Identity Cards Bill

– in the House of Lords at 3:07 pm on 12 December 2005.

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Votes in this debate

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES in the Chair.]

Schedule 1 [Information that may be recorded in Register]:

[Amendment No. 80A not moved.]

Photo of Lord Selsdon Lord Selsdon Conservative

moved Amendment No. 80B:

Page 40, line 6, at end insert "as recorded in his passport, or in the form required for a passport"

Photo of Lord Selsdon Lord Selsdon Conservative

I do not want Members of the Committee to feel that I shall be pursuing a trivial pursuit. The only reason that I put down this amendment is to ask the Government for clarification. What is a full name? I would hate to drag the Committee back thousands of years but, in general, we regarded a full name as having three component parts, possibly as did the Romans—the praenomen, which was effectively the given name or later the Christian name; the nomen, which would be the name of the clan; and the cognomen, which would be the family name. Finally, there could be the agnomen, which effectively would be the nickname or some other sort of name.

Members of the Committee will remember when my noble friend moved an amendment some time ago. We had a rather fourth-form type of debate, which went on for a long time, beginning at 3.30 pm. The Minister, with great humour and charm, tried to diffuse it, although it was not a dangerous situation. But now I return to it and to the subject of logic. Having learnt from the noble Lord, Lord Gould, who monopolised a large part of that debate, that one must undertake some serious economic and social research, I remind the Committee that for many years I was a director of Research Services, which did the biggest social researches in this country. So, taking myself as myself, I have completed over the past week a number of telephone interviews and a number of real interviews. I asked everyone I met: "What is thy name—nomen or nomine? What is your full name? What is your legal name?". Frankly, no one knows.

The object of my amendment is to return to a relationship between our existing documents and what may be our new documents. I have provided a brief for myself, a copy of which I gave to the Minister a short while ago. I have also written to her, but she has not yet replied. In response to one of two Questions for Written Answer, the Government said:

"A passport is only issued after an applicant's nationality, status and identity has been confirmed, and is accepted throughout the world as proof of these".—[Hansard, 22/6/04; cols. WA 121-22.]

Therefore my question is this: is the passport the ultimate proof of identity? If it is, the name in the passport should surely prevail, and any other form of documentation concerned with someone's name should be related to the passport. Perhaps the passport sets out only three or four names, and many noble Lords have been kind enough to point out with good humour that they are not known by their real name. Surprisingly, when people are asked, "What is your full name?", sometimes they give only their first and last names. When asked if the first name is effectively their Christian or given name, some would respond by saying, "Actually, it is not my Christian name because I am no longer a practising Christian".

The question is not only what is the name, but also in which order should those names be put. I have already explained that I have suffered from being known as "Monsieur Right The" and "Monsieur Croydon Of". More often I have been referred to as just "Monsieur Lord" or even "Doctor Lord". That has caused me difficulties, and to show how important the question is, I handed in my passport in order to get a bus pass. The bus pass, which has my photograph on it, refers to me as "Lord McEacharn". I asked whether it was right to call me by that name. The response was, "On your passport, it is the last name on the second line". I am not trying to be frivolous, but this frivolity could extend to matters quite serious.

Noble Lords will know that one in 12 of the British population was born overseas. Of that number—in total around 4.9 million or 8.3 per cent—a Home Office document states, perhaps incorrectly, that 53 per cent are white, which assumes that 47 per cent are of other ethnic origins. This includes Bangladeshi, Chinese, Pakistani and Indian. Those noble Lords who understand something of the sub-continents will know that confusion over names can be very real indeed. Therefore the purpose of my amendment is simply to suggest that after "full name", we should insert a form of words that states in effect that the name written in the passport should prevail. I beg to move.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Spokespersons In the Lords, (Assisted By Shadow Law Officers)

I support my noble friend. He referred to our previous debate on this issue on 23 November on an amendment that I moved. In withdrawing that amendment, I stated that I thought I had opened another can of worms, but I made it clear that I would reflect further before we reached Report. So it would not be appropriate for me to comment in detail on my noble friend's amendment save to say that he has managed to find even a few more worms in the can. I look forward to the Minister's response by letter to my own amendment.

Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Spokesperson in the Lords (Id Cards & Charities Bill), Home Affairs

As the mover of the amendment has said, we had a long and at times amusing debate on this on the previous occasion that we discussed the Bill in Committee. The only point on which I would be grateful to receive an answer is this: if you are someone with several names, all lawfully used, will you be able to choose which is to be the principal name, so to speak; that is, that recorded under paragraph 1(a) rather than paragraph 1(b)?

Photo of The Countess of Mar The Countess of Mar Crossbench

I will not go into a long discussion about names, but I am half-wondering what will happen if you do not have a passport. Some people never travel abroad and have no need of one.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management) 3:15, 12 December 2005

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, for his earlier letter. So intricate were the issues raised that it is taking the researchers some time to respond to it in full. The second letter was handed to me only as I took my seat, but the noble Lord has explained his amendment so fully that it will serve only as elucidation. I also thank him for that.

Although I understand its probing nature, the amendment is not necessary. The Passport Service conforms to the International Civil Aviation OrganisationICAO—regulations when formatting names in a passport, as it has to ensure that it is a valid travel document. It is our intention that identity cards will follow the same convention. Identity cards will be issued to British nationals and they will also be valid for travel. Indeed, if UK passports are designated under Clause 4, as currently anticipated, passports and identity cards will be issued as part of the same process and on the basis of a single application form. It would not be possible to request a passport in one name and an identity card in another. Thus the principle behind the amendment is already accounted for in our current planning.

However, we do not wish to place any unnecessary restrictions in the Bill. Should other documents be designated under the Bill it may be neither convenient nor appropriate to restrict the formatting of names to the manner used in the passport. In consideration of these points, I hope the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, is satisfied.

In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, about which name will be proposed, I can say that the system will follow very much the same lines. Because the identity card is a travel document, the name used will have to comply with the ICAO criteria. I understand what the noble Countess said about not everyone having a passport, but 80 per cent of the population do. We currently comply with the regulations and that does not appear to have caused any difficulties.

Names are fully explained in the appendix to the letter that I sent from my private office to all noble Lords last Friday, 9 December. In that letter I have tried to go through many of the points which were of concern to noble Lords, but I am sure not everyone will have had an opportunity to read it in detail. Somewhat unusually, it contains about 30 pages, so I know that it is comprehensive. It is available in e-mail. I can certainly e-mail it again or provide hard copy if anyone does not have it, but, as this Committee will go on for a little time and we will have the opportunity to enjoy ourselves even further on Wednesday, I am sure that some of the issues I raise in the letter will come up then.

Photo of Baroness Carnegy of Lour Baroness Carnegy of Lour Conservative

That was a very interesting reply. Does the Minister's department intend to carry over the decision about using the passport format for the name on the register to the registration of births, deaths and marriages? If it does not do so, there will be some confusion.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

There has been no difficulty in reconciling the registration of the names that we have on the births, deaths and marriages register with the passport office throughout the whole period that we have been operating the system. The noble Baroness will know that birth certificates, marriage certificates and other documents are quite often produced in order to obtain a passport. We do not seem to have had any difficulty reconciling those two and we anticipate the same will be true in the future.

Photo of Lord Peyton of Yeovil Lord Peyton of Yeovil Conservative

I am slightly confused—I am sure it is my fault—and I wonder whether the noble Baroness can clarify the position. I thought she said that the identity card would do for travel everywhere. In that case, why would anyone who holds an identity card need a passport? Perhaps they will not.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

The identity card will be available for those who wish to travel in Europe. One will not need a passport to travel to any EU country but you will need a passport for other international travel—to America, New Zealand, Australia or anywhere outside the EU. The identity card will be very convenient. Noble Lords will know that many mainland European nationals use their identity cards to travel within the EU area. Our system of identity card will have the same facility. The noble Lord will remember that it is proposed that the identity card should cost about £30, which is a great deal cheaper than a passport. For those who tend not to travel outside the EU, that may be a considerable advantage.

Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Spokesperson in the Lords (Id Cards & Charities Bill), Home Affairs

The noble Baroness referred to a 30-page letter which elucidates some of the knotty problems we are contending with. I have not received a copy and I know that the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, has not either. Would it facilitate our proceedings this afternoon and this evening if we had copies? We do not want to labour points that are adequately dealt with in the letter.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

I think that the letter was both posted and e-mailed, but I am more than happy to ask my officials to get a couple of copies if noble Lords will indicate how many are needed. I do not want to say, "Put your hand up if you want one". I will ask my officials to get a body of copies which can be passed around the Chamber, if that would be helpful.

Photo of Lord Selsdon Lord Selsdon Conservative

I am most grateful to the Minister. I give her warning that my supplementary amendment at the very end of the Bill will be full and meaningful. Some 80 per cent of people over the age of 16 have passports, and most of those who do not—more than half of pensioners do not—probably have no intention of travelling. We have moved to a society in which the passport is particularly important.

On the question of identity relating to passports, there are several sorts of identity card but almost all the EEA countries now issue an identity card on which you can travel. To make sure, in my research, that this was viable, I tested this at Heathrow, Luton and Gatwick. The immigration officers found it acceptable and, surprisingly enough, thought that my identity card, which I had copied from my passport, would be perfectly acceptable for travel around those countries.

The final point lies not in the Government's need to collect information for themselves but in making it easy for the citizen to prove his identity. Those whom the noble Lord, Lord Gould, referred to as being so enthusiastic about the idea of having a passport have not fully appreciated the amount of information to be contained on the register. Members of the Committee will appreciate that in 2003, 8,000 fraudulent travel documents were seized upon entry into the United Kingdom, which must be only a small percentage of those held by all who are here illegally. In the note I gave the noble Baroness, I used some of the Home Office figures to show the estimates of how many illegal or semi-legal people there were in the United Kingdom. I give her a gentle warning: perhaps as the Bill progresses, and on Wednesday, she might be able to produce some estimates that are more reliable than those made to date of numbers of people who are illegally in the United Kingdom and who do not have a passport or any acceptable proof of identity.

Finally, I refer back to Gaius Julius Caesar, who had two other names: Octavius, which meant he was the eighth in line—I am only the third or the fourth, I cannot remember which—and Augustus, which meant "holy" or "chosen". Since this is such an august moment, the Minister will appreciate that it would be helpful if there were some definition of what each name should be called, whether or not it is on the identity card. I still prefer the concept of Christian name, middle name and surname. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 81 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

[Amendments Nos. 82 to 84 not moved.]

[Amendments Nos. 84A to 85 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Photo of The Earl of Northesk The Earl of Northesk Conservative

moved Amendment No. 86:

Page 40, line 17, after "a" insert "full-face"

Photo of The Earl of Northesk The Earl of Northesk Conservative

Taken literally, the drafting of sub-paragraph (a) could just as easily refer to a photograph of the back of an individual's head and shoulders rather than the front. Clearly, this would not be conducive to obtaining a viable facial biometric. The amendment seeks to deal with that point.

There is also the subsidiary issue of whether, in technological terms, a full-face or other form of digitised facial biometric should be used. For example, I have it in mind that the United States favours quarter-face images. That said, I can accept that this level of detail is probably best left to subordinate legislation. Nevertheless, with that in mind, I suspect that Amendments Nos. 87 and 113, in the names of my noble friends Lady Anelay and Lady Seccombe, are more appropriate. I beg to move.

Photo of Baroness Seccombe Baroness Seccombe Deputy Chief Whip, Whips, Spokespersons In the Lords, (Assisted By Shadow Law Officers), Spokespersons In the Lords, (Assist the Home Affairs Team)

As my noble friend Lord Northesk highlighted, the term "head" does not constitute "face". It could just as easily be a picture of the back of the head and shoulders and that would do little to help identify an individual. It would be useful only if there were a permanent, defining feature such as a tattoo, but even those can be removed these days or simply covered up. As such, Amendment No. 87 would replace the word "head" with "face" to ensure that the individuals in question would actually have to show their faces.

Amendment No. 113 would continue this terminology change in Clause 5 (5) (c) so that it would read,

"to allow his face to be photographed", rather than,

"to allow himself to be photographed".

This consequential amendment would also help narrow what the requirement in Clause 5 (5) allows an individual to do in that it will ensure that the face is photographed but would limit photographs of the rest of the body.

As my honourable friend the Member for Harborough highlighted in Committee in another place:

"I do not want to make a flippant point, but the provision does not say 'a photograph of his face' . . . I know what the Government intend, but that is not what is in the schedule, so I can imagine that all sorts of fun will be had by a clever fellow".—[Official Report, Commons Standing Committee D; 7/7/05; col. 139.]

However, Her Majesty's Government did not make this slight but all-important drafting change at the time. Will the Minister outline why they did not make that change? Will they consider it now that the Bill is in Committee in this House?

While we are discussing the issue of facial measurements, I will touch briefly on the fallibility of biometric technology. As mentioned at Second Reading, it is estimated that one in six people would not be able to get ID cards because their biometric data may not be properly recordable on the card's implanted chip. Trials have demonstrated that the biometrics of black, elderly and disabled people have a higher chance of being incorrectly matched despite claims made by the Minister at Second Reading that the technology is improving all the time. Those noble Lords who were here at Second Reading will remember the personal experience of my noble friend Lady Anelay.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Lyell of Markyate, highlighted during Second Reading that facial characteristics require an update for everyone approximately every five years. The effect of age, as we in this House know, is unfortunately not something that can be held back. Will Her Majesty's Government clarify whether they will be covering the cost of these essential updates for facial biometrics? What is the process should someone have plastic surgery to their face? Is the onus on them to let the system know? Do they have to provide a doctor's certificate to show that it has happened? What would happen after an accident resulting in a broken nose or jaw that would alter the facial measurements but not be the fault of the individual? Is the onus, once again on them, at a potentially difficult time, to inform the registrar of the change and arrange to have new photos? Will these costs be personal if it is through no fault of his or her own? Within how many days would they have to present themselves for the updated information? We started this debate on a light note, but there are important practical arrangements that need to be addressed—ones that I am not convinced Her Majesty's Government have thought through properly.

Photo of Lord Selsdon Lord Selsdon Conservative

I refer the Minister to the response to a Question for a Written Answer on 16 March 2005, at col. 316W of Hansard for the House of Commons. Mr Weir asked, on biometric data, whether the Government would,

"list the identifiers that will be held digitally on the chip in the ePassport".

The response was:

"In compliance with ICAO requirements, the chip will hold a facial image of the passport holder. This facial image will be derived from the applicant's photo submitted at time of application and will be stored in accordance with ICAO and ISO standards.

Additional information will include that which is currently shown on the personal details page of the passport, namely name, nationality, date of birth, sex, place of birth, date of issue/expiry and passport number".

I raise that because I believe that there will be problems with identity.

The Minister was kind and charming enough to draw attention to the fact that her lovely brown eyes would be easily recognised. I should advise her that a smart Christmas gift at the moment is soft contact lenses in different colours, enabling you to change your eyes to green, blue, or to almost every colour except for red. I have a feeling that the technology may not be up with the ambition, and I return once again to the importance of the relationship between the passport and the identity card.

Photo of Lord Crickhowell Lord Crickhowell Conservative 3:30, 12 December 2005

The Minister will probably say that the Government are aiming to work on a combination of different identifications, but that still raises the issue as to what happens if someone fails to qualify under any one of them and is therefore rejected. I have in front of me the report of the ID technology advisory group, which reported to EURIM and gave on the whole an encouraging report on what the Government are attempting. But on this subject, the group pointed out:

"Facial recognition is rated as 'Medium-Low' stability. Depending on the type of facial recognition employed, a system may be better able to cope with the ongoing facial changes we experience over a lifetime.

The human face is subject to change due to a whole variety of reasons, such as ageing, skin tone, religious attire, illness, wearing glasses, facial hair and expression, all of which in terms of access control could cause 'nuisance' problems and could require either a database with several images of the same subject and/or a regularly updated file image.

Lighting levels, weather conditions, angle of image and degree of subject co-operation will also have an effect on the performance of the biometric system".

That is the view of what is probably one of the most highly qualified groups of technologists that has given advice. My concern is not so much that we won't have a system that, if taken together, will satisfactorily identify people; my concern is that if one item of your image sends up a negative on the screen, you will be in the most awful trouble. So in view of that technical assessment of the facial identification, how do the Government propose to overcome the problem?

Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Spokesperson in the Lords (Id Cards & Charities Bill), Home Affairs

If the Minister is inclined to be sympathetic towards this group of amendments, will she also be inclined to be sympathetic towards a curtailment of the provisions of Clause 1, and in particular subsection (7)? Schedule 1 falls within the ambit of Clause 1, but that clause allows a far wider collection of physical characteristics than merely face or shoulders. It allows the capture of any,

"physical characteristics . . . that are capable of being used for" identification. Would the Minister refer to that, because these amendments do not go half way towards the concerns expressed by the movers?

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

That is why I cannot understand how it got in there. It was not there on Friday.

I will deal with some of the issues on biometrics first and then I will go back. I hope that I will be able to give the noble Baroness comfort on the difficulty about which she concerns herself.

The use of biometrics must be seen in the context of a wide range of measures that will be taken to secure the integrity of the enrolment process on the national identity register. Additionally, in taking biometrics application data, data will be verified through checks on public and private databases. Supporting documentation will be scrutinised and the personal interviews will be conducted to establish an individual's identity. That is the background in which the biometrics will be taken. In addition to all these steps, we have the additional protection of verifying a person's biometrics against previously enrolled identities. The use of multiple identifiers—that is, fingerprints, iris and photos—will provide extra protection against fraud by enhancing the ability to check against previously enrolled identities and also ensuring that biometrics are captured for anyone who would have difficulties with a single biometric. So the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, rightly foreshadowed the response that I am making on that point.

Therefore, when we look at the data that we now have, there are some indicators that should give us comfort. I think that the noble Baroness, Lady Seccombe, said that there were difficulties in one in six instances. I think I can comfort her by saying that that is not in fact correct—it is not correct that one in six could not participate in the ID card scheme due to an inability to record biometrics. The UK Passport Service trial showed that at least 99.954 per cent of the participants could enrol at least one biometric. So there was not a difficulty there.

As for the issue which the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, raised on coloured contact lenses, such lenses would be noticeable to a trained supervisor at biometric recording and the individual would be requested to remove them. Normal contact lenses will not cause problems for enrolment; but the clever contact lenses that change colour do, and therefore they can be detectable. In the letter of 9 December, which I regret not everyone has a copy of, I dealt with many of these issues in the annexe. The Committee will find that, in Annexe B, I tried to answer a range of questions on biometrics because I knew that a number of noble Lords had raised them. It will be up to an individual—to answer the second question of the noble Baroness, Lady Seccombe—to decide whether the photograph on their ID card needs to be updated because their appearance has changed. Just as now, many people quite like to hang on to the old photograph for the 10 years for reasons that seem to me absolutely reasonable. Others may like to change them a little earlier.

