My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now further considered on Report.
moved Amendment No. 35:
Page 4, line 31, leave out paragraphs (a) and (b) and insert "documents which any of the persons mentioned in subsection (2A) is authorised or required to issue, whether by or under an enactment or otherwise.
(2A) Those persons are—
(a) a Minister of the Crown;
(b) a government department;
(c) a Northern Ireland department;
(d) the National Assembly for Wales;
(e) any other person who carries out functions conferred by or under any enactment that fall to be carried out on behalf of the Crown."
My Lords, this is a relatively straightforward amendment to respond to a concern raised in the report by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee. The amendment revises Clause 4 so as to respond to the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee's report, which drew attention to the fact that the drafting of the clause would, in theory, mean that any document issued under an enactment—whoever issued it—would in theory be covered and could, again in theory as there is no intention whatever of doing so, be designated as an ID card under Clause 4.
The Committee pointed out at paragraph 13 of its report that this would include:
"Documents as varied as home information packs or solicitors' practising certificates: any document issued under statutory powers."
That is clearly not the Government's intention. As has been stated many times, our policy is that the only documents that should be capable of being designated are ones issued in accordance with a statutory requirement by a government department or public authority on behalf of the Crown and not documents that are simply issued under statutory powers. We accept the committee's view that the Bill as drafted could technically be construed as wider than the Government's stated intentions and should therefore be amended. The revised form of words in the amendment uses the same formulation as in Clause 11(5), although of course for a quite different purpose. It provides a means of ensuring that the only documents that could be designated would be those issued by a Minister of the Crown, a government department or a devolved Administration.
I hope that the wording, revised as I have just indicated, fully meets the legitimate concern raised by the committee. I again express the Government's thanks to the committee for the advice that it has provided in the report. I beg to move.
My Lords, I rise briefly to formally welcome the amendment moved by the Minister. It is not necessary for the House to look at it in more detail because we were given that opportunity when I pressed the Government on these matters in Committee and she was kind enough to give a full response at that stage. I support the amendments.
moved Amendment No. 36:
Page 4, line 37, leave out from second "provision" to "unless" in line 38 and insert "that he is authorised to make by this section"
On Question, amendment agreed to.
[Amendment No. 37 not moved.]
[Amendment No. 37A had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]
Clause 5 [Applications relating to entries in Register]:
This is very much a joint amendment between the opposition parties, as is Amendment No. 46 to delete Clause 6. We seek to replace compulsion by voluntarism. Citizens should not be forced to have ID cards. Compulsion is far too often resorted to by the modern state. That comes from an intensely managerial culture in which regulation rules. That sits uneasily with fundamental rights such as privacy and voluntarism. This Bill is an authentic clash between such rights and managerial efficiency.
Clause 4 allows the Government to designate any official document so that obtaining or renewing one forces the applicant to apply for an ID card under Clause 5. The amendment gives the citizen a choice. Precisely the same amendment was moved on Report in the other place by the Labour Member for Walthamstow, Mr Gerrard, and it received cross-party support. The vote was lost by 32 votes.
The Government have made it clear that they will, when ready, designate passports under Clause 4, which will eventually compel around 85 per cent of the adult population to have ID cards. The issue of compulsion runs deep. When Michael Howard proposed compulsory cards as Home Secretary in 1995, as I reminded the House last Monday, that was roundly condemned by Tony Blair. As Home Secretary, David Blunkett reverted to the Tory plan, although he called the cards "entitlement cards"—he rather hid the fact that the entitlement was for the state rather than the citizen.
Who is to say how any of us might react if we were Home Secretary in a time of suicide bombers? Apparent security gains then tend to dominate thinking. These are just the circumstances where the job of opposition is to counterbalance that natural bias, to probe the proposed measures and to ensure that they are not likely to be counterproductive.
As the House demonstrated last Monday, it already senses that the potential benefits of compulsory cards are exaggerated; that the financial and privacy costs are being underestimated; and that the whole relationship between the state and the citizen is at stake. We have, I fear, gradually become not just a nanny state, but a snooping state—a surveillance state. Both Houses have long been preoccupied by the declining health of our democracy, which is partly related to that. We have lost much of that essential,
"vigour and cheerfulness of allegiance", as John Pym MP vividly put it 360 years ago—an allegiance which, if active and engaged, will do more to combat crime, withstand terrorism and grapple with the other problems purportedly ameliorated by the ID cards than they can ever do without that allegiance.
Ministers repeatedly claim that the Government have a mandate for compulsion which it would be improper for us to frustrate. On page 52 of its 111 pages, under the heading "Strong and Secure Borders", the Labour 2005 manifesto 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".
I repeat: "voluntary". So how can it possibly be argued that that is a mandate for a compulsory scheme? If as they now claim the intention all along was for the scheme to be compulsory, they only had to change one crucial word or add one clarifying phrase. The amendment is therefore consistent with the manifesto "voluntary" commitment, leaving this or any other government free to bring forward primary legislation if they want to compel later on. We believe that compulsion warrants nothing short of that.
Ministers repeatedly say that we are only following Europe and that we are going to have to have EU biometric passports anyhow. The biometric passport, however, will have far less biometric information on it than that proposed for our ID cards, and none of the personal data in Schedule 1, the so-called audit trail data which will record when, where and for what purpose our ID card is used—not forgetting the huge commercial use to be made of the cards. As for the suggestion that we are just catching up with Europe, of the 23 countries for which the LSE identity project obtained comparative data, only 10 had compulsory cards; 10 had voluntary ones and three had none at all. What is more, most of the countries with compulsory cards had local databases. That is reflected in the fact that in the 10 countries with compulsory cards, citizens are charged an average of under £4 per card.
I briefly revert to the standing of the LSE reports, since Mr Blair had another go at them last week, remarking that he did not think that they represented "an entirely objective assessment". Sir Howard Davies, director of the LSE, has felt it necessary to comprehensively scotch that slur in a letter to the Prime Minister last Friday. Nothing so convinces me of the inadequacy of government claims for compulsory cards as their persistent attempts to rubbish the scrupulous, detailed LSE work, while failing to produce a proper critique or adequate figures of their own.
As I say, we are wholly unconvinced that a compulsory scheme would succeed in its own terms, even by its own principal yardstick, referred to five times by Mr Blair at Question Time last week; namely, protection against identity fraud or theft. The paper on this subject, produced by the Cabinet Office in 2002, has been severely undermined since by industry spokesmen, NGOs and the LSE report. Claims vis-à-vis money laundering, insurance fraud, card theft and so on are insecurely founded at best, but above all a voluntary scheme would allow citizens who believe in the efficacy of ID cards against identity frauds to have one. There is nothing to stop that under our scheme. Indeed, it would take account of some of the points made rather plangently by opposition Members about certain minority groups who want a card. That would be fine.
Compulsion, in our view, is excessive, and excessive, ill judged laws beget an equal and opposite response. Would-be terrorists feed off the extremism of those they view as their opponents. They will always outbid a democratic state in ruthlessness.
A phrase that has been ringing in my ears as I have struggled to find a satisfactory way to explain my deep misgivings about all this is the one used by my wise lawyer father, now dead. He used to say, "You can't do that", in a certain tone of voice. That meant that if you go beyond a certain point you undermine the very institutions, principles and values that the law is there to protect and which have been our beacons. I can see him, or hear him, now, saying that about cutting back juries; about the latest idea that you can convict people of theft without going to court; about outlawing peaceful protest within a kilometre of this place without a permit; about criminalising robust, even offensive, free speech, on the ground that it might be taken as celebrating violence; about detaining people for months without charge or trial; about police arresting citizens for any conduct, vis-à-vis the mild protestor at the Labour Party conference.
What about the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, with that plethora of compulsive state powers? What about camera surveillance via literally millions of CCTV cameras—one for every 14 people in this country, by far the greatest number in the world—or the development of facial recognition technology and vehicle-tracking technology, or the escalating use of mobile-phone tracking technology and the prospect of compulsory retention of communications data for up to six years? Every year there is more regulation, more compulsion and more surveillance. I can hear him say it: "You can't do that".
As the Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, studiously and publicly advised the country last October vis-à-vis this Bill:
"The extent of the information retained as a core part of the National Identity Register is unwarranted and intrusive . . . It is difficult to see the relevance of all such details . . . Other systems of checks are perfectly feasible".
He also warned explicitly as follows:
"The Information Commissioner is concerned about the way in which demands will grow for individuals to prove their identity. The broad purposes permit function creep into unforeseen and perhaps unacceptable areas of private life".
As one example of that, just consider how Parliament has dealt with the illegal retention in police records of 50,000 sets of fingerprints and DNA samples. Instead of expunging them and making sure that the illegality did not recur, this Government forced through Section 64 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act in 2001 to validate the illegality and, much worse, allowed fingerprints and DNA to be stored in future, whether or not any citizen had been convicted or even charged with an offence. Those highly sensitive data are now held on more than 20,000 innocent juveniles. "Not innocent", I hear new Labour say, "we just didn't have the evidence". The writing really is on the wall.
The amendment, far from being a wrecking one, is an enabling one. Given the doubts about the technology, the cost, the corruptibility, the human rights and cultural consequences of this compulsory scheme, a voluntary scheme will enable us to see just how it works before the country is propelled into compulsion. If ever a proposal warranted that degree of caution and prudence, this is it.
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, could he elucidate on where we are? He mentioned Amendment No. 46. Are we at the same time debating that amendment to leave out Clause 6? He made a general speech against compulsion. Are we dealing with all the amendments together or will we deal with Amendment No. 46 separately?
My Lords, because it is expected that there will be a vote on both amendments—both clauses are important in the voluntary/compulsory debate—Amendment No. 46 will be moved separately. The noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, will later move the amendment to leave out Clause 6, which will be voted on separately.
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, perhaps I may mention an issue arising out of that interesting debate, part of it on the old question of ID cards. I have no problem in producing a case in which I believe for having compulsory ID cards. I have no difficulty in producing a case for having no ID cards. However, I cannot for the life of me understand the case for ID cards which are totally voluntary.
My Lords, I shall briefly respond to that intervention. The answer is that 10 European countries have voluntary cards. In Holland, the take-up is 30 per cent. It is extremely useful for those anxious about identity theft or fraud, on which the Prime Minister concentrated last week, because if you believe that the card stops such theft or fraud it is one way of protecting your identity.
For certain citizens and others mentioned by noble Lords in previous debates who want identity cards for convenience and so forth, there is a case for having voluntary cards. Many countries have them. I beg to move.
My Lords, I consider the amendment of great importance. It raises fundamental issues of liberty. Noble Lords will recall that in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston Smith saw written on the walls of the Ministry of Truth "War is peace. Freedom is slavery". I was reminded of those words the other day when some noble Lords on the government Benches said that requiring a person to register, requiring a person to buy an identity card, was to grant him "a new kind of freedom". Those were the very words used by the noble Lord, Lord Gould, on
I believe that most people will agree that while identity cards might bring some benefits to the individual, compulsory registration means an inroad into liberty and privacy and that when the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said at the weekend that identity cards would make it easier for the citizen to deal with the state, what he really meant was that they would make it easier for the state to deal with the citizen.
I can see that creeping compulsion is, from the point of view of the Home Office, a convenient way of proceeding. But is it really right that it should be a lottery as to when any particular person is, as it were, caught in the spider's web; that it should depend on a circumstance entirely outside the individual's control and for which he is in no way to blame, such as when his driving licence happens to come up for renewal? It will be a complete lottery. The Government's scheme means that the state will be saying to the individual: "You are entitled to a driving licence. You have done nothing wrong to disentitle you from having a driving licence. But we will not give you one unless you take a step which has nothing whatever to do with the requirements of the Road Traffic Acts and your ability to drive. We will not give you one unless you buy an identity card and submit to registration". How on earth can that be right?
The Government's scheme is capricious and unfair and we should not support it.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, in moving the amendment, made a comprehensive and persuasive speech. Therefore, I can be brief. He started, I think rightly, and as I was going to, by quoting from the Labour Party manifesto. There is a considerable contrast between the words quoted from the manifesto and the words used by the Minister on the fourth day of our proceedings, when she said:
"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".
She went on:
"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".—[Hansard, 12/12/05; col. 1008.]
Those words "big-bang move to compulsion" have a certain resonance in this situation.
My noble friend was absolutely right when he talked about creeping compulsion. The noble Baroness said that she could see nothing stealth-like about this. But, clearly, the Government believe—and I do not challenge them—that many people find the idea of having an identity card for some purposes quite attractive and will therefore go along with it, particularly if it is doled out relatively painlessly when, in any case, you have to apply for the renewal of a passport, or whatever else may be created as a designated document later.
However, the issue is not just about identity cards. It is certainly understandable that if you have a passport you may feel that an identity card, for example, is a useful tool for getting rather more simply around Europe. I do not challenge that. But the point of this amendment is that it is attached to a clause that deals with the register. The register is at the heart of the criticisms made about this Bill.
The noble Lord, Lord Phillips, quoted from the Information Commissioner and the extent of the information that is to be held on the register. It seems to me that while it may be useful and convenient to have an identity card, you should not—certainly not until the Government have made it plain that they can manage this whole scheme and deal with the criticisms made in our debates—be forced to go on the register. One thing people are entitled to know is that the register will work in a manageable way and will not have the potential weaknesses identified during our debates.
I did not take part in the debate last Thursday in this House initiated by my noble friend Lord Marlesford about the firearms register and the failure of the Home Office to meet the statutory requirements imposed on it by Parliament in 1997. It is an appalling story of incompetence—and worse—by the Home Office in introducing a scheme that Parliament believed was necessary.
One feature that struck me about that debate, when I read it, was the extraordinary generosity of those noble Lords taking part. They somehow forgave Ministers—indeed, were nice to them—as they defended the government position. The Ministers said it was all absolutely appalling; they said, "Of course, it is shocking that we have been unable to introduce a workable scheme". They kept saying, "We are as disappointed as anyone in this Chamber". Yet those Ministers are responsible for their department. If they are incapable of setting up a firearms register in eight years, why should we imagine that they are capable of setting up the register required under this Bill in an acceptable and workable way? Until they have proved their capacity to do that job, I do not believe that we should accept people being compelled to have their names on the register. I warmly support the amendment.
My Lords, I want to make a quick comment. The Bill will go through Parliament whether we like it or not. However, before the entire thing becomes final and properly compulsory, we should go only into a voluntary phase to test the idea. That is why I approve of this amendment, for it means that the first people to volunteer to try that out—which will be several million people, since many people approve of it—can at least self-select who will be doing that.
Your Lordships must remember that the Bill currently provides that when you are next issued with a passport or driving licence, Clause 12 applies to you. It is worth looking quickly at what that clause insists you do. It applies to you, remember, and not to refugees, who have their own thing, or to people who are already here illegally because they will be in hiding anyway. I was reminded of how people such as escaped prisoners hid from the Germans during the war—not easily, but it was done. If it is really thought that all the illegal immigrants are going to be rounded up just because some people are carrying ID cards, then you have another think coming.
The bit which will apply to you from day one, when you are given your next passport or driving licence, is:
"An individual . . . must notify the Secretary of State about . . . every prescribed change of circumstances . . . within the prescribed period . . . the Secretary of State may require him to . . . otherwise . . . provide such information as may be required", to verify,
"the information that may be entered", and otherwise ensure,
"that there is a complete, up-to-date and accurate entry . . . An individual"— that is, you, if contravening any of these requirements—
"shall be liable to a civil penalty not exceeding £1,000".
So, if noble Lords do not vote for the amendment, they are accepting that they will fulfil all those details the next time they renew their passport or driving licence. Personally, until we have decided that Parliament will proceed to compulsion, I believe that the scheme should be entirely voluntary.
