Identity Cards Bill
Baroness Anelay of St Johns (Shadow Minister, Home Affairs; Conservative)
My Lords, I speak in support of Amendment 114A to which I have added my name. I am extremely grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, for tabling it. It was a very crafty move to have this debate at this stage of the Bill, particularly for me, as it means that I can ask questions that were central to my Amendment No. 45 that I did not move on day two of Report because of time considerations. That is flannel for saying that I was trying to get to a vote at the right time.
I did not move the amendment then. I apologised to the Royal National Institute for the Blind and said that I would ensure that I found a way of raising the issues, if only by bringing the matter back on Third Reading. The noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, has made sure that I do not need to go to Third Reading but can dispose of matters today. I have, therefore, given advance notice of my questions to the Government in the hope that all will be resolved.
In Committee on
First, will the Minister establish who is eligible for enrolment in the ID cards scheme at home or through a mobile enrolment centre as a result of being unable to travel independently to an enrolment centre? In Committee on
RNIB said that that was a welcome statement of the general provision that the Government envisage as being necessary to meet the needs of older and disabled people who are unable to travel independently to an enrolment centre. However, the Minister also stated that,
"it is planned that no person should have to travel any further than an hour from their home . . . This approach is in line with existing policy for similar requirements; for example, appointments for the Department for Work and Pensions. Additionally, for remote communities and those with mobility problems, mobile enrolment solutions as well as home visits are being considered".—[Hansard, 12/12/05; col. 1032.]
I am concerned that an hour represents a significant length of journey, especially for an older or disabled person. Therefore, I welcome any additional detail that the Minister can give regarding whether the Government plan to establish eligibility criteria for home or mobile registration, setting out who will qualify for those services, which he said are being considered for older and disabled people. For example, will eligibility for those registration options be restricted to those disabled people who claim disability living allowance or attendance allowance, or will older and disabled people be able to request a home registration appointment without having to produce evidence that they have an impairment that makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult to travel up to an hour to a registration centre? If eligibility criteria are to be used in determining who will qualify for home or mobile registration, we are keen to know what those criteria will be, in case they unreasonably restrict assistance and force some older or disabled people to travel up to an hour to an enrolment centre.
Because these are somewhat detailed issues, I gave advance notice. I hope that the Minister can clarify matters today.