New Clause 1 — National Identification Scheme

Identity Cards Bill – in the House of Commons at 2:14 pm on 10th February 2005.

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'(1) The Secretary of State shall establish a National Identification Scheme ("the Scheme") consisting of—

(a) a register of individuals ("the Register"), and

(b) the provision of Identity Cards to individuals.

(2) The purposes of the Scheme are confined to—

(a) enabling individuals to establish their identity to others by providing registrable facts about themselves, and

(b) enabling others to be able to establish the identity of individuals whenever that is necessary in the public interest.

(3) Something is necessary in the public interest if and only if it is—

(a) of assistance to the Secretary of State in the preventing or detecting terrorist acts in the United Kingdom or elsewhere or otherwise in the interests of national security,

(b) for the purposes of controlling illegal immigration and enforcing immigration controls,

(c) of assistance to the Secretary of State in preventing or detecting crime save crime which gives rise to offences triable only summarily, or

(d) for the purposes of securing proper provision of public services.

(4) In this Act "registrable fact", in relation to an individual, means and is limited to it—

(a) his full name,

(b) his date and place of birth,

(c) his address, and

(d) his current residential status (which shall mean his nationality and his entitlement to remain in the United Kingdom).'.—[Mr .Malins.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Michael Lord Michael Lord Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: New clause 5—Commencement and continuation in force of certain provisions of this act—

'(1) This section applies to the following provisions of this Act—

(a) section 5(2) to (6),

(b) sections 6 and 7,

(c) section 9,

(d) sections 15 to 17, and

(e) sections 19 to 22.

(2) The provisions of this Act to which this section applies may only—

(a) be brought into force, and

(b) continue in force,

in accordance with the provisions of an order under this section.

(3) The Secretary of State may not make an order under this section unless he is satisfied that either the conditions in subsection (4) or the conditions in subsection (5) are met.

(4) The conditions in this subsection are that—

(a) an emergency within the meaning of Part 2 of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (c. 36) has occurred, is occurring or is about to occur, and

(b) it is necessary to make arrangements under the provisions of this Act to which this section applies for the purpose of preventing, controlling or mitigating an aspect or effect of the emergency.

(5) The conditions in this subsection are that—

(a) a public emergency within the meaning of Article 15(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights exists in the United Kingdom, and

(b) it is necessary to make arrangements under the provisions of this Act to which this section applies for the purpose of preventing, controlling or mitigating an aspect or effect of the public emergency.

(6) The Secretary of State may not make an order under this section unless a draft of the order has been laid before Parliament and approved by a resolution of each House.

(7) No order under this section may provide for the continuation in force of a provision of this Act to which this section applies for more than a period of twelve months.'.

Amendment No. 1, in page 1, line 2, leave out clause 1.

Amendment No. 42, in clause 1, page 2, line 10, leave out 'previously'.

Amendment No. 11, in clause 1, page 2, line 11, at end insert

'during the previous five years'.

Amendment No. 43, in clause 1, page 2, line 12, after 'resident', insert

'during the previous three years'.

Amendment No. 2, in clause 3, page 4, line 8, leave out 'statutory purposes' and insert

'purposes of the National Identification Scheme specified in section [National Identification Scheme]'.

Amendment No. 3, in clause 3, page 4, line 14, leave out 'statutory purposes' and insert

'purposes of the National Identification Scheme specified in section [National Identification Scheme]'.

Government amendment No. 52.

Amendment No. 44, in clause 5, page 4, line 43, at end insert

'(d) state that the individual does not consent to be included in the Register on the basis of the application.'.

Amendment No. 4, in clause 5, page 5, line 21, leave out 'statutory purposes' and insert

'purposes of the National Identification Scheme specified in section [National Identification Scheme]'.

Amendment No. 5, in clause 8, page 7, line 7, at end insert

'(1A) An ID card may only be issued for the purposes of the National Identification Scheme specified in section [National Identification Scheme].'.

Amendment No. 45, in clause 10, page 9, line 5, after 'card', insert

'and about whom there is an entry in the Register'.

Amendment No. 34, in clause 12, page 10, line 30, after 'circumstances', insert

'save details of a change of address for any place where he has lived for a period of less than three months'.

Amendment No. 6, in clause 12, page 11, line 9, leave out 'statutory purposes' and insert

'purposes of the National Identification Scheme specified in section [National Identification Scheme]'.

Amendment No. 50, in clause 15, page 14, line 12, leave out from beginning to 'evidence' in line 13.