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Phillips and the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, referred to the Labour Party manifesto from the previous election. Looking at the Bill, one sees that of 45 clauses, three relate to identity cards. The offences in Clauses 27 to 32 relate to the register. It is about setting up a national identity register to which the identity card is an adjunct.
If one looks at the manifesto, under the heading "Strong and Secure Borders", the Labour Party set out that,
"Across the world there is a drive to increase the security of identity documents and we cannot be left behind. From next year we are introducing biometric 'ePassports'. It makes sense to provide citizens with an equally secure identity card to protect them at home from identity theft and clamp down on illegal working and fraudulent use of public services. We will introduce ID cards"— that phrase is set out in large type on page 55—
"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 emphasis in the manifesto is entirely on identity cards as some form of home passport. It does not set out a compulsory scheme for the introduction of a national identity register, with all the requirements set out in the various schedules. So the Government cannot rely on the manifesto at the election as authorising the scheme that they now put forward in the Bill.
My Lords, a question occurred to me during the earlier speeches. One document to which this is intended to apply is a passport. A passport used to be a document that, in loud and ringing terms, if the Government were kind enough to give you one, commanded other governments to assist your travel and let you go freely around their country. It is now a document that you must have before you are allowed to travel at all. Instead of being a privilege given by the government, it is now compulsory. Apparently, now, if I want that document, without which I cannot travel—to exercise the freedom to which I am entitled of travelling to anywhere in the world—not only do I have to apply and pay for it, as I have always had to, I must allow my particulars to be entered on a different register and pay extra to get an identity card.
Is it compatible with the freedom of the individual and the Human Rights Act that one shall be debarred from exercising the freedom to move about the world unless one "chooses" to go on some other government register and to pay them an extra fee for that privilege? Surely that provision is bound to be struck down as contrary to human rights.
My Lords, the noble Viscount has made an extremely important point that may not have struck most of us. The Bill is a rather ominous sign of the extent to which government has been taken over by spin. One of the main reasons why people have not been as willing to vote as they should be is that they dislike too much spin. Spin has been mounting. It has been the most enormous spin to say to the public: "We are offering you a Bill under which, if you want it, you will get a voluntary identity card that will protect you in all sorts of ways". Some time later, as the Bill went through Parliament, the Government have admitted that it is intended to be compulsory and that all those facts about you will have to be on the register, whether you like it or not. That is the simple point. It was spin. It was an easy way to get people to accept the idea of identity cards from the beginning.
The noble Lord, Lord Gould, said from the Government Benches that there had been various polls in which people said that they wanted identity cards. That was a response to the spin. We are now faced with the compulsion about which noble Lords have spoken. Later, we may probe the question of how we handle the way in which that compulsion is finally brought about through the Bill, but that was a big spin. It has done a lot of damage to public trust in Parliament; trust in Members of Parliament; and, perhaps, in the Lords—trust in government. That is far more damaging than the Bill itself.
This is a good amendment. The noble Lord, Lord Phillips, made an extremely good speech. He was quite alone on his Benches when he started, until a couple of people trickled in—luckily, before he had finished.
He looked a lonely figure but it was a splendid speech. I agreed with every word of it. I support the amendment.
My Lords, I shall support the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips. I shall also support the amendment to remove Clause 6. Those noble Lords who heard the opening speech by the noble Lord would understand, I think, that all the new measures which have been taken by this Government over a quite long period of time contain the elements of a fascist state.
My Lords, the noble Lord says that he is listening to me. I hope that he will because I have been around a long time. Indeed, I was in the Labour Party for 54 years. It was a Labour Party which would not have dreamt of bringing forward a Bill of this kind. Nor in fact would it have brought forward many of the measures which the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, outlined in his opening speech.
I repeat that some of those measures have the elements of a fascist state. This country is preaching to many other countries about democracy. It wants democracy in Iraq; it wants democracy in Iran. It wants democracy everywhere except perhaps in this country where the measures that it is introducing are undermining the democracy which has been built up over many hundreds of years. I do not deny that those are strong statements. But the fact of the matter is that there is a creeping competence for all kinds of authorities in this country to have control over the individual.
Let us consider some of the incidents of late. An author on the BBC makes a certain statement about homosexuals and before long the police are telephoning her or are on her doorstep asking her to justify those statements. That is just one instance. The police are becoming the arbiters of free speech. That is very serious indeed. Members of this House and of the House of Commons should understand exactly how their freedoms are being undermined by a host of measures which are coming forward piecemeal. If they do not do so they will find themselves in a state where the Government have complete and utter control over the individual; and, of course, in this country the freedom of the individual has always been the bedrock of our very democracy which we have exported, and still seek to export, to other countries. If we are not careful, there is a real danger that we shall be in the sort of society which many of us fought against in the last war.
I know that my former noble friends do not like to hear me say these things, but perhaps it is proper that I should say them because I had been in the Labour Party for 54 years before they expelled me and therefore I do know what the Labour Party that I joined stood for. It did not stand for measures such as the identity card now being put forward by new Labour.
We have before us a Bill that, in the first instance, is supposed to be a voluntary scheme. We have been assured that it will not be necessary, and that the Government will never make it necessary, for identity cards to be carried at all times. Yet on the "Any Questions" programme broadcast last Friday the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said, first, that they should be compulsory and that if they were not, they would not be any good; and, secondly, that they should be carried at all times. In other words, the police will be able to come up to you and say, "Papers", whether they say "please" or not.
My Lords, I should clarify that that is not what the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said. I have the advantage of having a transcript of that interview. In relation to whether the cards should be compulsory, my noble and learned friend Lord Falconer said the following:
"Government policy is that it'll be a matter for Parliament to decide whether they ultimately become compulsory".
In response to a second question from Mr Dimbleby, he further added:
"I think the government takes the view that to get the full benefits they will ultimately have to become compulsory".
My Lords, that confirms exactly what I have been saying: that although they are bringing forward a voluntary Bill at this point, the Government believe that it will become compulsory. If the card is compulsory, it will then be compulsory for people to carry the cards around with them and they can be challenged by the police at any point, wherever they may be. The noble Lord on the Front Bench shakes his head, but I fear that that is exactly what will happen.
My Lords, I hope that we have made it absolutely clear to the House that the two issues are not to be conflated. The Government have underlined the fact that it will not be necessary to carry the identity card. That is made clear from the form this Bill takes.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, has the capacity to needle people and is always fascinating to listen to. A number of things he has said sound a ring of truth. He has said some things that are disagreeable to some people, but it is nevertheless very important that he has said them.
In comparison to the questions put by the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, I have only a simple question to put to the Minister. She need not be too agitated. It follows on what was said by the noble Earl, Lord Erroll. Am I right in believing that if the Bill is passed in the form it is in now, if you move house you will have to let the appropriate department know that you have done so? If you do not let the department know, are you then fined £1,000?
My Lords, I wonder if I can possibly help the Government. It seems that they have built a high and strong stone wall behind them and that the Pyramus and Thisbe on the Front Bench opposite are feeling embarrassed and so have encouraged their colleagues not to support them in order to get the legislation out of the way quickly. There is a fairly simple solution to all this, one that goes to an amendment I have tabled for consideration later. The passport is actually a voluntary document. According to the Government, biometric passports were to have been introduced in October of last year. With the biometric passport will go the new identity card, which will also be voluntary. Since 80 or 90 per cent of this country's population already have passports and could be issued with the identity cards at a cost of less than £10, it seems logical to encourage as many people as possible to register with the passports authority in order that they may have a simple identity card.
As your Lordships will be aware, the main people who do not carry passports are those of retirement age, half of whom do not carry them. Thus it would be a simple matter to issue passports to everyone, possibly free of charge, in the same way as we receive bus passes—which are, of course, a proof of identity. That would be voluntary. A passport is a voluntary document; the fact that you cannot travel without it is an encouragement to have one if you want to travel. But the idea of what should have been called the identity cards register is very worrying, and the Government should think of—I have forgotten the chap—Sisyphus, I think, who rolled his stone up the hill, and then it came rolling down. They may shortly be overwhelmed.
The noble Lord, Lord Swindon, struck a chord with me when he spoke about fascism and those awful phrases you would hear in some parts of Europe, often in German, such as "Papier, bitte", followed by "Papiers nicht in ordnung"—I apologise for using a foreign language—and it struck me that I should ask these countries. I have beside me an Act of Parliament from one of those former fascist countries. It has 46 clauses, not 45, that are designed to protect the individual from exactly the sort of thing we are now trying to introduce. I shall read it rather than say it: it is the Bundesdatenschutzgesetz, the German law that says that the individual is free, the data are his, they may not be transferred from one government department to another, and he also has Hoheit, or the intellectual property.
It is strange to me, listening to the noble Lord, Lord Swindon, that after all these years we should be swinging so far backwards and recognising that most of the new members of the EU are longing for the days when they are not required to carry papers with them day and night, and where officials do not have the right to misread papers should it suit them in order to intern someone.
My Lords, I am so sorry. Those of us who do not have the "of" after our name get confused. I have always associated the noble Lord with Swindon. I apologise for that.
The point I am making is that it is perfectly easy if we follow the simple route of allowing a voluntary document such as a passport to be used as proof of identity above all else. I do not rest my case entirely on that, because I have an amendment later and I would like to remind the Minister. I am still not sure whether there will be one identity card, and only one, or whether there will be lots of them. That is my fear, and if there are to be lots of cards, every one of them must be voluntary.
My Lords, I strongly support this important amendment. The debate has ranged widely over the whole issue of compulsion. I have amendments later on that address how the move should be made from the initial period to one of compulsion for all. I shall keep my remarks on that rather more focused matter until I move the amendments to leave out Clauses 6 and 7.
The noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, spoke with both passion and, in his own way, compulsion about the problems we face with this Bill, the tension between compulsion and voluntarism, and the whole issue of what we may face if we allow what is a flawed Bill to go ahead with this drafting of Clause 5. We are on Report, so I will not go into the arguments on that. Suffice it to say that I agree entirely with his arguments on that score. Some of my speeches today will be even briefer than usual, as noble Lords can tell by the tone of my voice that the bug that is going round the House has found its way finally to me.
The Government have not persuaded me that their system, which forces us to sign up to a gargantuan register with its intrusive audit trail of recording every part of our lives, is the right way forward. That is not the system which the public think is waiting in the wings. As ever, we on this side have no criticism of the Minister. She is a supreme advocate, but she has not been given the right material with which to work in this case. I dare to suggest that even the noble Baroness cannot make a silk purse out of this sow's ear.
My noble friend Lord Waddington talked about creeping compulsion and asked whether it should be a lottery regarding when any individual should be caught in the web. He referred in particular to applying for driving licences. I note that in Committee the Minister said that at the moment the Government have no plans to designate driving licences, but Clause 4 gives them that opportunity. In Committee I asked the Minister whether she would categorically give the assurance that the Government would therefore not seek to overturn the decision of this House in the Road Safety Bill when we removed Clauses 29 and 30, which gave the Government in that Bill the authority to withdraw current driving licences. That could be used to issue driving licences to all and require registration and the issuing of an ID card. If the noble Baroness can give us that assurance today, it would be helpful. I have tabled a later amendment on which I can explore that matter in more detail.
The objective of this group of amendments is admirably simple: to require the Government to keep to their manifesto commitment that they would 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".
As we have heard this afternoon, that is not what this Bill does. What it says is that if you apply for a passport, you must apply to go on the national identity register and therefore have an ID card. As noble Lords have asked, what is voluntary about that?
In Committee, the Minister estimated that by the end of the initial period, about 85 per cent of the population would have been forced to have an ID card as a result of applying for passports and going on the register. That is not what any normal person reading the manifesto would have expected. It was put with great clarity in another place by the Minister's honourable friend Mr Neil Gerrard when he moved this amendment. He said:
"Any normal person—by that I mean people outside this place—would interpret that as, 'When I renew my passport, I can choose whether to go on the register and have an ID card'. That is what 'initially voluntary' would mean to anyone who read it".—[Hansard, Commons, 18/10/05; col. 748.]
I entirely agree with him. The amendment would make it possible to be issued with a designated document without being forced to go on the national identity register. The individual would have a real choice, and can choose to go on the register and have an ID card—there is nothing to stop them.
If the Government intended to make it compulsory to have an ID card from the word go when you apply for a passport, they should have said so clearly in the manifesto. But the obfuscation has continued in our debates. In Committee the Minister said:
"There is no need for any person who does not wish to put his name on the register to so register unless and until it becomes compulsory".—[Hansard, 15/11/05; col. 998.]
I reflected very carefully on what the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, said because a little later, on
"They can either apply for a new passport and get an ID card at the same time; or not get a new passport".—[Hansard, 12/12/05; col. 1069.]
The Government's definition of "voluntary" is very different from anything that I have ever come across. It is a case of, "Have an ID card or don't leave the country". That is not right. I support the amendment.
My Lords, I greatly welcome the comments made so far in this debate. I hope that I will be able to explain to the House more clearly why I fundamentally disagree with this amendment. The noble Baroness says that passports do not constitute voluntary documents. However, she will know that what the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, said is correct and that passports do constitute voluntary documents.
No person in this country is ever compelled to apply for such a document. There are now provisions with which each of us, if we are desirous of having a passport, must comply. I think the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, suggested that none of the information contained in Schedule 1 would be required now. That is simply and plainly wrong. The information listed in Schedule 1 makes clear that it is already required for passport applications and so it is already held on the United Kingdom Passport Service database; for example, name, date of birth, nationality and address.
My Lords, I am going to save the noble Baroness some time. I never suggested that none of the information in Schedule 1 is currently part of the passport. I simply said that a great deal more information was required under Schedule 1 than is required for a passport, including personal data.
My Lords, I am sure that that is what the noble Lord intended to say and I am grateful for the clarification. My note, and I accept that my note may be wrong, showed that the noble Lord said:
"None of the information contained in Schedule 1 would be required".
Of course, the noble Lord accepts that much of this information is already required for passports.
My Lords, the noble Baroness said that nobody was required to apply for a passport. Has it never occurred to her that many people's employers may require them to travel? Granted, they can be sacked if they refuse to apply, but does she really regard it as very voluntary if you stand to lose your job? Does it therefore not matter because it is voluntary?
My Lords, of course I do not say that. What I do say is that we have to look at the position that we currently face. Today, each of us has to comply with the provisions set out in the current regulations when obtaining a passport. If we fail to comply with those regulations, we will not be granted a passport. When the biometric data, which we will have to include in order to have a valid passport, is introduced—and it will come in this year—each of us, if we want a new passport, will have to comply with those regulations.
My Lords, the Minister is about to do something she did in Committee, which is to confuse the biometric data required for the new passport under the e-borders initiative—which will be held on the passport and not in a central registry, and will be extremely useful for validating that the passport is yours locally, in, for example, an airport or other port of entry—with the biometric data proposed to be held on the national identity register. It is not the same biometric data, need not be the same biometric data and probably will not be the same biometric data as that proposed to be held on the national identity register under this Bill. The two things are completely different and it is dangerous to confuse them.
My Lords, I hear what the noble Earl says, but he knows as well as I do that, as we move forward, to make our data compatible with others, biometric data will have to be included. I have made clear from this Dispatch Box that the Government intend that to be the case in order that we can have the most secure passports possible, in accordance with current understanding of good practice. That is what I refer to.
