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.