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Data Protection Act 1984

Volume 86: debated on Thursday 14 November 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what advice has been available to the Data Protection Registrar on the design of application forms for registration; and if he will describe the length and complexity of these forms.

I understand that the registrar received advice on the design and layout of the application forms from Her Majesty's Stationery Office. In addition, he consulted a large number of representative organisations and tested the forms with 100 data users; the responses from these organisations were taken into account in the final design. Copies of the application forms have been deposited in the Library.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will estimate the approximate number of applications for registration that the Data Protection Registrar is expected to receive during the six-month registration period commencing 11 November; and if he will identify and describe any other occasions in the last 10 years when an equivalent number of businesses and individuals were obliged to complete forms of similar complexity.

Although it is difficult to estimate the likely number of registrations under the Data Protection Act the registrar's current working assumption is that he will receive about 300,000 initial applications.It is not possible to compare the obligations imposed by the Data Protection Act with obligations imposed under other legislation since the Act deals with an entirely new area and needs to be viewed as a whole.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will estimate the approximate cost to a typical business data user of preparation for and compliance with the Data Protection Act 1984 (a) before successful application for registration, (b) after successful application and before 11 November 1987 and (c) annually thereafter, specifying the size and nature of the business described as typical;(2) if he will estimate the approximate total of costs to businesses in the United Kingdom of preparation for and compliance with the Data Protection Act 1984

(a) up to 11 November 1987 and (b) annually thereafter; and if he will make a statement.

The costs to an individual data user of preparing for and complying with the Data Protection Act will vary depending upon the amount and nature of the data held and the circumstances under which they are held. Each user's circumstances will be different and it is not possible, therefore, to identify a business that could be described as typical. The only mandatory cost prior to 11 November 1987 will be a fee of £22 for the first three-year period of registration. After 11 November 1987 data users will be able to offset the costs of complying with subject access requests by charging a fee up to a maximum to be determind by my right hon. Friend.An estimate of the total cost to businesses is not available and could not be obtained without disproportionate expense.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied that the Data Protection Registrar is adequately equipped with staff and resources to carry out his duties in the six-month registration period commencing 11 November; and what steps will be taken to monitor whether these resources prove to be adequate during the period.

The resources available to the registrar are based upon current estimates of the number of applications for registration likely to be received. It is, however, very difficult to assess the likely work load of the Registrar's office and my right hon. Friend will consider sympathetically any request for additional resources should the estimates which have been made prove to be inaccurate.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what information will be available to him about the performance and efficiency of the Office of the Data Protection Registrar during the six-month registration period commencing 11 November; and if he will make a statement.

The registrar will be monitoring very closely the performance and efficiency of his office during the initial six-month registration period and will be in close contact with Home Office officials during that time. We are satisfied that adequate information will be available to us in this way.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he plans a publicity campaign on the registration of computer users personal data banks following the commencement of the Data Protection Act.

This is a matter for the Data Protection Registrar, who has launched a wide-ranging publicity campaign.