Noble Lords should be aware that the Government intend that, in due course, those improvements will come in whether or not we have this particular ID card. One looks at the current position. Noble Lords will know that we already have provisions in this regard, which are lawful, and have been deemed so by those who have looked at this issue. Indeed, it is right to remind your noble Lordships that the Government's intent in this regard has been very clear for a significant period. These amendments would make registration and the issue of an identity card optional extras for anyone applying for a designated document, such as a British passport or a residence permit for foreign nationals. We have always been clear that the identity card scheme is designed and intended eventually to become a compulsory scheme for all UK residents and that, in the second phase of the scheme, it will be a requirement to register with a civil penalty regime for failure to do so.
My Lords, if it has always been the Government's intention for this to be a compulsory system, why did the Labour Party not put it into its manifesto for the last election, for the people's consideration?
My Lords, I cannot find the word "compulsory".
My Lords, we made it absolutely clear—we should not by any means misdirect ourselves—that we would reintroduce the Bill that had been before the House before the election. That is exactly what we did. These provisions were in the previous Bill. No one in this House should allow themselves to be misled in this regard. The noble Baroness is suggesting that we are playing at semantics on what "initially" meant. We made it clear that the voluntary nature of the scheme would be that we would roll out this procedure in accordance with passports as people came to apply for them—that that would be the initial stage. Then a second stage, with compulsion so that everyone had to have an ID card, would come about. We also made it clear that it was important to have that debate in principle.
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt, but it really is not good enough for the noble Baroness to say that it was made clear. There was no reference in the manifesto to the so-called second phase or compulsion. How can that be clear?
My Lords, it was debated at length in the Commons and debated in this House. To put this to rest, I shall be happy to go through the chronology, because we need to make sure that the issue is finally dealt with comprehensively.
The first phase was to enable a sensible phased introduction of identity cards. Once passports and residence permits are designated it means that, as British nationals resident in the United Kingdom renew or apply for their passports, and as foreign nationals apply for or renew their residence permits, they will be entered on the national identity register and issued with ID cards. That should not come as a surprise to anyone, as I have said. When the Government issued our first consultation document in 2002 on what were then termed "entitlement cards"—the noble Lord referred to that in opening this debate—one of the options canvassed was for a universal scheme linked to passports. When we announced the decision in principle to introduce identity cards—as long ago as November 2003—it was made clear that there would be a two-stage scheme. Again, it was stated that the second stage would be compulsory but, in the first stage, as well as introducing a voluntary plain identity card for those who did not have a passport, it was made clear that the intention was to link the issue of identity cards to that of more secure passports.
Indeed, we stated in Identity Cards: The next steps—Cm 6020, the policy document published at the time—that:
"By linking the card scheme to widely held identity documents most people will get a card conveniently and automatically as they renew an existing document".
When we published the draft Identity Cards Bill in April 2004, not only was "must" included in Clause 5(2), just as it is now, but it was also in Clause 8(6) in the draft Bill, which is equivalent to Clause 8(7) in the present Bill. Again, we were very clear that in the first stage of the scheme there would be no possibility of obtaining a designated document, such as a passport, without an identity card.
Paragraph 2.17 of the consultation paper on the draft Bill—Cm 6178—stated:
"Once a document such as a passport has been designated as an ID card, this will be the only form in which it will be available—i.e. there will be no 'non-ID card' variants. It would undermine confidence in the system if there were to be identity documents available on demand at different levels of security".
My Lords, it may have been stated in Bills and in command papers, but 40 million people are to go on to this register. The Government went to the country to obtain authority to continue in government and they claim authority for this Bill. Why did the Government not say that the scheme was to be compulsory? That word does not appear in the manifesto.
My Lords, the noble Lord is playing with words. Initially, which means "at the first", I explained to the House why and how we propose the two-stage process. We have not varied it. I absolutely understand the position of the noble Lord and those who sit on his Benches. The Liberal Democrats say that they do not feel bound by the Salisbury convention. They do not therefore pay any attention to the fact that the Government were voted in by the people of this country and that we have a majority. Noble Lords on the Conservative Benches take a different view. They say that they do feel bound by the convention, but that, in this regard, they can disregard it because of the way in which it was stated.
My Lords, on Report, I hate intervention. It is the last resort. I made it clear at the beginning of our debates in Committee, when the Minister's noble friend Lord Foulkes of Cumnock intervened, that we on these Benches would work with and by the Salisbury convention. We are doing that, and will continue to do that, throughout every stage of this Bill. The noble Baroness is adducing an argument on semantics. It is her argument, not ours.
My Lords, I of course take note of what the noble Baroness said. Therefore, I shall remind the House what the report of the Royal Commission on the Reform of the House of Lords stated about the convention at Recommendation 7:
"The principles underlying the 'Salisbury Convention' remain valid and should be maintained. A version of the 'mandate' doctrine should continue to be observed: where the electorate has chosen a party to form a Government, the elements of that party's general election manifesto should be respected by the second chamber. More generally, the second chamber should be cautious about challenging the clearly expressed views of the House of Commons on public policy issue. It is not possible to reduce this to a simple formula, particularly one based on manifesto commitments".
In this regard, the Government have been absolutely clear that their policy was for identity cards; that their policy was for compulsory cards; and that this is the way in which we seek to deliver them. It was our clear intention throughout the period 2002 to 2005, before the general election, that this procedure would be adopted; that is, the same procedure that comes before the House today. It would not be right to resile from that position now.
I shall deal briefly with some of the issues that were raised. The noble Lord, Lord Marsh, made a good point when he said that we either have a compulsory scheme or we do not. The arguments for compulsion are strong. The noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, sought to compare the firearms register with this register. I remind him that we have chosen the passport agency because it has a proven track record of delivery—on time, on budget—and it has gained the confidence of the public. The noble Earl, Lord Erroll, said quite rightly that this ID card scheme is going to happen anyway. I agree with him. In response to the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, I say that this scheme will be able to deal with the human rights of individuals, particularly in relation to the issues raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe. This issue was looked at comprehensively. I can reassure the noble Viscount that a compulsory identity card scheme is compatible with our international obligations, including the European Convention on Human Rights. In its report on the Bill, the Joint Committee on Human Rights confirmed at paragraph 4.5:
"A requirement to have or to carry some form of identity cards does not of itself raise human rights issues as has been established by the European Court of Human Rights. Many Council of Europe countries operate identity card schemes which are generally considered to comply with the ECHR".
My Lords, the noble Baroness has not answered my question. I did not ask whether it was compatible with human rights to have identity cards, but whether it was compatible with human rights to say that you cannot travel unless, in addition to getting a passport, you pay for something extra which you do not want. The indirect compulsion denies me the right to travel if I apply only for a passport that I do want, but not for an identity card that I do not want.
My Lords, for the moment, until the scheme becomes compulsory, the noble Viscount will be able to choose whether to have an identity card, when such cards become available. However, the scheme is a two-part scheme and has been scrutinised by the Joint Committee on Human Rights—I invite the noble Viscount to look at its report. The committee believes that the scheme we propose, which includes human rights as part of the foundation stone, is compatible with the ECHR, and does not in any way transgress in a manner that should cause concern. We have dealt with that.
The noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, mentioned spin. We have been clear about what has been offered to members of the public. The Government have been utterly straightforward and frank in that regard.
I hear what the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, says, but can I remind him that if we were in a fascist state, as he purports, his ability vigorously to argue and debate and to put forward his views would be denied him? I am proud that he has the liberty and opportunity to say whatever he likes with the appropriate degree of vigour and vim. Therefore, our democracy is in good health.
The noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, mentioned the ability to impose fines. People will have to notify changes of address. On the previous occasion we debated such matters, we said that our proposals would allow such changes to be swift and easy. The noble Earl will know that we already have a requirement to notify any changes of name and address in relation to driving licences, with a criminal penalty and maximum fine of £1,000 for a failure to comply. That has been the case for a number of years and it does not seem to have caused us too much difficulty, so I do not suppose that this will be very different.
The noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, suggested that we should give everyone a passport free of charge. That may be a consummation devoutly to be wished, but the fiscal realities of doing that are relatively clear.
We have a clear issue between Members of this House. The Government say that this is part of our manifesto. It means that we will have a cost-effective and cost-efficient system, and the two issues go together. I invite noble Lords not to press the amendment, because to do so would significantly contravene the clear intention of the people of this country who entrusted the organisation of these matters to this Government. We now form this Government and we ask noble Lords to reflect that in the way that they take these amendments forward.
My Lords, I am grateful to all of those who spoke in the debate, which has gone on for an hour and 10 minutes. I note that not one speaker spoke in favour of the Government's position on the matter. I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her response, but she did not address one of the arguments in my opening speech. I like to think that that was because she was unable to answer any of the points that I made. It is breathtaking that the noble Baroness ended her defence of the Government's position by saying that they have a clear manifesto entitlement. If ever a matter was not merely not clear but rather clearer in the opposite direction, that has been made manifestly plain this afternoon. This is a very important matter on which the opinion of the House should be tested.
My Lords, I hope that noble Lords opposite will see this as something of a win for them. These amendments seek to clarify that appointments to attend an enrolment centre will, where possible, be at a convenient place and time for the individual. That issue was raised by noble Lords from both parties opposite at an earlier stage of the Bill. The amendments relate to Clauses 5, 9 and 12, and take effect when an individual makes an application to be entered into the register, when an individual already entered becomes subject to compulsory registration and when an individual notifies the agency of changes to their circumstances.
The amendments respond to the concern that there should be a provision in the Bill confirming that individuals would be offered a choice of appointment dates and times. It has always been our intention to offer such a choice of appointments and I am happy to confirm this by way of these amendments. However, these amendments do not exclude the possibility that some individuals may, at some point, be required to attend at a specified place and time if it has proved impossible to come to an agreement.
I am sure your Lordships will agree that, although we do intend to offer individuals a choice of when to enrol, a means to ensure that individuals attend is ultimately required. The possibility of unilaterally setting an appointment time because it has been impossible to come to an agreement about a convenient time is one which will not be used until the scheme becomes compulsory. I beg to move.
My Lords, I spoke on this topic in Committee. I am grateful to the Minister for bringing forward the amendment. Of course, whether it is of any great value to the individual still depends on the number and type of locations chosen for attendance and the degree of convenience that can be provided.
During that debate it was pointed out that in some parts of the United Kingdom the distances might be great or the time taken to travel anywhere might be large. Therefore, it would be helpful if the Minister could advise us at the end of this debate, or perhaps give some indication, of the scale of provision that the Government envisage. Unless they provide a sufficient number of locations, well suited to the convenience of people, this will still be a pretty intolerable burden imposed, particularly on those who do not find travel easy or for whom there are few facilities for travel.
My Lords, could I ask whether such locations will be provided on every inhabited island, particularly when trying to roll out this scheme to the northern and western islands of Scotland?
My Lords, I thank the Government for bringing forward the amendment, which is a considerable advance on where we were and takes into account most of the nub of what I was endeavouring to achieve in a previous amendment.
My Lords, I hear the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, and the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie.
Obviously, when we had the earlier debate, I think the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, and I were at loggerheads about numbers. I cannot really give much more detail. When we had that debate it was clear, at least from the way in which the UK Passport Service was developing, that it would have many more fixed-point locations. I can assure the noble Lord that the Government envisage that a person will have to travel no more than one hour to get to an enrolment centre.
The other important point I made at the earlier stage of debate on this was that we will be able to establish and develop—it is so intended—mobile enrolment centres. The question of whether we could have an enrolment centre on every inhabited island does not really arise. What we will be able to do is to take enrolment to every inhabited island, if that is the appropriate, efficient and effective way of doing it. Of course we will need to be sensitive to those who have acute mobility problems and so on.
This is a service that will be sensitively developed and designed. I have no doubt that we will be able to provide many more points of contact between a service based around the UK Passport Service than is currently the case, with very few UK Passport Service centres and locations.
In some way that travels towards those issues concerning the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, and I hope that it covers the point raised by the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie. I am glad to hear that the amendment is welcomed across your Lordships' House.
moved Amendment No. 43:
Page 5, line 32, at end insert—
"( ) The power of the Secretary of State to make regulations containing (with or without other provision) any provision that he is authorised to make by this section is exercisable, on the first occasion on which regulations are made under this section, only if a draft of the regulations has been laid before Parliament and approved by a resolution of each House."
On Question, amendment agreed to.
[Amendment No. 44 not moved.]
[Amendment No. 45 not moved.]
My Lords, we are romping through this afternoon with this wonderful co-operation between my Benches and those of the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury. I am sure that Members of the Benches opposite will have a great debt to pay to these Benches by the end of the day as the, shall we say, feisty parts of the debate are being dealt with so speedily. That is my excuse for that interchange and I will stop at that before I sink myself further.
In moving Amendment No. 46, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 52, 52H and 54A. Amendment No. 46 would remove Clause 6 from the Bill and the other amendments are consequential to that. The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that the transition from a so-called voluntary system of ID cards into an all-out compulsory scheme should be made by primary legislation. It is consistent with the Government's commitment in their manifesto that the scheme would be rolled out initially on a voluntary basis. The transition to full compulsion, we say, is a matter of public importance. This is a skeleton Bill and we need to be able to respond effectively to the impact of the so-called voluntary period of registration on the whole process of people entering upon the register, obtaining an ID card and then entering the changes on that register as they move or their circumstances change.
The Government want that transition to all-out compulsion to be made by order, albeit by the novel process of a super-affirmative statutory instrument. We acknowledge that this is an improvement on the usual affirmative procedure, but we believe that it is not robust enough to allow for proper parliamentary consideration of the operation and costs of the ID card scheme during the initial period.
In Committee, I asked the Government to justify the super-affirmative process itself and to explain how it would operate if the House ultimately decided that it would be right to go down this route instead of insisting on primary legislation. There was a very full debate at cols. 1058 to 1073 on
We submit that the Government have not yet proved the case for all-out compulsion based on the provisions of the Bill. The Bill—an enabling Bill—leaves significant questions unanswered. The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, at paragraph 248 of its 4th Report 2003–04, said:
"The move to compulsion is a step of such importance that it should only be taken after the scrutiny afforded by primary legislation: the proposed super-affirmative procedure is not adequate".
"it would be preferable to separate the two phases in order that the compulsory phase would have to be introduced by primary legislation. This would enable Parliament to ensure that the legislation fully reflected experience gained, especially about safeguards, during the voluntary phase".
Again, we agree with that view.
The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee's view, into which I went in some detail in Committee, is that the route to full compulsion—primary or secondary legislation—is to be judged appropriate by one's view on whether or not the initial period is voluntary and whether the House approves of all-out compulsion. At paragraph 20, the committee says that if,
"one considers . . . this Bill as introducing a voluntary scheme which may gradually be extended towards compulsion . . . then the power in clause 6 is inappropriate and a compulsory scheme should only be introduced by means of a bill".
As we recognised in our previous debates, the Government have repeatedly said that the initial period is voluntary. By agreeing to our Amendment No. 38, this House has ensured that the initial period is what the Government have always said it was—voluntary. We continue to believe that any change from that initial voluntary period to one of all-out compulsion must be made by primary legislation.
Our problem with the super-affirmative proposal is that, although interesting, it is no solution to the real question. Would that process ensure that the legislation fully reflected the views of both Houses about the experience gained, especially about safeguards? We feel that it would not.
At Second Reading, I referred to my concerns about the super-affirmative process, in that it would not allow your Lordships' House full powers of amendment and rejection. I referred to the debate in another place on
"What happens if one House modifies and the other does not? What procedure is followed thereafter?"
The Minister responded in this vein:
"I guess that the procedure would be the same as it is now; the elected House, with primacy, would prevail. I would not want there to be any procedure other than that. I will get back to the hon. Gentleman with regard to the detail of how the process would work on the Floor of the House, but from my point of view it is clear that the elected House will ultimately determine whether and how the order goes forward".—[Official Report, Commons Standing Committee D, 12/7/05; col. 216.]
