23 February 2017
I echo the concern about the timescale that has been allowed for scrutiny of the memorandum, which makes it especially difficult for committees to do their job and to ensure that legislation that comes to Parliament is fit for purpose.
The Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee’s concerns about the memorandum echoed the concerns that the House of Lords expressed.
We want adequate scrutiny of any proposals to share data between Government agencies to ensure that the powers are required and that the correct checks and balances are in place.
We also seek assurance that such proposals would not breach human rights.
On the other hand, I can understand how the powers could be used to improve services to individuals and wider society, and could be a useful tool for combating fraud.
I ask for confirmation that any such proposals will be subject to scrutiny in this Parliament, and that statutory instruments will be closely drafted, taking into account individuals’ human rights.
We welcome the parts of the legislation that deal with the Lands Tribunal for Scotland.
Anything that helps to take technology into our communities is a good thing.
I hope that having the Lands Tribunal settle disputes between digital communication companies and landowners will speed up dispute resolution.
That will be welcome, especially in cases in which the landowner has no personal interest in improved communication and seeks to hold to ransom a communications company, and thereby the communities that it seeks to serve, through unrealistic prices for access to land.
Therefore, on the whole, the legislation will provide benefits, but as with all Government powers, we must have checks and balances in place.
We look for reassurance from the Government that they will be in place when the subordinate legislation comes to Parliament.