A Delegated Legislation Standing Committee of House of Commons is due to debate the Draft The Information Sharing Index (England) Regulations 2006 today.
When the controversial Children Act 2004 was passed, with its powers to create another massive national database, on all the children and their parents or guardians in England and Wales, there were vague promises that the Government would publish "regulations" which would safeguard such sensitive data.
This database is initially costed at £224 million, over 3 years, but camapaign groups such as Action on Rights for Children share our fears about the cost, both in terms of money and in privacy. There is the very real danger that children will suffer because of the destruction of professional advisor / client confidentiality.
UPDATE: The full Statutory Instrument 2006 No. 983 - The Information Sharing Index (England) Regulations 2006 is now online which appears to be identical to the dradt discussed below:
Reading the Draft Information Sharing Index (England) Regulations 2006, the only "safeguard" appears to be a 3 year Data Retention period.
The Draft Statutory Instrument even re-emphasises that this enabling power can be used to disclose this information, to whoever the Government wants to, and such disclosures
may be made notwithstanding any rule of common law which prohibits or restricts the disclosure of information.
i.e. it deliberately overrides the Common Law duty of confidentiality
(3) Information disclosed under these Regulations, or information provided by a Secretary of State under section 12(9) of the Act, in respect of any person to whom arrangements specified in section 12(1) of the Act relate, may not be processed—
(a) to support measures or decisions with respect to that person; or
If the data is not being collected to "support measures or decisions with respect to that person", then why is it being collected centrally in the first place ?
(b) in such a way that substantial damage or substantial distress is, or is likely to be, caused to that person.
If the "damage or distress" is less than "substantial", then, according to this Draft Statutory Instrument, is it going to be permitted ?
In whose opinion is the "damage or distress" going to be judged as being "substantial" ?
The data which they are initially going to demand for this Children Index:
1. The person's—
(d) date of birth.
2. Such number as is used to identify any record relating to the person.
3. The name and contact details of any educational institution attended by the person, and the date on which the person started attending the institution.
4. In relation to any specialist or targeted service which is, or has been, provided to the person by, or on behalf of, a local authority—
(a) the name and contact details of any person or body providing the service;
(b) the date on which the provision of any service started; and
(c) (if applicable) the date on which the provision ended.
5. In relation to any primary medical services which are being provided under Part 1 of the National Health Service Act 1997, the name and contact details of any person providing those services, and the date on which those services were first provided.
6. The name and contact details of anyone with parental responsibility for the person (within the meaning of section 3 of the Children Act 1989) or who has care of the person at any time.
7. Where child benefit is being claimed under Part IX of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 in respect of the person—
(a) the name; and
(b) the address,
of the claimant.
8. Such metadata as may be requested by the Secretary of State and relates to information disclosed under these Regulations, or information provided by a Secretary of State under section 12(9) of the Act.
Remember, this data is to be collected on every child and their parents, not just those children who are somehow "at risk" or with special educational or health needs.
Unfortunately, DLSC "scrutiny" of such secondary legislation is pretty much always a Government rubbber stamping exercise.
The Committee of MPs, probably around 20 or so meeting in a Committee Room, get to "debate" the Statutory Instrument, but only on a "take it or leave it" basis, with no chance of amendment, and with the Government having a majority on the Committee.