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Data Act changed to aid MPs

Parliamentary reporter
The Data Protection Act is to be amended to protect MPs trying to represent their constituents.

The rules, which are designed to protect individuals' confidentiality, have actually hindered MPs trying to do their job.

In one example, an MP trying to arrange leave for a prisoner to attend a relative's funeral was scuppered by the need to get the prisoner's explicit consent before the jail authorities could reply to his enquiry.

In future, thanks to a new order passed by Parliament, MPs and councillors will be able to respond to constituents' enquiries without seeking further explicit consent under the Data Protection Act. In addition, third parties - notably government bodies - will be able to disclose sensitive personal data to MPs taking up constituents' cases without seeking explicit consent from the individual concerned.

Safeguards to individual privacy will remain.

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