My Lords, the consultation exercise on entitlement cards and identity fraud which ended on 31st January asked for views on changing the law to make it an offence to use the identity of another person or a fictitious identity without reasonable cause. We are currently studying the responses received. We are also establishing a cross public-private sector work programme to tackle ID fraud. That will improve the checks on passport and driving licence applications and provide improved guidance on how those and other documents are used to verify identity. We are also looking at the feasibility of new IT systems such as a database of lost and stolen identity documents.
My Lords, we published a consultation document last July on entitlement cards. We did not propose to make it compulsory to carry cards, but we are consulting on the issue of whether everyone should have one. We need to consider the extent to which such action can combat identity fraud and be useful in other ways as well. It is an issue that we need to address. The consultation ended on 31st January, and we shall produce the results in the next few months.
My Lords, what happened to Derek Bond in a South African prison is deplorable. Many of these frauds are undertaken for the purpose of obtaining identification documents, in particular passports. The Minister is aware, I hope, that each passport application requires a counter-signatory. In this case, the American courts will deal with the perpetrator. However, what action do the Government propose to take in relation to those who countersigned that passport, which effectively denied Mr Bond his freedom?
My Lords, greater checks need to be made to ensure that passport applications are genuine, and that is already happening. The same applies to driving licence applications. Those countersigning an application need to make an attestation. If it is false, that constitutes a criminal offence. However, we need to go further and consider—as we are doing—whether using someone's identity should be made a criminal offence. That was one of the matters on which we consulted in the document that I mentioned in answering the noble Baroness's Question.