Clause 1(7)(e) does not cover any physical characteristics, only those that are capable of being used for identifying the person. So, for example, illnesses could not be recorded under this paragraph. That is one of the issues addressed in the letter to which I referred. Again, I am sorry if not all noble Lords have had an opportunity to read it.

Perhaps we can now come back to the question raised by the noble Baroness about how the clause is phrased, and indeed the concern raised by the noble Earl, Lord Northesk, that the back of the head could be taken as opposed to the face. As these photographs will be taken by staff of the agency, I am not convinced that the problem will arise in practice: I would hope that those who undertake these tests would actually be able to recognise the back of the head as opposed to the front of the head. There is also the question of the reference—whether, if you have the face alone, someone will say that the hair is or is not included.

I am more than prepared to look at the wording with a view to aligning the phrase used with that which appears in the UK Passport Service standard for passport photographs, which refers to head, face and shoulders. I hope to return by Report with something to allay the anxieties that have been expressed, but I reassure the Committee that I do not think in practice there will be much difficulty in identifying the facial features to appear on the photograph.

Photo of Lord Crickhowell Lord Crickhowell Conservative

The noble Baroness, as usual, gave a very helpful reply and there may be even more detail in the lengthy document which we have not yet seen. I pursue one aspect of the matter. The noble Baroness took up the point I had anticipated—that we would take all these identification features together. But I do not think she completely answered my point about what I think are termed "false rejects". The report from which I have already quoted points out:

"Where the threshold is set depends upon the situation in which we are using the biometric technology".

Obviously, if we are dealing with access to a country, we want to set a very high standard and therefore we do not mind if there are false rejects, even if they cause inconvenience. But very often we will be dealing with situations where convenience will be much more important and we will not want a lot of false rejects. Is it the Government's intention to have a range of operational factors available to give guidelines? Have they worked out how they are going to deal with the problem of false rejects and set a variety of standards?

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

I understand the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell. The Committee will have seen that the ability to enhance accuracy has been developed quickly, and we shall continue to hone that. We have more time between the passing of the legislation and the implementation of the measure. I invite the Committee to record that when biometric passports are introduced next year they will primarily use the facial imaging and we will have to continue to hone that. I assure the Committee that we shall try to set the standard so that it can capture the best possible data in relation to biometrics as regards digital, iris and facial. I am pleased that our ability to do that is being enhanced all the time.

I think that copies of my letter have now been given to the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, and the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay. Twenty-four copies have been left in the Printed Paper Office for any other noble Lord who may wish to acquire one.

Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Spokesperson in the Lords (Id Cards & Charities Bill), Home Affairs

I am trying to help the Committee and the noble Baroness. This is a long, detailed, carefully considered letter of 30 pages, as the noble Baroness says. Is it possible to have a 10-minute break while we read it? Frankly, trying to make sense of this on the hoof when dealing with amendments makes life extremely difficult. But I am entirely at the mercy of the Committee.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

I am very sympathetic to the noble Lord, but I hope that the further information arises out of the issues discussed in our previous debate in Committee. I invite the Committee to press on. If I may respectfully say so, bearing in mind the speed with which we dealt with amendments on the previous occasion and the number of amendments we have to deal with now, I think that we will have sufficient time. I will try to be as clear as I can. If parts of the letter will assist the Committee, I will certainly point those out as we go along, but it is really a case of answering questions that were raised on the previous occasion—some of them will be for another day, but it would be a good idea if we pressed on.

Photo of Lord Selsdon Lord Selsdon Conservative

I want to try to help the noble Baroness, as I always have done on this. I commend to the Committee Appendix B of her report, paragraph 17 to the end. It is a pity that my quotation comes at the end and it is a pity that we have not had a chance to read it before. I had the advantage of having it delivered to me expressly. The first page of the report I opened states:

"Can biometrics be forged or 'spoofed'? Studies have shown that biometrics can be 'spoofed' to fool a biometric reader".

That was all that I had time to read in detail, but I commend to the Committee and to everyone the initiative that the noble Baroness has taken. It is a pity that her department could not be a little quicker on its feet.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management) 3:45, 12 December 2005

I thank the noble Lord for that. I also thank those officials who have worked so hard on these documents. We tried to get them out as quickly as we could; it was difficult to get them out by Friday. Everyone was e-mailed and everyone had a hard copy sent to them. About 70 copies went out to named Members of the House who had participated previously. I assure noble Lords that we did everything in our power to make sure that the information got to noble Lords as quickly as it could. I apologise if, notwithstanding all our efforts, we failed.

Photo of The Earl of Onslow The Earl of Onslow Conservative

I suggest to the Commiteee that if we did have 10 minutes off it would probably save considerably more than 10 minutes of us being corrected because we had not read the document or the noble Baroness having to explain things in greater detail; I would certainly like to have 10 minutes. I concede that my presence in the Chamber or absence therefrom for 10 minutes will not make a single difference to the great strategic flow of statutory rivers that we go through, but it would be quite helpful to take up the suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips.

Photo of Lord Williams of Elvel Lord Williams of Elvel Labour

I got a copy of the letter sent by the noble Baroness, and she has done everything possible to illuminate the discussions at a previous stage in Committee. This is the first time in Committees of this House that I have had a Minister spell out exactly what the responses were in Committee at an earlier stage. I do not believe that we should go on and on and round about on this. I hope very much that the Committee will resist the idea of going into a 10-minute break, because it will not help the Earl of Onslow.

Photo of The Earl of Northesk The Earl of Northesk Conservative

I am grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part in the debate. It is perhaps inevitable that it was a vast discussion about the reliability of biometrics, although I was merely trying to concentrate on the narrow, practical issue. In that regard, I am extremely grateful to the Minister for her kind suggestion that she may consider the passport criteria as the means to resolve the problem. I have been taught to believe that precision in statute is extremely important, and I continue to be concerned that the Bill says only "head and shoulders". Some refusenik might arrive to have his biometric captured and sit with his back to the capture machine, which would be a complete waste of everyone's time. I am extremely grateful to the noble Baroness, and I am content to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 87 not moved.]

[Amendments Nos. 88 and 89 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Photo of The Earl of Northesk The Earl of Northesk Conservative

moved Amendment No. 90:

Page 40, line 19, leave out paragraph (c).

Photo of The Earl of Northesk The Earl of Northesk Conservative

In moving Amendment No. 90, with the leave of the Committee, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 110 and 171. Amendment No. 90 proposes the deletion of Schedule 1(2)(c). In the context of the scheme, an individual's fingerprints will merely be another digitised biometric, essentially of the same character as those for iris or facial recognition. Therefore, to identify them separately is otiose. My other two amendments, to Clauses 5 and 12 respectively, have the same objective.

Moreover, there is no indication in the Bill precisely what form of fingerprints it is envisaged will be used. Clause 43 defines fingerprint as:

"in relation to an individual . . . a record (in any form and produced by any method) of the skin pattern and other physical characteristics or features of any of his fingers".

The Minister will recall that in response to a Starred Question that I asked about the UK prison estate she alluded to a number of different mixes of biometrics used in that context, including "hand geometry". Any one of a number of routes could be adopted for fingerprints in respect of the scheme, but the Bill is silent on the matter. Will the requirement be limited to a single digit or applied to all 10? Perhaps the Home Office is contemplating full palm prints; presumably that is the same as hand geometry and consistent with criminal fingerprint legislation.

Moreover, as my noble and learned friend Lord Lyell of Markyate made plain at Second Reading, a distinction has to be made between an analogue and a digitised system. All these factors are linked inextricably to the eventual cost and reliability of the scheme. That in turn means that the form of fingerprint or fingerprints—in fact, the whole range of biometric identifiers to be used in the scheme—should be stated explicitly in the Bill rather than being left to subordinate legislation.

Having said all that, of course I recognise that throughout our debates the Minister has consistently referred to a total of 13 biometric identifiers. This suggests that the Government have already made up their collective mind about the appropriate way forward on the matter. That being so, there is no practical reason why the detail cannot be written into the Bill. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Brabazon of Tara Lord Brabazon of Tara Chairman of Committees, House of Lords, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

I should point out that if this amendment is agreed to, I shall not be able to call Amendment No. 90A.

Photo of Baroness Seccombe Baroness Seccombe Deputy Chief Whip, Whips, Spokespersons In the Lords, (Assisted By Shadow Law Officers), Spokespersons In the Lords, (Assist the Home Affairs Team)

I welcome this group of amendments as it enables us to discuss the ins and outs of fingerprinting and fingerprint data and, indeed, what the Government intend to include under the auspices of "other biometric information". I wish to speak to Amendments Nos. 90A and 111.

The question of why the UK is going for such an elaborate biometric database deserves the deepest probing during the passage of the Bill. Air travel regulations do not require nation states to collect 13 biometric details, as is often loosely stated by supporters of the national identity register. Indeed, those regulations have specifically recognised that many nation states do not want to emulate the British requirement and, in some cases, would not be permitted to do so. German privacy laws, for example, forbid the creation of a national biometric database, and for that reason their biometric system has been set up to exclude the kind of audit trail that the Government here want to impose on us.

The German system includes two index fingerprints. There was strong resistance to the idea in Germany. Indeed, it was reported in the Financial Times that there was a stampede by German citizens to secure old-style passports before the new ones came in because of opposition to national registration. I have to say that the German authorities were more open and honest than ours. Here, the public have still not been told what is proposed for passport registration from the end of next year. I have yet to meet any person not involved in this debate who is aware that to have the right to leave our country a UK citizen without a passport or whose passport has lapsed will have to go to an interrogation centre, be questioned and fingerprinted, secretly registered and given a number—and, of course, pay for that privilege.

The Government do not like it when the London School of Economics report is mentioned, but perhaps the Minister should go away and read it again. She will find a devastating accumulation of evidence showing that the UK fingerprint requirement goes beyond what is being sought or permitted in most other countries. The only reason for such an elaborate database can be for the internal control of United Kingdom citizens.

It is also argued that EU regulations would require the taking and storing of these biometric details. It used to be said that that was necessary to comply with US standards. That is not true. The US immigration authorities do not require full palm prints or prints of all 10 digits; nor are they planning that. Once again, over-specification can be construed only as part of a UK or EU project to compile databases on UK and EU citizens.

The United States is upgrading its immigration facilities following the Patriot Act, but if you go to a state-of-the-art facility, such as the giant facility at Houston Airport, which opened recently, you will find that visitors are photographed. They are even asked for a fingerprint, but only of the index finger of each hand. There is no question of trying to take a print of every finger, as the Government wish.

After long flights, most people suffer substantial dehydration, and it is difficult for the readers to take a print in such circumstances. Wet pads are available for visitors to moisten their fingers, but they sometimes have to repeat three or four times the attempt to read each print. Imagine that being replicated 10 times over. Imagine the unnecessary delays. Imagine the extra costs involved in developing the technology to store and check the prints. Image the extra complexity and cost of the readers that would be required by police, immigration authorities, doctors, hospitals, social security offices and all those that the Government want to embrace within the system. The whole thing is potentially an elaborate folly and a disaster in the making that is not justified by any international standard or requirement by other nations. It is simply a luxury tool for our Government.

I hope, therefore, that if the Government persist with this scheme they will accept this limiting amendment and curb their ambitions—and so curb costs. If they do not do so, the Committee will need a very good explanation by the noble Baroness as to why the UK is gold-plating in this way and a clear statement of the costs involved.

Photo of The Earl of Onslow The Earl of Onslow Conservative

This shows something unhealthy about the Government's attitude to individual liberty. It does not seem to have entered their heads that to lock up all the details of every subject of Her Majesty in a computer for future use is deeply offensive to our traditional liberties. It may be that it is becoming unfashionable to go on talking about such matters. The noble Baroness obviously wishes to talk to the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, while I am speaking and she is entitled to do that, but it is—

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

No; I have a wonderful capacity to listen with one ear while speaking, particularly when it is a matter dear to the noble Earl's heart. I would never dream of missing one word that dropped from his lips.

Photo of The Earl of Onslow The Earl of Onslow Conservative

I shall hold the noble Baroness to that promise. Paragraph (c) shows a deep failing in the Government's psyche. Those of us who care passionately about such liberties and who believe that the Government are there for us, not the other way round, believe that they are there to say, "You may do anything you like, except what we tell you not to". These are very old and dear liberties that we must fight and fight and fight for. Paragraph (c), which means that absolutely everything is put on the wretched register, is a perfect example of what we should resist.

Photo of The Countess of Mar The Countess of Mar Crossbench

I, too, support the noble Earl, Lord Northesk, and the noble Baroness, Lady Seccombe, in their amendments. I spoke at some length at the first Second Reading, prior to the general election, and I am sorry that I did not speak at the second Second Reading. I feel very strongly about this. It is gold-plating on top of gold-plating and is not necessary.

Photo of Lord Selsdon Lord Selsdon Conservative

I have nothing at all against fingerprints. In fact I keep a set of my own, so that if there were any robberies, I could be eliminated as a potential criminal. My fingerprints are on some of my travel cards, so that I can obtain certain benefits when I arrive by shoving my finger in a slot and typing in the details of the aircraft I am travelling on.

I have tremendous sympathy with my noble friend Lady Seccombe—and there has been no collusion between us—on the subject of Germany, on which I intended to intervene. I go there regularly and the social democrat party is very much opposed to such moves because they do not want Germany returning to a police state. Those are not my words. All parties in Germany agree with that, because they have a pathological fear of the rise of the dominant centre.

Two fingers is all right—I am sorry I should not have said that, but their use came from the battle of Agincourt and it depends which way round you put them. It is worrying that the use of fingerprints should be deemed so important. I still prefer the original requirement to register identifying marks such as a mole or, more likely today, a tattoo—although that would occupy many pages—on a passport. There was a discreet method whereby if someone lost a finger or something, that disability would be politely and quietly noted.

As Members of the Committee know, many people, including children, lose the tops of their fingers, so I wonder what would happen if on their arrival in the United States or the United Arab Emirates—the noble Baroness seems to think that those are the two most important biometrics centres in the world—it was found that they were missing a finger. I support the amendment. I do not believe that we should make too much fuss about it, but it is so logical, sensible and gentlemanly.

Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Spokesperson in the Lords (Id Cards & Charities Bill), Home Affairs 4:00, 12 December 2005

Mine is the final amendment in the group and concerns biometric information. I confess that I have a non-scientist's anxiety about biometric information. I also confess that I share the broader sentiments of the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, and many others in the Committee who have expressed a general unease about the creation of what will be, in world terms, a uniquely powerful, centralised state database. I would be most grateful if the noble Baroness could assuage my concerns, although I do not expect her to do so now.

First, we all accept that Clause 1 is the determining clause as regards the information that can be captured under Schedule 1. Schedule 1 has to be read as being, in all respects, circumscribed by the provisions of Clause 1. There arises my problem, in that Clause 1 makes no reference whatever to biometric information, whereas the schedule does in paragraph 2. Furthermore, biometric information is defined in Clause 43 as data about the external characteristics of an individual,

"including, in particular, the features of an iris".

I am not a scientist, a biologist or any other "ologist", but in my terms the iris is not an external feature but one that lies behind the surface. It is not, in common parlance, external. The noble Baroness may say that that is why we have specifically mentioned the iris in the definition in Clause 43, but it says "including", and ambiguity is created by including what is not an external feature in a definition of external characteristics.

Secondly, in Clause 1—the key clause—subsection (7)(e) refers to physical characteristics capable of being used for identifying an individual. That is much wider, as I am sure the noble Baroness will agree, than biometric information as defined by Clause 43; for example, it does not say "external physical characteristics". If one wanted to be a literalist, it could include internal physical characteristics; that is to say, characteristics available only through X-ray determination or through the sampling of body fluids.

I have tabled Amendment No. 183 to ask the noble Baroness whether on Report we might consider tightening up the linkage between Clause 1(7)(e), Schedule 1(2) and Clause 43, not forgetting that in Clause 3(5) the Secretary of State can modify the information that can be collected under Schedule 1 by an affirmative resolution passed in this and the other place. If I am right in thinking that "physical characteristics" in Clause 1(7) is a much wider provision than is contained in Schedule 1 vis-à-vis biometric information, Clause 3(5) could be used to enlarge considerably the scope of information beyond that envisaged. I apologise for that circumlocutory and complex attempt to explain my concern. I do not expect the noble Baroness to deal with it on the hoof, but it is the basis for my amendment.

Photo of Lord Peyton of Yeovil Lord Peyton of Yeovil Conservative

I want to return briefly to fingerprints. The sound of the word "fingerprints" produces an unpleasant note of possible criminal behaviour and the rest. I want to ask two simple questions. First, who will benefit from the inclusion of fingerprints on the identity card; and, secondly, of what possible use will that inclusion be to the owner of the fingerprints? Even enthusiasts for this Bill, such as the noble Lord, Lord Gould, would hardly claim that a fingerprint was a badge of honour to be boasted about. It is nothing of the kind. The Bill has done much to reawaken my suspicion of the Government's appetite for information. It seems completely beyond the reach of satisfaction. I hope that the Minister will be able to convince us that the Government have good grounds for including this requirement.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

I can reassure the noble Lord, Lord Peyton, that we have good grounds for including it. The whole point of using biometrics is so that we can accurately identify the individual who is to be named either in the passport or in the identity card. It is important that we get that right.

In debating the previous clause, we spoke about biometrics and I emphasised the background against which the data will be taken. The biometric data will be used as a confirmation of the other details that will be taken when the person is interviewed to ensure that they are who they say they are. That will then be securely recorded so that thereafter that identity cannot be stolen or taken away.

Ten fingerprints are needed to facilitate a unique record—that is, one of many—because a check that aims to ensure multiple enrolments will not occur. Two fingerprints are not sufficient for this purpose. The US-VISIT system is expected to move to more than two fingerprints as the size of its database increases. Already the benefits of taking 10 fingerprints is greatly appreciated and taken on board. It is not therefore right that the US will stick to two fingerprints, as the noble Baroness, Lady Seccombe, may have been told. In framing the new system, we must therefore look at the best available knowledge and data and anticipate it so that we can ensure that our system has the integrity we will need.