Amendment No. 51, in clause 15, page 14, line 13, leave out from 'himself' to end of line 14.

Amendment No. 61, in clause 17, page 15, line 39, after 'he', insert 'reasonably'.

Amendment No. 62, in clause 17, page 15, line 41, at end insert

'(1A) Information provided under this section shall be limited to—

(a) a person's full name,

(b) his date and place of birth,

(c) his address, and

(d) his current residential status (which shall mean his nationality and his entitlement to remain in the United Kingdom).'.

Amendment No. 7, in clause 43, page 36, line 35, leave out from 'the' to end of line 36 and insert

'Register established as part of the National Identification Scheme under section [National Identification Scheme];'.

Amendment No. 8, in clause 43, page 36, line 37, leave out '1(5)' and insert

'[National Identification Scheme](4)'.

Amendment No. 9, in clause 43, page 36, leave out line 41.

Amendment No. 63, in clause 45, page 38, line 17, after 'from', insert

'the provisions to which section [Commencement and continuation in force of certain provisions of this Act] applies'.

Amendment No. 64, in clause 45, page 38, line 20, leave out 'to bring' and insert

'under this section to bring certain'.

Amendment No. 10, in schedule 1, page 40, line 15, leave out paragraph (h).

Amendment No. 13, in schedule 1, page 40, line 32, at end insert

'and the number of any ID card issued to him, which numbers shall be the same'.

Amendment No. 14, in schedule 1, page 40, line 33, leave out paragraph (b).

Photo of John Gummer John Gummer Conservative, Suffolk Coastal

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Given the position that we now face, would it be convenient for the Chair not to use the expression, "With this it will be convenient"? It is not convenient for the House; we are proceeding in the current manner because we have to. That is altogether different.

Photo of Michael Lord Michael Lord Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

The right hon. Gentleman is an experienced Member of the House. I simply refer to the way in which the amendments are grouped, not the time allowed for them.

Photo of Humfrey Malins Humfrey Malins Shadow Minister, Home Affairs

I repeat that our problem is that we now have 17 minutes in which to get through a great deal of business and it simply cannot be done properly. I had intended to outline new clause 1 at some length. In fairness, I cannot do that because other hon. Members want to make some contribution to the debate, and I shall ensure for my part that they have an opportunity to do that.

My hon. Friends and I would very much like to divide the House on new clause 1. We have already discussed the fact that the purpose of the Bill is principally to set up the national identity register. New clause 1 would change the existing clause 1 in a number of respects. Under the existing clause, I shall be obliged to provide "registrable facts" about myself to others, so that they may check on me. I have already remarked on the vast number of registrable facts that an individual will have to provide. New clause 1 seeks to limit that number. After all, if I am seeking to establish my identity, why on earth should I provide more than my full name, my date and place of birth, my address and my residential status?

Photo of Mr Richard Allan Mr Richard Allan Shadow Spokesperson for the Cabinet Office, Cabinet Office, Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry)

It would be helpful to the Liberal Democrats if the hon. Gentleman could confirm that his new clause seeks dramatically to restrict the functions of the scheme. He will be aware that we are opposed to the scheme as a whole. If he is seeking our support, we might find something that seeks to restrict it preferable to the Government's option, although that would be no indication of our support for the scheme as a whole.

Photo of Humfrey Malins Humfrey Malins Shadow Minister, Home Affairs

The hon. Gentleman contributed significantly in Committee and I respect his views on this matter. He is right: we are seeking to place restrictions on these measures, in this brief debate.

The purpose of clause 1 ought to be to establish the real purpose of the scheme. The Information Commissioner himself has said:

"The lack of a clearly defined purpose for ID cards, including the continuing change in focus causes concern".

Having heard different arguments over the past two or three years about what the Bill is for, I believe that it is time to establish in the Bill what the card and the register are going to do, and what the purpose of the scheme is. Surely the Government should insert in the Bill the statement that its principal purpose is to assist the Secretary of State

"in the preventing or detecting terrorist acts in the United Kingdom or elsewhere or otherwise in the interests of national security", as new clause 1 would do. I believe that it is essential that that vital purpose should be specifically set out, although the Government appear to disagree.

We have not yet been persuaded that the register and the cards will significantly contribute to reducing acts of terrorism. We also need to be persuaded that the costs involved will be worth while. Could the money be better spent elsewhere? The Information Commissioner, Mr. Thomas, also told the Home Affairs Committee:

"I want to see on the face of the statute right at the outset a very clear indication of the stated purposes for this card."