The noble Baroness dealt with my queries in Committee with her usual great courtesy and tried to persuade me that I need not be too concerned. She gave significant assurances. She said that,
"my honourable friend was probably referring to the final way in which we would have to implement this if the super-affirmative procedure was not adopted. I think he meant that if both Houses did not agree, ultimately it would be up to the other place to determine the matter by primary legislation".—[Official Report, 12/12/05; col. GC1070.]
The difficulty is that the Minister with policy direction of this matter has not taken the opportunity to confirm either to this House or to another place whether what the noble Baroness thinks is what he probably meant is in fact the case. I am aware that Ministers in another place acknowledged in the press during last summer that they knew that there were problems with the super-affirmative process, but we have heard no more of that.
Whatever the position on that matter—whether we can between us resolve that there is a power of this House both to modify and then reject the super-affirmative process—I would say more. I would say that that is still not the appropriate method by which to move from the so-called voluntary period to one of all-out compulsion. I believe so simply because our discussion of the Bill during six days in Committee and, so far, two days on Report has shown that the information about it is so lacking, the costs so obscure in everything but their massive size, and the details as yet so far from being determined that, even if the scheme were to go ahead on a genuinely voluntary basis, then substantial change would inevitably be needed. That can properly be done only by the mechanism of primary legislation. We believe that Parliament is owed nothing less than that. I beg to move.
My Lords, no one seriously doubts that there is a difference in principle between a scheme which is voluntary—even if it is only partly voluntary, as a result of requirements to register if certain steps are taken—and one which makes registration compulsory. There is a world of difference between them. How can it possibly be right to move from a compulsory scheme by the use of secondary legislation, even with the super-affirmative procedure? That is the question.
If the use of the super-affirmative procedure meant that both Houses had to agree that the time had come when the scheme should become compulsory, I would have thought that the super-affirmative procedure provided a real safeguard. Yet, as my noble friend has pointed out, that is not the case at all. The Government apparently take the view that this House would have no right to reject an order under Section 7 making the scheme compulsory. That is certainly what the Minister said in Committee in the Commons on
My Lords, to clear this up, I confirm that what I said previously about how the super-affirmative procedure would work is correct. If both Houses did not agree, the matter would have to come back by separate primary legislation. So this House would be able to amend and/or alter, as would the other place.
My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Baroness for saying that. I hope that what she says is not later repudiated, because it runs entirely counter to what was said in the other place. In view of what she has said, I hope that we will soon have a statement from the appropriate Minister in the other place that what he said was wrong and that he retracts it. Otherwise, we are still left in the extraordinary position of a categoric statement having been made by the responsible Minister in the Commons and the noble Baroness saying precisely the opposite. That puts us in some difficulty.
My Lords, I strongly support my noble friend Lady Anelay. I start from a simple premise, which is that we have far too much legislation in general and far too much secondary legislation. Much secondary legislation has been ill digested, ill drafted and ill conceived and is highly bureaucratic and burdensome on the people of this country. That something as important as this should be suggested for secondary legislation is, to me, absolutely absurd. Although I personally strongly support the need for a national identity register, I have severe doubts whether the scheme proposed by the Government will work.
My noble friend Lord Crickhowell was kind enough to refer to the shambles and chaos of the firearms register. I noted that the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland, said that the new register will be administered by the Passport Agency. I agree with her that the Passport Agency has recently performed rather well, but I remind her that my noble friend Lady Anelay and I visited the Passport Agency about two years ago. We detected a huge shambles in many of its procedures and safeguards. I do not for one moment claim that anything that I said—or even, perhaps, anything that my noble friend said—at our meeting with the heads of the administration of the Passport Agency resulted in its improvement, but I welcome the improvement.
The identity card scheme as introduced in the Bill may well need significant amendment before we move to a universal, compulsory system. That must mean that there should be primary legislation. If this House has any role at all—and, of course, it does—it is that of detailed scrutiny of the practicality of schemes, legislation and the administration of this country. I therefore hope that the Government will accept the amendment.
My Lords, there is a particular reason why compulsion must be introduced under primary legislation. If the order is made rendering registration compulsory, under Clause 6(2), that imposes on every individual an obligation to apply to the registrar. The consequence of making an application to the registrar is that the person must pay a fee—a fee for something that he specifically does not want but that he cannot get out of having. As the noble Baroness, technically correctly, says: "If you feel so strongly about an identity card, you can go without a passport and a driving licence. Then you do not have to have an identity card". But once the scheme is compulsory you have to have one. To my knowledge, for the very first time, a government are saying that every inhabitant of this country is required to have a document which we shall give him and he has to pay for it. To my knowledge, that is unique and wholly objectionable.
The noble Baroness could say, "If you feel so strongly about it, you could emigrate". But the trouble is that if she has her way I shall not have a passport and I shall not even be able to emigrate. So, finding I cannot emigrate, I suppose my only choice is to go to Beachy Head, jump off and do away with myself—and then, I accept, I shall not need to have one. But that is a somewhat strange definition of voluntary.
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Viscount for giving way. I think that he may be wrong. If he does not kill himself, he will find that before getting treatment at the hospital he has to produce his ID card.
My Lords, that is all right because then if I do not get treated I shall die and, therefore, I shall not have to have the card.
Can the Minister give us another example of someone who is compelled to do something, and to pay a fee for something, he did not want? I did not choose to come into this world. If the Government's proposition is right, the only people who should be made to pay for the ID card are my parents, not me.
My Lords, I am glad that the noble Viscount has put into place the extraordinary argument advanced by the Minister in our previous debate about what constitutes a voluntary scheme. I thought that to describe the scheme as voluntary simply because there was no obligation for you to apply for a passport, and that you could exclude yourself from the pleasure of going abroad, was a pretty thin argument; but it has been made even thinner by the noble Viscount.
I am also glad that the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, made the point about the previous record of the Passport Office. Yes, it has done quite well recently but initially it made an absolute shambles of things. So I am not sure that I am filled with quite the degree of confidence that I was supposed to be on being told by the ministerial Bench that it was not going to be like the firearms scheme where the Government had to rely on the Home Office incompetence but that they were handing it over to someone else who might do the job better. It says something about the confidence of Ministers now in the Home Office of their ability to run a scheme that they advance such an argument.
There are two phases of this great project. First, there is what might be called the "You all love it, you all want it, you will all want to have these identity cards and therefore we shall go along with it and we are giving you a great privilege" phase. Then there is the second phase. At some time in the future, the Government will say, "No, it is not a question of what you want but what we want". They will insist that you have it whether or not you like it. We heard from the Minister that the system was being phased in in that way—that they were trying to avoid the big move to compulsion.
One of the most extraordinary features of the project is the timescale, to which the Minister referred earlier—the initial consultation in, I think, 2002; the announcement in the House in November 2003; and here we are at the start of 2006. Yet even that first phase, debated in the previous amendment, will not be implemented until 2008; and the really compulsory phase, when everyone is brought in, will be quite a long time after that. I cannot remember exactly when, but Ministers have made it clear that there will be quite a long pause before we get there.
Yet we are told that the whole object of this compulsory scheme is to deal with serious problems afflicting the nation: fraud, crime, illegal immigration and terrorism; so we have to have this great scheme. But it cannot be as urgent as that or we would be introducing it now. I find it extraordinary that, while we are waiting to see how the scheme works and for the reports of the commissioner on how it operates in practice—I hope we will have those reports before we reach the final compulsion stage—we are told, "Oh well, we can rely on the debates held at the introduction of this legislation. We may then be content with the order-making power", enhanced or fallible though it may be in the way that has been hinted at. By then, our experience may be so different from what the Government have indicated at this stage that our knowledge about the effective ways to address the political problems of issues such as fraud and crime may be quite different. We may have changed our view on terrorism by then. Surely we ought to be able to debate these matters in the normal way, thus making sure that the detailed legislation then introduced is correct and able to deal with the situation at the time. It would build on the experience gained during the long period of the scheme's introduction.
Over the years, surely we have learnt one thing: the devil is in the detail. I remember how the great parliamentarian Tam Dalyell would repeat that saying again and again during our constitutional debates. How right he was to do so. It is as true today as it was then. Just because the timescale is so extended there is an overwhelming case, in addition to that so eloquently described by my noble friend in moving the amendment, for ensuring that we start again and look at the situation as it exists at that point. Parliament should have its normal rights and freedom to carry out the job of seeing legislation through in the appropriate manner.
My Lords, this amendment is essential. During the early stages of seeing whether the ID card scheme works, we will see examples of petty officialdom acting ultra vires and trying to control movements when they should not do so. Perhaps it will be irritating to have your position vis-à-vis parking fines and other minor infringements checked before you leave the country to go on holiday. That is perfectly feasible and probably sensible, but what if an appeal is pending and it has not been registered properly? What if one evening you are mugged or your pocket is picked and your ID card is lost, but you have to travel shortly afterwards; how will you get another ID card to do so? Those noble Lords who have tried to use their House of Lords ID card to get on an aeroplane to Scotland will know that it is not a sufficient proof of identity.
Lots of issues may arise. In the light of our experience, we may want to return to primary legislation to introduce stronger safeguards for the ordinary citizen. To trust an executive department of state to introduce those protections is foolhardy. History has taught us that that is unwise.
We should also remember that all the assurances given to us by the noble Baroness on the Front Bench, while completely honest at the moment, must be taken in the light that no Parliament can bind its successor. After the next general election, Ministers may well change their minds entirely. Indeed, on certain other issues we have seen the same Minister come back to this House with completely different opinions after a general election. None of this is set in stone and therefore it must be set out in primary legislation. Indeed, we may well find by then that local authority entitlement cards and others of that nature are quite sufficient for our purposes, and that we do not need to waste our money. Perhaps we will want to introduce legislation to ensure that they are better used. So many different things could come out of the trial period we are about to enter that merely to move on to the next stage by a super-affirmative order-making procedure is foolish and foolhardy. We must go back to primary legislation in order to move further down this track.
My Lords, I support the noble Lord's amendment. The Government must be given some credit for the super-affirmative procedure. It is obviously a great deal stronger than normal procedure for a statutory instrument. But I am persuaded that the issues behind this important Bill, both of principle and of practicality, such as the technology, the corruptibility and the cost, all classically make the decision to go to compulsion one that should be taken by primary legislation. I am sure some noble Lords think that is a way of preventing this ever happening, but I do not see it that way.
There has been a flood of Home Office legislation through this House. At no time in recent years have there not been at least two Home Office Bills going through this place. If at some future time a government are persuaded that it is working and it is not corruptible, it seems relatively straightforward to have two or three sections in a Bill that are compatible with the proposal for compulsion, and we can deal with it then. The other point is that, even with the super-affirmative procedure, you are apt to come on after dinner, and, to be honest, that aborts the prospect of a full House giving full consideration to the matter.
My Lords, I am still unclear about the Government's position on this. Are they saying that if both Houses were not to agree to an order, it would fall and there would have to be primary legislation, or that the normal convention would apply, and it would be a constitutional outrage if we were actually to vote against an order? I suspect it is the latter, and, if so, there is no real safeguard at all in the super-affirmative procedure.
My Lords, I do not know why the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, is pointing his gun at me. I am a mere opposition spokesman—not even a spokesman, just a Back-Bencher. As I understood the Minister, she made it quite clear that the latter scenario is not relevant. If both Houses reject on a super-affirmative basis, that's it. Indeed, it would be a nonsense to call it "super" anything if that was not "it", so I am assuming that it is. I am still saying that primary legislation is appropriate for the reasons mentioned, and therefore I support the amendment.
My Lords, it surely must be right, when you are taking the step from voluntarism to compulsion, that there should be primary legislation. Everyone who has spoken so far agrees that should be so. After all, whether or not it is a "super" procedure, in the House of Commons they will probably have three hours at most to discuss the matter. When it comes here we may discuss it for even longer, but the fact is that it will go through on one single occasion. A decision as great as converting the system from voluntary to compulsory will go through both Houses in less than a day. That simply cannot be right. I wonder why the Government will not accept this amendment. It would be in their own interests to do so. It would make them appear less authoritarian and more concerned with individual freedom and the rights of not only this House, but of the House of Commons as well.
The step to compulsion is, let me emphasise, huge. It converts the decision whether to have an identity card from the individual to the Government. That is a huge step. The Government do not seem to understand what they are doing. The amendment would be good from the Government's point of view because they would convince people that they do believe in individual freedom and that they do believe in proper parliamentary process before large steps are taken. That would be good for the Government; it would help them with the electorate.
In addition, if the Government accepted the amendment, they would gain time. We will be into the next election and perhaps electing a new government by the time this scheme goes into operation. The Government and the Labour Party would have the opportunity to gain the authority of the people for a compulsory scheme because they could put it in their manifesto. As we know, the Government were very concerned—except in certain cases—to adhere to the manifesto commitment. They could seek the authority of the people for the measure if they put it in a manifesto. That seems a very good argument for the Government to accept this amendment.
There is another point. The Labour Party—new Labour—may very well want to change its attitude. We should make no mistake about the fact that many people in the Labour Party are very concerned about this legislation and its implications for individual freedom. It is perfectly possible that the Labour Party itself would wish to go back to its roots and defend individual freedom by changing the policy of compulsory identity cards and a compulsory register. So from the point of view of the Labour Party, accepting this amendment would give it the opportunity to further discuss the implications of this legislation. But, above all, such a change deserves proper discussion and proper scrutiny in both Houses before it is made compulsory for the British people. Whether people are in favour of or against the scheme, I believe that virtually everyone, except perhaps the Government and some of their supporters, believes that it should not be made compulsory until there has been a big discussion not only in this House and in the House of Commons but publicly as well.
My Lords, I suggest that the measure requires rather more than discussion; it requires the consent of the people achieved by reason of a manifesto which sets out that it is to be compulsory. For example, under Clauses 4 and 5, an individual is required compulsorily to attend at a specified place and time to give information about himself and to be registered. That to me has a biblical ring about it. It is like the decree of Caesar Augustus which required Joseph and Mary to take their family from Nazareth to Bethlehem. It could have all sorts of consequences. We might get three wealthy illegal immigrants bringing gifts. Who knows where this will end? But the serious point is that the consent of the people to compulsion must be obtained before this register and the identity card are made compulsory.
My Lords, enthusiasm for this amendment must be affected by the importance placed on the liberty of the individual and the reduction of that liberty implied by the scheme's becoming compulsory. The Joint Committee on the Constitution clearly thought not only that the relationship of the citizen to the Government was greatly altered by a compulsory scheme, but that the moment that limitation took place was the point at which the scheme became compulsory. It recommended what this amendment would provide: that there should be primary legislation before the change is made.
That has been very fully discussed. We have not discussed so much the point made by the noble Earl, Lord Erroll, that Parliament will need, after the many years of the so-called voluntary scheme, to change various arrangements in the present Bill. Some of it will not work very well; some of it will need to be tweaked in various ways and that will be the opportunity. None of that could happen with a super-affirmative resolution. All that could happen would be a debate and acceptance or rejection. There will be a debate, yes, and then a pause, because it is a super-affirmative resolution, before implementation. Primary legislation will give us a proper opportunity to make any necessary changes. I had not given proper thought to that important point. I am sure that this amendment is of enormous importance and I hope we will accept it.
My Lords, can I make it clear why the Government absolutely do not accept it? It is because this is primary legislation that we are now debating. This is the Act in which the whole issue of compulsion or no compulsion should be determined. We have had an extensive opportunity to discuss whether this is a matter on which noble Lords and the other place can concur. I have, in answering the last amendment, set out part of the history demonstrating how the Government sought to deal with the question of compulsion. Since 2002 we have said that this issue will be dealt with in two stages.