I turn to the individual amendments. Amendment No. 183 would prevent biometrics, other than fingerprints, being confirmed on a check with consent under Clause 14. Biometric information cannot be provided from the register under that power. Subsection (2)(g) limits the information to confirmation that the biometric information provided coincides with the information on the register. As I say, take the other details and the biometrics will confirm the identity.

Amendments Nos. 90, 110 and 171 would completely remove the reference to fingerprints. Fingerprints are a type of biometric information, and I know that the noble Lord, Lord Peyton, finds them slightly uncomfortable because they have previously been associated with criminal activity and a way of identifying a person. However, they are important because they are a way of accurately identifying people. The noble Lord is right to say that technically we need not have mentioned them separately, but the Bill specifically mentions fingerprints, iris recognition and photographs, to make our present intentions clear.

The noble Lord, Lord Phillips, made a point on the inclusion of irises as external characteristics. All the physical characteristics specified in the Bill can be viewed externally. One can see the iris by external observation. We have made clear that physical characteristics are external characteristics because the Bill does not include any internal element or organ that would have to be examined by use of an X-ray or anything of that sort. It is only what can be observed externally. The combination of Clauses 1(7) and 43 and the schedule makes that clear. The noble Lord will remember that, at one stage in the other place, there was concern about whether we were limiting the characteristics to biometrics and external features, or whether DNA would be included. We wanted to make absolutely clear that it was external identifiers only. That was the reason for the combination of Clauses 1 and 43 and the schedule.

Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Spokesperson in the Lords (Id Cards & Charities Bill), Home Affairs

My concern is that Clause 1(7)(e), which deals with physical characteristics, is unqualified by reference to externality. Therefore, one could, in theory, use the provision under Clause 3(5) to include internal physical characteristics or X-ray information in Schedule 1.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

I do not think one could, because Clause 43(1), which gives the definition of biometric information, constrains the general interpretation to be applied:

"'biometric information', in relation to an individual, means data about his external characteristics, including, in particular, the features of an iris or any other part of the eye".

Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Spokesperson in the Lords (Id Cards & Charities Bill), Home Affairs

That does not meet my concern because Clause 43 deals with the definition of biometric information and that term occurs only in Schedule 1; there is no reference to it in Clause 1. I maintain that "physical characteristics" in Clause 1 is not confined by the biometric definition in Clause 43. Perhaps this is an argument that should not be perpetuated at this moment, but if, on reflection, the Minister agrees with me, will she consider an amendment to Clause 1 to make clear that the argument she is now advancing is the one intended?

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

I will certainly look at it, but I do not think that it is a difficulty. I am relatively sure that parliamentary counsel will tell me that the three elements have to be read together and, therefore, the position is absolutely clear. I am more than happy to consider this because I am clear that the Government intend that only external characteristics are required and we believe that that is delivered by the Bill. We will look again to ensure that that is the proper construction and, if any further clarity is needed, I shall be happy to look at it. I do not think that there is any difficulty, but I understand the noble Lord's concern.

Amendments Nos. 90, 110 and 117 deal with fingerprint issues. Fingerprint evidence was first used in court to convict an offender as long ago as 1902, more than 100 years ago—a date which I am sure will please the noble Earl. To reiterate, it is intended that we will capture the 13 biometrics—that is the 10 fingerprints, the two irises and the face. Amendments Nos. 90A and 111 would limit any fingerprint biometric recorded on the national identity register and on application to index fingers only. A scheme the size of the United Kingdom ID card scheme would not have a high likelihood of success if only two fingers were used. More are required to differentiate between people with the degree of confidence we require when a large population is involved.

I think we have already dealt with the issues regarding the EU and the ICAO requirements. They are, as the Committee will know, minimum common standards. The introduction of these requirements and the introduction of initiatives, such as the US-visit project, may be initial drivers for the identity card scheme, but, as I tried to indicate earlier to the noble Baroness, Lady Seccombe, we are trying to find the best model we can to ensure that it has the longest lifespan and the greatest degree of accuracy. Therefore, we are looking now to find that. We wish to approach it with our 13 biometric identifiers because that is the best information we have at the moment.

I hope that with those responses noble Lords will feel reassured and that the noble Earl will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Photo of The Earl of Northesk The Earl of Northesk Conservative 4:15, 12 December 2005

Once again I am grateful to all noble Lords who have contributed. As with my previous amendment, it is an issue that sparks a great deal of concern. Indeed, I share the concern about how it could be said that the Government are gold-plating agreed international standards in this area. Many of us would prefer that fewer biometric identifiers were being considered for the scheme. But, in terms, my judgment is that there is consensus that all the biometric identifiers to be used by the scheme should be stated explicitly in the Bill.

That tempts me to believe that paragraph 2 of Schedule 1 would merit amendment on Report to constrain it absolutely to those biometric identifiers that the Minister has indicated represent the Government's best thinking at present—that is to say, fingerprints, iris and face. Other noble Lords might prefer to go even further than that. Without doubt, we will have to return to this issue on Report, but, in the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 90A and 91 not moved.]

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Spokespersons In the Lords, (Assisted By Shadow Law Officers)

moved Amendment No. 92:

Page 40, line 30, at end insert "and his ID card number, which shall be the same"

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Spokespersons In the Lords, (Assisted By Shadow Law Officers)

In moving Amendment No. 92 I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 93 to 96. It may be appropriate for me to make a brief reference to the 30-page letter that the Minister was kind enough to send to noble Lords.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

I need to clarify something I said earlier. I had asked for the letter to be e-mailed and sent. I understand that it was sent but, through an oversight, it was not e-mailed. I am very sorry about that because my instructions were very clear. I know that noble Lords find that an easy way to receive information, particularly the noble Baroness. That is why I was disappointed that all noble Lords had not received it. I apologise because I would not like to mislead the Committee. I asked for it to be done that way, but I have discovered that it was not. I add my additional apology as a result.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Spokespersons In the Lords, (Assisted By Shadow Law Officers)

All noble Lords present would say that we never expect the noble Baroness to mislead the House because she does not do so: she always treats us with great courtesy. She has given an apology that I did not seek. I was going to say that I have now had the opportunity to speed-read that letter. I note that there is a substantial section on costs, which I think will appropriately be dealt with when we reach Amendment No. 259A, so we will have time in the next two days properly to consider that information. I notice that there are issues in the letter regarding the biometrics. Of course I appreciate that we will return to those specific issues on Report. I cannot at first sight see issues raised in the letter that need to be dealt with today by way of an adjournment. But having done only a speed read, I could be proved completely wrong. I hope not.

Amendments Nos. 92 to 95A refer to paragraph 4 of Schedule 1, which gives the Government the power to require that personal reference numbers should be entered into the national identity register. Amendment No. 96 is grouped with them because it also covers the question of numbers. This is a continuation of our quest to find out what will be behind this skeleton Bill. Amendments Nos. 92, 93, 95 and 96 were tabled in another place and were called to be debated in Committee on 12 July. It is not my normal practice to retable amendments from the Commons when I feel that they have been debated and answered, but unfortunately, not only did the Minister, Mr McNulty, decide not to respond to them, he made it absolutely clear that he would not. He said:

"Let me deal first with the lead amendment. I will then address some of, but not all, the subsequent amendments".—[Official Report, Commons Standing Committee D, 12/7/05; col. 160.]

That is a red rag to a bull; I had to table the amendments to ask the Government for the answer.

Amendments Nos. 92 and 93 make it clear that the ID card number should be the same as the national identity registration number. Why should they be different? Amendment No. 94 is an odd one out; it is new to this House. It would remove the subsection that records the number of any document that can be used instead of a passport. Which documents do the Government mean? Are they documents to use for travel purposes? Would that be within the UK? I am aware that some budget airlines are now imposing restrictions on customers and requiring the production of identity for domestic travel. As I understand it, that is not so much for security reasons as for a simple commercial reason. They want to prevent their customers passing on their tickets for others' use, thus avoiding the payment of an administration fee to the airline for a change of name. I do not say whether they are right or wrong; I just noticed that that is the practice that they are adopting.

Are the documents in subsection (g) those that may only be used when a passport is required or are they documents that we may choose to use, such as a utility bill, when we are not required to produce a passport but find it convenient to show the bill as proof of the reason for inquiry? Amendment No. 95 returns to the unanswered amendments in another place and would delete paragraph 4(1)(l), which deals with personal reference numbers. It refers to,

"the number of any designated document which is held by him and is a document the number of which does not fall within any of the preceding sub-paragraphs".

I am not exactly clear, but I assume that that implies that we will end up with dozens upon dozens of numbers recorded against our name. What kind of numbers do the Government have in mind to be covered by the sub-paragraph?

Amendment No. 96 is another unanswered amendment. It removes sub-paragraph (g) from paragraph 6, which covers one's history of making applications and the changes that are made to one's national identity register information. Sub-paragraph (g) requires a record to be kept of everyone who has ever countersigned one's application for an ID card or an application for a designated document. Does a designated document at present mean only a passport? Does it mean a driving licence and what could it mean in future?

The more that one reads Schedule 1, the more that one's mind begins to boggle at the sheer size of the database that we seem to be constructing. We need to be convinced that in the Government's rush to record every aspect of our lives, we allow them to record only what is strictly necessary and convenient to us. The overall imperative must be to follow what the Government said on Clause 1. This must be a system convenient to the individual, not merely to the Government.

Finally, Amendments Nos. 94A and 95A simply remove references to driving licences from Schedule 1. They are probing amendments only to ask the Government to put on record their reasons why they should be included on the national identity register. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Selsdon Lord Selsdon Conservative

This business of the numbers game worries me, particularly as it took so long for the Minister to reply to a letter that I wrote some time ago. It will be noted that the Department for Work and Pensions has issued guidance to help people to prove their identity for social security purposes, and it lists 22 papers. I suddenly thought that if I really wanted to wreck this Bill, I would have introduced the schedule almost in its exact form. Very few people have the ability to remember more than a seven-figure number. I am not sure, but I think that Sloane 1234 was Harrods' telephone number in the old days.

It also struck me that it might be quite nice for us to know our numbers. If you occasionally want to consult a government department to ask the reference number that you should put in order to prove, for example, a winter fuel allowance, you are asked to type one of two or three or four or five numbers, and it may take half an hour. If all that information is to go on an identity card, which should really be for the benefit of the citizen rather than for the Government, is there a machine that I could get these numbers off? It would be extremely helpful. In addition, will there be a signature? The Government might like to move a little further into biometrics. As secretary of the Parliamentary Space Committee, I can tell the Government that in a very short space of time there will be newer methods of identification. All my life, I have held on to the desired wish that my location should be my Ordnance Survey number—my latitude and longitude. That would be a very short way to solve all the problems. There are complications with postcodes—when a delivery company gets one letter wrong and a bill goes to someone else. All those numbers are a nightmare.

May we also have the opportunity of a PIN? If someone asks us to insert our card, in order to make sure that it is not forged, may we have a three-figure number or a combination that we can voluntarily put in? There has to be a change in attitude. At the moment, some people believe that an identity card could be helpful. I believe that. We should have the right to prove our identity. But the boot is on the other foot. The Government are trying to say, "We have the right to prove your identity". Here there is a conflict of interest, but, of course, it is not with the noble Baroness.

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Government Whip, Government Whip

I am not sure that I shall be able to answer all the noble Lord's questions, but I hope that I can respond fully to the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay. I quite understand her concern about the moving of the amendments in another place. I shall try to fill in some of the gaps left by Mr McNulty; it is unfortunate that longer responses were not given. These amendments relate to the inclusion in Schedule 1 of the numbers of various documents and counter-signatory details.

The noble Baroness has explained the amendments. Amendment No. 92 would require the national identity registration number to be the same as the number on the ID card. Consequently, Amendment No. 93 would remove the ability to hold a separate ID card number on the register. The national identity registration number is the number allocated to the person for the lifetime of the scheme. The ID card number is the issue number for that specific card and is likely to change for every card issued. One could compare that to the issue number on a cheque card. It would operate in a similar way. As with banks, that is needed to help with the tracking of card delivery and revocation of cards. It makes sense that there should be two separate numbers, which should both be held on an individual's entry on the register.

Amendment No. 94 would prevent the Secretary of State holding the number of any document that can be used instead of a passport. This is not a spurious addition—there are certain documents which allow stateless people to travel, but which are not, strictly speaking, either a passport or an identity card. We would want to be able to record the reference numbers of those documents in the same way as we can capture the number of passports and ID cards issued by authorities outside the United Kingdom. Of course, that would assist us in tracking the movement of individuals for immigration purposes.

Amendments Nos. 94A and 95A are consequential amendments precluding UK driving licence numbers being held on the national identity register. The driver number from a driving licence is to be specifically held for a number of reasons. Should driving licences ever become designated documents, it is only right that we can hold driver numbers on the register. When individuals apply for registration on to the identity cards scheme it would form a useful part of the biographical footprint check if the entry on the register could be cross-referenced with the DVLA database. Finally, holding the driver number in Schedule 1 would allow the police or, for example, car hire companies to cross check whether an individual holds a valid driving licence if that individual has proffered their ID card and consented to a verification check as proof of their identity.

Amendment No. 95 removes the ability to hold the number of any other designated document which does not fall elsewhere in the paragraph. Documents already considered for designation have their numbers in the list in paragraph 4 of Schedule 1; for example, a passport or residence permit. It is possible that in the future we will want to designate a document that is not covered in this list. In that case, it is important to be able to hold the number of any such document on the national identity register.

Amendment No. 96 would preclude the register from holding details of counter-signatories. As part of our work to counter potentially fraudulent applications, it will be important to be able to check back and consider all the circumstances surrounding the original application. This would include the counter-signatory to ascertain whether they were complicit in the false application. This is nothing new. Counter-signatories for passport applications already have their information held. We believe that retention of the counter-signatory's details will assist with an effective enrolment process. When first-time adult applicants are interviewed, their knowledge, or lack thereof, of the person who has countersigned their application may indicate whether or not the application is genuine. Additionally, retention of these counter-signatory details will enable the agency to build up a log of devious or suspect counter-signatories that might require further investigation. I am sure noble Lords would agree that any measure which throws light on possible incidences of fraud is one well worth having.

Finally, I should say that the validation information under paragraph 7 of the register cannot be provided to organisations which request a verification check on the register with the consent of the person concerned under Clause 14. It is excluded by Clause 14(2). We think it is important to retain details of counter-signatories in order to maintain the integrity of the register and as a further check against fraud, much as is the case with passport applications.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Spokespersons In the Lords, (Assisted By Shadow Law Officers) 4:30, 12 December 2005

I am grateful to the Minister for answering fully those questions avoided by Mr McNulty in another place. He has been helpful in taking forward the debate. For example, his response in respect of Amendment No. 96 makes it possible for me not to bring forward a further amendment on Report. Indeed, I suspect that most if not all of the other amendments in the group may not need to be tabled again.

The Minister's answer in regard to the travel arrangements for stateless persons is helpful. One has to be careful regarding this issue for security reasons while remaining sensitive to those who for proper reasons seek to travel.

I am of course intrigued by the underlying argument put forward by the Government on some of these amendments that they have in hiding around the corner a list of documents for future designation. We shall turn our attention to that later today. I shall not trespass on later amendments by going into my unease at this point.

Questions still need to be asked about the sheer range of numbers, in particular the possible reissue of the number on the national identity register. Some confusion could arise in the future. I am old enough to have had a schoolgirl crush on Patrick McGoohan in "The Prisoner", in which he was Number 6. He would say, "I am not a number". Here not only are we going to be numbers, we will be a heck of a lot of numbers. One of the arguments in support of identity cards is that this will be a convenient method of identification, so that one would not have to hold a raft of different means of proving identity. However, the Minister's response has been helpful in terms of being able to winnow what will need to be brought back on Report. I shall read Hansard carefully and, if I may, I shall notify noble Lords who have taken part in the debate of the amendments that will not need to be brought forward again on Report.

Photo of The Earl of Onslow The Earl of Onslow Conservative

Before my noble friend withdraws her amendment, I have to say how depressed I am by seeing that long, long list of things that have to be added to the register. It goes to the heart of my concern that the Bill is a bureaucratic and intolerable nightmare.

Photo of The Countess of Mar The Countess of Mar Crossbench

The Minister said that replacement cards would have to have a new number. Is that new number in order to control the people issuing the cards to ensure that they are not fraudulent? If it is not, why can we not have an A, B, C and so on at the end of the existing number as each new card is issued to the same person? This would enable them to have their own number.

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Government Whip, Government Whip

My guess is that it will be sequential, as it is with your cheque or Visa card. These have a different issue number each time you are issued with a card. I do not see a great difficulty with that. It seems quite a logical system.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Spokespersons In the Lords, (Assisted By Shadow Law Officers)

I agree wholeheartedly with my noble friend Lord Onslow about some of the problems. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 93 to 95A not moved.]

[Amendment No. 95B had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

[Amendment No. 96 not moved.]

Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Spokesperson in the Lords (Id Cards & Charities Bill), Home Affairs

The amendment seeks to delete the final sub-paragraph from paragraph 9 of Schedule 1. As noble Lords by now will know, paragraph 9 is the most sensitive part of Schedule 1: it allows the most intimate information vis-à-vis the national identity register to be captured by the state, in effect, in respect of any person with an ID card. Paragraph 9 is given special treatment, quite rightly, in various parts of the Bill because of the sensitivity of its information, which is sometimes referred to as "audit trail" information. For example, Clause 19(4) refers to the rights of certain public authorities to access data on the national identity register but it does not extend to paragraph 9 information.

This is a probing amendment because I am anxious to know what is meant to be covered by paragraph 9(c), which is couched in wide terms. Nearly everyone who has spoken has said more than once that we have a duty with a Bill of this nature to be quite sure that we know what we are letting ourselves in for hereafter—or, rather, what we are letting our fellow citizens in for—and to be sceptical as to the need for a wide definition of powers. It is not at present clear to me what sub-paragraph (c) is intended to capture beyond the clear provisions of sub-paragraphs (a) and (b). I await with interest the Government's response to the amendment, which I am prepared to withdraw if what they say is satisfactory to the Committee. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Peyton of Yeovil Lord Peyton of Yeovil Conservative

I very much share the curiosity of the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, who has moved the amendment. I hope the Minister will satisfy us. Paragraph 9(c) is couched in extremely wide terms. It states that,

"other particulars, in relation to each such occasion, of the provision of the information".

Is it not possible to be a little more exact than this? Or is it, as I suspect, yet another instance of what I would call the quartermaster mentality of the Home Office and the noble Baroness's advisers—"You never know when we might want some other form of information, so let us put in a general sweeper, a kind of Hoover which will suck in every possibility which might confront us"?