Photo of Nick Palmer Nick Palmer PPS (Team PPS), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The list in new clause 1(3) differs significantly from the provision in clause 1 only in that it omits any mention of illegal employment. Do the Opposition not care about illegal employment?

Photo of Humfrey Malins Humfrey Malins Shadow Minister, Home Affairs

I have made it quite clear that the significant difference is that we want to insert in the Bill a reference to terrorism, which we believe is very important.

I want to illustrate the uncertainty that exists among Ministers by quoting some exchanges between them and others in the past. In 2002, in answer to a question from my hon. Friend Sir Teddy Taylor, the then Home Secretary said that he would not rule out the possibility of the cards making a

"substantial contribution to countering terrorism".

He said on a later occasion that they could make a contribution towards countering terrorism, but that it would not be their primary purpose. Mr. Mullin was taking a break from ministerial office at the time—otherwise he would not have asked these questions of the then Home Secretary:

"May I ask my right hon. Friend, first, whether he accepts that it is for those who are in favour of the card to make a case for it, not the other way round? Secondly, will he confirm that the card will be little or no use in combating terrorism? Thirdly, given the unhappy history . . . of Government information technology projects, are we not entitled to be sceptical about some of the claims made for the card?"

The Home Secretary replied:

"I can say yes to all three."—[Hansard, 3 July 2002; Vol. 388, c. 231–236.]

So there are serious doubts on this matter.

Photo of Lembit Öpik Lembit Öpik Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Affairs, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, Welsh Affairs

Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that the Government might be resistant to his new clause because they themselves do not believe that an identity card can significantly reduce the risk of terrorism?

Photo of Humfrey Malins Humfrey Malins Shadow Minister, Home Affairs

The hon. Gentleman makes an interesting point. That could well be the case. In Committee, the Government certainly did not persuade us on that point.

On illegal immigration, a MORI poll found that a third of the people surveyed tended to support a card because they believed that it would prevent illegal immigration. Are they right? In the few moments remaining to me, I should like to point out that all new asylum seekers—the poll showed that most people were referring to asylum seekers—are already issued with a biometric card, so they are already covered. What about the 250,000 failed asylum seekers who are already in the country? How will the card help in that regard?

Photo of Mr Richard Allan Mr Richard Allan Shadow Spokesperson for the Cabinet Office, Cabinet Office, Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry)

Does the hon. Gentleman have any sympathy with our amendment No. 44 in this group? We may not get to it, but we would like to divide the House on it. In it, we seek to dissociate ID cards from passports. British passport holders are the last people we need to issue with an ID card, as they already have a secure document.

Photo of Humfrey Malins Humfrey Malins Shadow Minister, Home Affairs

The hon. Gentleman makes an interesting point.

What will the card do to prevent illegal immigration? What effect will it have on the millions of people who come to this country on short-term visits of up to three months? They would not need to register or have a card. Have the Government persuaded us that the card or the register will have an effect on illegal immigration? No, they have not. Have they persuaded us that the card will have a sensible effect on identity theft or benefit fraud? No, they have not.

Our other amendments are restrictive. I am concerned that the registrable facts that we shall have to supply include information about addresses at which we have previously resided in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. I have tabled amendment No. 11 to restrict that to the previous five years. We also seek to limit the nature of information about the addresses where we have lived. We are trying to limit the Government.

If the principal purpose of clause 1 is to help us to prevent terrorism—or if it is not—the Government should say so. Our debate is uninformed unless we know that. Furthermore, we need convincing that it will do that. I am also reluctant for the state to have quite so much information from me as an individual, and the new clause seeks to restrict the information to an amount that we regard as reasonable in the circumstances.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick Labour, Walsall North

I should like to speak to new clause 5. In the limited time available, I want to explain that it aims to limit the use of identity cards to dealing with terrorism or an emergency and that it would introduce the necessity for the Government to seek parliamentary approval every year. As I have explained elsewhere, including on Second Reading, I do not accept that identity cards would help in the fight against terrorism. They would certainly have been of no assistance during the 30 years of IRA violence and murder.

Nevertheless, the Government put great emphasis—more than on anything else—on the view that identity cards would help in the fight against terrorism. Therefore, I believe that, if we are to have such cards, their use should be confined to terrorist outbreaks or the kind emergency that I describe in the new clause. It would then be necessary for the Government to come to the House of Commons to defend and justify their view that such an emergency was about to occur, and to seek the approval of Parliament for the use of identity cards—incidentally, we have not had such cards for more than half a century—and then, if Parliament gives its approval, it would do so on the basis of 12 months. Obviously, the Government would then come back if they require a renewal of powers given by Parliament for that purpose.

