Through certain of our laws, this country has defined its character, and there are some laws that are of particular importance. Through our common law and our statute law, we can trace a finger to show why we are an independent, free and liberated country. If there was a message that we sent around the world, it was the concept of our liberty. It was reiterated through the declaration of independence of the United States and the constitutions of Australia, Canada and New Zealand. That is the tradition of which we are part.
Today we are faced with the final round of a Bill that restates who we are: we are the servants of the state if the new Labour Government prevail in the passage of the Bill. It looks a lost cause, but I believe profoundly that this nation is more vibrant and more lively and that it will in the end not tolerate this nonsense. If we look to the history of who we are and we stand firm by the belief in the individuality and autonomy of the citizen, we know that the measure gives unto the Government the central control of information through a register that may or may not be secure, and the information that we have had from people who understand these matters is that no system can render secure the information that is our personal data.
On the proposition of the Government therefore, the House is now prepared to launch billions of pounds in an experiment that not only diminishes the people of this country, but beggars them in a sense: it beggars them in liberty, but it beggars them through taxation, too. For what purpose is this engineered? The rules of the game have changed, we are told. To what extent does that mean that we must surrender the first presumption of every citizen of these islands that we are free, independent and not the servants of the state?
The House should go out with a ringing defiance of a majority predicated on party, because this is a measure that extends beyond the sense that we are loyal party men or women. We are representatives of something stronger, deeper, longer and more intense than anything that the Home Office now presents to us as the settled will of the new Labour Government. I agree with much of what has been said this evening: people will unpick and begin to understand about all those who will provide information to the Government, who say that they deserve to know all about us. What about the derelicts under the bridges beneath Waterloo? What about the old and confused? What about the mentally anxious?
Those are the people who will be squeezed to try to remember who they are, but we will remember who we are. One day, this Government will experience the wrath and indignation of a country that understands that this is not a small social measure; it is in fact a declaration by Government that the centralised state is more important and greater than the sum of every individual free citizen of the country that we were sent to represent. We should oppose to the utmost and to the end this benighted and wrong Bill.