The other point made by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, which very much concerns me, is the duty we owe to our fellow citizens. One does not have to look at many newspapers, nor look very far back, to find examples of laws which have passed through your Lordships' House and the other place which have then been attended by the most extraordinary unintended consequences. I do not wish to take up the time of the Committee, but the perfectly nice and very harmless lady who made a speech the other day in front of the Cenotaph about British casualties in Iraq was treated in the most extraordinary fashion. She was taken away by a large escort, when I am quite sure that no Minister had possibly foreseen such a thing happening under that Act of Parliament. At the same time, the gentleman who regularly makes such a nasty mess all over Parliament Square, against whom legislation was aimed, is still there. There is a muddle here.

The noble Lord, Lord Phillips, is absolutely right. I worry about the belief that we might need these powers so we had better have them. There is no thought in the minds of Ministers at the time about what some red tape-minded, inquisitive official might make use of. People do not examine passports too carefully in this country, but I have often been asked the most footling questions about details in my passport when I have been abroad. The added requirement that the Bill will put on everybody to inform officials in any country of intimate and numerous details will afford inquisitive officials a marvellous opportunity to bully people and waste their time. I hope that Ministers will bear that in mind, because I am not at all satisfied.

Photo of Baroness Carnegy of Lour Baroness Carnegy of Lour Conservative

I am very interested in what the Minister will say in reply to the amendment. I spoke at Second Reading about how much I thought citizens would come to dislike the register, and this is a very good example. Am I right in thinking that against one's name and all the other information on the register, there will be, under paragraph 9, every date that a government department has asked for information about one? There will be a long string of these as different government departments ask for details. Every date will be included, as well as details of who has asked the question, and sub-paragraph (c) provides for the particulars they are asking about. The more questions that mount up, the more suspect one will look to another department tuning in.

The Minister is shaking her head, but I am trying to picture what my entry will look like as one government department after another asks the register about me. Under paragraph 9, the register can show the particulars that were wanted on each occasion. Anyone else looking at this will wonder why all these people want so much information. It will be very interesting to hear what the noble Baroness tells us about paragraph 9(c).

Photo of Lord Stoddart of Swindon Lord Stoddart of Swindon Independent Labour

I very much agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Peyton, said about the lady who was arrested by two police sergeants and 10 police constables for the heinous offence of reading out the names of our soldiers who have been killed in Iraq. I sympathise with what he said. The only thing that I did not sympathise with was when he intimated that Ministers had no idea that this sort of thing would happen. There is no reason why they would not have been aware because, when matters were discussed in this House, Ministers were warned of the dangers of the unintended consequences of the legislation, which does not allow a person to make any demonstration within 1,000 metres of Parliament without police permission.

Photo of Lord Peyton of Yeovil Lord Peyton of Yeovil Conservative 4:45, 12 December 2005

I probably made a mistake—perhaps I was unduly influenced by the fact that it was the noble Baroness on the Front Bench. I find it very difficult to take an unfavourable view of her intentions. I have no doubt about her colleagues' intentions—they were well aware of what they were doing.

Photo of Lord Stoddart of Swindon Lord Stoddart of Swindon Independent Labour

I understand perfectly what the noble Lord, Lord Peyton, said and I have to agree with him. The Minister is a lovely person who comes to this House and gives us as much information and explanation as she possibly can. But during the discussions about the restriction around Parliament, Ministers were warned that the sort of thing that has happened could happen and they chose to ignore what this House and people in the other place said, which is most unfortunate.

The amendment would delete paragraph 9(c). Paragraph 9 states that:

"The following may be recorded in the entry in the Register for an individual".

I do not know what "may" means. Does it mean "must" as we are often told? On other occasions we are told that "may" does not mean "must" but exactly what it says—"may". We should clarify that to see under what circumstances such information "must" or "may" be recorded. That is an important distinction, so perhaps the Minister can tell us whether "may" means "must" in this case. If "may" does not mean "must", under what circumstances will information be recorded?

Also, I do not understand what sub-paragraph (c) means. It states,

"other particulars, in relation to each such occasion, of the provision of the information".

That does not make sense and I am afraid that it must be explained, because it could be so wide in its application. The authorities could be gaining the sort of information that we would not even countenance at the moment. I therefore hope that the Minister will be able to explain exactly what is intended by paragraph 9(c).

Photo of Lord Thomas of Gresford Lord Thomas of Gresford Shadow Attorney General, Law Officers (Constitutional Affairs), Advisory Team On Legal Matters, Non-Departmental & Cross Departmental Responsibilities

I wonder whether I may attempt to answer the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart. To hazard a guess—which the Minister may confirm or deny as she chooses—"may" simply gives a power to the person who keeps the register to make entries in the register to this effect. But you can bet your bottom dollar that it will be his job to do so. He will be instructed to enter these matters. The power will exist in the Bill.

The second question is, what does "other particulars" mean? It must mean the reasons for the person seeking the information. I should like your Lordships to ponder the significance of that for a moment. When a policeman wishes to look at the register to check certain things about an individual, no doubt he will fill in a form. Everybody will fill in a form under this schedule. People will fill a form in every three months to give some new numbers on their driving licence, because they have changed their name, or for some such reason. A mass of information must be given. I am sure that someone seeking information from the register will have to identify himself, state the date on which he makes the application, and give a reason for that. As I have suggested, it may be because someone wants to look into a criminal record, or the tax authorities might want to see who you are and whether you have paid your taxes in the past, and so on. All that personal information will be entered on the register by the person whose job it is to do that, and it will be there for people to read for the rest of that person's life.

At Second Reading, I spoke against the entire principle of the Bill, but it is when you look at the schedule that you see all the problems emerging. As I said, there will be forms to be filled in and detailed information to be given and private information will remain on that register for the rest of time—unaltered, no doubt, if circumstances have changed. The whole system is a nightmare, and I am amazed that the Government want to go ahead with it.

Photo of Lord Peyton of Yeovil Lord Peyton of Yeovil Conservative

Perhaps the noble Lord could enlighten me whether "may", which is used so frequently here, ought to be read, or will come to be read, as "must".

Photo of Lord Thomas of Gresford Lord Thomas of Gresford Shadow Attorney General, Law Officers (Constitutional Affairs), Advisory Team On Legal Matters, Non-Departmental & Cross Departmental Responsibilities

According to the Bill, we will volunteer to have our names on the register; it is all voluntary until the Government make it compulsory. They will make it compulsory within the foreseeable future, so that by the end of the decade we shall all have to fill in those forms, give those details and get our identity card. That will mean, no doubt, that we shall have to give it up on demand by a person who will be authorised to do so. It is just a step in a process to ensure that the state has complete control over our lives.

Photo of The Earl of Onslow The Earl of Onslow Conservative

I am delighted that the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, stopped me from speaking so that he could speak, because I should like to back up what he has said with every fibre of my being. This is a general catch-all phrase. There used to be a phrase in the Army which went, "conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline", which meant that you would give someone 10 days' CB for whatever slight misdemeanour you thought they had committed. The more one hears of this Bill, the more tyrannical it seems.

Everyone has been immensely polite about the Minister, and justifiably so, but I draw her attention to that wonderful line in the Aeneid, when, seeing the Trojan Horse, he says:

"Quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentis"— or,

"I fear the Greeks, especially when they are bearing gifts".

When we are all being polite to the Minister—justifiably—she should be warned.

That does not stop me from being as rude as I possibly can about this aspect of the Bill. The more you see, the more it grabs, and the more it has to be put down. The Minister will not be in office when finally there is a build-up of people who are fed up of filling form after form every three days and are fed up of being stopped by the Plod and asked for their identity card, which they have left behind at home, and so on. She will not be there to accept the blame for it—nor will the present Home Secretary—but someone eventually will have to untangle the ghastly mess that we are in the process of happily legislating.

Photo of Lord Peyton of Yeovil Lord Peyton of Yeovil Conservative

I wonder whether my noble friend Lord Onslow has understood the situation. I regard the Minister not as a Greek bearing a gift but as the gift by the Greeks. It is her colleagues who are the Greeks. While we are talking about her colleagues, where is the noble and learned father of this Bill, the Lord Chancellor? I deeply regret that he is not here. I should very much like his guidance on this point and I am sure that my noble friend will feel the same.

Photo of The Countess of Mar The Countess of Mar Crossbench

Perhaps I can move to cows. The more speeches I hear on this amendment, the more I wonder how on earth all the data will be handled. I mention cows because I think immediately of the cattle passport scheme and recording cattle movements. We have only two cows but we had a bull last spring for our two cows, and such an amount of paperwork was involved in moving that bull from his own herd to ours and then back again! We did it all on the computer, as instructed by Defra. Then, 12 pieces of paper came to us to be filled in about the "purported" movement of this bull between his own premises and our premises and back again. If Defra cannot handle cattle passports deftly, how will we manage with these ones?

Photo of Lord Stoddart of Swindon Lord Stoddart of Swindon Independent Labour

I am most obliged to the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, for enlightening me about the implications of this clause. Like him, I am completely and utterly opposed to the Bill per se and have been right from the beginning. I was extremely worried about this provision before I spoke but I am even more worried after the noble Lord's speech. The Committee should be obliged to him for going through in detail many of the adverse consequences that could flow from this provision.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

I stand before you, Trojan horse and all—and gift, as I understand it. I am told by my noble friend Lord Carter that Ernie Bevin used to say that if you open the Pandora's Box, you will find it full of Trojan horses. I really do not think that this clause need cause as much anxiety as it clearly has and I shall try to explain why. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, and all those who have been so complimentary about me. It may be a matter of trying to see how much embarrassment one can cause on the Front Bench and whether I do in fact turn red. Just so that we know it is true, I confess that I do turn red. So, your Lordships do not have to continue to prove that this is true.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

I think that it is an external characteristic which can be observed by the eye.

This provision is there to assist an individual, because an individual will be able to verify who has looked at his record and why. I hope that I will be able to satisfy the curiosity of the noble Lord, Lord Peyton, and assure him that we are not emulating the quartermasters whom he seems to know so intimately in terms of wanting to catch all. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, for making it a probing amendment because I hope that I will be able to explain it.

Sub-paragraph (c) would enable the Secretary of State to log who provided the information to the person and so will provide an additional safeguard against unauthorised release of information. Individuals working for the identity cards agency would know that if they provided verification information, their details would be recorded as well as those of the recipient. This is an important safeguard against abuse. It is an important safeguard for the individual. I am sure that the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, will be anxious for the individual to have that sort of security. A further safeguard provided by sub-paragraph (c) is the recording of the technical material used on each occasion, such as the serial number used to verify an ID card. That would be a useful tool for ensuring the integrity of the register.

Photo of The Earl of Onslow The Earl of Onslow Conservative 5:00, 12 December 2005

Is the noble Baroness saying that this will show if somebody unauthorised has asked for information? It does not prevent the unauthorised person asking, or even being given the information—it just tells you that they are unauthorised and that they have been given unauthorised information. Have I got that right or wrong?

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

It enables you to check who has asked for information and who has given information about you. So when you made your inquiry it would be possible for you to check who had done that. Also it makes it clear to those who give information that they have to be absolutely certain of its accuracy and that they are entitled to give that information, because the individual concerned will be able to look at the log and check back. So if they have given information that they should not have given, you can look back and find out which reader was used and which individual was involved. You can track the information to try to bring people to account if they have done that which they should not properly have done.

We think this will be a useful tool for ensuring the integrity of the register and feeding our counter-fraud strategy. It would benefit both the cardholder and the user organisations as the information held through sub-paragraph (c) would support retrospective review of the audit logs to detect possible fraudulent use. If a card holder or user organisation disputed a particular transaction, being able to make recourse to detailed audit information would make repudiation very difficult. We think that is a very important safeguard for the individual.

Sub-paragraph (c) enables particulars of,

"the provision of the information" to be recorded. It is apt to include the person by whom, and the means by which, information is provided; for example, whether the provision of information was by post or conveyed electronically. It does not provide carte blanche to record the purpose for which information has been requested or any other extraneous information; it is simply part of the audit trail. So that audit trail will have integrity.

The noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, says that the whole system is a nightmare. If it was as he thinks it is, I could understand him saying that, but I assure the Committee that, as we have drafted it, it is not. "May" means may; it does not mean must. Generally speaking, each provision of the information will, as I say, be recorded as a safeguard for the individual. But, for example, if someone uses their card to enter a government building every day, it would not be sensible to record each occasion. It will also not be the case that all information will be kept for ever. The register needs to be maintained in accordance with Clause 3(4), and that is only for so long as it is consistent with the statutory purposes.

Individuals recorded on the register should be reassured that their details will not be provided without a record being kept of that request. That will provide a deterrent to anyone attempting to obtain information improperly as their details will be recorded. This is in line with data protection good practice. Clauses 19 to 20 set out only very specific circumstances in which information recorded in paragraph 9 of Schedule 1 can be provided to the intelligence and security agencies for their statutory purposes. Other agencies involved in the prevention or detection of crime, such as the police and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs and government departments, can also be provided with information but only for purposes connected with the prevention or detection of serious crime.

Schedule 1(9) has important public interest benefits associated with it, as well as providing reassurance to the individual that information held on the register about them cannot be misused. I reassure the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, that there will not be a long list of people who will then make it seem as if the individual is in error. It will be possible for the individual to turn the tables, if you like, on them and look at the log and ask why people are making the inquiries, and be able to check it if they think that is appropriate.

Photo of Baroness Carnegy of Lour Baroness Carnegy of Lour Conservative

I appreciate that. I am not thinking of the barrack-room lawyer who wants to find out what has been done wrong on the register on his or her behalf, but the innocent person who looks up their entry and wonders why on earth all those people have been asking all these things about him. It may be rather frightening. If it was printed out would there be pages of information under each person's name? How much information will be there? I cannot quite picture it.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

One has to bear in mind that the individual or agency asking for information will only receive the information that it has asked for. The individual will be able to see it and the register will keep it, but when an individual asks for specific information from the register, and if they meet the criteria and have the right to receive information, they would receive it. Their details would be recorded on the audit log, so the individual could see the whole picture. The individual and the register would have the whole picture, but those making the inquiry of the register would receive only those bits of information that they are entitled to.

Photo of Lord Lucas Lord Lucas Conservative

After that explanation I remain puzzled about one or two things. I have been searching in vain in this Bill for the right of a person to see their entry on the register. I would be very grateful if the noble Baroness would point that out to me. I am delighted that she says that it is there. I am sure that it is just my blindness, but I would appreciate her help. If the police have access to the information, so must the defence in any situation in order to make things square. If that is the case, it seems enormously important that "may" should be replaced by "must". That gives the authorities the option not to record something in the register about when the information has been accessed if it would in some way be embarrassing to their case or their cause. It is dangerous for an individual that "may" can be used in that way.

The noble Baroness gave the example of going in and coming out of a government building. When we get our new security system here, I would very much like to be able to demonstrate when I was on the premises and when I was not. It might be extremely important for my case for a defence of murder. If I happened to be on the premises and for some reason the government had decided not to record that fact, I might reasonably be upset. It also allows these things to be done "at the discretion", so if for some reason they did not want me know what was being done or who was looking at what I was doing it could be hidden. That is a very dangerous way of doing things. If we are going to have this record, it must be complete and open. Anything else really is too open to manipulation.

Photo of Lord Thomas of Gresford Lord Thomas of Gresford Shadow Attorney General, Law Officers (Constitutional Affairs), Advisory Team On Legal Matters, Non-Departmental & Cross Departmental Responsibilities

I follow the noble Lord, because I was going to ask that same question. Clause 14, on the provision of information to the individual or to a person authorised by the individual, does not appear to include Schedule 1(9). The noble Baroness has addressed us on the basis that a person would have a right to the information that is to be recorded under subsection (9). I thought that the whole point of subsection (9) was that the individual could not see who had been making inquiries or why or how or when. If the noble Baroness is telling us that somewhere in the Bill there is a power for an individual to see his own entry on these very important matters, I would be glad if she would point it out. If it is there somewhere else in the Bill, why is it not in Clause 14?

Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Spokesperson in the Lords (Id Cards & Charities Bill), Home Affairs

I do not know whether the noble Baroness would like to respond to those questions before I say my last piece? It might be helpful to the Committee.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

I simply remind the Committee that the whole of the Data Protection Act bites on this Bill. All the protections and all the opportunities to seek and ask for data under the procedures of the Data Protection Act prevail. The data are subject to access under Section 7 of the Data Protection Act. The £10 standard fee is subject only to the standard exemptions, and you will also be able to make free online checks of your own entry. Clause 14 is about verification by private organisations with the individual's consent. The data subject access provision is not in this Bill; it is in the Data Protection Act. We will still have the normal processes whereby, if an Act applies, we do not import the whole Act and recite it in the next Bill. The Data Protection Act applies in its full force and all its provisions apply here.

Photo of Lord Thomas of Gresford Lord Thomas of Gresford Shadow Attorney General, Law Officers (Constitutional Affairs), Advisory Team On Legal Matters, Non-Departmental & Cross Departmental Responsibilities

How can that be squared with Clause 14(2)? It says that:

"The only information about an individual that may be provided to a person under this section"— and that includes the individual himself—is as set out in paragraphs (a) to (h), which, for example, highlights paragraph 8 and other information in Schedule 1. Is the noble Baroness saying, "Forget all about Clause 14(2). The Data Protection Act allows you to see your own entry so that you can see who has been prying into your affairs, when and for what reason"? I do not believe that that is right. Surely the express terms of this clause must prevail over the Data Protection Act.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

I do not know whether the noble Lord was with us when we had an extensive debate about the basis upon which a third party is entitled to receive information. Clause 14 concerns the provision of information, with consent, to a third party. That is distinct from a data subject access request under Section 7 of the Data Protection Act, which relates specifically to the individual.

In my earlier answer, I tried to make it clear that Clause 14 is about verification by private organisations with the individual's consent. We had quite some debate about this issue during our previous day in Committee. I had hoped that we could accept that that was the case. I appreciate that the noble Lord may not have been present throughout but we debated that subject extensively on that occasion. That is why there is a distinction between that part of the Bill and the Data Protection Act, and I hope that I have been able to clarify that to the Committee's satisfaction.

Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Spokesperson in the Lords (Id Cards & Charities Bill), Home Affairs

I am most grateful to Members of the Committee who have contributed to this mini debate. It has been helpful and I am grateful for the noble Baroness's reply. This is a probing amendment and much has come out of our discussion. To some extent, I am satisfied by what the Minister says. However, some aspects of paragraph 9 have emerged very clearly during the past 37 minutes, and I agree with noble Lords who are anxious about the word "may" as opposed to "shall". We all heard the noble Baroness's explanation of that, but I share the view of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, and my noble friend Lord Thomas that it is not good enough to allow those who are maintaining the register to have absolute and unfettered discretion as to what they put in and what they leave out. As the noble Baroness said, paragraph 9(c) is as much for the benefit of the individual ID card holder as it is for those seeking paragraph 9 information, and I take that point. But, as I said, it cannot be right to allow a person charged with keeping the register to say, "It could be a bit embarrassing for X or Y if we put in the fact that that government department has been asking repeatedly over the past three years every three weeks for this category of information". We all need to think about this matter and come back to it on Report.

I do not intend to prolong this debate but I should be grateful if the noble Baroness could contemplate one issue hereafter.

It is important that if we retain sub-paragraph (c)—and I am persuaded that, if there is to be a paragraph (9), it is proper that that sub-paragraph should be there—the individual whose record in the register is searched under a paragraph (9) request, should know what information is sought. Clauses 19 and 20, and, indeed, Clause 14, are quite specific about the types of information that can be sought. It is important that that should be logged so that the card holder has some idea of what is going on.

I should add before withdrawing the amendment that the noble Baroness kept talking about "verification". I am not criticising her, but it would be more helpful to the House if she did not use that word because her reference to this part of the Bill was confined to outside agencies, authorities and commercial entities seeking "verification", which would be a much less intrusive exercise than seeking information. I think the noble Baroness would agree with me that although those clauses include a use of the register for verification, there is a much wider entitlement for public authorities and commercial organisations that have signed the necessary agreement with the Government to seek any information on the register except in paragraph (9), which is confined to certain cases. I am merely suggesting that the noble Baroness in confining her references to verification might conceivably be misleading herself as to the wider purport of these clauses. I am sure that she is not and I hope she will not mind me making that point.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management) 5:15, 12 December 2005

Certainly, I do not mind, but I do not agree with the noble Lord. In part, the answer is contrary to the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford. Clause 14(8) specifically states:

"The restrictions imposed by or under this section on the information that may be provided to a person do not affect any right apart from this Act for an individual to be provided with information about the contents of his entry in the Register".

So that specifically allows applications under the Data Protection Act without a limit being put.

Photo of Lord Thomas of Gresford Lord Thomas of Gresford Shadow Attorney General, Law Officers (Constitutional Affairs), Advisory Team On Legal Matters, Non-Departmental & Cross Departmental Responsibilities

I am grateful that the noble Baroness directly drew my attention to that. Will she, therefore, confirm that an individual has a right to see everything that is recorded under paragraph (9) of Schedule 1?

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

An individual has a right to see anything and everything that they are permitted to see as a result of the rights that they exercise under the Data Protection Act and this Bill.

Photo of Lord Thomas of Gresford Lord Thomas of Gresford Shadow Attorney General, Law Officers (Constitutional Affairs), Advisory Team On Legal Matters, Non-Departmental & Cross Departmental Responsibilities

That is not an answer to my question, because I asked about that paragraph. I do not want to have to delve into the Data Protection Act, I want to know whether that means that a person has a right to know who has inspected the entry, when it was inspected and for what reason.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

The noble Lord knows well that the reason I couched my answer in that way is that all rights are constrained by the legal framework imposed by the Data Protection Act and this Bill. My interpretation is that yes, you would have that right, but subject to the Data Protection Act exemptions. I am right to say that, instead of us having a whole dissertation of what the Data Protection Act states and all its exemptions.

Photo of Baroness Turner of Camden Baroness Turner of Camden Labour

Clause 14(1) states that the,

"application for the provision of information to that person is made . . . with the authority of the individual"; that is, before the information is provided, it looks as though the person concerned has the right to give authority, whereas, paragraph (9) on page 43 gives the impression that that would be after the event. Does the individual have a right to say "Yes" or "No" before the information is given?

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

Perhaps I can help my noble friend. Clause 14 deals with,

"Provision of information for verification or otherwise with consent".

That is precisely the situation that my noble friend has mentioned, where, for instance, one goes to a third party and the third party asks whether the person will agree to verification taking place and confirmation on the register; the person says "Yes"; and the third party is then able to approach that information on the register and the register is able to be used to verify the assertions made by the individual. That is why Clause 14 is phrased as it is, distinct from the issues that arise under Clause 9.

Photo of Lord Thomas of Gresford Lord Thomas of Gresford Shadow Attorney General, Law Officers (Constitutional Affairs), Advisory Team On Legal Matters, Non-Departmental & Cross Departmental Responsibilities

In case the noble Baroness is under a misapprehension following that answer, of course, under Clauses 19 and 20 applications may be made by public authorities, the police and the security services without the consent of a particular individual.

Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Spokesperson in the Lords (Id Cards & Charities Bill), Home Affairs

My only additional point is that later amendments deal explicitly with the right of an individual to have access to his or her entries on the register. Intentionally, therefore, I did not enlarge on that issue in this debate. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 1 agreed to.

[Amendment No. 97 not moved.]

[Amendment No. 97ZA, as an amendment to Amendment No. 97, not moved.]

Clause 4 [Designation of documents for purposes of registration etc.]:

Photo of Lord Peyton of Yeovil Lord Peyton of Yeovil Conservative

moved Amendment No. 97A:

Page 4, line 27, leave out paragraph (a).

Photo of Lord Peyton of Yeovil Lord Peyton of Yeovil Conservative

Amendment No. 97A leaves out the words,

"documents that a person has a power or duty to issue by virtue of provision made by or under an enactment".

One could say that those words are entirely innocent of any detail. They are very vague so I have tabled the amendment to explore the mind of the noble Baroness to see whether they can be improved. They could hardly be vaguer. I am starting to believe that vagueness in the language of the Home Office is a high cardinal virtue but not elsewhere. I should be very interested to see whether the noble Baroness is willing to change these words so that they mean something and provide some guidance. They caught my eye as being part of a very vague, massive parcel, which needs a lot of probing. I realise that the Government are becoming impatient and want to get on with the Bill, but I hope that they sympathise with the desire that is expressed quite briefly by Members on this side of the Chamber that some of it is very confusing and very vague indeed—unacceptably vague. I beg to move.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Spokespersons In the Lords, (Assisted By Shadow Law Officers)

Amendments Nos. 98 and 102A, in my name, are grouped with this amendment. I agree entirely with what has just been said by my noble friend Lord Peyton of Yeovil. Clause 4 gives the Secretary of State the power to use statutory instruments to designate documents. If a document becomes a designated document, anyone who applies for that document must also apply for an ID card unless he already has one. The operative term there is that he must apply for an ID card. The compulsion that exists in Clause 5(2)(a) is foreshadowed here. Clause 5(2) says that,

"Where an application to be issued with a designated document is made by an individual", that person must also apply to be entered on the national identity register. Paragraphs 35 and 36 of the Explanatory Notes give passports and residence permits as the only examples of what could be designated documents.

My Amendment No. 98 would limit designation to passports alone. Amendment No. 102A gives a list of documents that we say must not become designated documents by statutory instrument. The list could have been much longer, but it is simply a sample of documents to ask the Government what they intend should become designated. We refer simply to driving licences, national health cards, marriage certificates, registration of civil partnerships, documents relating to state retirement pensions and the Criminal Records Bureau disclosure numbers.

In debates in this House and in another place, the Government have said time and time again that, during the initial period of operation of the register, it will be voluntary to have an ID card. We believe that the reality is very different. As soon as any document is designated, it will be compulsory to have an ID card. We believe that that is compulsion by stealth and it is a theme we will pursue in great depth as we reach Clause 5. I shall not therefore go into too much detail now.

My amendments in this group would not remove compulsion—we look at that in Amendment No. 103 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, but they would at least confine the designation of documents to passports. Why should the Government wish to designate any of the other documents if they are genuine about their claim that the initial period is supposed to be voluntary?

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, and the noble Lord, Lord Peyton, for moving these probing amendments. I need to make clear yet again that the identity card scheme is being designed as, and is intended to become, a compulsory scheme. There is therefore no stealth about it. We have been saying that since 2001—

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Spokespersons In the Lords, (Assisted By Shadow Law Officers)

I do not contend against the noble Baroness on that. My argument throughout has been that the Government have said that the initial period is supposed to be voluntary. We say that that is the compulsion by stealth, because even in the initial period it will be compulsory to register for an ID card in a wide variety of circumstances.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

I understand what the noble Baroness says. However, in a system that has been designed from the outset to be compulsory—it has been said that we will introduce it in stages, but always within the context of a compulsory scheme—it is difficult to see what is stealth-like about that. It has been very open.

In order to phase in the introduction of ID cards and avoid any big-bang move to compulsion, it has always been our intention that certain documents would be designated under Clause 4. When an individual applies, either on a first-time basis or on a renewal, for one of these documents, they will be entered on the national identity register and issued with an ID card. We have specified that we intend initially to designate passports and residence permits and other immigration documents so that resident British nationals and foreign nationals are entered on the register and issued with ID cards. Amendment No. 98 would limit the designated documents to passports only, which would prevent us from capturing any resident foreign nationals before compulsion. Amendment No. 97A, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Peyton of Yeovil, seeks to remove Clause 4(2)(a) and allow only documents issued by a Minister of the Crown.

On the other hand, Amendment No. 102A would specifically preclude the Government designating several documents, including driving licences, national health cards or Criminal Records Bureau disclosures. I understand what the noble Baroness intends, but I do not understand why she includes passports but not residence permits. They capture people who are resident here, and I would have thought that the noble Baroness would want them included. I understand that she is trying to differentiate between that document and driving licences, but the two go easily together. I do not understand the logic of including one and not the other, particularly in relation to long-term residents who may not be British citizens, but who are, to all intents and purposes, resident in this country for the foreseeable future.

We think that it does not make sense to deprive the Immigration and Nationality Directorate of the benefits that the ID card system could bring until the move to compulsion. Therefore, we will resist any amendment designed to limit our ability to capture this information on the register. At this stage of the development of the scheme, it is our intention that only passports and residence permits will be designated. However, it is right that we retain the flexibility to designate other documents as the scheme progresses, if it becomes apparent that other benefits could be achieved from capturing applicants for other documents.

We would not wish to include in the Bill a list of documents that we could designate, as we would eventually have to designate all the documents we list, and further investigation during the development of the scheme might prove that there is no benefit in designating a particular document. For that reason, we think that the way in which we have phrased the provision is the more appropriate approach.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Spokespersons In the Lords, (Assisted By Shadow Law Officers) 5:30, 12 December 2005

Having listened to the Minister's response, it may be helpful if I say that I have my own reasons for not including residence permits in my probing amendment. I have no problem with the answer she gave on that. We may not like her answer, but my noble friend Lady Seccombe has just informed me that the manner in which the Minister has gone into such helpful detail means that she will not now need to move Amendment No. 99.

Photo of Lord Peyton of Yeovil Lord Peyton of Yeovil Conservative

I am grateful to the Minister, but I am not quite sure what I am grateful for. I did not intend to press my amendment to a vote, as it is silly to ask to leave the words out, but the purpose of my amendment was to ask what they mean and whether it would be possible to improve on them. The Minister may find herself, following the lead of her department, entirely wedded to the principle of vagueness, in which case the words are very satisfactory. I am prepared to give way to the Minister if she will say a word about my amendment.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

I apologise if the noble Lord does not feel that I did justice to his amendment, because I am anxious to do so. Clause 4(2)(a) covers documents issued under a statutory power, either by a Minister or by some other person with statutory authority. Clause 4(2)(b) is designed to cover documents issued by Ministers under prerogative powers, such as passports. The short answer is that the clause is not vague; it is precise in order to capture those two different entities. I hope the noble Lord is reassured.

Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Spokesperson in the Lords (Id Cards & Charities Bill), Home Affairs

Although not vague, Clause 4(2) covers a wide range of bodies. I believe I am right in thinking that television licences would come within it, as well as practising certificates for solicitors and bookies' licences.

Photo of Lord Peyton of Yeovil Lord Peyton of Yeovil Conservative

I think we have now abolished dog licences, but I take the point that the noble Lord has raised. I do not wish to delay the Committee, but the Minister's claim that the words I quoted had anything precise about them was stretching language too far.

It never occurred to me to accuse the Government of stealth in this matter. As guileless and innocent as I am, I was never so simple-minded as to believe that the Government would not eventually wish to make this scheme compulsory. That was clear to me at all times. I suspected, and I still suspect, that the Government thought that they might as well get the clamour over. They rightly foresaw that the Bill would not be to everybody's taste, and therefore they decided to sweeten it, to put a bit of sugar on the pill so that everyone could swallow it more or less comfortably. Then, by the time they come to make it compulsory, the most powerful weapon they have—boring everybody, wearying everybody and tiring them out—will have had a chance to take effect. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 98 and 99 not moved.]

[Amendment No. 100 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Spokespersons In the Lords, (Assisted By Shadow Law Officers)

moved Amendment No. 101:

Page 4, line 35, at end insert—

"( ) No United Kingdom citizen may be subject to any charge or civil or criminal penalty, arising from his refusal to surrender any lawfully held document issued by a Minister of the Crown or Northern Ireland department or any other person authorised by them, if a purpose of requiring its surrender is to replace it, or require its replacement, by the issue of a document designated under this Act, if that person does not wish to participate in an identity card scheme or Register, unless that identity card scheme has been made compulsory for all United Kingdom citizens over the age of 18."

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Spokespersons In the Lords, (Assisted By Shadow Law Officers)

In moving Amendment No. 101, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 102, 147, 148 and 150, in my name. Amendments Nos. 145 and 146 were originally in this group, but they have been degrouped with my consent and will be dealt with later.

As ever, I agree entirely with my noble friend Lord Peyton of Yeovil. Like him, I was not so guileless as to believe that this scheme is not intended to be compulsory overall. My noble friend is right that the Government have made clear their ultimate objective: to force all of us to have ID cards. In the beginning, we were not clear about what kind of scheme it is, with its mammoth register and all the difficulties involved in that. The public, who I am sure all avidly read the Labour Party manifesto, would not have believed that, because it said:

"We will introduce ID cards, including biometric data like fingerprints, backed up by a national register and rolling out initially on a voluntary basis as people renew their passports".

The Minister has made it clear that when the Government use the word "voluntary" they mean "compulsory". In that case, I have to look at the Bill in a different way. I am sure we will have full debates on that issue when we come to Clauses 5, 6 and 7.

My amendments are modest. Amendment No. 101 would protect United Kingdom citizens from being forced to suffer any penalty if they refused to surrender to a Minister of the Crown or a Northern Ireland department any document that they hold lawfully, provided that the purpose of the demand for the surrender of that document arose out of the Government's determination to replace it with a designated document that would carry with it a requirement for the person to apply to be entered on the national identity register and thereby to have an ID card, according to the Bill. They would be subject to a penalty only after the scheme has been made compulsory—the Government would say "fully compulsory"—for all by the super-affirmative process.

Amendment No. 102 goes further and establishes that somebody who has to apply for a new document that is a designated document for the purposes of the Bill cannot be forced to have an ID card unless certain conditions are met. They are that the person has stated in writing that he wants to have an ID card, or that the scheme has been made compulsory for everybody over the age of 18.

Amendment No. 147 removes the distinction in Clause 8(6) between an application for an ID card and an application to be entered on, or to confirm an entry on, the national identity register. We believe that people should be given the opportunity to refuse to have an ID card in the initial period, the so-called "voluntary period", even if they are entered on the register.

Amendments Nos. 148 and 150 knock out more of the compulsion by stealth in the voluntary period. They remove subsections that force one to apply for an ID card when one applies for a designated document. I believe that my amendments are entirely in line with the commitment in the Labour Party manifesto. Therefore, I have high hopes that the Minister will want to adopt them. I beg to move.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

Amendments Nos. 101 and 102 seek to remove the link; I understand that. Amendments Nos. 148 and 150 seek the same regarding applications for the issue of ID cards.

The Government do not intend to make an individual surrender a lawfully held document to obtain a replacement document that has been designated. The intention is that, for example in the case of passports, an individual will renew his passport after designation when it is due to expire and will be issued with an ID card. There will be no need to surrender a still-valid passport to be issued with an ID card. That makes Amendment No. 101 unnecessary. I hope I have been able to reassure the noble Baroness about that. We have always been clear that linking registration and ID cards to the issue of the designated documents is a central part of the scheme. No one is forced to obtain a British passport and to travel abroad, nor are foreign nationals forced to come here and obtain residence permits.

However, once designation is implemented, there will be no opt-in: either the individual renews the designated document and is entered on to the register and issued with an ID card, or he decides not to apply for one, as he is free to do until compulsion is introduced. Amendment No. 102, which requires the applicant to consent to the entry on to the register, is therefore not necessary. In addition, Amendment No. 148, which seeks the consent of an individual to be issued with an identity card via a designated document authority, is also not necessary.

Amendment No. 150 would not allow an individual to apply for an ID card via a designated document authority without an application for the designated document. If it is convenient for an individual to make an application for his ID card in that way, I do not see any reason to preclude him doing so. The designated document authority could process the application in the same way, and it is irrelevant to the ID card scheme whether a designated document is issued at the same time.

Amendment No. 147 would remove the distinction in Clause 8(6) between an application for an ID card and an application to be entered in, or to confirm an entry on, the register. An application for an identity card can normally be made only in conjunction with an application to be entered in, or to confirm an entry on, the register, which may or may not be in conjunction with applying for a designated document. However, there is good reason for drafting Clause 8(6) in this way. It reflects the structure of the legislation as a whole, which deals with the entry into the register and the issue of ID cards separately. It would not be open to an individual applying to be entered on to the register to opt not to have an ID card, but there are circumstances in which a person may be entered on the register but not provided with an ID card. Clause 8(4) gives power to prescribe cases in which a person need not be issued with an ID card, notwithstanding that he is entitled to be, and is in fact, registered. Clause 8(5) conversely allows an ID card to be issued to someone who is not entitled to register but about whom facts are recorded on the register. In practice, an application to be registered and an application for an ID card will probably be made on a combined form.

However, it is right that for the purposes of this legislation the two are recognised as separate applications. There may be cases where it is appropriate to enter someone on the register but not issue them with a card, or to issue a card to someone not entitled to be registered. I hope that that explains to the noble Baroness's satisfaction why we think this way forward is appropriate and why we believe that, until the scheme becomes compulsory, there is an opportunity for choice.