For all those reasons, we should confine identity cards along the lines that I have suggested. I hope that the Government will consider the matter more carefully than they have done.

Photo of Lynne Jones Lynne Jones Labour, Birmingham, Selly Oak

Is my hon. Friend concerned that the Government have made no response available to hon. Members to the concerns raised by the Joint Committee on Human Rights about the human rights aspects of the Bill?

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick Labour, Walsall North

That was mentioned in the debate on the programme motion. That is unfortunate, and perhaps the Minister will refer to it on Third Reading. The criticism that has been made by the Joint Committee on Human Rights is very important. I do not want to appear in any way immodest, but in some respects, it draws on some of the matters raised in the minority report of the Home Affairs Committee, which I recommend, with due modesty, that some Members read, even if the footnotes were not included as they should have been.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick Labour, Walsall North

I will resist that temptation.

My other amendment relates to public services. In effect, my argument is that it should not be necessary for those seeking hospital treatment or access to other public services to produce an ID card. At Prime Minister's Question Time yesterday, my hon. and learned Friend Ross Cranston, who is a supporter of identity cards, said nevertheless that people do not want a society in which the response is, "Where's your papers?" Neither do I, although it would be, "Where's your identity card?" There are already enough checks on people coming along for registration or treatment at a GP surgery or hospital. It would be an undesirable state of affairs in which the first inevitable question asked of a new patient at a GP's premises or hospital is, "Can you show me your identity card?" That is what will occur if the measure is passed without amendment.

Photo of Mr John Taylor Mr John Taylor Conservative, Solihull

The hon. Gentleman is addressing the question of producing an identity card in anticipation of public services. Would he take note of my recent experience buying a new motor car last autumn when the dealer required me to produce my passport? I suggest that the application of identity cards would not be confined to public service but might also become widespread in private sector transactions.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick Labour, Walsall North

I note that point, but the hon. Gentleman satisfied the motor car dealer by producing his passport. If he did not have a passport, he would no doubt produce other evidence. There is all the difference between that sort of evidence, which we all carry on us, and an identity card. That relates to the debate on Second Reading.

Photo of Lynne Jones Lynne Jones Labour, Birmingham, Selly Oak

I went to the Vote Office just before the debate began and it was not available.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick Labour, Walsall North

Perhaps it is restricted, but it will not be after the Minister's intervention. If the Government have responded in a positive way—I have not read it—that would be very encouraging.

Photo of Mr Richard Allan Mr Richard Allan Shadow Spokesperson for the Cabinet Office, Cabinet Office, Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry)

I want to speak briefly to amendments Nos. 42 to 45, which address issues raised in the Joint Committee on Human Rights report.

Amendments Nos. 42 and 43 would restrict the amount of historic address information. That came up in Committee and we did not receive a satisfactory answer. We want to ensure that any address information is necessary and proportionate to that which is sought to be achieved, and we are not yet clear what the bounds of that are.

Amendments Nos. 44 and 45 are important, particularly amendment No. 44, which has cross-party support and on which we would seek to divide the House, as it is intended to break the link between applications for passports and ID cards. The Committee pointed out that assigning ID cards to those who apply for passports is a fairly arbitrary method. Those who have passports are the very category who do not need ID cards. Therefore, we would seek to make the scheme genuinely voluntary by breaking that link. I hope that hon. Members will support the amendment on that basis. If the Government want compulsion later, they can use clause 6 powers to introduce compulsion in a much more open and transparent way, rather than using the passport system.

Photo of John Gummer John Gummer Conservative, Suffolk Coastal

Does not the House see that the Minister has not had a chance to answer any of these points, which shows that we are once again held in contempt? The Minister must remember that even small cogs in wheels are in the end guilty of destroying great institutions. He ought to remember that he will be held responsible for allowing this scandalous situation, when we can neither debate properly nor can he answer properly—

It being fifteen minutes to Three o'clock, Mr. Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair, pursuant to Order [this day].

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 128, Noes 221.

Division number 81 Identity Cards Bill — New Clause 1 — National Identification Scheme

Aye: 128 MPs

No: 221 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Nos: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Absent: 306 MPs

Absents: A-Z by last name

Question accordingly negatived.