The whole point of using the word "initially" was to indicate the two-stage process that we had already put before this House and the other place, first as a draft Bill and then as the Bill that was actively under consideration before the election. We argue strongly that, as far as compulsion is concerned the people of this country have already spoken. They spoke during the election.
My Lords, I apologise for interrupting the noble Baroness, but I do not understand why the second stage should prevent one learning from experience. One of the advantages of doing it in two stages is that you have the opportunity to learn from experience. Yet what the noble Baroness is proposing is making that, if not impossible, then very difficult.
My Lords, I absolutely agree with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, that it is important to learn from experience. The way in which the Government have set out the two-stage process enables us to do just that. The principle of compulsion would be decided, but the mechanics of how it would be brought in would be amenable to change and sensitive to what we will have learnt between the first and second stages.
There has been implicit criticism that, in taking time to evolve these proposals, we have not been as speedy as we could, bearing in mind the urgency of the situation. The Government are placed in an interesting situation, in which we are determined to be balanced, proportionate and practical in the way we roll this out. We are determined to get the process right.
The super-affirmative resolution procedure gives us an opportunity for enhanced flexibility greater than that that we have had hitherto. Noble Lords have complained in the past that one of the disadvantages of the affirmative resolution procedure is that you cannot amend. It is a bit like a curate's egg—one either accepts or rejects. The tradition has been that, if the majority of the content of an order is acceptable, one accepts those things with which one may disagree, because it is better to have the majority of issues as opposed to the few. The super-affirmative procedure, for the first time, would give this House and the other place an interesting opportunity, because it would allow them to have a voice about the detail of the provision proposed.
That is the whole purpose for the procedure in Clause 7, which deals with the issues raised by the noble Lord, Lord Waddington. The procedure provides explicitly that the report laid before Parliament must contain all the details of the proposal for compulsion. That proposal can be modified by either House—your Lordships' House or the other place. "Modification" is defined in the Bill as including omission, addition or alteration. Only if both Houses agree on the final report, with or without modification, can the order be made by the Secretary of State, subject to the normal affirmative procedure. That gives the House certainty, in terms of the fact that it is a compulsory scheme; an ability to learn from experience, as the noble and learned Lord indicated; and flexibility on implementation.
I made it clear on the previous occasion, and sought to do so by my intervention when the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, was making his remarks in support of the application, that the super-affirmative resolution procedure is as I have more fully now described. The description given by my honourable friend in another place refers to the final position—that if both Houses do not agree, separate and different primary legislation would have to be brought in to implement anything in the order.
I should correct what I am sure was not an intentional comment on the outcome from the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, because I think that the noble Baroness has never knowingly misled the House, and I am sure that she did not intend to so do on this occasion. However, it is right for us to look at paragraph 20, to which she referred, in toto, because it clearly describes two different situations. Perhaps I should read it, for completeness. It states:
"Any assessment of the appropriateness of this delegation of power is dependent on whether one considers this bill as introducing a voluntary scheme which may gradually be extended towards compulsion, or a bill which provides for a compulsory scheme preceded by a voluntary stage. If the former (i.e. if the House is not at this time willing to endorse the principle of a compulsory scheme for all), then the power in clause 6 is inappropriate and a compulsory scheme should only be introduced by means of a bill. If the latter (which accords with the Minister's invitation at second reading and with the provision in the bill and policy in the memorandum), then the power in clause 6 is the most appropriate method to commence a compulsory scheme. We have taken the latter view, that this bill legislates in principle for a compulsory scheme of identity registration for all; and that the super-affirmative procedure proposed for its introduction is thus the most stringent available secondary legislative mechanism for its scrutiny".
We have throughout said that the Government's intention is to introduce a compulsory scheme, but in two stages. I hope that I put that beyond doubt when I said at Second Reading on
"the identity card scheme to be introduced is designed to become compulsory. We therefore need to have the debate on the principle of compulsion now".—[Hansard, 31/10/05; col. 16.]
I did not say that it should be debated on another date; I said "now". This is the primary legislation, on which this House and the other place have an opportunity to express their view and say yea or nay; they should not do so on another occasion. The Government's proposals, which command consistent public support, are for a national identity card scheme which will in time become compulsory. I remind your Lordships that the most recent Home Office research shows that around 73 per cent of people support the introduction of identity cards. Indeed, people often ask why we cannot introduce compulsory identity cards straightaway.
When we move to compulsion, leaving aside any exceptional categories, it will then be compulsory for every British citizen resident in the UK and all foreign nationals resident for more than three months to register, backed up by civil financial penalties for failure to comply. That is the scheme that we are talking about. Through the special super-affirmative procedure set out in Clause 7, Parliament will have the opportunity to debate the precise details, but the debate will be about the timing of compulsion and the categories of individuals to be included in the compulsion order, not the principle.
My Lords, the Minister has not really answered the point made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner—that primary legislation for the second part would give the opportunity to learn from experience. She indicates that the affirmative order procedure would enable a number of changes to be made to the original scheme, but the difference is that the changes proposed by bureaucrats may not be as good or effective as those that Parliament might wish to make. So far as I can understand her description of the procedure, there would not be the equivalent of, as it were, a Committee stage, with detailed changes made to the proposal. If it is the same, why on earth not have primary legislation to do it?
My Lords, I hoped that I had addressed fully the noble and learned Lord's points. Having had such an extensive debate on this Bill and debated the issues on principle, we then have an opportunity properly to look at the detail. The super-affirmative resolution procedure allows us to look at that detail and debate the different issues by way of an amendment on each of the matters, so this House and the other place could have the debate on the detail. We argue strongly that that would be the better course.
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the Minister, but she mentioned a couple of minutes ago that the Home Office survey had produced a result of 72 per cent in favour. Does she agree that when we discussed the regional government Bill, we were told that 72 per cent of the population supported regional government, but when it came to a vote of the people, they rejected it by a figure of 3.5 or 4 to 1? Did she also hear "Any Questions?" on Friday or Saturday, in which the audience, after hearing the matter debated extensively, voted virtually unanimously against identity cards, compulsory or otherwise?
My Lords, I hear what the noble Lord says about that. We can only invite noble Lords to look at the consistent data which we have put before them about the way in which the public have responded. It would be absolutely clear to any of us who remember the previous election that whether we should have ID cards was a plank of a number of the debates between the various parties. We made it clear that we wanted ID cards; noble Lords on the Liberal Democrat Benches made it clear that they did not; and noble Lords opposite had an interesting position.
My Lords, I do not want to enter the private grief of noble Lords opposite, but it was clear that their position was divided. I see the noble Baroness shaking her head. There was a difference in the positions adopted by her then leader, Michael Howard, and the then spokesman for home affairs about the approach.
We made it absolutely clear that this was a major issue; the Government put their agenda to the public on the basis of the Bill; and the public spoke. The Government are of the view that this Bill is the primary legislation. It is for this House to decide whether a compulsory scheme is the right way forward. We agree with the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee that, bearing in mind that the Government have adopted the latter construct in paragraph 20 of its report, this would be the best way forward. I invite the noble Baroness to withdraw the amendment.
My Lords, as ever, I am grateful to the Minister. On the issue of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, she is right that I do not ever mislead the House, certainly not intentionally. I referred to the full debate in Committee because I thought that it would be rather tedious for those who were not able to be with us at that time to be taken through every argument. What I was able to show there was that, whether the Government believed that the whole Bill provided for a compulsory scheme preceded by a voluntary phase or whether the initial phase was not at all voluntary, I still won both ways in the argument. Paragraph 20 of the report says:
"Whether one considers this Bill as introducing a voluntary scheme which may gradually be extended towards compulsion"— which the House has now decided it should be—
"or a Bill which provides for a compulsory scheme preceded by a voluntary stage".
The noble Baroness said that if it is the latter, that supports the Government. Our argument has been that the Government's definition of "voluntary" is: "if you do not want a new passport, you'll never leave this country and we will make sure of that". That is not voluntary by any definition by people outside this House or, I think, by most people inside it.
We went through the construct of that paragraph. I have huge respect for the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee. I do not think that I am going to be working against its recommendations in anything that I have argued, either in Committee or today.
I am grateful to the Minister for putting so clearly on the record her assurances about the way in which she would anticipate the super-affirmative procedure going forward. For whatever reason, that clarity was not provided in the other place. She has provided it today. As ever, her clarity and her reassurances are accepted 100 per cent. However, the noble Earl, Lord Erroll, pointed out that one government cannot bind the next with such assurances. So, on a matter as significant as the transfer between an alleged voluntary scheme to one of compulsion, is a super-affirmative procedure adequate? For all the reasons adduced by noble Lords today, we believe that it is not; that the move to all-out compulsion is of too great significance. As the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, said, the issues of principle, practicality and cost are the classic decisions that can be taken only after the detailed consideration and reflection that primary legislation allows us. The Minister said that the Government are trying to take a balanced, proportionate and practical approach. I believe her, because that is the way in which she approaches her work in this House. It is because of that important need to do exactly as she said and to take a balanced, proportionate and practical approach to the transition to compulsion that my amendment is necessary. I beg leave to test the opinion of the House.
Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.
[Amendments Nos. 47 and 48 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]
Clause 7 [Procedure for orders under s. 6]:
[Amendment No. 49 not moved.]
[Amendment No. 50 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]
[Amendment No. 51 not moved.]
moved Amendment No. 52A:
Page 7, line 16, leave out "as part of or" and insert "is issued"
My Lords, in moving the amendment, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 52J.
The amendment alters Clause 8(1)(a), which, as the Explanatory Notes inform us, aims to set out the procedure for issuing ID cards. The amendment removes the ability to make an ID card part of a designated document, thus ensuring that it has to be a separate, self-standing form of identification. The second amendment is consequential to that separation of the ID card from being part of a designated document, and inserts the phrase,
"and who indicates his wish to have an ID card", at the end of subsection (4)(b). This highlights the important point that the choice of having an ID card and what is recorded on it should be the choice of the individual, just as the choice of registration should be voluntary.
We debated the ins and outs of designated documents when we discussed Clauses 4 and 5. We on these Benches feel that this scheme should be voluntary, as the Government initially wished it to be—as the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland, indicated. Indeed, she made the point that the card will be a useful form of identification, for example, in accessing public services—although, paradoxically, the Government will not make it compulsory for anyone to carry it.
Clause 15 sets out the powers to make public services conditional on identity checks. Subsection (1) states that regulations may require a person who provides a public service,
"to make it a condition of providing the service to an individual that the person produces—(a) an ID card; (b) other evidence of registrable facts about himself; or (c) both".
By potentially combining the ID card as part of a designated document, not only are you then making what could then be two forms of identification into one—not that we agree limiting what could be used under Clause 15(1)(b)—but importantly, it is yet another method of ensuring compulsion by stealth.
The example given in the Explanatory Notes describing an ID card as part of a designated document is of a joint,
"residence permit issued to a foreign national".
While the notes do not mention other options—indeed, they state that an ID card would be a separate card issued with passports—there is nothing in the Bill to say that it will be joint residence permits only. There is nothing to stop ID cards being made part of all designated documents. The amendment would prevent that possibility from occurring, and thus help maintain a truly voluntary scheme for which so many noble Lords voted in Clause 5. I beg to move.
My Lords, Amendment No. 52A would prevent an ID card being issued as a combined document with a designated document. We could not proceed with our plans to designate, for example, residence permits, issued to foreign nationals so that they would in themselves be both residence permits and ID cards.
We have a number of reasons for wishing to do that. First, it is planned in any event to improve the standard of the residence permit, so that instead of being a sticker in the back of a passport it is a separate card with biometric identifiers. As a residence permit is a document that non-EU foreign nationals already need to obtain if seeking to remain in the United Kingdom—as a student, or to work here—it is sensible to designate residence permits. It would in theory be possible to issue a separate ID card along with a residence permit, but that would be unnecessary duplication and much less convenient for the individual than receiving a single card that serves all identification needs.
Incidentally, there is a precedent for that approach in the rest of Europe. Those EU countries that issue identity cards to their own nationals, such as France or Germany, also issue residence permits as an equivalent form of identity document to foreign nationals resident in those countries. Some have suggested that in future it might make sense to combine a driving licence with an ID card. Again that would not be possible unless we retain the power in the Bill for the designated document itself to become the ID card.
Amendment No. 52J would require a person to indicate his wish to have an identity card before he or she could be issued with an identity card in accordance with Clause 8(4). I can reassure noble Lords that there is no intention to issue identity cards to people who have not applied for one. They will be issued only to individuals who are either entitled to them, as set out in Clause 2(2), or if not entitled to be issued with one, in the very particular circumstances to be made in regulations under Clause 8(5). That might include people who are not United Kingdom residents, but for whom there might be good reasons to have their details entered on the register and to be issued with an identity card, such as for example, someone living in Ireland who works in Northern Ireland, or someone who lives in France but works in England.
The key point, however, is that subsection (6) of Clause 8 must be complied with before an identity card can be issued. An application for an identity card will have to be made before an identity card can be issued to an individual. As subsection (4) of Clause 8 must be read in conjunction with subsection (6), there can be no question of issuing an identity card to anyone who does not apply for one. On that basis there is no need to add the wording in Amendment No. 52J to Clause 8(4) as, before being issued with an identity card, the person concerned will already have made an application for one.
I hope that it is clear from what I have said that, first, we need to retain the power for designated documents to be an ID card, and secondly, that no one who has not made an application in the first instance will be issued with an identity card, in line with Clause 8(6). I ask the noble Baroness to withdraw Amendment No. 52A, and not to move Amendment No. 52J.
moved Amendment No. 52B:
Page 7, line 21, leave out from "that" to end of line 22 and insert "the individual has consented should be recorded"
My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 52B, I shall also speak to the consequential amendment, Amendment No. 52E.
The aim of the amendments is to break the link between ID cards and the register. The first amends subsection (2)(a) so that the card will record registrable facts about the individual that he has consented should be recorded, rather than facts that are already part of the entry on the register. Meanwhile, the second amendment is a consequential one to subsection (3)(a), to remove the words, "only the prescribed information" and insert,
"such of the prescribed information as the individual has consented to be recorded".
We have already highlighted that it should be the individual's personal choice to decide whether to sign up to the register when applying for a new passport or other designated documents. That naturally follows on from the debate. The wording, as it stands in subsection (1)(a), broadly suggests that all registrable facts that are already recorded as part of an individual's entry in the register could be transferred to the ID card itself. Surely the individual should be able to choose which of the necessary registrable facts are recorded on his card, rather than automatically having all those that are recorded on the register transferred.
The example that springs to mind is that of addresses. For identification purposes you only have to prove your main abode—usually achieved by taking along a utility bill or a driving licence. As the Minister explained during debates on Clause 1, the Government have made provision, by Amendment No.7, for the address of every other place in the UK or anywhere else he has a place of residence to be registered, covering holiday homes as well as foreign students' accommodation. We welcomed that move, but it means that there may be more than one current address on the register. Surely the individual should be able to choose which one—if there are two in the UK—should be shown on his card, rather than having the potential for both to be shown.
Similarly, should it not be the individual's choice about which telephone number or e-mail address he wants on the card? Although I have not checked, it occurs to me that the separation of the register and the information recorded on the card could be another method by which the individual's data rights can be protected to some degree. Will the Minister clarify exactly which registrable facts will be transferred to the ID card? Will it be the same for each individual? Who will decide which ones are transferred for each individual? I beg to move.
