Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Friday 23 January 2009

Police State Britain - Clause 152 of the Coroners and Justice Bill


You can find the Coroners and Justice bill on the UK Parliament website here and the full text in .PDF format is here and clauses 151-154, referred to below, are on pages 107-120 (* - see at end; see also '+' at end) of this .PDF online version of the Bill).
The Ministry of Justice website page on the Coroners and Justice Bill is here.

I have received the following in an email from no2id:

This is one of the most serious threats to our liberty and privacy we've yet seen. Please read this carefully, and act now.

The government is trying to remove all limits on the use of our private information by officials. This means taking your information from anywhere and passing it anywhere they like - including medical records, financial records, communications data, ID information....anything at at all.

The Database State is now a direct threat, not a theory.

Clause 152 of the Coroners and Justice Bill, due for its first debate in the Commons on Monday 26th January, would convert the Data Protection Act into its exact opposite. It would allow ministers to make 'Information Sharing Orders', that can alter any Act of Parliament and cancel all rules of confidentiality in order to allow information obtained for one purpose to be used for another.

This single clause is as grave a threat to privacy as the entire ID Scheme.

Combine it with the index to your life formed by the planned National Identity Register and everything recorded about you anywhere could be accessible to any official body.

Quite apart from the powers in the Identity Cards Act, if Information Sharing Orders come to pass, they could (for example) immediately be used to suck up material such as tax records or electoral registers to build an early version of the National Identity Register.

But the powers would apply to any information, not just official information. They would permit data trafficking between government agencies and private companies - and even with foreign governments. They would permit government departments to obtain information from private companies and individuals, too.


We need you to do three things:

1) Please write straight away IN YOUR OWN WORDS to your MP via - do it this weekend, if not before. The Bill is being rushed through Parliament, even as we write.

Ask your MP to read Part 8 (clauses 151 - 154) of the Coroners and Justice Bill, and to oppose the massive enabling powers in the "Information sharing" clause. The Bill contains a number of controversial provisions, but to the casual reader it appears mainly to be about reforming inquests and sentencing. It is due its Second Reading in the Commons on 26th January 2009.

Request your MP demand that the clause be given proper Parliamentary scrutiny. This is something that will affect every single one of their constituents, unlike the rest of the Bill. There is a grave danger that the government will set a timetable that will cut off debate before these proposals - which are at the end of the Bill - are *even* discussed.

2) Write letters to your local papers. Point out that this will affect every single person in the country. Highlight the fact that the information sharing powers in this Bill are overwhelmingly unpopular *- when people know about them - and that they are being sneaked in without publicity*.

A YouGov poll in the Sunday Times on 18th January (details here: ) shows that the public opposes these new powers by a factor of 3 to 1 *against* - 65% of people asked said they would give government "too much power", only 19% thought not.

3) Tell as many people as you can. And find out more yourself. We have created a new page on the website dedicated to 'data sharing' which contains links to the key documents and a brief explanation of each.

Please read it, and pass on this link:

Let your friends, family, colleagues and anyone who might share our concerns know that the battle for their privacy is happening NOW. The more people we reach, the more we hope will act.

Don't complain later if you or someone you know or care for is affected by this pernicious legislation and you have done nothing now! - Write to your MP!

(PS/ I have just written to my own MP on this matter; I look forward to seeing if Danny Alexander MP, or another MP, takes up this matter during the parliamentary debate next Monday.)
* - a commenter kindly pointed out I had made an error in noting the pages concerned, so I have now amended them. Thanks.
+ - and the same commenter has added a further useful detail: "and because I'm a bit sad, and actually read the whole thing (and commented too quickly as it turns out), you can add 'Schedule 18' which is the substance of clause 154. Schedule 18 can be found on pages 185-190." Thanks again.


  1. Hi there,

    According to my reading, it is page 107-120 not 207-220 as quoted at the start of the article.


  2. Doh! Sorry. Now corrected.

    Thanks for alerting me to this.

  3. and because I'm a bit sad, and actually read the whole thing (and commented too quickly as it turns out), you can add 'Schedule 18' which is the substance of clause 154. Schedule 18 can be found on pages 185-190.


  4. I've included a further annotation in my article and quoted your comment in a new footnote.

    Thanks once more! :)


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