Holding answer received on 09 February 2015
Data has huge potential to help transform public services and improve them for the future. But data sharing is a sensitive issue about which people have legitimate concerns. One of this Government's first acts was to scrap the illiberal I.D. card scheme and we will not jeopardise citizen's privacy. So we have promised not to build new large, permanent databases; share data within Government indiscriminately; or weaken the Data Protection Act.
But we have also listened to those telling us that new data sharing rules could, for example, help support vulnerable people and inform better Government policy making. So we are engaging with organisations, including civil society organisations, privacy groups, officials from a number of government departments, academics and representatives from parts of the wider public sector, to explore how further data sharing could potentially be used for the public good. As we have always said it would be extremely difficult to proceed if those involved in our open policy making process felt unable to support changes. However we are pleased that they are finding consensus on many of these complex issues.
We will not introduce legislation or publish a White Paper in this Parliament but we will continue to engage in dialogue. Any future changes to the rules on data sharing would require further discussion and consensus, as well as a full public consultation.
I would like to thank those organisations and individuals who are participating in this important process and look forward to continue collaborating with them.
Information regarding the open policy making process is available at: www.datasharing.org.uk