My Lords, Amendments Nos. 52B and 52E would require holders of identity cards to provide consent before information can be recorded on their card. I hope to provide noble Lords with some reassurance about what will be held on the card. Although perhaps well-intentioned, the amendments would undoubtedly hamper the effective operation of an ID card scheme, and would not build the desired public trust in the scheme that noble Lords seek.
The scenario envisaged introduces a pick-and-choose system for the contents of an ID card, which is unprecedented for official documentation. The information recorded on passports, driving licences, birth certificates, and so on, is largely uniform, and there is no evidence of significant public dissatisfaction with that approach. Similarly, banks and building societies do not ask customers what information they wish to place on the chip of their credit or debit card; nor have they reported that a clamour of people are wishing to find out. The same applies with enquiries on the information held on the machine reader zone on passports. Instead such a system may lead to unintended negative consequences, as the Government have previously stated.
It is intended that the identity card for British nationals will serve as a travel document that is recognised under International Civil Aviation Organisation regulations for travel within the EEA. In addition, identity cards for foreign nationals are intended to serve as residence permits. In order to fulfil those roles, the identity card will be designed to meet international standards that govern the format and information to be held on these documents. However, if the amendments were passed, there would be no guarantee that all the cards would meet those standards, creating confusion when handling those documents at key points, such as border controls.
Such lack of uniformity among the identity cards may also lead to problems. It would not only be operationally difficult to manage and drive up costs, it may also undermine trust in the scheme and create problems for the cardholder. Again, there would be confusion between the hundreds of variations of identity cards in circulation. User organisations and other individuals may also wonder why a person has chosen to include one field and exclude another, leading to unnecessary questions.
I reassure noble Lords that I appreciate their interest and concern about what information will be on the card. I assure them that the Government have no intention of placing any unusual or surprising information on the card. As we stated in Committee, we will not be placing any personal information on the chip that the cardholder does not already know about. Indeed, the Secretary of State does not have the power to place information on the card at will. Instead, Parliament must approve the information to be recorded on the card, as laid down in regulations subject to affirmative procedure.
In practice, the information held on the identity card for British nationals is not anticipated to vary much from the information found on a passport. In addition, it is currently anticipated that the format of the card and the contents of the chip will be explained in information materials made available to each cardholder, and an individual would be free to make a data subject access request under the Data Protection Act if they wished to make a further check. There will be, as the Government have stated, no address or telephone number held on the face of the card. If verification of address is necessary, it can be done against the register. What appears on the card will be set out in affirmative regulations.
The noble Baroness sees her amendment as benign, but her desire to break the link between the card and register, if these amendments were agreed to, would seriously undermine the effectiveness of the scheme. I do not think that is entirely what the noble Baroness wants; I hope it is not. Noble Lords on the main opposition Benches have said that ultimately they believe in a voluntary scheme, and I am sure that the noble Baroness would want that scheme to be effective. We happen to believe that the scheme can only be effective if it is ultimately compulsory, universal and uniform in its main aspects. I invite the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.
moved Amendment No. 52C:
Page 7, line 23, leave out from "facilitating" to end of line 26 and insert "the self-identification of the individual by means of reference to registrable facts"
My Lords, the amendment simplifies the drafting and the purpose of Clause 8(2)(b). As previously discussed, the subsection specifies the use of an ID card. The amendment does exactly what it says; it removes all the words after "facilitating" to the end of the paragraph, and replaces them so that the text would read:
"Carrying data enabling the card to be used for facilitating the self-identification of the individual by means of reference to registrable facts".
That replacement text enables the card to be used for the verification of registrable facts and thus the verification of an individual's identity, but no further. In short, it limits the card to the purpose of identification only. After all, is that not the basic premise of the Government's argument? They want people to be able to prove that they are who they say they are via the use of the ID card: for the use of public services; in the interests of national security; for the prevention or detection of crime; and the enforcement of immigration and prohibitions on illegal working. It will not allow those providing public services to access information recorded in the register that is not on the card. Indeed, is there a need for access to information other than proof of ID? Those who justify the need for access to other data on the register could do so under an application to the Secretary of State as set out in Clause 14(1). I beg to move.
My Lords, I would like to support the amendment wholeheartedly, but unless I have misunderstood it, it is a bit of an Exocet under the water line of one major part of this Bill, which is the provision of a whole lot of other data to a whole lot of other people, unrelated to mere identification. I would love to think that at this late stage of the Bill we could bring it back to identification purposes and away from the larger information purposes, but I shall look forward to what the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, says with anticipation and a certain confidence.
My Lords, Clause 8(2)(b) includes in the definition of an ID card that data should be included on the card which will enable it to support a number of possible verification services considered for the identity card scheme.
I appreciate that Clause 8(2)(b) may appear long-winded, particularly in contrast to the short, sharper wording of Amendment No. 52C. However, I assure noble Lords that Clause 8(2)(b) is necessarily drafted in the way that it is, to accurately describe what is an ID card for the purpose of the Act. The definition does not of course confer any powers to provide information; those are set out in Clauses 14, 17 and 19 to 23. Subsection (2)(b) accurately reflects those powers. Amending the clause in the way proposed would not affect those powers. Nevertheless, we believe it is better that the definition of an ID card should reflect more closely what it is actually intended to do. As the Government have said previously, it is intended that the identity card scheme will offer a number of different types of verification services, from an electronic card validity check to a biometric verification, which may be used for a particular transaction depending on the level of risk and value involved.
Amendment No. 52C would limit the definition so that it only referred to allowing the citizen to identify himself by means of reference to the registrable facts held on the register. It will not always be the case that it is the registrable facts that are verified. For example, an electronic card validity check, PIN verification and a number of different options for remote authentication—which would be aimed at reducing online fraud, for example—may not be covered. Such checks may depend on the data held on the card enabling a check of information on the register that is not a registrable fact but is held on the register. For example, that might be technical information or information held in paragraphs 6 and 8 of Schedule 1; that is whether a card is in force or not and different types of security information. That would then provide a confirmation message in return to the user organisation. Systems using methods such as PIN verification are an established part of life today and are evolving. I cannot imagine that noble Lords intend for their use to be closed off as a possible option for the identity card scheme.
I hope that provides some explanation about why Clause 8(2)(b) is drafted as it is, and I suggest that the noble Baroness withdraws her amendment.
moved Amendment No. 52D:
Page 7, line 26, at end insert—
"(2A) Only one ID card may be held by any individual at any one time.
(2B) Any ID card issued to any individual shall be accompanied by a written statement of all the information held on the ID card.
(2C) Each individual in respect of whom an entry on the Register has been made shall be provided with a written copy of all the information held on the Register relating to him."
My Lords, I rise with something of a heavy heart. This amendment started its life as a simple apostrophe. I had intended to try to find out whether the Short Title of the Bill was correct. I may feel moved to move an amendment to the Short Title to change it from "Identity Cards Bill" to "Identity Register Bill". In the meantime, in seeking as ever to be brief, I looked at whether an apostrophe might effectively be the best way of drafting this amendment. I wanted to know what would happen if I put an apostrophe in "Cards", either before or after the "s". I sat upstairs with some eminent people in the Public Bills Office, who said that apostrophes were not acceptable, meaning that they are not acceptable for things. We looked at all the Bill titles with apostrophes, and they had to do with people. For example, if I introduced a Bill called "Lord Bassam's Benefits of Brighton and Hove Albion Bill", there could be an apostrophe after "Bassam". It was not otherwise possible, they told me.
While I was there, a noble Lord who I shall not mention came in. I asked whether he was good on English, and he said that he had just become president of the English Speaking Union and felt that he might consult. My question was whether, in "Identity Cards", we are talking of one card or lots of cards. I know that the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland of Asthal, will answer this later. When she talked about super-affirmative, I thought that she might be speaking as a form of Mary Poppins: "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious". Or was she some wicked witch in Hansel and Gretel, or something else? She charmingly fails to tell the whole truth, possibly because she does not know it.
My question is simple. If we ask people whether they would benefit from the right to have an identity card, I am sure that more than 72 per cent would say so. If we ask them whether they want this information on a central registry, 72 per cent would probably say no. The right solution is somewhere between the registry and the benefit of the card. If we have a central register and it provides information from which identity cards are produced, does that mean that each identity card is identical, or does it mean that there is a different identity card for different purposes, as associated with the appropriate document?
For example, on what I call a national identity card—the biometric card that goes with a passport—there will be certain standard information. Surely that card will not contain all the data about a particular individual from the register but only the same data as is contained on other people's passports. That is an important issue, because if by any chance there is additional data from the register on those cards which is not standard to other people, the sensitivity of the reader is such that other countries may well be able to lift that data. That would not be in our national interests.
How many different types of identity cards will there be? I regard the standard identity card as the one that goes with the biometric passport, which will have certain defined data and is still a voluntary card. It is a card that people may well want.
I should like to correct the remarks of the noble Baroness from the last time I intervened, when she said that I had said that all passports should be issued free. I did not. I said that as the bulk of people who did not have passports were over the age of retirement, it might be a nice gesture—they might not want to travel—if, as they reach a certain mature age, they could have one, or a card, that would be free. Might there not be an identity card, if it is not the one linked to the passport, that has on it your age, entitlement to a pension, or things of that sort? There may be another one associated with your driving licence or, one day, a gun licence. This is where I find it hard to understand where we are coming from or going to.
The amendment should really only have been introducing an apostrophe, and I gather that, if we were all agreed, it could have one. I think it should be called the "Identity Card's Bill". If, however, it is to be the "Identity Cards' Bill", will the noble Baroness tell me where the apostrophe should go?
In the supplementary part of the amendment, I have suggested that anyone who receives an identity card should when he receives it get a nice friendly letter from the Minister responsible, with her email address and direct telephone number, advising them that she is proud enough to have received a gold card or whatever it might be which offers certain privileges, such as the ability to identify yourself in particular situations, and would contain given information. As I asked the noble Baroness the other day, what documentation issued by which government department is proof of identity for which purposes? She sent me a fairly unclear reply, because the matter is not clear. It would therefore be nice if—if we are issuing these identity cards—we removed all these other pieces of paper as proof of identity. That would provide the voluntary encouragement to have one.
Almost daily we receive direct mail offering us all sorts of Switch cards and other cards setting out what information is on that card. Would it not be polite, proper and gentlemanly to write a letter telling the individual what is on the central register, thereby building a relationship where people would have the right to ask whether something might be removed unless it were absolutely essential—such as the wrong address or a little slip made by a computer operator or typist which changes the postcode by one digit? That can have a major impact on someone's life.
My position is unchanged. I believe that the ultimate proof of identity is an individual's passport. The introduction of a simple identity card linked to that passport, with all the biometric data on it, is the right way to go. I suggest that that is the only way to go. The second stage—when various government departments feel that it would be helpful to everybody—would be to have an identity card that may be associated with your driving licence and may automatically write to you when you reach the age of 70, requiring you to have a new eye test. Perhaps it could be recorded on it the number of times you have been caught by a speeding camera or all that other data. People would not mind if they knew. If that driving licence/identity card was acceptable, it would be perfect.
On human relations, we should give people the right to approve their photograph on these cards. There may be a different photograph on each. We should also give them the right to add any of the identifying marks that have historically been associated with passports.
This is not a frivolous amendment; it is simply a request for a simple answer. What is the maximum number of different identity cards that we think we will be issuing, and for what purposes? I beg to move.
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, can he make one point perfectly clear? Subsection (2B) of his amendment is clear that the statement of information is to be given to the citizen at the time the card is issued. I am not perfectly clear when the information in subsection (2C) is to be given to the citizen. Is it every time that a new entry goes on the register?
My Lords, the noble Lord is very wise, and he should understand that I am not very clear either. But I went upstairs and got help in drafting the provision from the Public Bill Office. I did not think that it was right to suggest that the statement of information should be given every time. I just thought that in the beginning, when the card is issued, the recipient should know what is on the card and in the central register so that he or she could determine the difference between the data.
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Selsdon made one point in particular which interested me very much. He suggested that when people get their card, they should have the contents of the card in writing so that they would know exactly what was on it. That seems essential to me.
Somewhere in the Bill it says that what is in the register will be available to people, that they will know what is in the register under their name. When you get a card, you will immediately want to know what it says to people when put into a slot. Will that be available? I think that that is an important point and would give people confidence in the card.
My Lords, as my noble friend Lord Selsdon explained, the aim of the amendment is not only to ensure, quite sensibly, that only one ID card may be held by any individual at any one time—an aspect I hope to develop in the next amendment—but also that the individual about whom there is an entry on the register is effectively provided with a hard copy, in writing, of all the information held on it relating to him. The question is whether the Government intend to issue an individual with more than one card. At the same time, it highlights a situation that could aid and abet criminals hoping to use the cards or to create additional ones, so stealing an individual's identity.
It seems eminently sensible that one should have a written copy of the information stored about one, where any mistakes can be picked up quickly and efficiently by the individual concerned and the national identity register then alerted to the changes that need to be made. More importantly, this could happen before the individual is charged for having incorrect information on his or her record. Not only will it help maintain a check on the accuracy of data and be a preventive measure against fines, but it will also show willing in terms of allowing people access to their own data as per the Data Protection Act and privacy laws. I await with interest a reply from the Minister.
My Lords, I personally thank the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, for clarifying that I had misunderstood him in relation to the free passports. I had thought that, in answering the other amendment, the noble Lord was suggesting that all stand-alone cards would be free. I now understand what he was saying.
I hope that the noble Lord will remember that, when we were debating this before, I tried to make clear that it would be possible, in due course, for us to look at whether there may be a category of persons who would not need to register, because of either their age or level of infirmity. However, I very much took on board the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, who asserted that many people, notwithstanding their age, might wish to have this right and/or other provisions reducing the amount of money that we may seek to levy on them.
I am sure that the noble Lord would not like the apostrophe either to be after the "s" or between the "d" and the "s", because, as he knows, that would be appallingly bad grammar. It would suggest that the Bill belonged to either one or to many identity cards. I know that the noble Lord, with his normal attention to detail, would not wish that.
Perhaps it is not therefore surprising that the Public Bill Office was reluctant to agree to that, but I know that the noble Lord has a serious point about how many cards we are contemplating. I assure him that it is not our intention that individuals could normally hold more than one card. Indeed, while a person may record in his register entry details of another name he is known by, it will not be possible to have a card in each name.
However, there are a few exceptions: a person under a witness protection scheme who needs to be provided with a second identity, or a very small number of transgender individuals who are in the transition stage of living in their birth and acquired identities. It is planned, subject to certain checks, to provide such individuals with an opportunity to have two cards in order to take account of their needs and to comply with the spirit of recent gender-recognition legislation. Of course, where two cards are issued in such a circumstance, that fact will be recorded in the technical data for the entry. While this is not to be revealed during a normal day-to-day transaction, the information will be available to prevent misuse. Only one card would ever be valid for travel.
Looking at the number of cards possible, just so that we have it absolutely clear, there will be: an identity card for British citizens, issued alongside the British passport and also valid as a travel document; a stand-alone identity card, issued to British citizens who do not hold a passport, and valid for travel in Europe; a plain ID card, not valid for travel and available to British or Irish citizens resident in the United Kingdom; and ID cards linked to residence permits and other immigration documents issued to foreign nationals. Those are the cards that we anticipate being made available.
My Lords, the Minister said something rather interesting then. She talked of, I think, a plain identity card which does not give you the right to travel in Europe. This is news to some of us. In what circumstances will that be issued and will that ID card carry all the full shenanigans—all the Schedule 1 stuff—in terms of register entries?