Photo of Baroness Carnegy of Lour Baroness Carnegy of Lour Conservative 5:45, 12 December 2005

Would it not be more honest of the Government to stop talking about the scheme being voluntary at the moment? People are saying to me, "I do not worry about identity cards; it is voluntary for the time being. It may never become compulsory". Would it not be more honest to say, "It is compulsory if you want to have a passport"? That would be much more honest. It is not voluntary at all if you want to have a passport. I think that that double-speak is doing a lot of damage and, in the long run, will make people less trusting of the whole scheme.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

I hear what the noble Baroness says, but at the moment if one has a passport, or has only recently obtained a passport, it will last for 10 years. Therefore, throughout that period you will not have to even think about the issue, unless you specifically want, for your own purposes, to become additionally registered so that you can get an ID card and just use it to go to Europe. Many people—and I am sure that the noble Baroness has had this said to her—cannot wait for that to happen because they think that it will be very useful and helpful, and they want it for their everyday lives.

But those of us who have a passport which is likely to last a long time—say, for the next 10 years—and anyone who gets a biometric passport, say, next April, and that lasts for 10 years, will have to decide, until the scheme becomes compulsory, whether they want to continue with that. Many will fall within that category.

If one has to apply for a passport later, once the designated documents are used—you will get a combined ID card and passport—and you choose not to use your ID card but only to use your passport, that is a matter for you. We have made clear in the Bill that you do not have to carry an ID card with you, you will not have to produce it to anyone and it will not therefore be used as an identity card which has to be produced for any specific purpose. So it enables us to set up the system in a way that is perfectly proper but which retains an opportunity for people to voluntarily apply for an ID card if they still have a current passport, or if they do not want to take advantage of this they do not have to have a passport. It is a choice we all have even now.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Spokespersons In the Lords, (Assisted By Shadow Law Officers)

Until my noble friend Lady Carnegy's intervention, I was going to be a lot kinder in my response than I now have to be, because I think that my noble friend has elicited from the Minister a very worrying attempt at reassurance. The Minister tells us that we do not need to be concerned if we have—as I have—a passport renewed only within the last year because renewal is something way off in the future that I do not have to worry about.

The fact is that on 15 November in this House, as reported at col. 994, the Minister estimated that, by restricting the scheme to passport designation, by the time—if this Government were still in power—they wished to move to the full period of compulsion, 85 per cent of the population would already be on the national identity register. That does not square with the reassurance that she has just tried to give my noble friend. We will need to debate that point at length in other groups of amendments because it goes to the very heart of the reservations some of us have about this scheme.

I will return to the part where I was going to accept some reassurances—if I can reassure the Minister on that. The Minister gave a very careful and detailed response to my amendments, for which I am grateful. She gave an assurance with regard to Amendment No. 101 in particular, which I will read extremely carefully in Hansard. But I took it that I could be assured that the Government will not require the surrender of a document in order to engineer the issue of a designated document. The noble Baroness nods her head. In that case, I shall want to talk to my noble friends who are speaking to the Road Safety Bill because, as I understand it, when we divided recently in this House to remove Clauses 29 and 30 from that Bill, it was to ensure that the very assurance that the Minister has just given us was enshrined within that Bill for driving licences. The assurance that the noble Baroness has given the Committee today on Amendment No. 101 may well mean that the Government will not seek to overturn the decision of this House to remove Clauses 29 and 30 of the Road Safety Bill. For today, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 102 and 102A not moved.]

On Question, Whether Clause 4 shall stand part of the Bill?

Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Spokesperson in the Lords (Id Cards & Charities Bill), Home Affairs

I oppose the Question that Clause 4 stand part of the Bill. I do not intend to speak at length, but it is worth drawing together a few strands of the debate so far. Clause 4 is particularly troublesome, as has been made clear from our debate on the amendments moved to it. As the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, said, it is a back-door means of introducing compulsion of the identity card. Those Members of the Committee dead against a compulsory card are inclined to be dead against Clause 4. As was just said, at Second Reading the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland, said that making passports a designated document would bring in roughly 85 per cent of the adult population.

For the purposes of bringing it in or for designating documents which would have the effect of compulsion, Clause 4 does not have the super-affirmative procedure that other parts of the Bill have—Clause 6, in particular. We must also consider that the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee took up the fact that at Second Reading it was stated that,

"documents issued by private bodies".—[Hansard, 31/10/05; col. 114.]

could not be designated documents for the purpose of Clause 4. It has been clear from this afternoon's discussion that that is not so. Most people would consider the Law Society to be a private body, but for the purposes of issuing solicitors' practising certificates, it acts in pursuance of statutory powers and, for that purpose, is a public authority and within the ambit of Clause 4. There are many examples of what the man in the street would consider a private body having such powers. It is the very breadth of the clause that is one of its unacceptable features.

The powers and duties of the designated document authority are also troublesome. Clause 10 lists the functions of persons issuing designated documents. They are extremely wide. They have wide competence; they have the right to revoke designated documents and, hence, the ID cards that go with them; they have the right to require surrender of the same. One wonders just what sort of supervision of those designated bodies the Government propose, because there is little in the Bill. I suppose that they will rely on the fact that the Secretary of State can enter negotiations with a designated document authority, but that is another aspect of the whole designation procedure that we—and I think that I can speak for the Conservative Benches—find completely unacceptable. Clause 10 can be brought into effect under the negative procedure, which is worse still.

Finally, the Joint Committee on Human Rights, in its report of 17 October, chose to draw the House's attention to the provisions of Clause 4 in relation to Clause 10. In effect, it issued a warning to us. Briefly, and because there is a will on the part of many here to resist compulsion, there is a sense that Clause 4 should not stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Lord Peyton of Yeovil Lord Peyton of Yeovil Conservative

Briefly, I say again that I find the vagueness of the clause unacceptable. It begins with the words:

"The Secretary of State may by order".

I sympathise with the noble Baroness that she should have the considerable burden of putting through your Lordships' House a Bill of such vagueness, which provokes real suspicion and hostility. With my sympathy to the noble Baroness, which is not entirely consistent with crocodile tears, I express a slight note of regret that the intending Secretary of State, the present noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, has not seen fit to put in much of an appearance or show his energetic and enthusiastic support, or his eternal gratitude to the noble Baroness for the burden that she has carried.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Spokespersons In the Lords, (Assisted By Shadow Law Officers)

My name has been joined with that of the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, in raising a debate on clause stand part. The noble Lord and I have not always agreed on every aspect of legislation, so when he says that he thinks that he can speak for the Conservatives, some might be surprised. On this occasion, I stand four-square behind everything that he said about the Question whether the clause shall stand part.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

I reassure the noble Lord, Lord Peyton of Yeovil, that this is a Home Office Bill. I know that he always desires to have my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor by my side, but, on this one, to put it colloquially, I am sailing or flying solo. I am quite happy to carry that burden and the noble Lord should not feel that it is too great for me.

Clause 4 provides a mechanism for individuals to apply for an ID card. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, is antipathetic to the Bill. I know that his party would prefer the Bill not to exist. I know that he would prefer there not to be ID cards. They have been a major part of the Government's agenda for some time. As I said earlier, we have been dealing with the issue, Clause 4 being an integral part of that agenda, since 2001–02. We have been open about the policy. Indeed, the Committee will well remember that it was very much part of the case that was put to the country, with which the public seem to be in tune and which they support, not least by virtue of the fact that they voted with their hearts and their judgment by returning this Government.

Clause 4 is key to delivery of the identity cards scheme, because it provides a mechanism by which individuals can be brought into the scheme. An application for a designated document will, in effect, trigger an application for an ID card. The issuing procedures are set out in detail in Clause 8, but the designation of the document must precede any of those procedures where the ID card is issued together with, or as part of, the designated document. So a standalone card could be issued by the Secretary of State under Clause 8 without any documents being designated.

The advantages of proceeding like this are that there are already established processes for issuing documents like passports and residence permits, which will form the basis of the work of the ID cards delivery agency. We know already that biometric data will have to be included on our passports next year, albeit that, first, the facial identifiers will primarily be used. So biometric passports are coming anyway. Rollout will be incremental as people come to apply for or renew documents or, in the case of foreign nationals, arrive to stay in the United Kingdom for more than three months. The problems associated with dealing with this introduction in any other way can be minimised by good management. This will allow us to manage it well.

As I have indicated already, we intend to provide the facility for people to apply for standalone ID cards if they do not need or want a passport—some people do not want to travel anywhere other than Europe and, therefore, would prefer to have an ID card—or if they have received a passport shortly before the scheme starts and would like an ID card as a convenient way of proving identity.

It is important to bear in mind that the Bill does not designate any documents. It gives the power to designate documents by order—a process which requires approval from both Houses subject to affirmative resolution procedure. It is also important that the only documents that can be designated are those which are issued with statutory authority or which a Minister of the Crown or Northern Ireland department is authorised or required to issue. Of course, I hear what the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, says in relation to the Law Society and others which have been designated.

Indeed, the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee has commented in its report on the Bill that the power to designate documents which are issued under a statutory power, but not by Ministers, is potentially very wide—a point that was also made by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips. If we limit the power to documents issued by Ministers, we would not be able to designate documents such as firearms certificates issued by chief officers of police or documents issued under a statutory power by a private agency. Having said that, I must make it clear that we have no current intention to designate those documents and we are giving very careful consideration to whether we should limit the power of designation as suggested by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee.

I have been as clear as I can in speaking to the amendments in relation to Clause 4 so that I can assist the Committee to understand the ambit of the designated documents about which we are directly speaking. With that, I hope that Members of the Committee will feel content to allow this clause to stand part of the Bill. We will give careful consideration to the comments made by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee.

Photo of The Earl of Onslow The Earl of Onslow Conservative 6:00, 12 December 2005

The noble Baroness gave a wonderful Freudian slip. She listed a number of documents and said, "We have absolutely no power of designating them". But then she takes the power to designate them. Those of us on this side of the House who care about civil liberties find that desperately frightening and unattractive. I wish that the Government could understand that.

When the noble Baroness says that the electorate elected her, of course that is right; I do not mean the noble Baroness, nor me—but I draw her attention to the fact that I have slightly more electors than she does, arcane though they may be. I am dredging a quotation up from the back of my mind, which goes, "Those who ring the bells will wring their hands later". That is what I suspect will happen with the public over this Bill. This Government will not be here to reap the whirlwind or whatever you do from dragon's teeth. I am afraid that all one can say is that.

Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Spokesperson in the Lords (Id Cards & Charities Bill), Home Affairs

I am grateful to the noble Baroness. I am mildly pleased that the Government will consider the recommendations of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, which could be helpful. There is obviously a very big debate, which I tried not to have, so I will not be provoked by the noble Baroness's remarks on the manifesto commitments and all that. However, I cannot resist touching on her reference to firearms certificates. Of course, a wonderful example of a catatonic failure—if one could call it that—is the failure over many years to have a national register that gives details of all firearms certificates. If we cannot manage that—a few tens of thousands of certificates—one begins to reasonably wonder how on earth we can manage this uniquely gargantuan central state register.

The noble Baroness made a good point about passports. Why in heaven's name can we not be done with 85 per cent of the population holding passports and the other 15 per cent, if they want, having a document that carries the same information as passports and that is it? There would be no need for a central register or for £20 billion of expenditure and we would all be happy.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5 [Applications relating to entries in Register]:

[Amendment No. 103 not moved.]

[Amendment No. 104 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Photo of The Earl of Northesk The Earl of Northesk Conservative

moved Amendment No. 105:

Page 5, line 19, leave out paragraph (a).

Photo of The Earl of Northesk The Earl of Northesk Conservative

In moving Amendment No. 105, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 106, 168, 169 and 170. We return to the vexed issue of "convenience", which provoked a fair amount of discussion on our first day in Committee. Amendments Nos. 105 and 169 propose the deletion of the words,

"to attend at a specified place and time", from Clauses 5 and 12 respectively. In our earlier debates, it was established via the text in Clause 1(3)(a) that the national identity register and its associated ID cards are intended to provide a convenient method whereby individuals can prove their identity. As the Minister commented, the utility of the word "convenient" is that:

"It can be used as a template or mirror against which many of the provisions will be viewed".—[Hansard, 15/11/05; col. 1059.]

If that is tested against the possible requirement for an individual,

"to attend at a specified place and time", in order to submit his details for entry on the register, inconvenience rather than convenience comes to mind.

We all lead increasingly busy lives. Individuals have lifestyle commitments, both work-related and leisure-related, which are not always easy to work around. An obvious example would be night-shift workers. Accordingly, the current drafting implies an overly prescriptive and burdensome obligation, both physically and financially. The wider context of that is important. The manifesto states unequivocally that it is the intention that the scheme should be voluntary—at least initially. Up to a point that has been the Government's chosen mechanism for achieving public acceptance of it. But if individuals are effectively to be dragooned to turn up at an enrolment centre in a place and at a time that may be inconvenient, resentment towards the scheme could surface very quickly, which is an outcome that I am sure the Government would rather avoid.

My other amendments in the group all pursue the same theme. They aim to make it plain that the enrolment and updating processes should be designed for the convenience of the applicant for an ID card rather than for the convenience of the Government. Amendments Nos. 106 and 170 seek to insert the words printed on the Marshalled List, so that the paragraph would read,

"to attend at his convenience at a specified place and time".

Amendment No. 168 proposes that notification of changes to an individual's registrable facts on the database should be made within "a reasonable" rather than "the prescribed" period. Perhaps, ideally, the "prescribed" period—say, 30 days—should be explicitly stated in the Bill.

Nevertheless, there is a thematic point to be made. As already observed, the Government intend the scheme to be convenient for the individual. That being so, arbitrary time limits to circumscribe individual behaviour are inappropriate, the more so because of the stiff penalties for non-compliance. In those circumstances, notifications by individuals within a reasonable period would be proportionate.

I would be grateful too if, when she comes to reply, the Minister clarifies the Government's current thinking on the enrolment process. For example, is it intended that there will be dedicated enrolment centres? If so, how many? What would be their opening times? Would any of them be mobile to serve rural communities? As she commented on our first day, the word "convenient",

"emphasises the kind of value that we wish to add to these provisions".—[Hansard, 15/11/05; col. 1055.]

This implies that the Government are well seized of the necessity of ensuring that the interface between the national identity register and individual citizens should have adequate levels of flexibility to afford those applying for an ID card with appropriate degrees of convenience. I hope very much, therefore, that the Minister is in a position to demonstrate that such "added value" is at the forefront of the Government's mind so far as concerns the enrolment process. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Crickhowell Lord Crickhowell Conservative

This is an important group of amendments. I have added my name to Amendments Nos. 105 and 106, and tabled separately Amendments Nos. 107, 152 to 154 and 160. The current wording in the Bill is pretty extraordinary. Amendments Nos. 105 to 109 refer to the voluntary stage in the proceedings for anyone who wishes to apply for an ID card. Amendments Nos. 152 to 154 address the scheme when it later becomes compulsory. Under both clauses, the Bill states that the Secretary of State may "require" the applicant to do a number of things as he "thinks fit". Among the things that the Secretary of State may think it fit to require the applicant to do is to,

"attend at a specified place and time".

I am not aware of any other piece of legislation that places a legal requirement on the individual to attend at a "specified place and time", whether or not it is convenient or practical for him to do so. In those circumstances, I think we are entitled to lay down certain basic requirements and to get a great deal more information out of the Government.

Like those tabled by my noble friend, my amendments refer to "convenience". For example, Amendment No. 107 would replace the words,

"at a specified place and time", with,

"as may be reasonably practical and convenient at an approved place for registration within a specified time".

Amendment No. 160 goes much further. It provides that before we give the Government the go-ahead on the scheme, we should be told very much more about their plans. It would require the Government to produce a report for Parliament detailing the arrangements to be made and for those arrangements to be approved by Parliament before the scheme can go ahead.

Surely no one can doubt that getting the whole thing under way on the basis of public acceptability is very important. Earlier today I quoted from a report prepared by several technical experts. They comment that:

"Fast successful, reliable and above all accessible enrolment procedures are vital to gain public acceptance of a National Identity Register—and indeed the whole national ID card scheme. In Hong Kong, generally recognised as having a very advanced and successful biometric identity scheme, enrolment takes approximately 20 minutes".

But Hong Kong has certain advantages. It covers a relatively small area. Those of us who live in the remoter parts of the countryside think that things here may not be so easy. The report goes on:

"In Egypt, with its more diverse and scattered population, three types of enrolment are used: static enrolment stations in buildings, portable stations that could be taken to outside locations such as old people's homes and mobile stations to cover remote areas. In the UK it is similarly important that the enrolment and authentication process should be designed to cater for all sections of society, particularly those with special needs".

The Government must have gone into this in some detail because their published regulatory impact assessment and the letter circulated by the noble Baroness both state that the costings produced so far include the costs of setting up the places at which registration is to take place. Significantly, however, the costings do not include the costs applicable to the Foreign Office, embassies and consular posts. I have referred to this on previous occasions and I shall refrain from further comment until we reach the debate to be held later when we return to the question of costs.

One further aspect ought to be borne in mind when considering this issue: the question of staffing. Again, the report comments:

"The security of a system is only as good as the personnel who run it. Strict vetting procedures need to be put in place to ensure that personnel at all stages of the system are honest, aware of what to do in the event of uncovering criminal activity and always operate according to whatever process and procedures are brought in to mastermind the security of the system".

The report goes on to set out further detailed comments on those matters, and states that,

"without expert management and supervision", all the technological gimmicks that are produced will be "of little use". We are dealing here with the importance of providing convenient places for the public which are properly and efficiently managed to deal with the security aspects at costs that are reasonable not only in this country, as I have pointed out, but also in Foreign Office bases around the world. People lose their passports and they have to be replaced, as happened to me on one occasion. I think that we are entitled to some pretty detailed information about these arrangements before we give the scheme the go-ahead.

At the back of my mind I have a memory that, at some point in our proceedings, either the noble Baroness or the noble Lord on the Front Bench beside her referred to the provision of something like 70 enrolment centres. However, I may not have that right. If it is to be 70 enrolment centres, let us look at what we are talking about. Even if only a handful are set up in London, where the public transport system is very good, and just one or two in each of the major cities, the numerical score would still drop down quite quickly. What will people do in Scotland? It is no good saying to those living in the remoter areas that there is a centre in Inverness, let alone to those who live in the outer isles. It would not do any good to tell my former constituents around St David's that they have to go to Carmarthen, Swansea or even Cardiff. My home is in Powys and I am not sure where I would have to go. In order to provide adequate cover, there will have to be to be a lot of centres, some of which will have to be mobile.

Similarly, what are we going to do about those who are handicapped in one way or another and therefore cannot travel on public transport, but need access just the same to an identity card centre?

