Identity Cards Bill
Baroness Scotland of Asthal (Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office; Labour)
My Lords, I hear what the noble Earl says, but he knows as well as I do that, as we move forward, to make our data compatible with others, biometric data will have to be included. I have made clear from this Dispatch Box that the Government intend that to be the case in order that we can have the most secure passports possible, in accordance with current understanding of good practice. That is what I refer to.
Noble Lords should be aware that the Government intend that, in due course, those improvements will come in whether or not we have this particular ID card. One looks at the current position. Noble Lords will know that we already have provisions in this regard, which are lawful, and have been deemed so by those who have looked at this issue. Indeed, it is right to remind your noble Lordships that the Government's intent in this regard has been very clear for a significant period. These amendments would make registration and the issue of an identity card optional extras for anyone applying for a designated document, such as a British passport or a residence permit for foreign nationals. We have always been clear that the identity card scheme is designed and intended eventually to become a compulsory scheme for all UK residents and that, in the second phase of the scheme, it will be a requirement to register with a civil penalty regime for failure to do so.