My Lords, in Committee we ran through the different stages. The noble Lord will know that there will be those who already have an identity card or document from another country, who are here and wish to have a card for the purposes of identity, but who do not have a British citizen's right to travel; therefore, they would have a plain ID card. They would be linked to residence permits. A plain ID card would not be valid for travel, but would be available for British or Irish citizens resident in the UK—so, for those who have not complied with the travel arrangements. That is how it would work.
An issue was raised in relation to the taking of the photograph for the card. I hope that many noble Lords had the advantage of seeing the trial we had here in the House, and would know that it is very easy to change the photograph until it is something that one admires a little more than one sometimes does the average photograph available. That can be dealt with and done easily indeed.
If there is a dispute about the accuracy of the information on the register—the point of the noble Baroness, Lady Seccombe—the normal procedure would be for the individual concerned to inform the Secretary of State of the error. If the matter cannot be resolved by agreement, the data subject has the right to apply for rectification through the civil courts under Section 14 of the Data Protection Act. Inaccuracies or refusal to correct information would also of course be matters that the national identity scheme commissioner would want to investigate and could report to the Secretary of State. All the commissioner's reports must be laid before Parliament. Finally, the powers of the Information Commissioner, including, should it be necessary, the power to issue enforcement notices, will apply to this database just as they do to the government databases.
To recap, the first part of the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, would prevent us issuing two cards where it is in the interests of national security or the protection of vulnerable minorities. I know that that is not what the noble Lord wanted—he wanted me to put on the record how many one would normally have. I hope that I have done that. Although I emphasise that two cards would be held only in very special circumstances, they are important circumstances, thus the provision, although well intended, would perhaps be undesirable. I hope that the noble Lord will accept that.
The second part of the amendment provides that any identity card should be accompanied by a written statement regarding what is held on the register. I understand the reason the noble Lord invites us to comment on that. I can assure him that the Government have no plans to place on the card's chip any information that the person will not be aware of. The contents of the card and the chip are being designed to comply with relevant international standards. It is intended that it will simply contain the information on the face of the card, technical information regarding the functioning of the card itself, a facial image and two fingerprints. That will be clear. The noble Lord is quite right that, just as we prepare documentation for the current passport, we will make available to those applicants information explaining the nature of the application, the consequences of it and how it works. The same sort of approach will be taken in relation to preparation of these matters. Indeed, we will have the interviews so that people will be able to get a very clear explanation there as well.
It is our full intention, therefore, to make cardholders aware of the kind of information that will be held on the chip and the card through the usual type of information that I have just indicated. Furthermore, I hope noble Lords will recall that the information that may be held on the card will be set out in regulations, which will be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. So we will be able to have a look at those and make sure that they are as full as we would like.
The third part of the amendment seeks to provide that each individual in respect of whom an entry has been made should be sent a written copy of the information relating to him. We respectfully suggest that it would be unnecessary and inappropriate to add specific provisions to the Bill in this way. It is important to appreciate that even verification of information on the register would be caught by this amendment, as technically any verification would count as an entry on the register, upon which notification provided to the individual would need to be present. I know that the noble Lord wanted the amendment to apply only to the first registration, so I hope I have explained that.
I hope I have been able to provide some assurance. In many cases, an entry will have been made at an individual's own request, so they will be aware of the contents. The Data Protection Act already lays down general rules that I have tried to explain. We intend that an individual should be able to check current information about himself free of charge via a web portal. That would include information regarding verification requests made in the previous six or 12 months. A full subject access request will be subject to a reasonable fee as provided for in the Data Protection Act, which is currently £10. Thus, those wishing extra clarification are catered for.
I hope that the noble Lord will be satisfied with these clarifications. I thank him for his usual care. The debate has enabled us to give some fairly important reassurances as regards the arguments on the Bill, which I think may be very helpful for those who construe this Bill subsequently.
My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, did I understand her to say that a citizen will get a card which does not indicate externally what is actually on the chip, and that they will not receive a bit of paper accompanying the card indicating what is on the chip? They will not, therefore, know the contents of the card that they have to hand over from time to time. Is that the case? That seems a terrible mistake to me. Quite apart from what is on the register, and the arrangements about that which she has reiterated, what is actually on the card will be of great concern to people. That is what they will have, and they will want to know what they are handing over on request to the health service or whoever, depending on what they are using it for.
My Lords, the individual will know the information on the card. That, as I have described, will be explained in the material which will accompany the application. It will be explained during the meeting. I also tried to draw a distinction between the different types of cards that will be available. There will be the standard identity card for British citizens issued alongside a British passport. That will have on its face certain clear information about the identity of the person et cetera. It will be very clear that this is the travel document. There will then be a stand-alone identity card for those who do not want a passport but who want to travel within Europe on their ID card. Then there will be the plain card, which will not be valid for travel. You will clearly be able to differentiate one from the other. Then there are ID cards which are linked to residence permits and other immigration documents issued to foreign nationals.
I hope that I have reassured noble Lords that it will be very clear to the holders of the card the sort of information that will be contained on it and the use to which it should properly be put.
My Lords, again before the noble Baroness sits down, I took the concern of the noble Baroness to relate to checking that what is on the card is what should be on it. I think the noble Baroness was saying, "We will tell you what should be on the card".
The other thing that made my ear prick up was that the noble Baroness said that there will be a portal through which one can gain access to the actual contents of one's card for, I think she said, a period of six or nine months. Thereafter, one would be able to go through the Data Protection Act, but have to pay a fee of £10. If so, that seems to me to be a heavy imposition on many people I can think of, particularly if we ever get to the point of having a compulsory card. Will the Government think a little more about this and give a little more guidance, because I do not think that many people are expecting to have to pay £10 in order to access information made available a year or so back?
My Lords, I am sorry if I am not as clear as I believe I am being. The chip will only contain what appears on the face of the card—when you get the card, the information will appear on the face—and then the technical and biometric information. The categories of information to be held on the chip will be set out in regulations. So it will be very clear what information the card contains—there it will be on the face of the card. One should be able to look at it and, with the naked eye, determine what information is covered.
On the ability to access and check the current information, a web portal will be available. It will be kept up-to-date and will include information regarding verification requests made in the previous six to 12 months. So, if you wanted to monitor on a continuous basis, every six months you would go in and look to see what is on there, and you would be able to do so free of charge. If you wanted further or other information for some reason, you can use the formal procedure, which will be available under the DPA. You can pay £10 and get the whole screed of information that you want. The £10 is seen at the moment as a reasonable fee to pay in relation to the Data Protection Act. I do not think that it would be unreasonable to expect the same procedures to be adopted. Those who have the advantage of a computer could do it on a daily basis, if they so wished.
My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Baroness. When she said "reassure", I would take out the two letters "re". She assured me some time ago that there would be one identity card. Now I have a feeling that there will be several identity cards. They may all look the same, but they will have different information on them and be used for different purposes.
In preparation for this, I took the liberty of consulting most of the EEA states about their current attitudes to identity cards. The noble Baroness will know that in some countries you no longer have to carry your residence card; in others you have different regulations. At the moment, the Germans are much exercised about biometric data on their new biometric cards and, particularly, the Greens and others feel that this is a complete invasion of privacy. But there is no standard throughout Europe.
This is only a probing amendment, but perhaps the noble Baroness might prepare a schedule indicating her argument that there will be different types of cards for different purposes. There will be a card for people who do not travel and perhaps driving information will be contained on a card. I do not know. I would actually like to have a card containing all my information.
I would like to explain how difficult it is for some of us who have to wander a bit when we often need our birth certificates. I would like my birth certificate data and marriage data on a card. There could be all sorts of exciting things. I have mentioned before that when I have had to prove my identity in some countries, passports having disappeared, it would have been no bad idea to have had tattoos. It may all be fairly easy in this country, since in general we have reasonable officials. We are therefore one of the few countries in the world where an identity card is not really necessary.
I hope that, before we conclude, the Minister might write me a simple letter saying that as we introduce these cards we will eliminate other pieces of paper as proof of identity. Back in my banking days, when introducing a new card we would try to sell it to people. The Government have not made a very good job of selling the card. It could be beneficial; it might even be of use in embassies abroad when someone runs out of money and the embassy cannot help. There are plenty of benefits and side benefits; if it is going to cost money and save the Government money, we should really sell it to the people.
Somebody made a slight mistake earlier by referring to manifestos. I believe that those of us who are in this House by default, or for whatever reason, have a duty to represent all the people. Although I have never had the right to vote, I have made a personal wish to represent the 19 million people who did not vote in the last election, and the 13 million British subjects who live abroad. That is a powerful majority who have not yet had their say. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
moved Amendment No. 52F:
Page 7, line 30, leave out "prescribed period" and insert "life of the individual"
My Lords, this amendment alters Clause 8(3)(c) to ensure that a card issued to an individual is only valid for the duration of the individual's life, and not for a prescribed period which could stretch beyond that. I hope to probe the Minister with a series of questions which will provide the House with more information.
What does the Minister anticipate the prescribed period to be? If there is to be a renewal of cards, and the scheme is made compulsory, will the state pay for the cost of each renewal? Will those renewals differ for each individual, and how will renewal take place? To prevent the interception of post by criminals, I assume that it would require a face-to-face meeting on each occasion—once again, taking up time and effort in people's busy lives.
If the intention is that the period should last longer than the individual, can the Government state why? I see no benefit from maintaining cards beyond the life of their owner. Whose responsibility will it be to inform the registrar and ID authorities that someone has died? Will they have workers trawling the obits, or will the family have to perform that administrative task in their state of grief? If so, will there be a set period within which it must be performed, and what will happen in the case of a missing person? Will he or she remain on the register for the seven years until they can, I understand, be declared legally dead?
We on the Conservative Benches advocate the eradication of entries from the register, as well as the destruction of cards, as soon as an individual ceases to need them in person. Will the register be wiped clean of a person's records once he has died? Will there be a retraction and destruction processes which collect the cards of the deceased or will it rely on other family members shredding them, as we do with credit cards? I wonder whether, in years to come, people will keep ID cards as family heirlooms, locking them in time capsules for future generations to find. So, this aspect raises many questions which I hope the Minister can answer. I beg to move.
My Lords, I hesitate to rise again, but my noble friend has raised some ancillary issues which come up where a particular card might help. Not least, there are the backpackers and the young who, when travelling around the world on their own, may not have the same responsibility as the older generation. Undoubtedly, it would be beneficial if any card that they were carrying had additional information on next of kin, and perhaps other identifying marks of some importance.
However, when we look at how information changes and for how long cards should exist, we must look at all the changes that take place in people's lives such as the changes in name. My noble friend makes quite an important point. Can the Government answer it?
My Lords, surely the card cannot be valid beyond the life of the cardholder. There is no identity to validate once you've popped it. However, nothing about the Bill would surprise me.
My Lords, I have a feeling that we dealt in Committee with much of the detail to which the noble Baroness, Lady Seccombe, referred. If I miss something, I shall be more than happy to drop a note to those noble Lords who have participated in this mini-debate. The amendment would make the identity card valid for the life of the cardholder, rather than for a period to be decided by Parliament through regulation. I understand that it is designed to draw out more information from us, and we will do our best to answer the points in due course.
It is currently intended that the identity card for a British national will be valid for 10 years, in line with the validity period for passports issued by the UK Passport Service. Generally, we take the view that to alter that to a lifelong validity would be impractical and undermine or damage the intended operation of the scheme. A person's characteristics do not stay static; they change over time. It is important that document issuers ensure that information relating to a person remains accurate and can be verified periodically. The practice of issuing documents such as passports with a time-limited validity period reflects that; so should the issuing of the identity card.
The advent of biometrics, which may naturally change over a person's life, underlines the need for a limited validity card so that biometrics can be recorded to ensure the continuing accuracy of biometric verification. Additionally, identity cards for foreign nationals are intended also to serve as residence permits. So, a lifelong validity period, as sought in the amendment, would not be appropriate in our view. The card's validity should cease once the individual's leave to remain in the United Kingdom runs out.
The identity card programme has been through, and completed, an extensive market sounding and card durability survey with leading international card and chip manufacturers. The manufacturers confirmed that a card life of 10 years is viable and provided evidence where they have guaranteed that card life. Studies by the Communication Electronics Security Group have also demonstrated that the durability of card security features remains over a 10-year period.
As for death and ID cards, there is no requirement on a person who has died to notify their own death or, indeed, for his next of kin to notify the Secretary of State of it. I recall making that point at an earlier stage. The register will retain data on deceased people, primarily to prevent fraudulent use of a dead person's identity. We discussed, at an earlier stage, times when that has been the case in some celebrated past acts of criminality. There is no need for an ID card to survive its holder. It will be cancelled, and the Secretary of State has power to require its surrender under Clause 13.
On the point about keeping things as family heirlooms, we often keep things from our past. I recently came across the papers from a deceased relative from the last world war, which included some rather sad pieces of paper and some interesting documents. I know that my mother kept her identity card from the war period. People are free to do that, but there is no obligation on people to keep documents for longer than they are required.
As for time capsules, under Clause 13(3), it would be possible for the next of kin of an ID card holder who had died to seek the permission of the Secretary of State for them to retain the cancelled card, as now happens with passports.
Another couple of points may have been raised that I have not covered relating to paying for renewal. In most of the circumstances anticipated by the noble Baroness, Lady Seccombe, it would be expected that a payment would be made for renewal. It would depend very much on what had happened—whether the card had been lost or stolen or whatever—whether the replacement card had to be paid for by a small charge. We intend to make it as easy as possible for people to replace lost or stolen documentation. I hope that, having heard that, the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.
My Lords, I have a question that takes us back to the life of cards. Your old passport was sent back to you with the corner cut off. I have kept all of mine; I still have my identity card from the war on which, when I have not been able to get a second passport, I have managed to travel. The Minister talks about 10 years of life. In general, British bank cards last for three years; French ones for two years; German ones for two. To my knowledge, no one has ever suggested that a card that fulfils a useful function could have a life as long as 10 years. That is a doubtful statement.
My Lords, I respect the point made by the noble Lord. When we were preparing for the Bill and this issue came up by way of general discussion, I would have agreed with him, but robust testing and reputable scientific research from biometric experts underpin the assumption that the re-recording of biometrics every 10 years is sufficient for the identity card scheme.
We are happy with the science behind the scheme. We think that it will be sufficiently robust to work for that period. Studies conducted by the Communication and Electronics Study Group has clearly demonstrated that the card will be durable. That durability will cover the card's security features during that period.
However, we are in a fast-moving field of information science and technology. We must respect the advice that we have been given. There is no doubt that things have changed since we began to use such pieces of plastic, when the bank recalled them after two or three years. I remember that one of my bank cards lasted for about five or six years and I was very impressed by that and thought that I was getting quite a good service.
My Lords, will the noble Lord confirm that the card is combustible, so that I can be cremated with my identity card?
My Lords, it is very tempting that the noble Lord suggests that he might be combustible, but what he chooses to do with his identity card on his demise is entirely up to him.
moved Amendment No. 52G:
Page 7, line 31, leave out "issuing it" and insert "to whom it is issued"
The reasoning behind the amendment is twofold. First, it is to probe exactly to whom the Bill refers. Will it mean the Secretary of State or the head of the designated document authority, which may vary depending on which document it is—for passports, the passport office; for drivers licences, the DVLA; and so on? Secondly, and more importantly, it is to safeguard against the withdrawal of a card by the state. As ever, the role of this House is to scrutinise legislation to uphold the British constitution.
Legislation such as this raises difficult questions of civil liberties versus national security. However, we must always remember that what we put in place now will be used by future governments. There is never a guarantee that a different government will use the powers in the way envisaged today or that we are assured that they will be used today. Making the card the property of the individual whose data it contains will help protect against future misuse by an unscrupulous state apparatus, should it occur. I beg to move.