Photo of The Earl of Onslow The Earl of Onslow Conservative 6:15, 12 December 2005

If, as my noble friend has pointed out, there are to be only 70 registration centres and the population of this country is nearly 60 million—and assuming a 60 per cent take up, including children—that means that each centre will have a client base of three-quarters of a million people. Is this cloud cuckoo land or is this cloud cuckoo land?

Photo of Lord Crickhowell Lord Crickhowell Conservative

As I said, I may be wrong about the number. The Minister may leap to his feet and say that I have got it totally wrong and there will be 700, with an army of people going out in mobile units visiting old people's homes, and that all will be simply marvellous. All I am saying is, whatever the good intentions of the Government, we have learnt enough about their performance in such matters—indeed, in their handling of the Bill—not to have total confidence in them, particularly as they will not give us any serious facts about the costs. Again, I will not jump ahead to a debate, but we have had the letter which the noble Baroness has circulated, not by e-mail but by mail—I am sorry that her instructions were not carried out by her department because I would have had the entire weekend to examine it in further detail—and it is quite clear that the arguments advanced in it on the costs question are largely specious. Therefore I am even more suspicious when they tell me, "We have costed the provision of these arrangements for ensuring that people are registered".

I support my noble friend's amendment. Unless I get a very good answer, I shall be inclined to press later my Amendment No. 160, which requires that there should be a report to Parliament and that Parliament should be allowed to judge the adequacy of the Government's arrangements before the scheme goes ahead.

Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Spokesperson in the Lords (Id Cards & Charities Bill), Home Affairs

I have three amendments in this group—Amendment No. 108, Amendment No. 155, which deals with the same arrangements in Clause 9, and Amendment No. 170A, which deals with the same arrangements in Clause 12. I cannot add anything useful to what has been said already by the noble Lords who have spoken to Amendments Nos. 106 and 107. I prefer the wording of the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, to my own. If I had seen it when I sat down to prepare them I would have withheld my pen.

As to the amendment moved by the noble Earl, Lord Northesk, to require someone to attend at a specified place and time "at his convenience" might be taking things slightly too far the other way. It could lead to a lot of argy-bargy when someone says that it is not convenient for him to attend for the next three months.

There are many problems with a scheme of this sort, which is—I must stop saying this—in world terms, a first. It seeks to establish a national register of everybody and involves everybody being interviewed before they can get an identity card and so on. One of the problems is that it gives rise to such bureaucratic problems that one ends up having to take short cuts with what one might call our normal way of doing things. It surely must be right that the requirement to attend for an interview should be subject to the particulars of the person concerned—for instance, you may be dealing with an old woman who is ill, or a silly old man who is ill, or a silly young man without a motor car. One can think of so many circumstances where, unless there was some reasonable qualification of the requirement, people could be put into the position where, under Clause 33—this is the other point—they would be subject to an automatic penalty. Officials are not even required under the Bill to inquire of the person who failed to attend an interview why he or she failed to attend. They are not required to give notice of the intention to impose a penalty, they simply impose it. If you then say, "Oh hang on, I had a heart attack the day before", they do not say, "Oh well, that's all right, you can appeal to the county court". No, they go one better than that: they say that the Secretary of State can then cancel the penalty. That is jolly good of him but, under our system, we do not impose penalties of up to £2,500 on people before we ask them the circumstances giving rise to the failure.

Anyhow, enough is enough. I hope the noble Baroness will see the force of this very basic piece of British manners and allow one of these amendments.

Photo of The Earl of Onslow The Earl of Onslow Conservative

It is made worse by the fact that it will be a civil penalty. Presumably the burden of proof will be on the balance of probability or be fined 2,500 quid. When people stood around a small place called Runnymede they did not expect their government to behave like that, but it is not unsurprising with this Government.

Photo of Lord Monson Lord Monson Crossbench

I have not taken much part in our deliberations on the Bill so far, mainly because the attacks mounted upon the Bill by noble Lords on the two Opposition Benches have been so effective that there is very little one can add. However, mere silence should not indicate acquiescence in what the Government propose. The changes—or perhaps one should say the ameliorations—proposed in this group of amendments are particularly necessary in a free society such as ours. I trust that if the Government refuse to give way today, these amendments—or some of them—will be pressed to a Division at Report stage.

Photo of Baroness Carnegy of Lour Baroness Carnegy of Lour Conservative

This part of the Bill has to change. Again I draw the attention of the Committee to how the whole procedure will look to individual citizens. Once the scheme becomes compulsory, we simply must not tell people that they have got to be at a certain place at a certain time or there will be a penalty. Surely it will be possible to write to people and say, "By a given date, everybody has got to have an ID card. You have not got one yet, so you require one. There are a series of centres. The ones nearest to where you live are . . . Will you please make an appointment to attend?"

We are not talking about everybody; we are talking about 20 per cent because the others will have done so already. It is absolutely essential that this should be done properly but, as far as I can see, it is not allowed for in the Bill. The Minister will have to consider this problem and get into the shoes of people in the future—when, alas, she probably will not be the Minister and will not be answerable; someone quite different will be answerable—and think how this is going to look. It is something we simply cannot ask people to do and this part of the Bill has to change.

Photo of Lord Crickhowell Lord Crickhowell Conservative

I thank my noble friend for giving way. She is wrong on one point: that there will be only 20 per cent. I think she is referring to the compulsory stage of the Bill on the assumption that it follows on for the people who have dealt with the passport applications and so on. I think I am right in saying that the first part of the scheme will apply as soon the Bill becomes law and that, therefore, people may be required to go to these places to get their identity cards when there are far fewer than the 20 per cent suggested by my noble friend.

Photo of Baroness Carnegy of Lour Baroness Carnegy of Lour Conservative

My noble friend is absolutely right. At least then people will want to get a passport, I take it—unless I misunderstand—or will want an identity card. They can, I suppose, put it off, but if it is compulsory to come at a certain time or miss out on the whole system—this is my point—it will make it worse. But of course my noble friend is right.

Photo of Lord Thomas of Gresford Lord Thomas of Gresford Shadow Attorney General, Law Officers (Constitutional Affairs), Advisory Team On Legal Matters, Non-Departmental & Cross Departmental Responsibilities

Let us not think of this as a one-off application. Clause 12 states that if there is a change of circumstances affecting the information recorded about a person in the register, you are then subject to a requirement to notify. You may then be required to attend at a specified place and time for your fingerprints to be taken again; for your biometric information to be taken and recorded; for you to be photographed; and to provide any information that is required by the Secretary of State.

What are these circumstances? Any change of name. You would have to do that if you wanted to change your name on marriage. If you changed your address, you would have to give notice; if you changed your work number; if you acquired a designated document—and I go back to the debate we had on that.

One of the virtues of the identity card scheme, it is said by the Government, is that it prevents benefit fraud. One has to assume that if you draw benefit and you obtain a document to entitle you to draw benefit, with numbers on it, that is one of the documents that will be designated under Clause 4(2)(b). There will be a change of circumstance when you apply for benefit and when you cease to be entitled to benefit. A dog licence could become a designated document under subsection (2)(a)—it is a change of circumstance. Every change of circumstance which may happen once, twice or three times a year lays you open to a requirement to attend at one of these centres to be interviewed, to be photographed and for your particulars to be gone into all over again. If you do not, you are a defaulter—shades of the congestion charge here—subject to large fines for which you can be pursued no doubt through the Northampton county court or a similar gulag somewhere in England. That is what is promised to us by the Government. You must notify a change of circumstance—if you do not, you are a defaulter.

I believe that, unameliorated by the amendments, which I support, Clause 12 will see the Bill off. I cannot imagine that the people of this country will stand for form-filling every time there is a change of circumstance on pain of being described as a defaulter and pursued for large sums of money. The people of this country will rise up and reject it.

Photo of The Earl of Erroll The Earl of Erroll Crossbench 6:30, 12 December 2005

I agree with pretty well everything that has been said. I suspect that people will not be called in to have their fingerprints taken every time they notify a change of circumstances but that the provision will be used to bring people in at least once every three to five years, because that is the period over which biometrics tend to change. They will want to fingerprint, scan or photograph everyone's iris again within that sort of period.

Clause 12(2)(b) refers to "within the prescribed period". That will be critical. What happens when people are away because they are posted abroad, on an extended holiday or have taken a trip round the world on their retirement? You do not know when this will hit you. I hope that the system will be better by that stage than the current hospital booking system—I expect it will.

There is an existing database that could be used to fulfil most of the functions of the proposed identity card—the driving licence database, as I have already said. I had my secretary ring up the DVLA to find out what the prescribed period was within which you have to notify a change of address. It is a criminal offence not to do so, for which there is a £1,000 fine. Interestingly, the people at the DVLA said that there was a £1,000 fine but that there was no prescribed period. Perhaps if a prescribed period was slapped on to the driving licence that would again fulfil many of the functions of the identity card, which might solve the problem more cheaply.

Photo of Lord Hylton Lord Hylton Crossbench

What the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, said prompts me to ask whether the Government have considered people who move in and out of employment and therefore in and out of benefit. Those with experience of housing administration will know that this is a critical and important matter, and it seems to be relevant here.

Photo of Lord Stoddart of Swindon Lord Stoddart of Swindon Independent Labour

The great irony of the Bill is that it has been brought forward by a Labour Government. I have said this before and I shall repeat it. If the Labour Party had been in opposition when such a Bill had been brought forward, there would have been not only a parliamentary explosion but a nationwide explosion. On marches up and down the country, people would have been protesting that we were losing our well established individual freedoms.

We have heard the details of these provisions and what is likely to happen. I believe that everything that has been said by those speaking to the amendments will come to pass. They are bound to come to pass because what is proposed is likely to turn out to be an administrative and civil liberties nightmare. We are talking about the registration of 60 million people—eventually, the compulsory registration of 60 million people.

Let us not forget that very shortly, if I am not mistaken, a national child register will come into operation. You can see what will happen. The Bill currently applies to people over the age of 16; the national child register will then be combined with the national identity register and the identity card. This Labour Government, who used to want to look after you from the cradle to the grave, now want to be after you from the cradle to the grave. They will have every bit of information that they want and which they can alter from time to time and increase from time to time. They will know where you live, what you do, how many cars you have, and so on.

The Government really believe that this can be done for 60 million people. Let us think of some of the administrative disasters that we have had so far. Indeed, let us think of just one—the Child Support Agency. That has been an administrative disaster in every respect. It has not done what was intended; it has not done what was promised; and it has not given to women the benefits that were promised under the Bill introducing it. We recently found out that this organisation, set up to chase after defaulters, has managed to get £8 million in arrears at a cost of £12 million in administration.

In that organisation, far from the absent parent being caught and made to pay, more men—it is usually men—probably pay less than they would have done had the matter continued to be administered by the courts. This has been at a huge cost to the Exchequer, and to the lives of some men who were so oppressed that they committed suicide. Despite having failed to get some money out of absent parents, who are relatively few in number, the Government expect to be able eventually to register 60 million people. I simply do not believe that that is possible.

These are ameliorating amendments. They will not cause the Bill to fall. We in this House are doing our best to make the Bill more acceptable.

The provision will not work. The noble Lord, Lord Thomas, was absolutely right. The general public will rise up against it when they see exactly what is involved. Whoever is in power then—if we have a government foolish enough to proceed with this idea—will feel the electoral backlash.

Photo of Baroness Knight of Collingtree Baroness Knight of Collingtree Conservative

When this Bill breathed its first, I decided to regard it with an open mind and see what was proposed and, in particular, read the case for it. As the Bill has proceeded, I have become increasingly concerned. Everything that has been said today has added to my consternation. I agree with every word just said by the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart. When people are presented with all of this they will rise up and some of them will say, "We have never had a clear and acceptable explanation of why the Bill is necessary and how much positive good it will do". In my book, it would have to do a great deal of good and be very effective to allow for even 10 per cent of what we have in front of us today. I am appalled at what this Government have put before us. They are daring to ask for our approval for something that strikes out freedom—which is most unjust and totally careless of people's convenience or the way that their lives may be running.

From now on, it is important that more people outside this House understand precisely what is at issue because when they do there certainly will be a sharp push against the Bill ever reaching the statute book. I have no doubt that here we have some excellent fighters who will, from now on, be fighting it every inch of the way.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Spokespersons In the Lords, (Assisted By Shadow Law Officers)

I agree with all that has been said by noble Lords. I have a modest amendment to which I will speak briefly. Amendment No. 109 would make it clear that, if a person is directed to attend an enrolment centre, he cannot be forced to attend at a specific time. That is merely in tune with the general thrust of the debate. If people are to be directed to enrolment centres—one of 70 that may not be convenient to them to reach—there should be some measure of accommodation to ensure that they are able to attend in a convenient way. We have talked all the way through this Bill about wanting to achieve a scheme that is convenient to the individual and not merely convenient to the Government. There is certainly some difference of opinion about where the Bill falls in respect of that at the moment.

I support Amendment No. 106 in the name of my noble friend Lord Northesk, which concentrates our minds very strongly on what is convenient. I carefully note what my noble friend Lord Crickhowell said about Amendment No. 160 and the importance of having a report on the operation of the scheme. The noble Lord, Lord Phillips, who has been doing sterling work, seems to have waved a magic wand. Every time he mentions a phrase or word, a letter materialises from the Home Office. On this occasion, he correctly directed our attention to the fact that failure to comply with enrolment can lead to a civil penalty—a heavy one. As a result of that, we now have what appears to be a very helpful response from the Home Office dated 9 December. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland, for providing us with that. I note that it says that it is an advance note of the civil penalty regime draft code of practice. It states that it is purely an indicative draft and subject to consultation and alteration. I accept that.

However, I note that Amendment No. 124 relates specifically to the matter of issue within this letter and draft code. I must put on record that, when we get to Amendment No. 124 I will do my best, but I will not be able to give any more than a limited response given that I shall have to do another speed read on the Front Bench. I appreciate that it was the good will of the Government to provide the Committee with this copy, but it comes at a rather awkward time for noble Lords to take advantage of it.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice and Offender Management), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management) 6:45, 12 December 2005

I will not answer the amendment, but in relation to the letter, we had hoped that it would go out on Friday with the others, enclosed in a merry Christmas card—what a wonderful present that would have been. I had hoped that Committee Members would have it early.

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Government Whip, Government Whip

I have listened with great care to the debate and a number of useful issues have been raised as a result of it. At one point when I was listening to some of the more fervent contributions, I had a great deal of sympathy with the Committee. When legislation is drafted it is sometimes difficult to see how it will work in practice and to understand how people will perceive and measure it. I was particularly drawn to the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, who was getting her mind around how the provision would work in practical terms—people receiving information and letters and being called for interviews and so forth. My guess is that, in real terms, the scheme will be much more user-friendly than the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, made it feel. I understand why he wants to make it feel that way because he has a legitimate point. He is opposed to ID cards for a range of arguments that I personally, the Government and Ministers at large disagree with. He is entitled to his view. He advocates his case well and makes interesting interventions and contributions from that perspective. In the end, we have to choose to disagree with him because we are introducing the scheme.

Photo of Lord Thomas of Gresford Lord Thomas of Gresford Shadow Attorney General, Law Officers (Constitutional Affairs), Advisory Team On Legal Matters, Non-Departmental & Cross Departmental Responsibilities

Since the noble Lord refers to me specifically, can we agree on something? Can we agree that every change of address or name—for a start—would have to be reported and that every time that happened the person would be liable to be called for an interview and to give further details? Can we agree on that much because then we will have a picture?

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Government Whip, Government Whip

I do not think that we can agree on that. Clearly, an individual would not be called for an interview if they were advancing the information voluntarily. I am sure that they would want to do that. In practical terms, the way in which the scheme would operate will mean that people will be able to inform their local enrolment officers about changes not necessarily by having to appear in person, so I cannot absolutely agree with what the noble Lord said. There are some differences of interpretation here.

I want to try to answer as much as possible the concern that was drawn forth in the contributions from noble Lords and return to where the noble Earl, Lord Northesk, started. He wanted to understand how we saw the scheme working in practice and that was how the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, and others came to this.

In general, we are trying to ensure that the scheme, as it operates, will be as convenient as possible for the individual—the point from which the noble Earl, Lord Northesk, started—without compromising the scheme's integrity. Amendments Nos. 105, 152 and 169 would remove the requirement for an individual to,

"attend at a specified time and place", for enrolments or notification of changes, while Amendment No. 108 would remove the requirement to attend "at a specified time" for enrolment. Such requirements for the purposes of obtaining official documentation are nothing new. For example, birth and death certificates are issued once registered at a registrar's office. Up to now, the UK has been one of the few EU countries that did not require personal attendance to obtain a passport. In the context of the ID card scheme, attendance at an enrolment centre is required to record biometrics and take part in a personal interview. Those are vital elements in preventing fraudulent applications. Indeed, removing them would be very much at odds with next year's introduction of interviews for first-time adult passport applicants by the UK Passport Service as part of its important efforts to strengthen passport security. I am sure that noble Lords will be very much on board with the need to do that, not least because of terrorist threats and the importance to national security of having a more secure passport system—and because of the important improvements to ensure that we have a firm and effective means of controlling immigration, which I believe is an aim that is shared cross-party.

It is our intention to make attendance at a centre as straightforward and convenient as possible. It is envisaged that the appointment booking process will allow individuals to provide preferences with regard to the time and enrolment centre that they wish to attend—so they will have a choice as to the enrolment centre that they attend. There is no intention that the average applicant will be presented with an appointment time as a fait accompli, as has been suggested during this debate. However, it is necessary to ensure that a specific time is agreed so that workflows in enrolment offices can be managed efficiently, and individuals who wish to disrupt the system by repeated failure to attend appointments cannot freely do so. That is why there has to be that civil penalty.

The workflow thing is very important, too. The noble Earl, Lord Onslow, who is not in his place, made a point on the back of an estimate made by the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, of how many enrolment centres we might have. He came up with the figure of 70 enrolment centres. That is not a figure that we have published in connection specifically with the development of the scheme, but it is one that I recognise as being attached to the improvements that the Passport Service plans next year with the addition of the interview process. We believe that we can learn from that experience, because it will give us an interesting test of the volumes of work that it is anticipated will follow when the enrolment centres are set up.

Photo of Lord Crickhowell Lord Crickhowell Conservative

I had an opportunity of reading the letter that was circulated to us, which specifically says that the costs of the centres have been included. Therefore, the Government must know how many centres they intend to have. Will it be 70, or has it been costed on some other basis?

