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Orders of the Day — Identity Cards Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:47 pm on 20th December 2004.

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Photo of David Davis David Davis Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office) 5:47 pm, 20th December 2004

My hon. Friend offers me an attractive option, because I have a prejudice in favour of the commissioner reporting to the House rather than to the Government, just as the Comptroller and Auditor General and the ombudsman do. That would be a better arrangement, because it would give us more control over something that will affect civil liberties. Something else that my hon. Friend reminds me of is the fact that he is now raising a matter that is addressed about four fifths of the way through my speech, so I must make some progress before I take any more interventions.

There are several other reasons why the Bill deserves detailed consideration. The use of biometric technology is set to become widespread over the next few years. It is worth considering putting it to use within a statutory framework—something that the Bill allows us to do. Similarly, in recent years it has become both legally and technically possible to pass large quantities of data about British citizens around government—indeed, for any arm of government to know more about any individual than at any time in history. That is already the case. Those data, plus the national identity register, are of more importance for privacy than the card itself, which is almost irrelevant in that respect. An important part of the Bill must be to put statutory control on the use and deployment of existing data.