint" data.
The controversial Section 12 of the Children Act, which grants the Government the power to create a massive "Big Nanny" computer database on all the children and their parents in the UK, and which destroys the confidentiality of professional advisors and children or parents seeking their advice "notwithstanding any rule of common law which prohibits or restricts the disclosure of information", and which can be used to circumvent, by regulation without further Parliamentary approval, the Principles of Data Protection laid down in the Data Protection Act.
Following the Parliamentary progress and scrutiny of both of these two Bills, which have now become Acts of Parliament, was a very disheartening experience.
The Members of Parliament in the House of Commons failed to protect our civil liberties during their limited scrutiny of these controversial sections of these Bills, and the Government guillotined debate on them i.e. used its majority to restrict the Parliamentary time available for any debates or amendments.
The Government succeeded in diverting any debate or opposition during the Children Bill, by spinning the less important issues, such as slight changes to the law on the smacking or chastisement of children by parents.
The Human Tissue Bill was, as presented, so flawed that it took heavy lobbying and lots of amendments by the medical research. biotechnology, academic and industrial establishments to prevent the Bill from destroying those vital industries in the UK. However the Government still failed to understand the differences and similarities between say DNA and RNA, something which, given the crucial importance of genetic technology, every schoolchild in the 21st century should be aware of.
The House of Lords did have some useful and informative contributions, but their role is too late in the legislative process to prevent the damage done by the House of Commons. Almost all of their amendments, especially regarding the Children Bill information databases, were simply rejected by the New Labour Government with a "Nanny knows best" attitude.
We are yet again having to rely on the traditional incompetence of the Government, with regard to national scale computer database projects to protect us from the further aspects of an Orwellian surveillance state which these two pieces of legislation could be used to introduce.
We urge ethical IT professionals and civil servants not to allow the Government or their Dilbert style managers to abuse the immense powers which the Government have just granted themselves, and guture Governments by means of these two Acts of Parliament.