My Lords, the amendment would remove the provision that ID cards such as passports remain the property of the issuer, which will normally be the Secretary of State. It would replace it with a statement that the card was the property of the person to whom it was issued.
Our view is clear. It would be completely unprecedented for a document of this nature to be issued in those terms. A good analogy is a passport, which is endorsed:
"This passport remains the property of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and may be withdrawn at any time".
If the cards were to be the property of the user, that would seriously undermine confidence in the reliability of the scheme both in this country and in the rest of the European Union. It would also contravene standard practice across the world for travel documents. The issuing of ID cards and the maintenance of the integrity of the system as a whole is the responsibility of the Secretary of State, so it is entirely appropriate that the cards remain the property of the Government.
The noble Baroness said that she felt that the cards being the property of the persons to whom they were issued would be a check on potential criminality. We could argue the contrary. If they were to be the property of the person to whom they were issued, it would be very difficult to have its sale or transfer to another person blocked. The product would be that much more easily transferable and knowledge of it and what was on it would be that much more difficult to obtain. So, for safety and security reasons—if for no other—it would be much wiser for it to remain the property of the government of the United Kingdom, as is the case with passports.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that response and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
moved Amendment No. 52H:
Page 7, line 33, leave out "or is subject to compulsory registration"
On Question, amendment agreed to.
[Amendment No. 52J not moved.]
moved Amendment No. 53:
Page 7, line 41, leave out "relating to an individual" and insert "issued under this section"
My Lords, I moved an amendment in Committee to make clear that the issue of cards under Clause 8(5) could be done only with the consent of the person to whom the card was to be issued. Amendments were moved today by the noble Baroness, Lady Seccombe, broadly along that line.
In discussions with the ever-helpful Bill team, I was told that Clause 8(6) applies to the whole of Clause 8 and makes clear that no card can be issued under Clause 8(5) or (4) which is not consensual—that it does not proceed other than on an application made to the register by the individual concerned. My amendment is designed to make that express and explicit. It does not change the sense of the clause; that is not intended. I have removed the superfluous words "relating to an individual"—an ID card can relate only to an individual—and inserted "issued under this section". Therefore, Clause 8(6) would state:
"An ID card issued under this section is not to be issued except on an application", and so on.
I hope that the amendment is uncontentious and will make clear what is currently less clear. I beg to move.
My Lords, I can confirm that the noble Lord's understanding of the operation of Clause 8 (6) is correct. It is not to be read in isolation. I can state categorically that subsection (6) applies to the other subsections including subsection (5). Therefore the identify card mentioned in Clause 8(5) is the same ID card mentioned in Clause 8(6) and (1). Clause 8(5) has to be read in conjunction with Clause 8(6). It cannot be read in isolation.
It is important to state that it operates in relation to all parts of that clause. I understand why the noble Lord moved his amendment. However, it casts doubt on other areas of the Bill. If Clause 8(6) reiterated in effect that it must be read in conjunction with other subsections, that may cast doubt on whether this is the case with other clauses which do not contain such a provision.
Clause 8(5) is intended for those who have not yet been resident in the UK for the prescribed period but who wish to apply for a card immediately for their own convenience. Another example could be an Irish citizen residing in Dublin but who makes frequent journeys to the UK and would find an ID card a useful method for proving his identity while he is here. However, all individuals would have to make an application for the card and to be entered on to the register. The Secretary of State could not use this subsection as a way of bringing in compulsion through the back door. I hope that I have been able to reassure the noble Lord that his amendment is not necessary, that we can leave the structure of the clause as it is, and that it will have the effect he desires. On that basis, I invite him to withdraw the amendment.
My Lords, I am most grateful to the Minister for her explanation, which I shall read carefully. At first hearing, it seemed to satisfy my desire—except in one respect. I always come back to this question. For the poor people who have to do so hereafter, how easy will it be to construe the Bill? I thought it would be helpful to clarify in the manner indicated. I understand the noble Baroness to say that that would have potential interpretative repercussions elsewhere. One must have close regard to that. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
My Lords, the amendment has been spoken to at length and we have had a vote on it. I hope, therefore, that it will be accepted. I beg to move.
My Lords, this is a short and simple amendment which removes lines 14 to 16 of subsection (8) of Clause 8. This is to probe why the Government feel that these particular words are needed on the face of the Bill when it already appears to me to be covered by paragraph (b) which states that applications may be made by the Secretary of State or, in prescribed cases, to a designated documents authority. I beg to move.
My Lords, the amendment seeks to remove the clarification that the Secretary of State may delegate to a designated documents authority the power to issue a stand-alone ID card. At present we have no plans for anyone but the Secretary of State to issue stand-alone cards—that is, through the new agency to be based, as we have explained many times, around the United Kingdom Passport Agency. However, we would not wish to rule out the possibility altogether. If the designated documents authority were to be fully set up to issue ID cards it would be an unnecessary restriction if a person wishing to apply for a stand-alone card were unable to do so to the authority most convenient for him. It is simply for that reason that we have retained this provision. I hope that that helps the noble Baroness to withdraw the amendment.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that explanation. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 55A, I speak also to Amendments Nos. 56A and 59E. Clause 9 provides for the renewal of cards for those individuals who are required by Clause 6 to be entered into the register. The Bill now has no Clause 6 but the Government may not be persuaded that we are right: they may seek to reinsert the clause. Therefore, in the remote possibility that Clause 6 appears again, this amendment asks questions about the interaction.
The Explanatory Notes tell us that subsection (3) gives the Secretary of State the power to require an individual applying for an ID card under this clause to do certain things so that the Secretary of State can verify the information provided and ensure that the register is up-to-date and accurate. Will the Minister explain why subsection (3)(b) is necessary? What is lost which will be of value to the holder of the card if the paragraph were removed from the Bill? Surely paragraph (a) verification should be sufficient to ensure that the information entered is correct and up-to-date. If something is out of date, one should say so. Is not that the act of verification?
Subsection (3)(b) may be not only otiose but could confer an undesirably wide power on the Secretary of State. My amendment therefore limits the power in paragraph (b) to one of requiring an individual to verify information held in circumstances where the card has been cancelled or recalled in accordance with the provisions set out in Clause 13(2)(a) to (d). Those provisions cover four sets of circumstances: that the card was issued on the basis of incorrect information; the card has been lost, damaged or destroyed; the information held on the register has changed, or there has been a change of circumstance which means that the information has to be modified.
Amendment No. 56A probes what information it would be reasonable for the Secretary of State to require an individual to provide in order to verify the register. Can the noble Baroness indicate what limitation should be put on the range of information that may be required? Amendment No. 59E refers to Clause 12, which sets out how changes in circumstances should be notified to the Secretary of State in order to maintain the accuracy of the register. The Secretary of State is given the wide power of being able to require an individual to do whatever he "thinks fit" for the purposes of verifying information and making sure that the entry is up to date. My amendment would restrict the power of the Secretary of State. He would be able to require the person to give information only if he thinks what he is requiring from that person is essential for the purposes of paragraphs (a) and (b).
What of value would be lost by this sensible restriction which protects the individual from too wide a power of the Secretary of State? I beg to move.
My Lords, as noble Lords may have guessed, I have missed a few sessions of this Bill and so lost the cadence of the House a little. Coming back, I have to say that not much has changed. I feel as though I am in a small corner of Britain which is somehow disconnected from what is happening in the rest of the country. It has been my view from the start that while of course it is true that there are issues of liberty as well as security in this, the real point is that the proposed Bill is about identity and about people strengthening their identity. In that context, the state and the Secretary of State are not enemies of the people, but helpers or enablers of the people. This complete failure to understand where the public is on the issue is beyond me.
My noble friend at the Dispatch Box has reminded us that the Labour Party fought an election on ID cards. This is not just a public opinion thing. Members of the public want them, profoundly. They want them because they want to be able to assert their identity and they do not see the Secretary of State as some kind of villain in this, but as a friend in this new world.
Of course noble Lords may feel that they have won the odd vote, and so they have. But I can tell them this: in the end, while they may have won the odd battle, the war will be won over here. In the end, the public will not be denied. This is a fundamental issue. It is not just of public concern; it addresses the forces and changes of the new politics that will happen. Over time, noble Lords will come to understand that it is right that this is done. It is not the case that the state is the enemy of the people. The people have many enemies. This Bill will help to protect them from the real enemies they face.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Gould, may continue in his blissful belief that this is a corner of Britain which is completely out of touch with what is going on anywhere else. Since the Bill began its passage through this House and the noble Lord made his speeches, it is my experience that the people where I live are extremely grateful that Members of the House of Lords are asking a lot of questions. They may or may not be happy about identity cards; I think their view has changed a bit while we have been examining the Bill, but that will be revealed as time goes on. However, I repeat that they are extremely grateful that we are asking questions.
The question just asked by my noble friend—whether it is right that Clause 9(4)(d) should provide that the Secretary of State may ask for any information he likes for the purpose of the Bill—is a good question. My noble friend suggests that he should seek any information that is "reasonably required". If a citizen were to take the Government to court over what was being asked of him, the test would be whether the question was reasonable. That is a perfectly good point.
I am sorry that the noble Lord still resents everything that noble Lords on this side of the Chamber are seeking to do.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Gould, is wonderfully provocative. He did not refer to these Report stage amendments, rather he made a good Second Reading speech. I am not going to rise to the bait, but I am blowed if I know which of the amendments he was speaking to. The noble Baroness who has just spoken made some eminently commonsense points. To insert the word "reasonably", as proposed in Amendment No. 56A, is entirely sensible, while to insert the word proposed in Amendment No. 59E, so that reference is made to "essential" in Clause 12(3) is again absolute common sense.
This is not a case of the paranoia of the state, but of producing sensible legislation that achieves its purpose. I wholly support the amendments.
We hope to reach a short adjournment fairly soon.
My Lords, I am sorry that the Minister will be delayed a little, but I am afraid her noble friend Lord Gould has made it essential for me to say a few words. If he believes that the British people are profoundly in favour of the Bill, then he is sadly out of touch. I confess that so far I have not received one letter in favour of the Bill, but I have had many opposed to it. Indeed, I have had a letter from a number of my former constituents, who earlier this month conducted a straw poll in Swindon. They found that of the 400 people they contacted, eight were in favour of ID cards, and of those eight, six were uninformed about the national identity register. When they found out about it, they changed their minds. The poll suggested 398 to two against ID cards in my former constituency. So it is by no means certain that the people of this country are profoundly in favour of ID cards and a national identity register as proposed by this Bill.
I thought I would put forward those points because I know that the noble Lord, Lord Gould, likes to listen to debates, even though he does not take part in them too often. I hope that my remarks are helpful to him.
My Lords, I hope that I will be able to provide the clarification sought by the noble Baroness. I understand the frustration felt by my noble friend Lord Gould on these matters, and I must say to the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, that, having made the speeches he has made in relation to this Bill, it is a brave man indeed who would make criticisms on the nature of Second Reading speeches. Perhaps I should say no more on the subject.
The words inserted by the amendment are not needed for the effective operation or security of the scheme. I know that the amendments are probing in nature and have been tabled in order to ensure that we amplify why we think Clause 9(3)(b) is important. If a card is cancelled under Clause 13(2)(a) to (d), the holder will no longer have a valid card. If he is subject to compulsory registration, he will be obliged by Clause 9(2) to apply for another. Subsections (3) and (4) of Clause 9 will already apply to him, as they do to those who are applying for the first time or because their cards have expired, and there is no reason to make separate provision for those whose cards have been cancelled. Under the present Clause 9(3)(b), the Secretary of State would be able to request, if it should be necessary, that a person whose card had been cancelled should attend, provide information and so on in a way that was proper. That would not be necessary if, for example, which we do not anticipate, there happened to be a simple technical fault with a batch of cards that required their reissue. He would be under no obligation to do so, and would not do so. It would be in no-one's interest to inconvenience people and burden the registration centres unnecessarily. I imagine that is why the noble Baroness has omitted Clause 13(2)(e) from her amendment. I see her nodding.
This amendment, however, would have other effects that I am confident the noble Baroness would not wish. The words in Clause 9(3)(b) are the same as those in Clauses 5(4)(b) and 12(3)(b). If the present provision in Clause 9(3)(b) were removed, we could only verify information provided in an initial application or application for renewal. If a person omitted to include certain pieces of information, the Secretary of State would be unable to require that he provide that information as he would otherwise do under paragraph (d) or Clause 9(4). We would also be unable, for example, to take an up-to-date photograph of the applicant, even if the one on the register was many years old, as photographs would be taken by the agency, not provided by the applicant. It is vital that the register is kept up to date and accurate, although there are some who would far prefer their photograph aged 21 than at any subsequent time. Many of the amendments proposed by noble Lords opposite have been designed to ensure that it is, and I know that is a matter of importance to the noble Baroness.
Amendment No. 56A seeks to ensure that individuals would only have to provide such information as may be reasonably required by the Secretary of State. The power to require information in Clause 9(4)(d) is already restricted by subsection (3) to requiring information for the purposes of verifying information provided by the person concerned or necessary to confirm his register entry. In any case, however, it is not necessary to provide that the Secretary of State must act reasonably. He is under a public duty to do so, and will be subject to judicial review if he does not. Prescribing that he must act reasonably would imply that all the Secretary of State's other powers could be exercised unreasonably. I am sure that is not what the noble Baroness would like. The Secretary of State is bound to act reasonably in ensuring that a person has a complete, up-to-date and accurate entry. We believe he must have the power to do so.
Amendment No. 59E provides that the Secretary of State may only require an individual to attend an interview or provide information if he considers it essential, rather than thinks fit. The power in Clause 12(3) only arises where the holder of an ID card has notified the Secretary of State that there has been a relevant change of circumstances or that there is an error on the register. On receiving that notification, the Secretary of State can require the person concerned to attend for interview, provide biometrics, be photographed or provide other information, but these powers can only be used for the purposes of verifying information relating to changes or otherwise ensuring there is a complete, up-to-date entry. In many cases, no further information will be required. For example, if someone were to notify of a change of name on marriage and send their marriage certificate, there would obviously be no need to require an interview or biometrics before amending the register.
After that full and comprehensive response, I hope the noble Baroness will feel that her diverse amendments are unnecessary, and will be content, not only to withdraw them, but also to ensure that we never have the pleasure of seeing them again.
My Lords, I do like to give pleasure to the Minister, and on this occasion I certainly can. I forgive the noble Lord, Lord Gould of Brookwood, much. Never mind if it was a Second Reading speech; welcome back. He is the first Government Back-Bencher to speak today. He was speaking in support of the Government, so that was interesting. We have certainly missed him in our deliberations. I know that noble Lords were not able to take part in all six days in Committee, so there is absolutely no criticism of those who do not attend on each and every occasion. Had he been able to do so, however, he would have seen the Government's plans being pulled apart and some severe concerns being expressed. I know he has maintained throughout that the public profoundly want ID cards. The difficulty has been that it is a case of what ID cards and how. A recent survey on 18-
I return to the amendment. In thanking the Minister, I should like to explain that there is a flurry of amendments here that are probing in nature, as are all my amendments for the rest of the evening. I have made it clear that I wish to assist the Bill team and the Government in reaching Amendment No. 64E. During the dinner break, which the Minister in particular so richly deserves, I will look through to see which amendments I can pull, so we might even end a few minutes early. My overall reason for tabling these probing amendments is that I hope to be extremely sparing with my amendments when we get to Third Reading. I am extremely grateful to her, and she will not see these again. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for her comments. That will greatly assist us with our consideration of the Bill. I beg to move that further consideration on Report be now adjourned, and in moving this Motion I suggest that the Report stage does not begin again before 8.38 pm.