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Government Whip, Government Whip

We are developing our cost models in this process as we work through it, which is why I made the reference to the Passport Service's experience when it introduces the additional centres next year for the process of interviewing applicants for passports in line with EU commitments, and so on.

The noble Earl, Lord Onslow, said that some of the enrolment centres could process as many as 750,000 people. I am not prepared to commit myself to that figure, but the point is that there will be volumes, so we must have a process that is well organised and well managed. Enrolment will be terribly important in getting this right—and when the scheme is in place, I am sure that we shall all want to see it working well and efficiently. A number of references have been made to that on numerous occasions.

With regard to notification of changes, I reassure noble Lords that there is no intention that every single change will require attendance at a centre—a point that the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, was at pains to try to draw out of us. It is planned that the most common changes, such as change of address can be done via post, telephone or Internet using secure technologies. Amendments Nos. 106, 153 and 170 would allow an individual to attend a centre at a time of "his own convenience" for enrolments or notification of changes. As I have said, it is intended that making an appointment at an enrolment centre will be as convenient as possible. Individuals will be able to provide preferences for appointment times and their preferred enrolment centre. They can be made over the phone, Internet or by post. It is also envisaged that appointments should be available outside of normal office hours, maximising the flexibility—perhaps during lunchtime or on Saturday morning, for example.

We are advised that a "drop-in" centre approach, which these amendments might facilitate, is something best avoided. Experience from public service provision now shows that people actually prefer an appointment system, so they can plan—

Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Spokesperson in the Lords (Id Cards & Charities Bill), Home Affairs

I am grateful to the Minister for giving way, but can I put him right? He talked of the amendments requiring something in the nature of a drop-in centre. My amendment would make for a "reasonable" requirement; it does not suggest a drop-in centre system at all; it simply suggests a system that has regard to the very factors that the Minister said will be taken into account. All we are trying to do is to put what he said was going to happen in the Bill, in the form of a very modest amendment. But there is a limited willingness on the part of this Chamber in relation to this Bill to accept the benignity of the bureaucracy without reference in the Bill.

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Government Whip, Government Whip

I appreciate that in the noble Lord's mind there may not be much difference between us. However, we need to have certainty—and my argument here rests on the point that we must legislate for certainty. That is part of the reason why the Bill is phrased as it is. With the flexibility that these amendments would provide, in the way that the noble Lord and others have described it, we would end up with something like a drop-in centre approach, which really would not work.

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Government Whip, Government Whip

I am reluctant to give way. I have made the point before, but it is an important one. If we had an enrolment process that was unmanageable because it was excessively flexible in the sense that the noble Lord seeks, we would end up with a drop-in centre approach. That would be unmanageable and wrong; it would be inefficient and would work unfairly to those who were part of the process.

Photo of Lord Crickhowell Lord Crickhowell Conservative

I have listened carefully to what the Minister has said. Of course, I agree that there must be places for this thing to happen—I have never challenged that. But there is an enormous gap between myself and the Minister, if that is the limit of his explanation. He said that we had to lay down a time, but the Bill says "a specified time", a time to be specified by the Government. The amendments are asking for something that is reasonable, practical and convenient. If my noble friend presses his amendment, as I hope he will, I shall certainly want to come back on Report with my broader amendment, when we may have got more information out of the Government. But I have no doubt at all that we should press this matter on the basis of what we have heard so far.

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Government Whip, Government Whip

Experience in public service provision shows that people prefer an appointment system so that they can plan their time around a specific time as opposed to having to wait for an unspecified period in a waiting room. I do not know about the noble Lord, but when I go to my doctor's surgery I now expect to have a specified appointment time. I actually ring up and ask for one, and our surgery is extremely effective in providing me with one. What I do not like is to turn up and wait for an hour in a long queue. I prefer to be told when I can have my appointment and when I can see a particular doctor.

Photo of Lord Crickhowell Lord Crickhowell Conservative

That is exactly the point. I ring up my surgery and say, "I am very unwell—can you see me this afternoon between, say, two o'clock, when I am getting back from wherever I have been, and six o'clock?" They say, "We can manage five o'clock", and we agree on a time. They do not ring up and say, "We can see you at six o'clock this afternoon, whether it is convenient for you or not". If they say that at the Minister's surgery, I hope that he changes his surgery pretty quickly.

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Government Whip, Government Whip

I have no intention of doing that. They provide the service exactly as the noble Lord describes, which is exactly what we are seeking to achieve here. We want to ensure that a system as importantly complex as this one works well; we do not want to have unpredictable workflows that threaten the integrity of security procedures and lead to an inefficient use of staff and resources. I am sure that noble Lords would not want to support such a system, as it would not be in the best interests of public service.

Amendments Nos. 107, 154, 155 and 170A state that requirements to attend at a specific time and place should be reasonable and practical. In setting requirements for the centre network, great care has been taken to ensure that the requirements placed on the individual are reasonable. In planning the new UK Passport Service network of enrolment facilities, which will form the basis of ID card facilities, there has been significant research and consultation, particularly with local authorities, to identify potential locations for centres.

When the ID card scheme is launched, it is planned that no person should have to travel any further than an hour from their home. Indeed, the majority of people should have a centre much nearer to their place of work or 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. They are part of the package.

I turn to Amendment No. 160, which attempts to introduce a super affirmative procedure that will require a report on enrolment facilities before an individual would have to attend to be issued with an ID card. We believe that this is an unnecessary amendment. The super affirmative procedure will already have been used before the move to compulsion under Clause 6. The report submitted under Clause 6 will have to outline the proposals for compulsory registration, which will require approval by both Houses. This move will not come without further public consultation and will follow a period when individuals will have already registered and been issued with ID cards when applying for designated documents.

The issue of suitable facilities which will affect the Secretary of State's ability to deliver the scheme effectively will have been covered in the report before compulsion, and Parliament would have had the opportunity to raise any concerns at that stage. We feel that that makes this amendment irrelevant.

The final amendment in the group, Amendment No. 168, states that a person should notify the Secretary of State of a change in their record within a "reasonable" time rather than within a prescribed period. It would obviously be our preference that a prescribed period is set out. This provides greater clarity about the requirements placed on the individual and acts as a deterrent to those who would not update their record without good reason. It is currently envisaged that individuals will be asked to update their details within three months of any changes. Of course, allowances would be made for those with quite legitimate reasons—illness being one—and difficulties of accessing an enrolment centre. As we mentioned previously, it is intended that the most common changes such as change of address or change of name after marriage can be made quickly, easily and without a need to make an appointment at a centre. We do not consider that an unreasonable approach.

Photo of Lord Thomas of Gresford Lord Thomas of Gresford Shadow Attorney General, Law Officers (Constitutional Affairs), Advisory Team On Legal Matters, Non-Departmental & Cross Departmental Responsibilities 7:00, 12 December 2005

Perhaps the noble Lord can help me. I live in Wales at the moment. If I am thinking of being a terrorist and decide that I am going to go and live in Scotland where I can carry on my activities rather better, I could fill in a form and say that I am going to live in the south-west, somewhere in Cornwall. There is no check on that. I do not have to hand in my identity card and get a new one because you are not going to ask to see me. There is absolutely no check. People can disappear without any come-back at all. All that happens is that a change is made on the register about where they are living in accordance with the form that is sent in. Is that satisfactory? Does that prevent terrorism?

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Government Whip, Government Whip

The noble Lord tries to make the Bill ridiculous by using what I think is a rather fatuous case. He knows that no terrorist is going to operate in those terms and those circumstances. I am not going to dignify his question with a response. I do not think that it would persuade him in any event.

I have made it plain that not every change of circumstance will need to be reported, as the noble Lord said. The change of circumstances will relate only to prescribed changes of information that is on the register. That is important in itself.

Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Spokesperson in the Lords (Id Cards & Charities Bill), Home Affairs

I am sorry to interrupt again, and I am grateful to the Minister, but I am trying to avoid a vote. The Government seem to be saying that they propose to offer a choice of appointments for this interview. They are actually proposing to do that. My question, therefore, is why on earth can the Government not accept that most of us do not want any more than that but that we do want it on the face of the Bill? What is so obnoxious to the Government that they are unwilling to have it in the Bill in any form of words they like? If the Minister were to say to me, to the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, or to someone else, "I do not like your words. I do not like your word 'reasonable'", I think that none of us would oppose that. The Government could come back with their own language.

What we are not happy to accept is that there is a requirement in the Bill, full stop, and that everything else is grace and favour of the current policy of the Executive. Surely we can find an accommodation on this.

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Government Whip, Government Whip

This is a debate that we have on a lot of legislation, is it not? On very many occasions I have heard the noble Lord make the argument for having something on the face of the Bill because it is terribly important, and sometimes he has a point. However, we are talking here of the detail of the operation of an appointments system. I think that those matters are best dealt with in guidance and so on. We want certainty in the wording. The noble Lord has heard me describe in reasonable terms, I am sure, how we see this scheme working. Yes, we will be providing people with a multiple choice of appointment times. Yes, it will be in a prescribed place because there will be enrolment centres in prescribed places. But they will be able to exercise choice in relation to enrolment centre.

I think that the noble Lord is getting it. We are intending this legislation to work in a flexible and user-friendly way. That is our intention. There is no point designing a system of identity cards which, as the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, said, would cause people to rise up in revolt. That is not our intention. It is certainly not how we see things working. The noble Lord clearly has objections to the language being used. However, the sorts of things that we are talking about here and the degree of detail raised by some noble Lords are best dealt with in regulations. I am looking at the Conservative Benches in particular and thinking that many Members of the Committee have experience of government and will have run many times through arguments about the value of good, sound framework legislation and the need to leave to guidance the detail and the important elaboration of how the scheme will work in practice.

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Government Whip, Government Whip

Before the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, presses me on this, I am certainly happy to give further thought to the points that he has made. We want to press on and not to waste too much time this evening on this. I am certainly prepared to have a look at some of the language that he is concerned about. However—and we can deal with some of this in correspondence to be shared—the way in which we have set out the scheme will ensure that it works flexibly and in a way that people will also see as reasonable.

Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Spokesperson in the Lords (Id Cards & Charities Bill), Home Affairs

The point that I was going to make is a fundamental issue. There is a big penalty in the event of a failure to satisfy the requirement. It is a quasi-criminal offence—but let us leave it as it is cast in the Bill as a major civil penalty. We believe that there should be, not unnecessary detail attaching to it, but the right of the citizen to have a choice of interviews. The Minister says they are going to give a choice. So, in heaven's name, why not put something in the Bill that makes that clear, because at the back of it is a penalty?

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Government Whip, Government Whip

I invite the noble Lord to think about this a bit. Amendment No. 109 in particular—and I think this was the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, or—

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Spokespersons In the Lords, (Assisted By Shadow Law Officers)

I hope that I made it clear to the Minister that I saw my amendment as merely probing. It has been overshadowed by the force of argument on others.

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Government Whip, Government Whip

"The amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay"; that is what I wanted to say. If that amendment was carried it would remove the power to prescribe a time at all. Surely the noble Lord will accept that, ultimately, if you have a system where people are being refusenik about it you have to have a system of penalties. I cannot believe that the noble Lord does not think that.

Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Spokesperson in the Lords (Id Cards & Charities Bill), Home Affairs

I accept it. I have already said to the Minister that he is entitled to have a system such as the Government intend. I accept his point about Amendment No. 109. It just seems to me that, given the point the Committee has reached, the Government should say, "We will take this away and come up with a form of words that suits us". If we do not like it at Report stage, we will say so. But I do not think that we would. It seems that there is a gap here which is so small that it is eminently bridgeable.

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Government Whip, Government Whip

The noble Lord is right—as this debate has gone on, he has begun to realise that the gap is small. Because of that, as I said earlier, I am happy for us to consider the wording further, but I cannot accept these amendments. If they were pushed to a vote and passed, frankly, they would greatly damage the way in which the legislation will work. The noble Lord has already conceded that you have to have penalties in a system of this nature. I have tried to describe the reasonable way in which the scheme will work per se. For all of those reasons we cannot agree to any amendments in this group but, as I have made plain, we shall give further thought to the wording. But there needs to be clarity and I worry that the words which are offered in this group of amendments would severely damage some of that clarity.

Photo of Lord Mayhew of Twysden Lord Mayhew of Twysden Conservative

The Minister is beginning to move, as he so often does in the face of reasoned and persuasive argument. I wonder whether, particularly in the context of his expressed desire to make this legislation user friendly and certain in its terms, he will extend the examination he has just promised to the obligation in Clause 12(1) upon:

"An individual to whom an ID card has been issued . . . [to] notify the Secretary of State about every prescribed change of circumstances".

There is a civil penalty not exceeding £1,000 if he fails to do that, and yet we do not know, from looking at the Bill, what those prescribed circumstances will be. It cannot be difficult for the Government to specify them, and it ought to be done if the Bill is to be user friendly in that regard and to be certain. I hope that the Minister will be good enough to extend his examination to that part as well.

Photo of Lord Monson Lord Monson Crossbench

I take it that the Minister is not replying to that point. Would it not save a great deal of time and trouble if he simply accepted Amendment No. 106, which is totally lacking in ambiguity and is consistent in every way with the Government's intentions as he has just outlined them?

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Government Whip, Government Whip

I am happy to respond to the point made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew. I shall study what he said and give it fair consideration.

Photo of Lord Stoddart of Swindon Lord Stoddart of Swindon Independent Labour

Will the noble Lord explain, so that we have it on record, exactly what the civil penalty is, how it will work and whether eventually it could land anyone in gaol?

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Government Whip, Government Whip 7:15, 12 December 2005

Ultimately, as with anti-social behaviour orders, which go through a civil process, or if someone defaults on making a payment, there is a possibility that they will face imprisonment. But that is not what we want to achieve. We have to have a penalty in place which is made clear to people who are determined to default on the scheme for whatever reason—maybe a political reason. However, in general terms, there is no imprisonment for civil penalties.

I come back to the question asked by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew. The advice I have is that the prescribed circumstances will be set out in the regulations, which will be detailed and will make exceptions and special provision for special cases. The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee made no adverse comment on those arrangements.

Photo of Lord Mayhew of Twysden Lord Mayhew of Twysden Conservative

I am quite well aware of that—it is to be found in Clause 43. But the point about it is that regulations are expressed to be at large; nobody knows what extent they will cover. The point I made stands—that if the measure is to be user friendly and certain, we ought to know on the face of the Bill in what circumstances it is necessary for somebody to notify a change of circumstance.

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Government Whip, Government Whip

I have been at pains to explain that the detail needs to be set out in secondary legislation. That is exactly how we envisage it working. The noble and learned Lord made the point earlier. I will reflect on it again and there will be more discussions on it. We may well be able to discuss it further with the noble and learned Lord.

Finally, the regime for civil penalties will be described in the code of practice. We shall make it clear in that, because it is a civil penalties regime, there will not be the possibility of imprisonment directly as a result of the civil penalty.

Photo of Lord Thomas of Gresford Lord Thomas of Gresford Shadow Attorney General, Law Officers (Constitutional Affairs), Advisory Team On Legal Matters, Non-Departmental & Cross Departmental Responsibilities

It should be clear that if you fail to tell the authorities that you have got married, the bailiffs can come round and take the wedding presents. That is what a civil penalty is, and ultimately you can go to prison for it.

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Government Whip, Government Whip

The noble Lord knows that civil penalties are imposed all the time and the circumstances he describes are extremely rare. To raise them is something of a red herring.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Spokespersons In the Lords, (Assisted By Shadow Law Officers)

Because I am trying to avoid red herrings, will the Minister clarify the commitment that he gave to the Committee earlier with regard to what the Government intend may now happen as a result of the debate on this group of amendments? Is he saying that the Government will go away and consider the drafting of subsection (5), or is he saying that they will go away, look at the drafting of subsection (5) and—taking into account the views that have been so strongly put forward by the Committee on the issue of convenience—come back with an amendment on Report that will put on the face of the Bill the fact that the convenience of the individual will be taken into account?

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Government Whip, Government Whip

I will not go so far as the second of the two alternatives that the noble Baroness invited me to agree to. I am happy to give further consideration to the wordings that have been offered. I do not agree with them for the reasons I set out, but I see that noble Lords are concerned about the issue. I think that is based on misunderstandings and misapprehensions which in themselves I can understand. However, I am prepared to go no further than to say that we will have a look at the wording. I do not promise to bring back an amendment on the back of that, although clearly the amendments that have been moved today give us more than a clue to people's real concerns.

Photo of The Earl of Northesk The Earl of Northesk Conservative

I am grateful to all noble Lords who have contributed to this debate, which has ended up lasting rather longer than I had anticipated. I also thank the Minister for his exposition of how the Government envisage the enrolment process will operate, but, bluntly, I would have preferred him to give us rather more detail. No doubt my noble friend Lord Crickhowell will have another go at the matter with his Amendment No. 160.

Amendment No. 106, with Amendment No. 170, deals with a rather narrower point than the general discussion we have had. Notwithstanding the judgment of the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, that it may move the position a little too far in favour of the individual citizen, it is none the less evident that the issue is of considerable concern to the Committee. If we remind ourselves that, at least initially, the scheme is intended to be voluntary, that addresses the concern on the basis that those seeking to enrol will be willing participants in the scheme and therefore will have no motive to spin the process out.

Moreover, as I indicated in my introduction, this is as much a matter of public trust as convenience. In terms, therefore, Amendment No. 106 represents an opportunity to add the value that the noble Baroness indicated was so desirable earlier in our proceedings. Indeed, as the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, suggested, the aim of the amendment is merely to ameliorate the tone and feel of the Bill. I accept absolutely that the distance between myself and the Minister on this point is not all that wide, but as the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, discerned so accurately, my view is that it should appear on the face of the Bill. Therefore, I put the Minister on notice that I will test the opinion of the Committee on Amendment No. 106 when it is called as the next amendment. But, certain that we will return to the broader issue later in Committee and on Report, for the moment I am content to withdraw Amendment No. 105 and beg leave so to do.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of The Earl of Northesk The Earl of Northesk Conservative

moved Amendment No. 106:

Page 5, line 19, after "attend" insert "at his convenience"

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 106) shall be agreed to?

*Their Lordships divided: Contents, 69; Not-Contents, 79

Division number 1 Identity Cards Bill — convenience of registering

Aye: 66 Members of the House of Lords

No: 76 Members of the House of Lords

Aye: A-Z by last name

Tellers

No: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Absent: 585 Members of the House of Lords

Absent: A-Z by last name

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Government Whip, Government Whip

I beg to move that the House be resumed. In moving this Motion, I suggest that the Committee stage begin not before 8.30 pm.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.